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Goma is located in Democratic Republic of the Congo
Location in the Congo
Coordinates: 1°41′S 29°14′E / 1.683°S 29.233°E / -1.683; 29.233
Province Nord-Kivu
 - Mayor Polydor Windi Kwawmrwha
 - Total 75.72 km2 (29.2 sq mi)
 - Land 75.72 km2 (29.2 sq mi)
Population (2004)
 - Total 249,862
Time zone DRC2 (UTC+2)

Goma is a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi. The lake and the two cities are in the western branch of the Great Rift Valley, and Goma lies only 13 to 18 km (8-11 mi) due south of the crater of the active Nyiragongo Volcano. The recent history of Goma has been dominated by the volcano and the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, which in turn fuelled the First and Second Congo Wars. The aftermath of these events was still having effects on the city and its surroundings in 2010.

Goma is capital of North Kivu province, ethnically and geographically similar to South Kivu (capital Bukavu); the two provinces are known as "the Kivus".


Effects of the Rwandan Genocide

Goma at the centre of the refugee crisis

The Rwandan Genocide of 1994 was perpetrated by the Hutu-dominated provisional Rwandan government on the Tutsi population. In response the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) formed by Tutsi refugees in Uganda invaded Rwanda, forcing the Hutu provisional government to Gisenyi. As the RPF won the upper hand, Hutus fled to Gisenyi then, from July 13 to July 14, 1994, 10,000–12,000 refugees per hour crossed the border into Goma as the Great Lakes refugee crisis took shape. The massive influx created a severe humanitarian crisis, as there was an acute lack of shelter, food and water. Shortly after the arrival of nearly one million refugees, a deadly cholera outbreak claimed thousands of lives in the Hutu refugee camps around Goma.

Goma in the First Congo War

Hutu militias and members of the Hutu provisional government were among the refugees, and they set up operations from the camps around Goma attacking ethnic Tutsis in the Kivus and Rwandan government forces at the border. For political reasons the Kinshasa government of the then Zaire led by Joseph Mobutu did not prevent the attacks, and so the Rwandan government and its Ugandan allies threw their support behind the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Zaire, a rebel movement led by Laurent Kabila against Mobutu. Rwandan forces stormed the camps at Goma, resulting in thousands of additional deaths, and with their help and that of Uganda, Kabila went on to overthrow Mobutu's regime in the First Congo War, which ended in 1997.

Goma in the Second Congo War

Within a year Kabila had quarrelled with his former allies, and in 1998 the Rwandan government backed a Goma-based rebel movement against Kabila, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD, sometimes called RCD-Goma) made of Banyamulenge people, related to the Tutsis. They captured Bukavu and other towns, and the Second Congo War began. The Goma refugee camps, in which the Hutu had created a militia called the FDLR (Democratic Force for the Liberation of Rwanda), were again attacked by Rwandan government forces and the RCD.

The Second Congo War was unprecedented in Africa for the loss of civilian life in massacres and atrocities. By 2003 the Banyamulenge had become tired of the war and friction emerged between them and Rwanda. In 2002 and 2003 a fragile negotiated peace emerged between the many sides involved in the war.

Conflict since the end of the war

There have been numerous outbreaks of violence since 2003. The Hutu FDLR remains in the forests and mountains north and west of Goma, carrying out attacks on the Rwandan border and on the Banyamulenge. The Congolese defence forces are unable or unwilling to stop them, and as a consequence Rwanda continues to support Banymulenge rebels such as the RCD and General Nkunda, and to carry out incursions into North Kivu in pursuit of the FDLR.[1]

In September 2007 large-scale fighting threatened to break out again as the 8,000-strong militia of General Nkunda, based around Rutshuru, broke away from integration with the Congolese army and began attacking them in the town of Masisi north-west of Goma. MONUC (United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) began airlifting Congolese troops into Goma and transferring them by helicopter from Goma International Airport to Masisi.[1]

On October 27 2008, fighting broke out in the city between the Congolese army, supported by MONUC, and Nkunda's CNDP rebels. 200,000 refugees had fled the town.[2]

Volcanic activity around Goma

The Great Rift Valley is being pulled apart, leading to earthquakes and the formation of volcanoes in the area.

2002 Eruption of Nyiragongo

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.

In January 2002, Nyiragongo erupted, sending a stream of lava 200 metres (219 yd) to one kilometre (1,100 yd) 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 (10,000 ft) runway of Goma International Airport, isolating the terminal and apron which were at that end.[3] The lava can easily be seen in satellite photographs,[4] and aircraft can be seen using the 2-km (6,500-ft) southern section of the runway which is clear of lava.

In 2005, volcanic activity again threatened the city.

The threat posed by Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is one of three lakes in Africa identified as having huge quantities of dissolved gas held at pressure in its depths. One of the others, Lake Nyos, experienced a limnic eruption or 'lake overturn', a catastrophic release of suffocating carbon dioxide probably triggered by landslides, which killed nearly two thousand people in the area around the lake. Kivu is 2,000 times bigger and also contains dissolved methane as an additional hazard. 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.[5]

Other features of Goma

  • The city centre is only 1 km (0.6 mi) from the Rwandan border and 3.5 km (2.2 mi) from the centre of Gisenyi.
  • After being closed to international travel since the 2002 eruption of the volcano, the Goma International Airport now accepts commercial charter flights and also a passenger line travels from Nairobi to Goma.
  • Goma has four or five lakeside wharves totaling about 130 metres (430 ft), the longest being about 80 metres (260 ft).
  • Virunga National Park, home to endangered mountain gorillas, lies north of the city.
  • National Road No. 2 connected Goma to Bukavu and Kisangani but at August 2007 had not been reopened after the damage caused by the wars and lack of maintenance.
  • Goma was once known for its nightlife, but this is no longer the case due to the conflict.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Fear of fresh conflict in Congo as renegade general turns guns on government forces." Chris McGreal, The Guardian, Monday September 3, 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  2. ^ "U.N. says recent Congo fighting uproots 200,000". CNN. 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  3. ^ "Cooperative Observations at Nyiragongo Volcano in D.R. of Congo". Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  4. ^ Google Earth has high resolution photographs showing the affected part of the airport at coordinates -1.658, 29.237. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  5. ^ "Killer Lakes". BBC Two, Thursday 4 April 2002. Summarised at

External links

Nord-Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Goma (capital) || Communes : Goma, Karisimbi
  • Beni || Communes : Beni, Bungulu, Ruwenzori, Muhekera
  • Butembo || Communes : Bulengera, Kimemi, Mususa, Vutamba
Territorial districts

Coordinates: 1°41′S 29°14′E / 1.683°S 29.233°E / -1.683; 29.233


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

  • Goma is the touristic capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo, located in the extreme east near the Rwanda.


In 2002 Goma was destroyed by lava from the Nyiragongo volcano which buried most of the town’s streets, particularly the town centre. Since then, Goma has been a city under constant construction. The town itself is worth a visit. While Goma is reasonably safe, any visits outside of Goma should be researched to understand the state of the fighting that persists in the North Kivu province. In particular any trips out of the city should be planned with caution. The city is also the base to climb the Nyiragongo volcano along with some of the cheapest Mountain Gorilla tracking in Africa. It is also a good starting point to Kinshasa via Beni and Kisangani.

Get in

By plane

There are several flights from many towns of Congo to Goma. There is a daily flight from Kinshasa to Goma which is operated by Bravo Air Congo, CAA, and Wimbi Dira Airways.

By bus

From Kisoro, Uganda, you can take a minibus in Bunagana at the Uganda border.

From Rwanda there are hourly minibuses from Kigali to Goma, such as Atraco Express and Okapi Car.

From Butembo you can fund a Bus in Butembo bus station. They may leave early in the morning.

By boat

There are daily ferries from Bukavu via Idjwi Island. There are several companies that offer the 2-5 hour trip. Prices vary from 10$ to 40$.

  • Traditional jewellery.
  • Congolese wood crafts and canvas drawings. These are available at Ihusi and VIP palace hotels, but if you're looking for a bargain check out the shop on the roundabout near the post in the centre of town.
  • Other items, such as videos of the Nyiragongo volcano eruption, are available at the Don de Dieu shop on Rutshuru Road.



There are many cheap restaurants which serve rice, meat, chips and beans. In addition, most also serve one of the the traditional African staples ugali, which is made primarily from flour and water.

  • Colibri Hotel. Quiet restaurant with a friendly staff.  edit
  • Al Matar Hotel. This hotel has a pleasant restaurant. The menu also includes hamburgers and a delicious pizza. Pita sandwiches from 3$ to 7$.  edit
  • Salt & Pepper Restaurant. Good restaurant with Indian, Bengali, Chinese, and African food from 3$ to 10$. You will feel at home with the service n smile of staff.  edit
  • VIP Restaurant. Specializing in grilled fish & chicken, dishes 4$-10$.  edit
  • Albacha Restaurant. Serves Mediterranean foods, kebabs, fatush, falafel, and good hummus. 3$-15$.  edit


Goma has many kinds of Congolese beers such as Primus, Mitzing and Turbo King.

The proverbial Congolese nightlife is superb, and Goma is no different. In many nightclubs the tunes are a mix of local and western, and so are the Punters.

  • Dallas Club, Ave. De la Poste.  edit
  • Chez Doga, Blvd Kanyamuhanga.  edit
  • Zebra Night Club, Ave. Mapendo.  edit
  • Coco Jambo, Blvd Kanyamuhanga. The tunes are western, and so do the customers. It wakes up a bit late, but when it does, it’s a good time  edit
  • Colibri Hotel, +25008884822. A good budget option with spacious rooms in addition to gardens for campers and backpackers. Is also the location of the Goma branch of the "Go Congo" tourism office. 5$-10$.  edit
  • Al matar Hotel, Ave. la Corniche (50m from Rwanda border), +243997734710. Quiet family motel is a good value. Pleasant garden, TV and hot water. 30$-45$.  edit
  • Le Nyira Hotel, Blvd Kanyamuhanga, 0994000443. Pleasant, well maintained hotel. 40$.  edit
  • VIP Palace, Blvd Kanyamuhanga, 0997736797. 55$-225$.  edit
  • Ihusi Hotel, Blvd Kaniamuhanga, 0813129560 or 0813532300. Popular top-end hotel in the centre. Has a lovely lake view and a swimming pool. 55$-110$.  edit

Stay safe

The biggest danger in Goma during the day is crossing the busy roads. At night don't walk anywhere besides the main nightclub zone of Blvd Kanyamuhanga. It is advised to not leave valuables in hotels. Rebels have been responsible for killings of gorillas and the security situation remains precarious within the Virunga Park.

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