The Congo Rainforest in the central and western parts of equatorial Africa is the second-largest tropical rain forest in the world. It covers a broad region of moist jungle and broadleaf forests which follow the Congo River and its tributaries. The Congo River starts high in the mountains of central Africa and flows southwest to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Congo Rainforest is warm and wet. It sits partially on the Equator. The average temperature throughout the year in the Congo Rainforest is 77°F (25°C). The average amount of rainfall in the Congo Rainforest is about 90 inches (228 cm) each year.
Vegetation in the Congo Rainforest is dense. The rainforest is home to more than 11,000 plant species. Thirty percent are entirely unique to the region. The rainforest proves a lush rich environment for wildlife as well. Many rare and endangered animals live there because they are protected by thick foliage and tall trees. Forest elephants, chimpanzees, bonobos, mountain gorillas, hippos, and crocodiles are some. There are hundreds of species of fish and birds too.
Some animals that live in the Congo Rainforest have a crucial impact on the environment. For example, elephants and gorillas are large herbivores. They eat low plant vegetation. This keeps small trees from growing in the areas that they live, which benefits tall trees that do not have to compete for water and nutrients. So, where elephants and gorillas live in The Congo Rain Forest, there are also some of the world’s oldest and tallest trees.
Most of the rainfall in the Congo Rainforest eventually finds its way into the Congo River. The Congo River is the second-longest river in Africa. It’s second only to the Nile. The Congo River has a drainage area of 1.4 million square miles (3.7 million square km). This drainage area is larger than the rainforest; it includes grasslands and savanna. Altogether this large region is known as the Congo Basin.
Six countries are home in part to the Congo Rainforest and Congo Basin. These countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and Gabon. Of these six countries, the DRC contains the largest area of the rainforest, about 60 percent of Central Africa’s lowland forest cover.