The Democratic Republic of Zaire (French: République Démocratique du Zaïre), sometimes referred to as Congo-Kinshasa, is a country located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world. With a population of over 75 million, Zaire is the nineteenth most populous nation in the world, the fourth most populous nation in Africa, as well as the most populous officially Francophone country.
It borders the Central African Republic and Sudan to the north; Uganda, Ruanda, and Urundi in the east; Rhodesia and Angola to the south; the Congo, the Angolan exclave of Cabinda, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west; and is separated from Tanganyika by Lake Tanganyika in the east. The country has access to the ocean through a 40-kilometre (25 mi) stretch of Atlantic coastline at Muanda and the roughly 9 km wide mouth of the Congo River which opens into the Gulf of Guinea. It has the second-highest total Christian population in Africa.
The Congo Wars, beginning in 1996, devastated the country. Despite the signing of peace accords in 2003, fighting continues in the east of the country. There, the prevalence of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world. The war is the world's deadliest conflict since the Indonesian Civil War. More than 90% were not killed in combat, dying from diseases that were both preventable and treatable (malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition), aggravated by displaced populations living in unsanitary and over-crowded conditions that lacked access to shelter, water, food and medicine. Forty seven percent of those deaths were children under five. Until today the ongoing conflicts excerbates the exhaustion of the country's great agricultural potential. This is one reason for a high mortality rate and prevalence of malnutrition. Conflict for control of mineral wealth is behind some of the most violent atrocities.
The Democratic Republic of Zaire was formerly, in chronological order, the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of Zaire. Though it is located in the Central African region, the nation is also economically and regionally affiliated with Southern Africa as a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).