The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has the longest land border in Sub-Saharan Africa, stretching a total of 6,512.5 miles in length. The border was first demarcated during the 19th-century Scramble for Africa by European colonial powers. A total of nine countries share a land border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. North of the country is South Sudan and the Central African Republic. Countries bordering the east part of the DRC are Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, and Rwanda. The Republic of Congo borders the western part of the country, while Angola and Zambia are situated southern part of the country.
Angola shares the longest land border with the DRC, of all its bordering countries. The land border between the two countries is 1,644 miles in length. The border starts at the Zambia-Angola-DRC tri-point and extends west to the Atlantic Ocean. Angola has an exclave located in the DRC’s maritime territory, from which most of Angola’s oil is sourced. Many of Angola’s offshore oil platforms are located within DRC’s territory. Like most other international borders in Africa, the border was first established during the Scramble for Africa in the 19th century. A prevalent issue that has grappled the border is civil strife.
Recently, the DRC’s Kasai area found near the border experienced a bloody war that saw an estimated 1 million people crossing to Angola as refugees. The border has also been plagued by the smuggling of commodities from Angola, whose value runs into millions of dollars. The infiltration of relatively cheaper everyday items from Angola has hurt the economy of the DRC, with effects being most profound in regions around the border. Locally manufactured goods not able to compete with the lowly priced smuggled goods face stiff competition, and hence making the smuggling a direct threat to thousands of jobs in DRC factories that would face closure if the government fails to curb the runaway smuggling.
Zambia is situated south of the DRC and is one of its bordering countries. The border starts near Lake Tanganyika and moves westwards to the DRC-Angola-Zambia tri-point, covering a total length of 1,449 miles. The Kasumba Lesa border post is the most crucial border post along the border and facilitates legal cross-border movements between the two countries. Years of civil wars witnessed in the DRC have seen thousands of refugees migrate into Zambia. The influx of DRC refugees drawn from the Haut-Katanga Province in Zambia threatens to morph into a humanitarian crisis, as there have been reports of rape, mistreatment and brutality within refugee camps along the border. Children have been worst affected, as they make up as much as 60% of the refugees.
One historic dispute of the international border is what is known as the “Congo Pedicle”. The Congo Pedicle is a salient found along the Zambia-DRC border that is administered under DRC’s Katanga Province. Despite being recognized as part of the DRC, the salient extends into the territory of Zambia. The border on the pedicle was established during the Scramble for Africa but its sovereignty was contested both by the Belgian and British colonial powers.
Uganda is the DRC’s eastern neighbor. The two countries share a land border that stretches 545 miles in length. The Ruwenzori Mountains, a mountain range with Sub-Saharan Africa’s third-highest peak, is situated on the border. The international border starts at the tri-point connecting South Sudan, the DRC, and Uganda, and moves southwards to the Rwanda-DRC-Uganda tri-point, marked by the 11,959-foot high Mount Sabyinyo. The Semliki River is an 87-mile long river that forms part of the Uganda-DRC border.
Bunagana is a border town found along the international border and connects the DRC’s town of Goma to Uganda’s town of Kabale. The DRC-Uganda international border experiences frequent conflict between militia forces drawn from both countries and governmental troops. The Allied Democratic Forces, a rebel group from the DRC had, in recent years clashed with the DRC military, and the battle which was fought near the border had threatened to spill over into Uganda. In response, Uganda deployed its military along the border to prevent the rebel militia from escaping into the country to evade the DRC troops.
Also in the east of the DRC is Rwanda. This small East African country shares a land border with the DRC that is 137 miles in length, the shortest of all DRC’s international borders. The summit of Mount Sabyinyo, sitting on the Rwanda-Uganda-DRC tri-point, represents the start of the border, from where it moves south until it ends at the Burundi-Rwanda-DRC tri-point.
The border was first demarcated in the 19th century during the Scramble for Africa, dividing the French Colony, Rwanda from the Belgian Colony, the DRC. The two countries have border controls along the border and have established a one-stop border facility to hasten cross-border movement. The two countries clashed on the border on November 3rd, 2012 in a conflict that led to the deaths of two DRC soldiers and one Rwandan soldier. Sources have it that the disagreement started after DRC soldiers were discovered of having illegally crossed the border by troops from the Rwandan military, with a shootout ensuing.
South Sudan is among the DRC’s bordering countries and is situated to the northeast of the country. The border stretches 443 miles in length. The South Sudan-DRC border starts at the tri-point connecting Uganda, South Sudan, and the DRC, and extends west to the Central African Republic-DRC-South Sudan tri-point. The border is the most recent of all DRC international borders, as it was established during the formation of the state of South Sudan in 2011. Refugees from South Sudan have recently crossed the border into the DRC, fleeing from civil warfare in their home country. In 1998, as many as 0.13 million refugees from South Sudan were believed to reside in the DRC. Tensions between the refugees and the locals in the DRC have been heightened due to the sudden strain on the limited available resources and commodities. The Haute-Uele Province in the DRC is most affected by the influx of South Sudanese refugees. Violence on one side of the border frequently spills over to the other side, causing diplomatic tensions between the two countries.