The Democratic Republic of the Congo (French: République démocratique du Congo [kɔ̃ɡo]), also known as DR Congo, the DRC, Congo-Kinshasa or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. It is sometimes referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997. The DRC borders the Central African Republic and South Sudan to the north; Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to the east; Zambia to the south; Angola to the southwest; and the Republic of the Congo and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It is the second-largest country in Africa after Algeria, (the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa) by area and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 78 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated officially Francophone country, the fourth-most-populated country in Africa and the 16th-most-populated country in the world.
Centred on the Congo Basin, the territory of the DRC was first inhabited by Central African foragers around 90,000 years ago and was reached by the Bantu expansion about 3,000 years ago. In the west, the Bantu Kingdom of Kongo ruled around the mouth of the Congo River from the 14th to 19th centuries. In the centre and east, the kingdoms of Luba and Lunda ruled from the 16th and 17th centuries to the 19th century. In the 1870s, just before the onset of the Scramble for Africa, European exploration of the Congo Basin was carried out, first led by Henry Morton Stanley under the sponsorship of King Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold formally acquired rights to the Congo territory at the Berlin Conference in 1885 and made the land his private property, naming it the Congo Free State. During the Free State, the colonial military unit, the Force Publique, forced the local population to produce rubber, and from 1885 to 1908 millions of Congolese died as a consequence of disease and exploitation. In 1908, Belgium, despite initial reluctance, formally annexed the Free State, which became the Belgian Congo.
The Belgian Congo achieved independence on 30 June 1960 under the name Republic of the Congo. Congolese nationalist Patrice Lumumba was elected the first Prime Minister, while Joseph Kasa-Vubu became the first President. Conflict arose over the administration of the territory, which became known as the Congo Crisis. The provinces of Katanga, under Moïse Tshombe, and South Kasai attempted to secede. After Lumumba turned to the Soviet Union for assistance in the crisis, the U.S. and Belgium became wary and oversaw his removal from office by Kasa-Vubu on 5 September and ultimate execution by Belgian-led Katangese troops on 17 January 1961. On 25 November 1965, Army Chief of Staff Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who later renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko, officially came into power through a coup d'état. In 1971, he renamed the country Zaire. The country was run as a dictatorial one-party state, with his Popular Movement of the Revolution as the sole legal party. Mobutu's government received considerable support from the United States, due to its anti-communist stance during the Cold War. By the early 1990s, Mobutu's government began to weaken. Destabilisation in the east resulting from the 1994 Rwandan genocide and disenfranchisement among the eastern Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsi) population led to a 1996 invasion led by Tutsi FPR-ruled Rwanda, which began the First Congo War.
is the capital
and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
. With a population of about 7.5 million (2005 census), it ties with Johannesburg
for the status of the second largest city in sub-Saharan Africa
, behind Lagos
, and third largest in the whole continent, after Lagos and Cairo
Kinshasa is a city of sharp contrasts, with posh residential and commercial areas, two universities, and sprawling slums coexisting side by side. It is located along the southern bank of the Congo River, directly opposite the city of Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo. Kinshasa is located at 4°16′S 15°17′E / 4.267°S 15.283°E.
Notable features of the city include the SOZACOM Building and Hotel Memling skyscrapers, the central market, the Kinshasa Museum and the Kinshasa Fine Arts Academy. The Boulevard du 30 Juin links the areas of the city together. (continued...)
Did you know
Antoine Koffi Olomide (born August 13, 1958), is a Congolese soukous singer, producer, and composer.
Born in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo to a Congolese father and Ghanaian mother, Koffi grew up in Kinshasa. He went to France to study where he earned a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in mathematics from the University of Paris. While in Paris, he began playing the guitar and writing songs. On his return to Congo he was a member of Viva la Musica, Papa Wemba's band. Koffi repopularized the slower style of soukous, which had fallen out of fashion. He dubbed this style Tcha Tcho, and it gained popularity outside Congo. Koffi's music can be quite controversial, taking on current events and topics considered taboo in some conservative societies. He has also participated in the salsa music project Africando.. (continued...)
"In our African tradition...can anyone tell me that he has ever known a village that has two chiefs?"
- — Mobutu Sese Seko, explaining the dominance of his ruling party
Topics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo