The Congo Basin

While the largest tropical rainforest is in Brazil, where is the second largest?

And the answer: Democratic Republic of the Congo.    

The Congo Basin in Central Africa has the second largest rainforest in the world, covering an area about the size of Mexico. Centered around the Congo River, the area is home to mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, and forest elephants.

Photo credit: Thomas Breuer. 

The Congo Basin is one of the most important wildlife regions in the world. At 500 million acres (larger than the state of Alaska), this spectacular rainforest hosts life of all kinds as a vital ecosystem on our planet. The Congo Basin sprawls across 6 countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. In it are thousands of species, many which are native to this rainforest alone.

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More specifically, there are around 10,000 native plant species in the Congo Basin, 30% of which are unique to the region. Four hundred species of mammals, 1,000 species of birds, and 700 species of fish call the Congo Basin home. The Congo Basin is the only place to shelter all three subspecies of gorilla: the lowland gorilla, the endemic eastern lowland gorilla, and the endangered mountain gorilla.

For over 50,000 years, native peoples have interacted with this ecosystem for the food, medicine, and supplies they need without disturbing the natural environment. Nearly 150 ethnic groups call the Congo Basin home, with the Ba'Aka people as representatives of a sustainable hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Learn more about the Congo Basin below.

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