Country of the World Zaire

About the country Zaire, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Zaire is situated in the basin of the Zaire (formerly Congo) River, in south central Africa. The northern section of the country consists of tropical jungle, while the south is primarily savanna (grassland). The Crystal Mountains rise in the west, and the live Virunga volcanoes form the northeastern border with Uganda. Several lakes, including the 450-mi.-long Lake Tanganyika, form the eastern border. Except for the eastern provinces, the climate is hot and muggy.

Size: 905,562 sq. mi. (2,345,409 sq. km.).

Population: 27 million.

Who Rules: Zaire has an elected president, an elective 210-seat legislature, and an independent judiciary. The Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR), headed by the president, is the only political party and encompasses the only legal youth and labor organizations. Theoretically, all citizens are MPR members.

Who REALLY Rules: Pres. Mobutu Sese Seko ("Mobutu the Redeemer") rules the country with an iron hand. The only institution with any independence is the Catholic Church, and even it faces repression. But Mobutu, who was placed in power with the assistance of the U.S.--including the CIA, which still backs him--has run up debts of $2 billion to foreign governments and banks. As a condition for extending debt repayment, the creditors have insisted that Zaire follow an austerity program designed by the International Monetary Fund.

Since assuming power, Mobutu has become incredibly wealthy. He owns several palaces in Zaire and Europe. He personally took in most of the local profits from the 1974 Ali-Foreman heavyweight championship bout in Kinshasa. When his government purchased a U.S. C-130 transport plane, he requested that it arrive filled with a $60,000 supply of Coca-Cola. In 1973, after a trip to China, Mobutu modeled his own "Mobutism" after the Maoist personality cult, complete with Mobutu badges and his "Little Green Book" of quotations.

In 1977 the Mobutu government reportedly leased 100,000 sq. mi. of territory in southeastern Zaire to the German OTRAG Corporation, for missile testing.

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