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(Euan Denholm/Reuters)

Congo's path

Today, the Democratic Republic of Congo goes to the polls to elect a new president. Under President Mobutu Sese Seko, who died in 1997, Zaire (as the country was then called) saw its per capita gross domestic product decline by an average of 4.9 percent per year between 1980 and 2000, the worst record among countries for which data are available.

As Congo heads to the polls, we wonder: What is most remarkable about its recent past?

A. Fastest economic growth rate
B. Received more development aid than any other country
C.Highest birth rate in the world
D. Lowest income per capita in the world

A. Fastest economic growth rate is not correct.

Since 2000, Congo's rate of economic decline has moderated to less than 1 percent per year, neither the best nor the worst in Africa. A number of countries declined even more since 2000, with Zimbabwe performing worst, declining by 6.6 percent per year.

Apart from Chad's petroleum-driven growth rate of 24 percent per year, the best economic performer in Africa since 2000 has been Mozambique, where the per capita income has grown by 6.7 percent per year.

B. Received more development aid than any other country is correct.

Since 2000, according to the World Bank, Congo has received nearly $9 billion in Official Development Assistance. The next six biggest aid recipients in the world (excluding Iraq) are Vietnam, China, Pakistan, Tanzania, Serbia and Montenegro, and Russia.

A 17,000-member UN peacekeeping force is in the war-torn country, where Oxfam estimates 3.9 million people have died over the past eight years. Tragically, the humanitarian situation appears to be worsening. In the first quarter of 2006, the United Nations aided 120,000 new internally displaced people per month with its Rapid Response Mechanism.

C. Highest birth rate in the world is not correct.

In 2004, Congo had the fifth-highest birth rate in the world, at 49.5 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age. The highest birth rate, 53.9, was found in Niger. The average in Sub-Saharan Africa was 39.9 per 1,000 women.

D. Lowest income per capita in the world is not correct.

Adjusted for purchasing power, Congo in 2004 had the fifth-lowest income level in the world at $705 per person per year. Only Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, and Sierra Leone had lower incomes, with Sierra Leone's the lowest at $561 per person.

The Globalist Quiz is produced by The Globalist, a Washington- based research organization that promotes awareness of world affairs. © 2006 by The Globalist,

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