What Is the Capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

Kinshasa sits on the banks of the Congo River, the boundary between DRC and the Congo.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a country located in central Africa with a population of over 78 million people. Congo is the second-largest country in the continent of Africa after Algeria. The capital of the DRC is Kinshasa.

Geography of Kinshasa

The town is located alongside Congo River, and before becoming the capital city of Congo, it began as fishing and trading center. This city is remarkable in that it faces Brazzaville; the capital and largest city of Congo. The two cities are the second-closest capital cities after Vatican City and Rome.

Regarding size, Kinshasa is the third-largest urban city in Africa after Cairo and Lagos with a population of over 11 million people. Apart from being the capital city of Congo, Kinshasa is also one the provinces of Congo. The Democratic Republic of Congo is made up of 25 provinces; Kinshasa is the 26th province since it is administratively equivalent to a province.

History of Kinshasa

Henry Morton founded this city in 1881 as a trading center. This trading center was named Leopoldville, after King Leopold II of Belgium who controlled DRC as his private property. Since this territory was located near the Congo River, it grew as an open port because all the goods that were entering or leaving this country had to pass through the city. However, in 1898, the Matadi-Kinshasa portage railway was officially opened providing an alternative mode of transportation of goods, which led to rapid development of this urban center. By the year 1923, this center had greatly advanced and became the capital of the Belgian Congo (this was a Belgian colony between 1908 and 1960). This center grew rapidly during the colonial-era and became one of the largest commercial centers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

When the country attained independence in 1960, Patrice Lumumba was elected the country’s first-ever prime minister. Lumumba was determined to have full control over the DRC and its resources such as uranium to help improve the living standards of his people. In 1965, Joseph-Desire Mobutu took full control of the DRC with the help of Belgium and the United States. Mobutu wanted to change everything, and that is why he initiated the policy of Africanizing the names of places in his country. It is through this initiative that Leopoldville was named Kinshasa after a village that was near this center (Kinchassa). Under the leadership of Mobutu, Kinshasa grew rapidly as people from different ethnic groups moved to this town to look for a better life and to evade ethnic strife.

Economy of Kinshasa

Since its development in 1881, Kinshasa has grown to be one of the most developed cities in central Africa. Currently, the town hosts several manufacturing industries such as Angel Cosmetics, Marsavco S.A.R.L, etc. Even though this city only hosts 13% of the total population of the DRC, it contributes to 85% of the economy. This city also hosts several learning institutions, medical facilities, and various media houses.


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