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Coordinates: 01°40′46″S 29°14′01″E / 1.67944°S 29.23361°E / -1.67944; 29.23361
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Provincial capital and city
Ville de Goma
Goma, November 2022
Goma, November 2022
Goma is located in Democratic Republic of the Congo
Location in the Congo
Coordinates: 01°40′46″S 29°14′01″E / 1.67944°S 29.23361°E / -1.67944; 29.23361
CountryDR Congo
ProvinceNorth Kivu
CommunesGoma, Karisimbi
 • MayorTimothée Mwisa Kyese
 • City75.72 km2 (29.24 sq mi)
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC+2 (CAT)
National languageSwahili
Historical population
2021670,000 [1]—    

Goma is the capital and largest city of the North Kivu Province in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).[2] It is located on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi. It shares its borders with Bukumu Chiefdom to the north, Rwanda to the east, Masisi Territory to the west, and is flanked by Lake Kivu to the south.[3] The city lies in the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift System, and is only 13–18 km (8.1–11.2 mi) south of the active Nyiragongo Volcano. With an approximate area of 75.72 square kilometers, the city has an estimated population of nearly 2 million people according to the 2022 census,[4] while the 1984 estimate placed the number at 80,000.[5]

Goma is administratively divided into two urban municipalities: Goma and Karisimbi, which are further subdivided into 18 quarters, colloquially recognized as "neighborhoods" in the English lexicon.[4][6] The city is home to several notable landmarks, including Goma International Airport, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Virunga National Park, which is home to endangered mountain gorillas, the private Christian co-educational school Adventist University of Goma, and the significant public institution University of Goma. The city also hosts the Université libre des Pays de Grand Lac, which supports local development initiatives.[7][8] Parenthetically, Goma is home to the province's most prominent football clubs, Association Sportive Kabasha and Daring Club Virunga.

The recent history of Goma has been dominated by the volcano and the Rwandan genocide of 1994, which in turn fueled the First and Second Congo Wars. The aftermath of these events was still having effects on the city and its surroundings in 2010. The city was captured by rebels of the March 23 Movement during the M23 rebellion in late 2012, but it has since been retaken by government forces.

Goma is the home of the annual Amani Festival which celebrates peace and in 2020 it attracted an audience of 36,000.[9]


The village of Ngoma was a port for lake traffic and a crossroads for the overland trade routes between Central Africa and the Indian Ocean. In 1894, the explorer Gustav Adolf von Götzen, following the footsteps of an earlier missionary, was traveling to Rwanda from the eastern coast of Africa and passed through the village, which he recorded as Goma.[10][11] In 1906, officers of the Congo Free State established Goma post opposite Gisenyi as a military outpost to oversee maritime activities on Lake Kivu, which later transformed into a civil status office.[12][13] Around 1930, the Goma precinct accommodated camps for laborers of the Eastern Railway (CFE), initially sited along Lake Kivu's eastern shores.[13] By the mid-20th century, Goma had become an essential hub, serving as the endpoint of the vici-Goma network and a port for the transshipment of agricultural commodities and building materials to and from Bukavu.[13] In 1945, Goma burgeoned into a state post under Rutshuru Territory's jurisdiction, experiencing a rapid demographic upsurge with approximately 1,000 inhabitants by 1948.[13][14]

The city's significance continued to rise, leading to its designation as an extra-customary center in 1945, with an estimated population of 8,600 residents.[13] In 1951, Goma was elevated to the territorial and capital level of North Kivu, reflecting its economic importance and the influx of settlers during the late 1940s and early 1950s. This period also witnessed movements advocating for administrative separation between Goma and Rutshuru, leading to the establishment of deliberative and executive bodies in Kirotshe and later in Sake.[13]

The urban sprawl of Goma adhered to the tenets of a classic colonial planning paradigm with the demarcation of separate neighborhoods for Europeans (cité Européenne) and indigenous Congolese (cité indigene).[15] The latter was limited to contemporary Birere, a densely populated neighborhood abutting the Rwandan border. Meanwhile, the neighborhoods allocated for European settlers were concentrated within the contemporary city center (quartier les Volcans) and an enclave of the Himbi neighborhood, which persists as the most urbanized, affluent, and wealthy parts of the city.[15]

On December 25, 1966, North Kivu regained its district status before becoming a region following the constitutional referendum of June 1967.[13] By July 10, 1988, North Kivu attained its regional autonomy, promulgating its status as a sovereign entity within the tripartite division of the Kivu region into provinces: North Kivu, South Kivu, and Maniema. As a result, Goma became the provincial capital of the newly established North Kivu Province.[13]

1994 Hutu refugee crisis[edit]

The Rwandan genocide of 1994 was executed by the interim Rwandan government against the Tutsi population and Hutu moderates. In response, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), formed by Tutsi refugees from Uganda, who already held control over significant portions of northern Rwanda after their invasion in 1990 and the ongoing Civil War, overthrew the Hutu government in Kigali, forcing them out.[16][17][18][19] Over two million Hutus fled the country to Zaire and many Tutsis and Hutus were internally displaced within Rwanda.[20] Various UN missions attempted to establish safe zones and facilitate the movement of refugees. Between June 13 and July 14, 1994, an overwhelming number of refugees, ranging from 10,000 to 12,000 per day, fled across the border to Goma, resulting in a severe humanitarian crisis,[21] as there was an acute lack of shelter, food and water. However, the Zaïrean government took it upon itself to garner attention for the situation. Shortly after the arrival of nearly one million refugees,[22] a deadly cholera outbreak swept through the Hutu refugee camps near Goma, claiming thousands of lives. RPF-aligned forces, which had fought in the conflict, crossed the border to Zaire and in acts of revenge also claimed several lives.

Aerial photograph of the Mihanda refugee camp

First Congo War[edit]

As early as mid-1996, infiltrated units from Rwanda began targeting Hutu refugee camps along the Rutshuru road, even before formal hostilities began. On the evening of June 27, 1996, an infiltrated group allegedly carried out an attack on the Kibumba refugee camp, resulting in casualties among Hutu refugees, soldiers from the Contingent Zaïrois pour la sécurité des camps (CZSC), and Red Cross personnel.[23]

During the First Congo War, from mid-October 1996, Rwandan infiltrations intensified, accompanied by sporadic attacks on refugee camps along the Goma to Rutshuru road by the newly formed Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL), a rebel movement led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila, and Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) led by Paul Kagame, who aimed to overthrow Mobutu's regime and accused him of excluding Tutsis from political representation and failing to prevent génocidaires.[23] The Kibumba camp, situated twenty-five kilometers north of Goma, was the first to fall under assault. On the night of October 25-26, 1996, AFDL and RPA soldiers bombarded the Kibumba camp, resulting in casualties among Hutu refugees and the destruction of the camp's hospital. Subsequently, approximately 194,000 refugees fled Kibumba towards the Mugunga camp.[23] The Katale camp also faced attacks on the same night, but Forces Armées Zaïroises (FAZ)/CZSC soldiers and ex-FAR/Interahamwe units repelled the assailants initially.[23] However, on October 26, 1996, AFDL and RPA forces attacked the Katale camp, resulting in numerous Hutu refugee casualties and the death of a Zairian soldier. They also allegedly killed several Hutu refugees using bladed weapons. Following confrontations with FAZ soldiers and ex-FAR/Interahamwe units from the Katale camp, who offered reinforcement, AFDL and RPA forces seized control of the FAZ military camp at Rumangabo.[23]

By October 30, refugees from Katale and Kahindo camps began to depart, with some heading towards Masisi via Tongo, while others attempted to reach the Mugunga camp through the Virunga National Park. However, AFDL and RPA troops had blocked the road to Goma, complicating the refugees' escape routes. On October 31, 1996, AFDL and RPA soldiers allegedly massacred hundreds of Hutu refugees who remained in the Kahindo and Katale camps.[23] Roberto Garretón, the Special Rapporteur on the violation of human rights in Zaire, estimated the casualties and highlighted the brutality inflicted on the refugees.[23]

In the aftermath of AFDL/RPA offensives in North Kivu, some refugees opted to return to Rwanda, though their numbers remained small. UNHCR reported approximately 900 Hutu refugees returning to Rwanda between October 26 and October 31, 1996. The reluctance of many refugees to return stemmed from both physical and psychological pressures, including fear of reprisals from AFDL/RPA soldiers.[23] There were reports of AFDL/RPA soldiers killing refugees who expressed a desire to return to Rwanda.[23] Determining the exact number of refugees killed by AFDL/RPA soldiers in attacks along the Goma to Rutshuru road was challenging. However, local NGOs involved in burial operations provided insights into the scale of the atrocities. The United Nations Mapping Report Team documented numerous alleged incidents, including mass burials and killings in and around refugee camps between November 1996 and April 1997.[23] The violence extended beyond the dismantling of refugee camps; Hutu survivors faced persecution while attempting to flee. In November 1996, AFDL/RPA soldiers reportedly targeted Hutu survivors from Kahindo and Katale camps, executing adult males.[23] These survivors, along with others who resettled in makeshift camps, were subjected to further attacks in the Virunga National Park, resulting in additional casualties.[23] The atrocities persisted for several months, with killings reported well into 1997. Witness testimonies highlighted the grim reality faced by refugees, with bodies discovered daily in former camp sites.[23] On April 11, 1997, AFDL/RPA soldiers allegedly massacred hundreds of refugees near Kibumba village. These refugees, intercepted while attempting to return to Rwanda, were detained and subsequently killed by AFDL/RPA forces.[23]

By the end of 1997, AFDL rebels advanced to Kinshasa, driving out Mobutu and leading to Laurent-Désiré Kabila proclaiming himself president on May 17, renaming the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).[24]

Second Congo War[edit]

Within a year of assuming power, Laurent-Désiré Kabila found himself in conflict with his former allies, and in 1998, the Rwandan government threw its support behind a Goma-based rebel movement known as the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), occasionally denoted as RCD-Goma.[25][26] The Goma refugee encampments, where Hutu refugees and Interahamwe militants had forged a militia known as the Democratic Force for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), morphed into battlegrounds as Rwandan government forces and the RCD clashed with them to assert dominion.[27][25]

On August 2, 1998, General Sylvain Buki announced via Radio-Télévision Nationale Congolaise (RTNC) in Goma that a rebellion had erupted within the Congolese Armed Forces (FAC).[28] The 10th Brigade of the FAC mutinied, leading to the swift capture of Goma by the RCD and Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), with minimal resistance. Goma remained beyond the reach of the Kinshasa government's forces for nearly three years, save for sporadic barrage.[28] Amidst these conflicts, the RCD's bias towards the local Tutsi community, Rwandan interference in provincial affairs, and the brutality of RCD and RPA troops towards civilians in North Kivu prompted many locals to join Mayi-Mayi armed groups to defend their communities. The Mayi-Mayi militias utilized forested areas and national parks as bases for launching attacks against RCD and RPA forces.[28]

With support from Kinshasa, the Mayi-Mayi and ALiR intensified ambushes and pillaging against RCD/RPA soldiers and civilian populations. Consequently, RCD/RPA control was limited to certain urban areas. In response, they increased search operations in various regions.[28]

The Second Congo War was unprecedented in Africa for the loss of civilian life in massacres and atrocities. By 2003, the Rwandan Banyamulenge-supported insurgent factions wearied of the conflict, and discord surfaced between them and Rwanda. In 2002 and 2003, a tenuous negotiated peace ensued among the myriad factions embroiled in the conflict.[29][30]

Ongoing conflict[edit]

Aerial view of Goma in October 2010

Since the conclusion of the Second Congo War, Goma has been plagued by conflict despite the peace agreements of 2002. In 2006, it became a focal point for the FARDC's 81st and 83rd Brigades, who remained faithful to Congolese Tutsi military defector Laurent Nkunda, who accused the government of neglecting to assimilate his military faction into the national army and failing to safeguard their interests.[31][32] Numerous heinous crimes were committed by Nkunda during his reign of terror. In 2002, he sanctioned the massacre of over 150 people in Kisangani.[33] In Bukavu, in 2004, his cohorts, alongside Colonel Jules Mutebutsi, perpetrated rapes and arbitrary detentions of innocent civilians, mainly targeting young girls.[33][34] Human Rights Watch clamored for Nkunda's arrest in February 2006,[33] but it wasn't until June of that year that his military faction made significant territorial gains, capturing localities like Bunagana in Rutshuru Territory, located 80 km from Goma.[35]

View of houses in Goma, 2014

Despite initial setbacks and repulsions by FARDC's 9th Integrated Brigade,[35] Nkunda's forces maintained control over certain areas like Bunagana and Runyoni, displacing over 80,000 people by December 2006, with a significant portion seeking refuge in the outskirts of Goma.[36] The conflict escalated further in May 2007 with the arrest of 14 Rwandans, including soldiers from Nkunda's brigade, and reports from MONUSCO of his militias in North Kivu wearing variegated Rwandan army uniforms.[37] The crisis deteriorated rapidly as clashes between the FARDC and Nkunda's troops intensified, leading to mass displacements and asylum-seeking in Goma.[38]

On October 27, 2008, the Battle of Goma broke out in the city between the Congolese army, supported by MONUSCO, and Nkunda's CNDP rebels; 200,000 refugees fled the town.[39] On 3 November 2012 there was a clash between Congolese and Rwandan troops on the border just north of Goma. Goma was later seized by the M23 movement on November 20, 2012.[40] During the M23's brief rule, the city endured ten days of chaos, marked by looting and executions, bringing economic activities to a standstill and forcing residents into seclusion.[41][42]

On, February 22, 2021, the Italian ambassador, Luca Attanasio, was killed in an apparent kidnapping attempt near Virunga National Park. He was part of the U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP). Two others were also killed.

As of March 2022, the clashes between the FARDC, the M23, and various armed groups in North Kivu have displaced over one million people. Among them, more than 600,000 have fled to overcrowded and unsanitary camps on the fringes of Goma.[43] Gender-based violence has also soared in the region, resulting in the prevalence of a pervasive culture of impunity. Between April 17 and 30, 2023, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams treated 674 victims of sexual violence in camps like Bulengo, Lushagala, and Rusayo, with 360 cases reported solely from the latter, a recently established and densely inhabited settlement situated to the west of Goma.[43] The vast majority of these victims were attacked while venturing outside the displaced sites in search of basic necessities like firewood and sustenance.[43]

The M23's offensive in early February 2024 around Sake, roughly twenty kilometers from Goma, exposed civilians to heavy fighting and forced more displacement towards Goma and previously settled sites or with host families on the Sake-Bweremana axis towards the province from South Kivu in the Kalehe Territory.[44] This influx of displaced people strains already limited resources and infrastructure, making it increasingly challenging to meet the needs of affected communities. Some regional initiatives have addressed the crisis, with the deployment of Southern African Development Community (SADC) forces and summits between heads of state to relaunch the peace process and secure a ceasefire in the region.[44]

On February 12, South Africa announced it would send 2,900 troops as part of its contribution to the SADC force deployed to tackle armed groups in the eastern DRC.[45] On February 15, two South African soldiers were killed and three wounded by a mortar bomb launched by M23 rebels.[46] The road to lasting peace remains fraught with challenges, including the need for direct dialogue between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.[44]

Ongoing neighborhood insecurity[edit]

Since early 2019, violent crimes such as murders, robberies, and kidnappings have plagued outlying neighborhoods, notably Ndosho and Mugunga in Karisimbi commune.[47] Ndosho, known for its bustling markets and brothels, is characterized by high crime rates and ethnic heterogeneity, while Mugunga, predominantly populated by Hutus, formerly hosted extensive refugee camps in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, alongside sizable IDPs settlements during periods of heightened conflict between the CNDP (and subsequently M23) and the FARDC from 2008 to 2010 and 2012 to 2013.[47] Although the camps have been dismantled, the neighborhood is characterized by a high number of former IDPs (Hunde and Hutu) who settled in Mugunga. Both neighborhoods border Virunga National Park to the north and the main road to Sake to the south, dividing the Goma and Karisimbi communes, with diurnal activities centered along this road.[47] A significant number of Mugunga's inhabitants, including brigands and maibobo (street children), gravitate towards Ndosho during daylight hours, lured by its superior commercial prospects. Throughout the day, encounters with insecurity primarily revolve around pickpocketing, extortion by maibobo, gang-related harassment, and coercive measures employed by security personnel in Ndosho.[47] Brigandage and petty crime have evolved into a viable means of subsistence for many and are part of an urban economy of survival and enrichment. Pilfered merchandise goods are openly sold in the markets, with numerous criminals attaining notoriety within their neighborhoods and certain gang leaders achieving city-wide renown.[47] During the night, security conditions worsen and become more violent. Most residents return to their homes, while mixed patrols of the Police Nationale Congolaise (PNC) and Police Militaire (PM) units, along with gangs, prowl around the streets. Without pedestrian traffic and under the cloak of darkness, it becomes easier for bandits, thieves, and even unscrupulous police and military officers to operate.[47]

2018–2020: Ebola epidemic and COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

A pastor infected during the 2018–2020 Kivu Ebola epidemic in the region was found in mid-July 2019 to have travelled to Goma.[48]

In August 2019, Rwandan Health Minister Diane Gashumba announced that students in Rwanda would cease attending school in Goma due to the Ebola outbreak, which has claimed the lives of over 1,800 people within the past year.[49]

The COVID-19 pandemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo caused the cancellation of the Amani Festival in 2021 but it resumed as usual in February of 2022.[50]


Goma's most-traveled Tcukudu roundabout, April 2022

The city's boundaries are defined by various geographic features; to the north lies Nyiragongo Territory, to the south, Lake Kivu, to the east, the Republic of Rwanda, and to the west, Masisi Territory.[51] Goma is strategically located on the Goma plain, which is composed of volcanic lavas and gradual slopes gently towards Lake Kivu.[51][52] The plain is bordered by the Virunga volcanic chain, which comprises prominent peaks such as Nyamulagira, Nyiragongo, Mikeno, Visoke, Gahinga, Karisimbi, and Sabinyo.[51] Elevations in the northern part of the plain range from 1640 to 2000 meters, with the volcanic fields of Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo exhibiting continuous CO2 degassing. Nyiragongo, in particular, has been active since the early 1900s, featuring an active lava lake and periodic eruptions, including notable events in 1977, 2002, and 2021.[53]

The predominant terrain of Goma is volcanic, with only a small portion consisting of slightly sandy soil.[52] The surface is covered with basalt flows, creating a skeletal soil profile. Hills such as Mount Goma, Mount Ndosho, Mount Mugunga, and Mount Busara punctuate the landscape, although some areas are relatively flat.[54] Mount Goma, an extinct volcano, lies at the public port of Goma. This hill was formed during ancient volcanic eruptions and marks the southeastern limit of the plain.[54]

Construction on the banks of Lake Kivu in Goma

The vegetation in Goma is predominantly savannah interspersed with bushes.[54] The city's aesthetic appeal is further enhanced by artificial greenery, including trees planted by landowners, which mitigates temperature fluctuations. Hydrographically, Goma benefits from its southern proximity to Lake Kivu and smaller lakes such as Green Lake in Mugunga and Black Lake in Buhimba to the west.[54]


Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies Goma's climate as a tropical savanna climate (Aw).[55] Goma is much milder than most climates of its latitude due to the city's high altitude, and sees warm days and pleasant nights year-round.

Climate data for Goma
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 25.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 20.0
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 14.4
Average rainfall mm (inches) 94
Average rainy days 16 16 19 22 18 8 6 8 15 20 22 19 189
Mean daily sunshine hours 5 5 5 5 5 6 7 5 5 5 5 5 5
Source 1: Climate-Data.org, altitude: 1,531 metres or 5,023 feet[55]
Source 2: Weather2Travel for rainy days and sunshine[56]


Goma's administrative division was established through the enactment of Ordinance Law No. 48-127 of May 22, 1989, which delineated the city's communes (municipalities) and quartiers (quarters).[54] The city is divided into two communes, each of which is further segmented into quartiers.[57]

Communes (municipalities) Population


Quartiers (quarters)
Goma 319,351 The Volcanoes, Mikeno, Mapendo, Katindo, Himbi, Keshero, Lac Vert
Karisimbi 622,105 Kahembe, Katoyi, Majengo, Mabanga-Nord, Mabanga-Sud, Kasika, Murara, Virunga, Ndosho, Mugunga, Bujovu
Goma 941,456

In response to concerns related to population density, administrative adjustments were made that resulted in the creation of new quartiers. For instance, Katoyi quartier was divided into Kasika and Katoyi quartiers, while Mabanga quartier was divided into Mabanga North and Mabanga South quartiers.[57] Parenthetically, the provincial authorities granted permission for the establishment of a new quartier, Bujovu, within the commune of Karisimbi, comprising cells from the Majengo and Virunga quartiers, namely Byahi and Tyazo cells.[57]

Volcanic activity[edit]

Due to the Great Rift Valley being pulled apart, the area experiences frequent earthquakes and the formation of new volcanoes. Over time, volcanic eruptions have directly impacted Goma, with significant lava flows destroying nearby villages, neighborhoods, and roads north of the city.[53] The 1923 and 1997 eruptions caused significant damage and loss of life, with lava flows encroaching upon Lake Kivu's shores and destroying sections of the city.[58][53][59]

2002 Nyiragongo volcano eruption[edit]

Computer image of Nyiragongo volcano generated from satellite photographs, showing the Goma-Gisenyi conurbation on the lake shore in the foreground. In the background, left, is the Nyamuragira volcano. Note that the vertical scale has been exaggerated.

In January 2002, Nyiragongo erupted, sending a stream of lava 200 metres (219 yd) to one kilometre (1,100 yards) wide and up to two metres (6½ ft) deep through the center of the city as far as the lake shore. Agencies monitoring the volcano were able to give a warning and most of the population of Goma evacuated to Gisenyi. The lava destroyed 40% of the city (more than 4,500 houses and buildings). There were some fatalities caused by the lava and by emissions of carbon dioxide, which causes asphyxiation. The lava also covered over the northern 1 km of the 3-kilometre (9,800 ft) runway of Goma International Airport, isolating the terminal and apron which were at that end.[60] The lava can easily be seen in satellite photographs,[61] and aircraft can be seen using the 2-km (6,500-ft) southern section of the runway which is clear of lava.

In March 2004, emissions from Nyiragongo volcano polluted the surrounding areas of North Kivu, including Rusayo, Bishusha, Birambizo, Tongo, Kitshanga, and Sake with water vapor (H2O) laden with fluorine and carbon dioxide (CO2).[62]

2021 Nyiragongo volcano eruption[edit]

The 2021 Mount Nyiragongo eruption forced many residents to flee their homes in search of safety.

On May 22, 2021, Mount Nyiragongo erupted with lava flows closing a road and reaching the municipal airport.[63] The Buhene neighborhood, located on the edge of Goma, was engulfed in flames, and more than 500 homes were covered in cooling lava. Parts of Virunga Energies's electricity facilities, which supplied electricity to nearly 15,000 homes in the city, were destroyed.[64] Thousands of people fled to nearby regions, with some boarding boats on Lake Kivu, which lies on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. Around 5,000 people crossed the border into Rwanda, while another 25,000 went northwest towards Sake.[65][66] The lava stopped flowing around 3 a.m. on May 30, 2021, and the Congolese government ordered the city's evacuation plan to be set in motion.[65] On the same day, residents returned to Goma to check on their homes. However, the United Nations Children's Fund reported that more than 170 children were still missing.[65] The official report on the number of deaths is yet to be released, but the Minister of Communication and Media, Patrick Muyaya Katembwe, said at least 15 people died. Nine people died in a traffic accident, four died while trying to escape from the central prison of Munzenze, and two were calcined by lava.[67]

2023 Nyamulagira volcano eruption[edit]

On May 9, 2023, lava flows were seen inside the central crater of Nyamulagira volcano. By May 17, a large glow above the volcano was visible, leading to lava flows in Virunga National Park.[68][69][70] While the lava flows do not harm the population, the volcano emits large amounts of gas and fine particles. Thermal radiation over the crater increased sharply on May 19, indicating an increase in the outpouring of lava, but the activity was still confined to the summit.[68] Effusive eruption increased further on May 20, forming two large lobes — one outside the caldera to the west and another to the south. Although not visible, satellite images on May 19 and 20 showed that the current eruption at the volcano was emitting enormous amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2).[68]

Threat posed by Lake Kivu[edit]

Lake Kivu is one of three lakes in Africa identified as having huge quantities of dissolved gas held at pressure in its depths. The other two, Cameroon's Lake Monoun and Lake Nyos, experienced limnic eruptions or "lake overturns", catastrophic releases of suffocating carbon dioxide probably triggered by landslides. Lake Nyos's overturn in 1986 was particularly lethal, killing nearly two thousand people in the area around the lake. Kivu is 2,000 times bigger than Lake Nyos and also contains dissolved methane as an additional hazard – though concentration of carbon dioxide is much lower than in Lake Nyos.[71] Nearly two million people, including the population of Goma, live in the vicinity of Lake Kivu and could be in danger from a limnic eruption triggered by one of the nearby volcanoes and the earthquakes associated with them.[72]

The CO2-rich gas location, known locally as mazuku has recently caused the death of people and animals.[73][74]


Goma serves as the North Kivu's cultural center and boasts a vibrant entertainment and performing arts scene that encompasses various media forms, including television productions, radio broadcasts, theatre, cinematic expressions, multimedia installations, and print publications. Like many cities in DRC, Goma is renowned for its lively music scene with popular genres such as soukous, Congolese rumba, ndombolo, and Jazz.[75][76] Notable figures in Goma's popular culture scene include Innoss'B, Jonathan Kuminga, Rebecca Kabugho, Petna Ndaliko Katondolo, Alicios Theluji, El Weezya Fantastikoh, Christophe Madihano, Julien Paluku Kahongya, Benedict Lombe, Patient Ligodi, Voldie Mapenzi, Mista Faba, Belamy Paluku, Willow Miller, and Vicky YM.[77][78][79][80][81][82]

Entertainment and performing arts[edit]

During the 1970s, theatrical activities in Goma flourished, with well-organized theater troupes such as AMIKI (Amis du Kivu) with Kembo and Mazingi, CLB with Tshiaba, Kainos, and Robert De Souza, and Ngoma with Mpozayo Jean-Paul, among others. The shows were held at the city's Ciné Palace hall. Additionally, the Goma Institute organized a school troupe under the leadership of the then-prefect Lumaya Ombwel, featuring talented student actors like Robert De Souza, also known as Kablan or Gilima, and Mwamba, alias Ringo.[83]

Goma is a hub of art and craftsmanship, with skilled artisans creating intricate wood carvings, pottery, textiles, and jewelry.[84][83][85][86] The city is home to Petna Ndaliko Katondolo's acclaimed multigenre film productions, which embrace a decolonial Ejo Lobi (Afro-futuristic) aesthetic that weaves together historical narratives to confront contemporary sociopolitical and cultural paradigms.[77]

The Foyer Culturel de Goma is the city's most significant cultural center, which plays a pivotal role in nurturing emerging talents, including musicians, poets, thespians, and visual artists, as well as fostering the proliferation and commercialization of indigenous culture and artistic expression within the North Kivu Province.[87][88] The city also hosts the Amani Festival, a transcultural festival drawing participants from the African Great Lakes region along with international artists and representatives of different ethnic groups from the region.[89] Goma also houses Yole! Africa, a youth cultural center promoting peace through art, music, dance, and film.[90][91][92] The renowned spectacle "Au Chemin des Urnes", hosted by the French Institute (IF) of Goma, celebrates the city's poetic, musical, and rhythmic tapestry.[93][94]


Tchegera Island is located on Lake Kivu in Goma

Despite facing significant challenges, especially during the convulsive throes of the First and Second Congo Wars in the late 1990s, Goma is a popular destination for tourists. The insecurity during those times caused a significant decline in tourism across the North Kivu Province, deterring foreign visitors and locals from patronizing tourist sites and utilizing hotel accommodations.[95][96]

Goma Serena Hotel, August 2023

Goma offers a variety of attractions such as national parks, mountains, museums, factories, zoos, exhibition halls, retail stores, breweries, libraries, mills, auditoriums, and refineries. Mount Nyiragongo, the world's largest block of lava, is located in the city and overflows its fissures daily with occasional jets of lava.[97] The Virunga National Park, located a few kilometers from northern Goma, boasts more than 3,000 faunal and floral species.[98][99][100] Tchegera Island, located in the southwest part of the city, is a picturesque destination.[101] The Maman Rica farm (Malaïka Lodge), located 120 kilometers from Goma, is home to horses, cows, donkeys, and mountainous vegetation.[102] Additionally, it is home to Goma Serena Hotel, one of the city's prominent hospitality establishments, offering five-star luxury accommodations, including over 100 opulent rooms and a comprehensive array of amenities such as conference facilities, fine dining restaurants, rejuvenating spas, and state-of-the-art fitness centers.[103][96][104] Other notable hotels include Hotel des Grands Lacs, Karibu Hotel, Ihusi Hotel, Hotel Cap Kivu, Rif Hotel, Mbiza Hotel, and Hotel Pyramide, which offer a range of amenities and services to business and leisure travelers.[95] Apart from the hotel industry, various other activities are emerging in Goma, including information technology (IT) training, language training centers, and customs agencies that facilitate import-export transactions. Ventures such as DATCO, Info service, Megabyte, and Network also provide the sale and maintenance of computer equipment, as well as internet navigation services.[95]


Goma's sambaza are small fish that are traditionally fried and consumed in the region

Cuisine in Goma reflects the region's agricultural abundance and diverse influences. Staple foods include cassava, plantains, maize, and rice, often served alongside a variety of meats, fish, and vegetables. Local specialties such as bugali (a starchy dough), sambaza (small dried fish), and sombe (cassava leaves cooked in peanut sauce) are popular among both residents and visitors.[105][75]

Mobile networks and media[edit]

Goma offers various cellular network services such as SuperCell, Airtel, Vodacom, Orange RDC (formerly Congo Chine Télécoms), and Tigo, which facilitate communication exchanges locally and internationally and play an integral role in business transactions, social interactions, and emergency services.[75]

The city boasts a variety of Swahili, Lingala, and French language radio stations, including RTNC Goma, Radio Okapi, Sauti ya Injili, Radio La Colombe, Radio Télévision Taina (RTCT), Kivu 1, Mishapi Voice TV, Mutaani, Sauti ya Matumaini, RAO FM, COMICO, and Source de Vie, offering various news, entertainment, religious programming, and cultural content.[75]

Places of worship[edit]

Goma is home to mainly Christian churches and temples such as Diocese of Goma (Catholic Church), Kimbanguist Church, Baptist Community of Congo (World Baptist Alliance), Baptist Community in the Center of Africa (World Baptist Alliance), Assemblies of God, Province of the Anglican Church of Congo (Anglican Communion), Presbyterian Community in Congo (World Communion of Reformed Churches). There are also Muslim mosques.


Cassava cultivation on the highlands surrounding the green crater lake in Goma, December 2015

Goma's economy relies mainly on agriculture, with a significant proportion of its population engaged in the trade of agricultural products. However, due to the instability of the local currency, economic transactions often involve foreign currencies.[106] Primarily centered on the production of raw materials, including agriculture, fishing, hunting, and fish farming, these activities typically employ artisanal methods and antiquated production techniques. Agricultural products are primarily sourced from neighboring territories such as Masisi and Rutshuru, supplemented by the resources of Lake Kivu, which hosts thriving fish markets along its shores twice a week.[106] Cultivation primarily focuses on garden crops and selected staples such as legumes, maize, and tubers, leveraging the fertile volcanic soil enriched by basaltic substrata. Nevertheless, the dense population necessitates diversification to ensure food security and fostering interdependence with neighboring territories and countries for supplementary yields.[106]

The secondary sector, comprising industrial activities that transform materials, is less developed in Goma but holds potential for growth, given the city's dense population, which provides abundant labor and potentially mitigates production overheads for entrepreneurs.[106] Notable production units include the MTC (Master Tabac Congo) conglomerate producing premium-grade cigarettes, coffee processing factories like SOTRAKI and ONC, pâtisseries exemplified by Au Bon Pain and Boulangerie Mont Carmel, bottling facilities for potable water, and photographic ateliers typified by Fujicolor.[106]

The tertiary sector dominates Goma's economy, encompassing a broad spectrum of service-based activities such as public administration, commerce, education, healthcare, and law enforcement. The financial sector plays a pivotal role, with banking and non-banking financial institutions serving the city's population.[106] Banking institutions like BCC (Banque Centrale du Congo), BPC (Banque Privée du Congo), BCD (Banque Commerciale et de Développement), and others provide financial services, while non-banking entities inclusive of microfinance institutions and NGOs fortified with credit components cater to various fiscal needs within the city.[106]

Microfinance institutions, including SOMIF/NFT, IMF Hekima, and PAIDEK, contribute to financial inclusion and support economic development initiatives. NGOs such as the Congolese Initiative for Autonomous Management of Populations and the Association of Support for Grassroots Initiatives provide credit and assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses.[106] The city is also home to quasi-public non-bank financial institutions exemplified by SONAS (national insurance company) and INSS (Institution Nationale de Sécurité Sociale).[106]

Goma benefits from support organizations like UNDP, APIBA, UWEKI, and CAFED, which foster entrepreneurship, provide training, and facilitate access to resources for local businesses. These entities, alongside public enterprises like SONAS and INSS promote economic growth and sustainability in Goma.[106]


Goma is represented in the National Assembly by five deputies/Representatives:

  • Jean Batiste Kasekwa (ECIDE)
  • Hubert Furuguta (UNC)
  • Patrick Munyomo (AFDC)
  • Elvis Mutiri (ADR)
  • Josue Mufula (LDIC)

List of mayors[edit]


Goma International Airport, October 2009

Goma's transportation network includes air, maritime, and terrestrial means of travel.[111]

Aviation is a significant transport mode linking Goma with domestic and international destinations. Goma International Airport, which serves as the city's principal gateway, handles passenger and cargo traffic and facilitates two international routes to Entebbe and Nairobi, serviced by Ethiopian Airlines and Jambojet.[95] However, the aviation industry in Goma has changed over the years with the emergence and departure of various carriers. While enterprises such as Virunga Air, Charter, and Sunair have ceased operations, stalwart aviation entities like société de Transports et Messageries au Kivu SARL (TMK), alongside Wimbi Dira Airways and Hewa Bora Airways persist in operating and rendering their services.[95]

Goma International Airport in December 2010

Maritime transport is also an essential mode of transportation, connecting Goma with nearby cities like Bukavu in the South Kivu Province. Boats and ferries operated by companies such as the Société Nationale des Chemins de fer du Congo (SNCC) and private operators like Rafiki and Ihusi Hotel facilitate the movement of people and merchandise goods across Lake Kivu.[112][95] Notably, boats such as Emmanuel 2, assembled locally by Congolese engineer Emmanuel Semmanyenzi, provide an alternative mode of transport, significantly reducing travel time compared to road travel.[113]

Road transport, presided over by private operators, is vital for intra-city and inter-city movement of people and goods. This sector encompasses various vehicles, including trucks, buses, automobiles, and motorcycles.[95] Goma lies on the Rwandan border and neighboring Gisenyi is connected to Kigali by road and regular buses travel between these cities in under four hours. However, road safety concerns, particularly pertaining to motorcycle taxicabs, have impelled municipal authorities to enact regulatory measures. Proposals such as mandating helmets and insignia-adorned passenger vests have been tabled, although implementation has faced challenges due to resistance from some drivers.[95]

Other features of Goma[edit]

  • The Goma International Airport accepts commercial charter flights and also, passenger flights operated by Ethiopian Airlines & Jambojet travel to Addis Ababa and Nairobi.[114]
  • Goma has four or five lakeside wharves totaling about 130 m, the longest being about 80 m.
  • As of 2014, an art gallery had opened, featuring local woodcarving, painting, and puppets.[115]
  • Goma hosts a Catholic priest seminary Redemptoris Mater run by the Neocatechumenal Way.[116]
  • The roads in Goma were in poor repair for about 2 decades, and also many roads were heavily damaged from the volcanic lava flow disasters. Many roads began to be rebuilt as of 2011, primarily by Chinese contractors, and the city is being renovated either by public and private contractors, as well as by MONUSCO.[117]
  • On March 16, 2013 United Nations Volunteers and the MONUSCO organised a Tshukudu race in Goma.[118]

See also[edit]


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