In 2019, Congo had an average population density of 36
residents per km2. The largest is the density in
the southern parts of central Congo and in the coastal
region. The settlement pattern is characterized by a high
proportion of rural residents (56 percent, 2019) in smaller
villages. In 2010, the country's largest cities were the
capital Kinshasa (8.9 million residents), Lubumbashi (1.6
million) and Mbuji-Mayi (1.6 million).
Countryaah, Congo's population is divided into more than 200 ethnic
groups. The majority are Bantu people living in the central
and southern parts of the country. Congo (which includes
subgroups such as kunda, lala, ndembu, sakata, yaka and
yanzar) makes up 34 percent of the population, while mongo
(which includes mongo and kosai luba) makes up 15 percent
and luba (including katanga luba and songe) 12 percent.
The demographic structure is complicated by a large
number of internal refugees as a result of conflicts in the
country. At the far north are Sudanese ethnic groups,
including azande (1.5 million), mangbetu (1.3 million) and
band. In addition, there are scattered pygmy groups (Mbuti,
Efe and twa totaling 60 000) in the central and northeastern
Congo's rainforests, which have their own cultures and their
own languages. The Pygmies, who have long been exposed as a
group, have in recent years been subject to increased
Traditionally, the bantu population in the countryside
lives by burning. The most important crops are cassava,
sweet potatoes, jams, peanuts, beans and leafy vegetables,
which are grown by the women with the help of short-cut
chop. The men are responsible for perennial crops such as
bananas and fruit trees. Agriculture is complemented by
hunting and fishing, especially among the forest people
north of the equator. The hunt for bushmeat (monkeys,
antelopes) has increased in recent years and has given rise
to international exports, which threatens the diversity of
species in the country.
All bantu groups in Congo have kinship systems based on
linear origin from mythical ancestors (for kinship
terminology in the following, see descent). Most people
south of the equator belong to the so-called matrilinear
belt in Central Africa. The most well-known matrilineal
peoples of the Congo are Congo, Lunda, Cuba, lele and pende.
The forest people north of the equator (including Mongo,
Nkundu, Ngala), like Luba in the south-east patrilineal
genealogy, in some cases with car linear tendencies. The
Sudanese peoples in the far north also have patrilineal
genealogy, but their culture differs significantly from the
Bantu-speaking forest peoples. While hunting and fishing
play a prominent role in the latter, the former devote
themselves exclusively to Sudanese savannah-type
agriculture. The scattered pygmy groups have a bilateral
family structure of the same type as the Northern Europeans.
They live a semi-medicinal hunter and gatherer life in
so-called bands of 20-30 people, while their bantam
neighbors live in villages comprising 50-200 people.
The Bantu-speaking peoples of the Congo are known for a
richly developed religious life, which besides the cult of
the spirits of the deceased includes a variety of cults.
Andean rituals are especially developed in the southern part
of the country, where mask dances and the production of
so-called fetishes in the form of, among other things,
wooden figures form an important part of ritual life. Here,
the plastic art has for centuries been richly developed also
for purely decorative purposes. In the south, pre-colonial
times have had sacred kingdoms and ranked clans, while the
forest tribes in the north lack sacred chieftaincy systems
and stratification of society. However, the Sudanese people
of the north have princes and nobles who live isolated from
ordinary people. Of the Congo's old kingdom, only waste
remains today, and local political leadership is based
mainly on negotiations between family and clan heads.
However, the rapid urbanization of recent decades, as in
many other places in Africa, has radically changed
traditional structures and cultural patterns.
In Congo, more than 200 different languages are spoken,
most of which belong to the Niger-Congo languages,
especially the Bantu languages and the Adamawa-Ubangi
languages, and a smaller group is Central or East Sudanese
and Nilotic languages within the Nilo-Saharan language
family. Four Bantu languages - Swahili, Lingala, Kikongo
(Kituba) and Tshiluba - serve as interpersonal languages
and are defined in the Constitution as national. Due to
the widespread multilingualism, meaningful speech numbers
cannot be specified.
The former colonial language French is an official
language, but the regional languages are also used in
elementary school education and in the media.
Christianity is the majority religion in Congo and is
comprised of about 95 percent of the population. Among the
Christians, the Catholic Church is the largest with about 55
percent of the population as members. Sporadic Catholic
missionary activities began as early as the end of the 15th
century, but the great breakthrough occurred during the
modern colonial era of the 19th and 20th centuries. In the
Protestant mission, efforts have been made by missionaries
from, among others, the Swedish Missionary Union, the
Swedish Baptist Society and the Pentecostal Movement. The
largest Protestant religious community is the Kimbanguist
Church (see Kimbanguism), which in 2010 was comprised of
approximately 16 percent of the population. Among
Christians, about 10 percent are believed to be affiliated
with more than one religious community.
The proportion of Muslims is estimated at just under 1.5
percent and approximately 2.5 percent of the population are
practitioners of indigenous traditional African religion.
However, indigenous African religions have greatly
influenced Christianity in Congo. More than 90 different
faith communities have been identified in the country. These
include Jehovah's Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Orthodox Churches, Baptists,
Pentecostal Churches, Methodists, and the open branch of the
The religious communities are scattered across the
country, though with stronger representation in the cities
than in the countryside. The Muslims are mainly found in the
northeastern part of the country, in the province of Maniema
and in Kinshasa.
A domestic religious with political ambitions, the
Bundu dia Congo (BDK), which means 'association with
Lord Akongo' has the strongest support in the province of
Congo Central, where the number of members is stated to be
several thousand. BDK fights for increased independence for
Congo Central. It seeks a decentralized political and
administrative system whose purpose is to give the Congolese
increased power to decide for themselves over the future.
BDK advocates a return to genuine African spiritual,
cultural, moral and social values, a recapture of natural
resources within the part of the country that BDK identifies
as the Kingdom of the Congo and within which the Kingdom's
people are to be reunited.