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Congo-Kinshasa

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Congo, formerly Zaire.

Congo-Kinshasa, officially the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is a country in Central Africa. It was originally a colony of Belgium, when it was known as the Belgian Congo, after which it became for a while 'Zaïre'. Its capital is Kinshasa.

History

The Congo Free State was formed in 1885 as a Belgian holding under the personal control of King Leopold. Leopold sought to benefit personally from the rubber and other resources in the territory. This desire contributed to treatment of the native workers, including forced labor and working conditions that led to thousands of deaths, that was widely condemned when discovered by the international community. The resulting outcry led Leopold to cede control of the region to the Belgian government in 1908.

Renamed the Belgian Congo, the colony remained in Belgian hands until 1960, when popular unrest forced the Belgian administration to hand over power to an elected government. At the forefront of this process was a politician named Patrice Lumumba, who became the country's first prime minister. Lumumba was a friend and political ally of Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah, and shared his Pan-African beliefs. The fledgling country quickly encountered trouble as Belgian soldiers returned to the Congo after the army revolted against its white commanders. At the urging of Lumumba, and President Kasavubu, the United Nations established a peacekeeping force in the Congo. After attempting to defeat the secessionist territory of Kasai, Lumumba was imprisoned by Kasavubu and Colonel Mobutu, who worried about his growing power. In early 1961 Lumumba was killed by his political enemies with the collusion of the Belgian government. Parliamentary elections resulted in the selection of Cyrille Adoula, a moderate labor leader, as the new Prime Minister. The United Nations gradually adopted a more assertive role in the Congo, reclaiming the secessionist province of Katanga on behalf of the central government.

Population