Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to COUNTRYAAH, Congo is occupied to about 3/4 of a central basin, where the Congo River with tributaries, including Lomami and Oubangui, flows. Oubangui is a border river to the north and northwest. The basin area is a plateau-like surface of about 500 m above sea level. with the lowest point 338 and the highest 700 m above sea level. It is surrounded on several sides by higher plateaus, in the northern Oubangui and Ueleplatoes that separate the Nile and Congo River water systems. To the south are the Kwango-Kwilu Plateau and the Katanga Plateau, both of which rise to the east. At the far west is a coastal plateau with the Mayombé massif and the Kristallbergen, 1,050 m above sea level, where the river broke and formed, among other things. Yellalafallen.
In the east, Congo is bounded by a western branch of the East African Rift System, which forms the highest part of the country with the Mitumba Mountains, Ruwenzori with Congo’s highest point, Margherita, 5 119 m above sea level. as well as the volcanic Virung mountains. In the fault basin itself lies the Albert and Edward lakes, the Kivu, Tanganyika and Mwerus lakes, the latter on the border with Zambia.
In the west, Congo reaches the sea with a 40 km long coast.
The central basin area is built up of sedimentary rocks, mainly sandstone. Large areas on either side of the Congo River are covered by river deposits. The highland areas consist of crystalline rocks. Young volcanic rocks occur in the east in connection with the East African rift system. The soil here is fertile volcanic soil; The valleys also contain fertile river sediments. Ground cover is subject to severe soil erosion.
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In the area closest to the equator there is a tropical rainforest climate, on both sides a tropical savannah climate. This means that the average temperature for all months of the year is 24–26 °C except in the mountainous regions in the east, where the average temperature is 19 °C. The coastal area to the west is also cooler due to the cold Benguela current.
The annual rainfall in central Congo, where there are two rainy times at the highest solstice, is about 1,800 mm, while the areas further from the equator, which has only one rainy period, get about 1,300 mm.
The flora is very rich and contains over 10,000 known plant species, of which an estimated 10% are endemic. The vegetation varies from grasslands to sparse dry forests and tropical rainforest to afroalpine herb vegetation.
In the savannas in the north there are many species from the Sudanese flora area, eg. the genera of Isoberliʹnia and Lophiʹra.
In the south there are grasslands with tree species such as Parinaʹri and Brachysteʹgia.
However, the vegetation is dominated by the extensive tropical lowland rainforests, which are spreading in the central parts. In these, some individual species may dominate, e.g. Gilbertiodeʹndron deweʹvrei, Brachysteʹgia laureʹntii or Cynomeʹtra alexaʹndri. Together, the central lowland rainforests make up more than half of Africa’s total area of rainforest.
In the mountains and in the eastern parts of Congo, there are mountain rainforests with, for example. the genera Podocaʹrpus, Ocoʹtea, Pruʹnus and Hageʹnia.
Along the Atlantic coast, there are mangroves with the genera Rhizoʹphora, Aviceʹnnia, Conocaʹrpus and Lagunculaʹria.
Wildlife is extremely rich and relatively unaffected compared to other African countries. There are about 415 species of mammals (of which 28 are endemic), 930 are species of nesting birds (22 are endemic; a total of 1,100 species have been observed), more than 80 species of amphibians (of which 53 are endemic) and 400 species of freshwater fish. The number of herbivorous species is not exactly known, but there are just over 30 endemic species.
Of the Congo’s 30 species of primates can be mentioned dwarf chimpanzees, chimpanzees, lowland gorillas (good strains), mountain gorillas and several species of mangabas and market mats. There are also about 30 species of antelopes, including eight species of diving antelope. The forest-living giraffe okapi is endemic in the north and northeast.
The most expensive areas are in eastern Congo. In Ituri in the Northeast, there are more species of monkeys than in any other African forest area. In the Itombwe Mountains adjacent to the northern tip of Lake Tanganyika, there are 565 species of birds (species richest in Africa). African elephant, lowland gorilla and leopard.
In 2010, there were eight national parks in Congo, of which Salonga is the largest rainforest reserve in the world and very rich in plant species. Four of the parks and one of the reserves are listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.