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Congo, Democratic Republic of

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a large, densely populated African nation. It has the highest population of any official Francophone country. Congo is chock full of mineral wealth and rainforest life. West of Kinshasa, Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary is a home to orphaned bonobos, a relatively recently discovered primate species. In the capital, see the sculpture garden behind the art school at Acad├®mie des Beaux-Arts, or check out a great ethnographic collection at the Mus├®e National. Virunga National Park, a mountainous reserve set up to preserve gorillas and other species, is one of the best sights in the region. Rice, yams, taro, and pumpkin are some Congolese staple starches, but cassavea is really number one. Nuts, peas, coffee, and palm oil are other important products. Try lituma, mashed and baked plantain balls, kwanga cassava bread, or the green known as tshitekutaku. Rice and beans or sweet potatoes with peanuts are common combinations. Fish and goat are commonly consumed. Vegetarianism doesn't really exist here, but meatless meals are the norm because plant protein (not to mention starch) is cheaper and more plentiful.