You are here -allRefer - Reference - Country Study & Country Guide - Zaire >

allRefer Reference and Encyclopedia Resource

allRefer    
allRefer
   


-- Country Study & Guide --     

 

Zaire

 
Country Guide
Afghanistan
Albania
Algeria
Angola
Armenia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Belarus
Belize
Bhutan
Bolivia
Brazil
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Chad
Chile
China
Colombia
Caribbean Islands
Comoros
Cyprus
Czechoslovakia
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Estonia
Ethiopia
Finland
Georgia
Germany
Germany (East)
Ghana
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Hungary
India
Indonesia
Iran
Iraq
Israel
Cote d'Ivoire
Japan
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan
Latvia
Laos
Lebanon
Libya
Lithuania
Macau
Madagascar
Maldives
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mexico
Moldova
Mongolia
Nepal
Nicaragua
Nigeria
North Korea
Oman
Pakistan
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Qatar
Romania
Russia
Saudi Arabia
Seychelles
Singapore
Somalia
South Africa
South Korea
Soviet Union [USSR]
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Syria
Tajikistan
Thailand
Turkmenistan
Turkey
Uganda
United Arab Emirates
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Venezuela
Vietnam
Yugoslavia
Zaire

Zaire

The Society and Its Environment

[GIF]

Traditional mask made of rope

ZAIRE'S ETHNIC DIVERSITY has frequently been stressed in discussions of its society and culture; as many as 250 different languages can be identified within its borders. But overemphasis on ethnicity would be misplaced in discussing the social realities of the 1980s and early 1990s. Zairians have shared a prolonged experience of state pauperization and oppression; the social polarization and strategies of survival that have evolved out of that experience shape them regardless of their individual ethnic identities.

Zairians have been increasingly divided into an elite class, most of whom are politically attached to the government of Mobutu Sese Seko (president, 1965- ), and the mass of peasants, workers, and low-ranking civil servants. The former have used the state to advance their economic interests, although their dependence on political favor has left them insecure. The latter have seen their standard of living drop year after year, watching while as much as half their income is taken in fees, fines, and taxes to support the state and its elite.

Zairians' response to such deprivations has been differentiated not only by class but also by factors such as rural or urban status, gender, regionalism, and ethnicity. Villagers, for example, seeing road networks and educational and medical services collapse, have responded in part by fleeing to cities, increasing the country's rate of urbanization. Women have formed new alliances in both rural and urban areas to promote their interests and resist state exactions.

Most striking has been the creativity of ordinary Zairians in constructing an economic life outside the deteriorating formal economy. A major factor in the continuing survival and political quiescence of the population in the face of their pauperization has been the growth of the informal economy, whose size, according to most analysts, exceeds that of the formal national economy.

Notable, too, is the strength of institutions outside of or on the periphery of state control. Churches have continued to grow in membership, and their extensive networks of hospitals and schools have increased in importance since the collapse of state-run medical and education institutions.

Zaire is a land of superlative natural endowments--a vast territory encompassing enormous mineral deposits, immense forests, mighty rivers, and abundant fertile soils. It is said to have sufficient arable land and hydroelectric potential to feed and power the entire African continent. This situation, in combination with its legendary mineral wealth, should have made Zaire one of sub-Saharan Africa's most developed and wealthiest states. Instead, it is a poor nation in a rich land. Its economy and society are in disarray in the early 1990s, and most of its citizens (80 percent by some accounts) live in absolute poverty.

Zaire's public health and welfare system has collapsed. Most state-run hospitals and schools have closed. Medical equipment and medicine are scarce. Blood banks have closed, blood screenings are rare, and the rate of immunization among infants and children has declined drastically. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), tuberculosis, leprosy, trypanosomiasis, and malaria are widespread problems. Malnutrition has also become increasingly prevalent, particularly among children, as the price of food exceeds the financial resources of more and more Zairians. The availability of safe drinking water also has become problematic.

The impoverishment of Zairians can be attributed in large part to the monumental corruption and institutionalized theft characterizing the Mobutu regime. Nevertheless, the country's large population (39.1 million in 1992) and chronically high population growth rate (3.3 percent in 1992) have also played a role in the deterioration of economic and social conditions, in that population growth has consistently outpaced official economic growth. Ethnic and social tensions are also on the rise, as Zairians compete for increasingly scarce resources. One serious result of this ethnic conflict is that thousands of Zairians have been displaced by ethnic violence, creating a mass of internal refugees whose needs the state will not and can not address.

Data as of December 1993

Zaire - TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Zaire - The Society and Its Environment

  • Zaire -

    Go Up - Top of Page

    Zaire -

    Make allRefer Reference your HomepageAdd allRefer Reference to your FavoritesGo to Top of PagePrint this PageSend this Page to a Friend


    Information Courtesy: The Library of Congress - Country Studies


    Content on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. We accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by any person resulting from information published on this site. We encourage you to verify any critical information with the relevant authorities.

     

     

     
     


    About Us | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Privacy | Links Directory
    Link to allRefer | Add allRefer Search to your site

    allRefer
    All Rights reserved. Site best viewed in 800 x 600 resolution.