Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo History

According to THESCIENCETUTOR, Kinshasa or Kinchasa is the capital and the largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it also constitutes the administrative, economic and cultural center of the country, it also has the administrative status of city and province, until 1966 it was known as Leopoldville and was It is located on the left bank of the Congo River in front of Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo, from which it is only separated by the river, exactly between the coordinates 4 ° 19′30 ″ S 15 ° 19′20 ″ E and covers an area of 9,965 km². The city has more than 9,000,000 residents, it is the most populated in Africa after Lagos and Cairo and together with the capital of the Republic of the Congo form the metropolitan area of Kinshasa-Brazzaville, which makes up the third largest conurbation in Africa.

An important part of the surface of the Kinshasa region is rural, covered by a wooded savannah with some shrubs, this is a city of strong contrasts, with elegant residential, commercial and university sectors as well as vast rural areas surrounding the city.


The first human settlements in central Africa date back to the first millennium BC. In centuries prior to European colonization, the region was already inhabited by the Bantu peoples in the middle and lower Congo region, which in turn was previously occupied by pygmies. Among the various tribes that populated the region, the Tio occupied the right bank (north) of the river while peoples assimilated to the Tio, Humbu and Mfinu populated the left bank (south).

Years after colonization, the regions were involved in the slave trade and the ivory trade; which led to a certain enrichment of the Tio people, which by that time had become the Tio Kingdom.

The first European to visit the enclave in which the city is currently located was Sir Henry Morton Stanley on March 12, 1878, when he made a journey through the African continent that had the objective of traveling from the Atlantic coast in the west to the Ocean Indian in the east.

In 1881 Henry Morton signed the “Treaty of Friendship” with a chief uncle, Ngalyema, thus obtaining the right to build a camp at Stanley Pool. Four months later, the new Manyanga camp located in the territory occupied by the present Kintambocommune, on the edges of Ngaliema Bay, between the villages of Ntamo and Kinshasa, had been completed. This area was named Leopoldville in honor of King Leopold II of Belgium, financier of Stanley’s expedition.

Leopolville was a camp that had the advantage of being located in the strait where the Congo River begins to be navigable up to 1,500 km upstream. The site was already populated by 66 villages before Stanley’s arrival and had a total population estimated at 30,000. some time later Stanley founded another station, near the village of Kinshasa (nshasa means “market”), with an agreement with Chief Ntsuvila. (From the name of this town comes the d the current city), then it was expanded with the increase of the Mpumba village. upon Stanley’s return to the Congo in 1882 The camp was almost in ruins and had to spend months rebuilding it, after which the camp prospered along with the area where it was located and became the first navigable river port of the Congo River upstream of Livingstone Falls.

In its beginnings, all the goods that were taken from the interior to the sea and vice versa had to be carried by people between Leopoldville and the city of Matadi, a river port located downstream about 150 kilometers from the coast. European investors and traders came together to create an international group to build a railway linking Matadi with Livingstone. Construction of the line began in 1890 and was completed in 1898. The economic importance of the area increased and the railroad gave the definitive impulse to the rapid growth of the city.

The city was named the capital of the Belgian Congo in 1929, replacing the city that until then was the capital, Boma, located on the estuary of the Congo River, but Leopoldville did not become a city from a legal point of view until 25 December. June of 1941. The true growth of the city began in 1945 when forced labor was ended, which allowed the increase of the black population that saw in the city a hope of employment, especially for many residents of the rural sectors who settled in the houses in the indigenous area. Among the main settlers are those of the ethnic group Bakongo.

In 1954, the city opened the Lovanium University, a special institution for natives that was controlled to prevent foreign influences from reaching its students. In 1955, King Baudouin I of Belgium visited Leopoldville and stated “The time will come when everyone, white or black, will be guaranteed their share in the government of the country, according to the qualities and capabilities they possess.”

In January of 1959 the political independence began taking strength behind the riots and this date municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections led to ethnic tensions which involved the intervention of the security forces. In spite of everything, the Bakongos nevertheless won the municipal and presidential elections. After the independence achieved in 1960, the civil war that followed led to an increase in immigration from the Balubas. In 1965 Mobutu Sese Seko took control of the country after the Congo Crisisand his second coup d’état and initiated a policy of Africanization that promoted the change of names of people and places in the country, linga became the regional language, taught alongside French. Thus, in 1966 the city changed its name to Kinshasa.

Under Mobutu, the city grew rapidly, attracting people from all over the country who came seeking their fortune or trying to escape ethnic conflicts elsewhere, all of which brought an inevitable change in the ethnic composition of the city. Although Kinshasa is situated in a territory that traditionally belongs to the Bateke and the Bahumbu. In 1991, and again in 1993, Kinshasa was the victim of looting that was followed by an economic crisis caused by an ineffective and corrupt political and economic system throughout the country. Thus the city suffered severely from the excesses and corruption of the Mobutu government and from the First Congo War, which led to its downfall.

Despite everything, Kinshasa is the main industrial center of the country, where many of the raw materials that arrive from the interior of the country are processed and it also remains one of the main cultural and intellectual centers of Central Africa, with a growing community of musicians. and artists.

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo History

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