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Kinshasa

Congo-map

 

 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (French: République démocratique du Congo), often referred to as DR Congo, DRC or RDC, and formerly known or referred to as Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, éCongo-Lopoldville, Congo-Kinshasa, and Zaire (or Zaïre in French), is the third largest country by area in Africa. Though it is located in the Central African UN subregion, the nation is economically and regionally affiliated with Southern Africa as a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It borders the Central African Republic and Sudan on the north, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi on the east, Zambia and Angola on the south, the Republic of the Congo on the west, and is separated from Tanzania by Lake Tanganyika on the east.[1] The country enjoys access to the ocean through a forty-kilometre stretch of Atlantic coastline at Muanda and the roughly nine-kilometre wide mouth of the Congo river which opens into the Gulf of Guinea. The name "Congo" (meaning "hunter") is coined after the Bakongo ethnic group who live in the Congo river basin.

Formerly the Belgian colony of the Belgian Congo, the country's post-independence name was the Republic of the Congo until August 1, 1964,[2] when its name was changed to Democratic Republic of the Congo (to distinguish it from the neighboring Republic of the Congo).[3] On October 27, 1971,[2] then-President Mobutu renamed the country Zaire, from a Portuguese mispronunciation of the Kikongo word nzere or nzadi, which translates to "the river that swallows all rivers."[4] Following the First Congo War which led to the overthrow of Mobutu in 1997, the country was renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo. From 1998 to 2003, the country suffered greatly from the devastating Second Congo War (sometimes referred to as the "African World War"),[5] the world's deadliest conflict since World War II. Related fighting still continues in the east of the country.

Congolese pre-history

  • Main article: Early Congolese history
  • A wave of early peoples is identified in the Northern and North-Western parts of Central Africa during the second millennium BC.[citation needed] They were food producing (pearl millet), with some domestic stock, and developed a kind of arboriculture mainly based on the oil palm. Several centuries later, around 2,500 BC, bananas were known to some in south Cameroon.
  • From 3,500 BC to 2,000 BC, starting from a nucleus area in South Cameroon on both banks of the Sanaga River, the first Neolithic peopling of northern and western Central Africa can be followed south-eastwards and southwards. In D.R. Congo the first villages in the vicinity of Mbandaka and the Tumba Lake are known as the 'Imbonga Tradition', from around 2,600 BC. In Lower Congo, north of the Angolan border, it is the 'Ngovo Tradition' around 2,300 BC that shows the arrival of the Neolithic wave of advance.

    In Kivu, across the country to the east, the 'Urewe Tradition' villages first show up around 2,600 BC. The few archaeological sites known in Congo are a western extension of the 'Urewe' Culture which is mainly known in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Western Kenya and Tanzania. From the start of this tradition, the people knew iron smelting, as is evidenced by several iron smelting furnaces excavated in Rwanda and Burundi.

    The earliest evidence further to the west is known in Cameroon, and near to the small town of Bouar in Central Africa. Though an ongoing discussion will ultimately give us a better chronology for the start of iron production in Central Africa, the Cameroonian data places iron smelting north of the Equatorial Forest around 2,600 BC to 2,500 BC .This technology developed independently from the previous Neolithic expansion some 900 years later. As fieldwork done by a German team shows, the Congo river network was slowly settled by food-producing villagers going upstream in the forest. Work from a Spanish project in the Ituri area further east suggests villages reached there only around 800 BC.

    The supposedly Bantu-speaking Neolithic, and then iron-producing, villagers added to and displaced the indigenous Pygmy populations (also known in the region as the "Bitwa" or "Twa") into secondary parts of the country. Subsequent migrations from the Darfur and Kordofan regions of Sudan into the north-east, as well as East Africans migrating into the eastern Congo added to the mix of ethnic groups. The Bantus imported a mixed economy made up of agriculture, small stock raising, fishing, fruit collecting, hunting and arboriculture before 3,500 BC; iron-working techniques, possibly from West Africa, are a much later addition. The villagers established the Bantu language family as the primary set of tongues for the Congolese

    Zaire (1971 – 1997)

    • Main article: Zaire
  • Following five years of extreme instability and civil unrest, ééJoseph-Dsir Mobutu, now Lieutenant General, overthrew Kasavubu in a 1965 coup. He had the support of the United States on account of his staunch opposition to Communism, which would presumably make him a roadblock to Communist schemes in Africa. It is also argued that the Western support for Mobutu was also related to his allowing businesses to export the many natural resources of Zaire without worrying about environmental, labour, or other regulations. A one-party system was established, and Mobutu declared himself head of state. He would periodically hold elections in which he was the only candidate.
  • Relative peace and stability was achieved; however, Mobutu's government was guilty of severe human rights violations, political repression, a cult of personality (every Congolese bank note displayed his image, his portrait was displayed in all public buildings, most businesses, and on billboards, and it was common for ordinary people to wear his likeness on their clothing), and excessive corruption. Corruption became so prevalent the term "le mal Zairois" or "Zairean Sickness" was coined, reportedly by Mobutu himself.[citation needed] As soon as 1984, he was said to have $4 billion (USD), an amount close to the country's national debt, deposited in a personal Swiss bank account. International aid, most often in the form of loans, enriched Mobutu while national infrastructure such as roads deteriorated to as little as one-fourth of what had existed in 1960. The term "kleptocracy" was in fact coined to describe Mobutu's embezzlement of government funds.

    In a campaign to identify himself with African nationalism, starting on June 1, 1966, Mobutu renamed the nation's cities (Léopoldville became Kinshasa [the country was now Democratic Republic of The Congo – Kinshasa], Stanleyville became Kisangani, and Elisabethville became Lubumbashi). This renaming campaign was completed in the 1970s. In 1971, he renamed the country the Republic of Zaire, its fourth name change in 11 years and its sixth overall. The Congo River became the Zaire River. In 1972, Mobutu renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga.

    Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. relations with Kinshasa cooled, as Mobutu was no longer deemed necessary as a Cold War ally, and his opponents within Zaire stepped up demands for reform. This atmosphere contributed to Mobutu's declaring the Third Republic in 1990, whose constitution was supposed to pave the way for democratic reform. The reforms turned out to be largely cosmetic, and Mobutu's rule continued until conflict forced him to flee Zaire in 1997. The name of the nation was returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as the name Zaire carried strong connections to the rule of Mobutu.

    • Main articles: Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Territories of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Further information: Administrative divisions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • The constitution approved in 2005 divided the country into 26 fairly autonomous provinces, including the capital, Kinshasa to be formed by February 2009.

    A new provincial map of Democratic Republic of Congo

     

    Province

    Capital

     

    Province

    Capital

    1.

    Kinshasa

    Kinshasa

    14.

    Ituri

    Bunia

    2.

    Kongo central

    Matadi

    15.

    Haut-Uele

    Isiro

    3.

    Kwango

    Kenge

    16.

    Tshopo

    Kisangani

    4.

    Kwilu

    Kikwit

    17.

    Bas-Uele

    Buta

    5.

    Mai-Ndombe

    Inongo

    18.

    Nord-Ubangi

    Gbadolite

    6.

    ïKasa

    Luebo

    19.

    Mongala

    Lisala

    7.

    Lulua

    Kananga

    20.

    Sud-Ubangi

    Gemena

    8.

    ïKasa oriental

    Mbuji-Mayi

    21.

    Équateur

    Mbandaka

    9.

    Lomami

    Kabinda

    22.

    Tshuapa

    Boende

    10.

    Sankuru

    Lodja

    23.

    Tanganyika

    Kalemie

    11.

    Maniema

    Kindu

    24.

    Haut-Lomami

    Kamina

    12.

    Sud-Kivu

    Bukavu

    25.

    Lualaba

    Kolwezi

    13.

    Nord-Kivu

    Goma

    26.

    Haut-Katanga

    Lubumbashi

    The old eleven provinces, were as follows:

    • · Kinshasa
    • · Province Orientale
    • · ïKasa Oriental
    • · ïKasa Occidental
    • · Maniema
    • · Katanga
    • · Sud-Kivu
    • · Nord-Kivu
    • · Bas-Congo
    • · Équateur
    • · Bandundu
  • The provinces are subdivided into territories.
  • The Congo is situated at the heart of the west-central portion of sub-Saharan Africa and is bounded by (clockwise from the southwest) Angola, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, the Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania across Lake Tanganyika, and Zambia. The country straddles the Equator, with one-third to the north and two-thirds to the south. The size of Congo, 2,345,408 square kilometres (905,567 sq mi), is comparable to that of Western Europe.

    As a result of its equatorial location in Africa, the Congo experiences large amounts of precipitation and has the highest frequency of thunderstorms on Earth. The annual rainfall can total upwards of 80 inches (200 cm) in some places, and the area sustains the second largest rain forest in the world (after the Amazon). This massive expanse of lush jungle covers most of the vast, low-lying central basin of the river, which slopes toward the Atlantic Ocean in the west. This area is surrounded by plateaus merging into savannas in the south and southwest, by mountainous terraces in the west, and dense grasslands extending beyond the Congo River in the north. High, glaciated mountains are found in the extreme eastern region.

    The tropical climate has also produced the Congo River system which dominates the region topographically along with the rainforest it flows through, (though they are not mutually exclusive). The name for the "Congo" state is derived from that of the river, along with that of the Kongo Empire which controlled much of the region in precolonial times. The river basin (meaning the Congo River and all of its myriad tributaries) occupy nearly the entire country and an area of nearly one million square kilometers (400,000 sq mi). The river and its tributaries (major offshoots include the Kasai, Sangha, Ubangi, Aruwimi, and Lulonga) form the backbone of Congolese economics and transportation, they have a drastic impact on the daily lives of the people. The sources of the Congo are in the highlands and mountains of the East African Rift, as well as Lake Tanganyika and Lake Mweru. The river flows generally west from Kisangani just below Boyoma Falls, then gradually bends southwest, passing by Mbandaka, joining with the Ubangi River, and running into the Pool Malebo (Stanley Pool). Kinshasa and Brazzaville are actually on opposite sides of the river at the Pool (see NASA image), then the river narrows and falls through a number of cataracts in deep canyons (collectively known as the Livingstone Falls), and then running past Boma into the Atlantic Ocean. The river also has the second-largest flow and the second-largest watershed of any river in the world (trailing the Amazon in both respects). The river and a forty-kilometre-wide strip of land on its north bank provide the country's only outlet to the Atlantic, otherwise it would be completely landlocked.

    The previously mentioned Great Rift Valley, in particular the Eastern Rift, plays a key role in shaping the Congo's geography. Not only is the northeastern section of the country much more mountainous, but due the rift's tectonic activities, this area also experiences low levels of volcanic activity. The rifting of the African continent in this area has also manifested itself as the famous Great Lakes, three of which lie on the Congo's eastern frontier: Lake Albert (known previously as Lake Mobutu), Lake Edward, and Lake Tanganyika. Perhaps most important of all, the Rift Valley has exposed an enormous amount of mineral wealth throughout the south and east of the Congo, making it accessible to mining. Cobalt, copper, cadmium, industrial and gem-quality diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, germanium, uranium, radium, bauxite, iron ore, and coal are all found in plentiful supply, especially in the Congo's southeastern Katanga region.

    On January 17, 2002 Mount Nyiragongo erupted in Congo, with the lava running out at 40 mph (60 km/h) and 50 yards (50 m) wide. One of the three streams of lava emitted flowed through the nearby city of Goma, killing 45 and leaving 120,000 homeless. 400,000 people were evacuated from the city during the eruption. The lava poisoned the water of Lake Kivu, killing fish. Only two planes left the local airport because of the possibility of the explosion of stored petrol. The lava passed the airport but ruined the runway, entrapping several airplanes. Six months after the 2002 eruption, nearby Mount Nyamuragira also erupted, and again more recently in 2006. Both volcanos remain active.

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