The second largest country in Africa by area and the fourth most populous African nation, the Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced one of the continent’s most violent political histories. Roiled by civil wars throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, the DRC remains trapped in cycles of sporadic violence and underdevelopment. Although considered to be one of the world’s most naturally endowed countries -- home to extensive cobalt, diamond, and copper deposits as well as vast acreage of tropical rainforests filled with some of Africa’s most famed animals, including the okapi, gorilla, and elephant -- the chaotic and corrupt atmosphere was worsened by the three decade absolute rule of Mobutu Sese Seko from 1965 to 1997. This led to the looting and appropriation of much of the DRC’s wealth by domestic and foreign actors as well as a dramatic decline in its human capacity, the effects from which the country has yet to recover. The DRC records extremely high rates of violence against women and the prevalence of sexual assault has reached a critical level, spurred in part by ongoing civil strife and violent spillover effects of the Rwandan Genocide along the country’s eastern frontier. Deforestation and poaching undermine the country’s ecological future and malaria and yellow fever cause repeated deadly outbreaks, magnified by the country’s equatorial location. A number of other serious illnesses, including HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, are also endemic to DRC and cause significant mortality. The country has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world and most of its development indicators are very low. Over 70% of the population is poor and 42% of children are stunted. DRC ranks 176 of 187 countries on the Human Development Index.