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, river, Africa
Congo (kŏngˈgō) or Zaïre (zīˈēr, zäērˈ), great river of equatorial Africa, c.2,720 mi (4,380 km) long, formed by the waters of the Lualaba River and its tributary, the Luvua River, and flowing generally N and W through Congo (Kinshasa) to the Atlantic Ocean.


The second longest river of Africa and one of the longest in the world, the Congo River drains c.1,425,000 sq mi (3,690,750 sq km) including all of Congo (Kinshasa) and parts of Congo (Brazzaville), Cameroon, Central African Republic, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola. The Lualaba River, considered to be the upper Congo River, rises in SE Congo (Kinshasa), flows north over rapids and falls to Bukama, and thence across a vast plain and through a series of marshy lakes (Kabwe, Kabele, Upemba) to receive the Luvua River at Ankoro. The Luvua River has its most remote source in the Chambeshi River, which rises in N Zambia and flows southwest into swamps around Lake Bangweulu; it emerges from the swamps as the Luapula River, continues N along the Congo (Kinshasa)–Zambia border into Lake Mweru, exits from there as the Luvua River, and continues NW to the Lualaba River. A third major headstream is the Lukuga River, which drains from Lake Tanganyika and joins the Lualaba River near Kabalo. From Kabalo, the Lualaba River flows N to Kisangani in a varied course marked by a deep and narrow gorge (the Gates of Hell) below Kongolo, a navigable stretch from Kasongo to Kibombo, a section of rapids and falls from Kibombo to Kindu, a shallow but navigable section from Kindu to Ubundu, and a section of seven cataracts—known as Boyoma Falls—between Ubundu and Kisangani that marks the end of the Lualaba and the beginning of the Congo River proper.

Below Kisangani, the Congo flows west and southwest, in a great curve unbroken by falls or rapids for about 1,090 mi (1,750 km) to Kinshasa. For most of its middle section the Congo is from 4 to 10 mi (6.4–16.1 km) wide, with many islands and sandbars. Because its many large tributaries (including the Lomami, Kasai, Lulonga, Ubangi, Aruwimi, Itimbiri, and Mongala rivers) drain areas with alternating rainy seasons on either side of the equator, the Congo has a fairly constant flow throughout the year. Between Bolobo and Kwamouth the Congo narrows in width to between 1 mi and 11-2 mi (1.6–2.4 km) but, c.350 mi (560 km) from its mouth, widens to form lakelike Pool Malebo, on which Kinshasa and Brazzaville are located. From the western end of Pool Malebo, the Congo descends 876 ft (267 m) in a series of 32 rapids, known as Livingstone Falls, to the port of Matadi.

Below Matadi (83 mi/134 km inland) the Congo is navigable by oceangoing vessels and, despite such hazards as the whirlpools of the Devil's Cauldron, shifting sandbars, and sharp bends in the river, forms one of the largest natural harbors in Africa. The river is tidal to Boma, c.60 mi (100 km) upstream. The Congo River enters the Atlantic Ocean between Banana Point, Congo (Kinshasa), and Sharks Point, Angola, and dredging is required to keep a navigable channel open. The river is continued offshore by a c.500-mi-long (800-km) submarine canyon that is c.4,000 ft (1,220 m) deep.

Economic Importance

With railroads to bypass major falls (Matadi-Kinshasa; Kisangani-Ubundu; Kindu-Kongolo), the Congo River and its tributaries form a system of navigable waterways c.9,000 mi (14,480 km) long, along which move much of central Africa's copper, palm-oil kernels, cotton, sugar, and coffee. The chief ocean port is Matadi, with its associated oil port, Ango Ango; the chief river ports are Kinshasa and Kisangani. River steamers operate throughout the year between Kinshasa and Kisangani. The Congo River is Africa's largest potential source of hydroelectric power; the most valuable site is along Livingstone Falls, where the first phase of the Inga Power Project has been completed. In spite of government initiatives, hydroelectric power is underdeveloped.

The Congo river basin encompasses the world's second largest contiguous rain forest, surpassed only by that of the Amazon. The region is biologically diverse, and a huge watershed. The forest is threatened by illegal logging and the poaching of large mammals (especially for the bushmeat trade), but two summits (1999, 2005) that brought together the nations of the basin have committed its participants to forest conservation and have led to the establishment of wildlife preserves.

European Exploration

The mouth of the Congo River was visited (1482) by Diogo Cão, the Portuguese navigator. It became known as the Zaïre River (a corruption of the local name Mzadi meaning “great water”) and was later referred to as the Congo River (for the Kongo kingdom located near its mouth); it was called Zaïre River by the government of Zaïre (now Congo [Kinshasa]) from 1971 to 1997. The Congo's lower course was traced upstream as far as Isangila by a British force under Capt. J. K. Tuckey in 1816, and its upper headwaters by the missionary David Livingstone, who followed the Lualaba River to Nyangwe in 1871. The journalist Henry Stanley traveled from Nyangwe to Isangila and on to Boma during his great transcontinental journey (1874–77), thus proving the headwaters to be tributaries of the Congo River, and not sources of the Nile as hypothesized by Livingstone.


See H. Winternitz, East Along the Equator: A Journey up the Congo and into Zaïre (1987).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



People’s Republic of the Congo (La République Populaire du Congo), a state in Central Africa. The Congo is bounded by Gabon on the west, by Cameroon and the Central African Republic on the north, by the Republic of Zaire on the east and south, by the Cabinda region of Angola on the south, and by the Atlantic Ocean on the southwest. It has an area of 342,000 sq km and a population of about 1 million (1972, estimate). The capital is Brazzaville. Administratively, the Congo is divided into nine regions and the autonomous Brazzaville district.

Constitution and government. The Congo is a republic. The present constitution was approved by a referendum in June 1973.

The head of state is the president, elected for a five-year term by the congress of the Congolese Workers’ Party (CWP). The president, on the recommendation of the Central Committee of the CWP, appoints and dismisses the prime minister and, on the latter’s recommendation, the other members of the government. The president is also the commander in chief of the armed forces.

Legislative power is vested in a unicameral parliament, the People’s National Assembly, elected by universal direct suffrage for a five-year term from a general national list. All citizens who have reached the age of 18 years may vote. The People’s National Assembly elects a directing body, the Bureau, for the duration of its term of office.

The State Council is composed of the president, who is its chairman, the members of the Politburo of the CWP, the members of the Bureau of the parliament, and the prime minister. The council determines general state policy and discusses international treaties, plans for economic and social development, the state budget, and bills submitted to the parliament. It has sole responsibility for state defense and security. The supreme executive body is the Council of Ministers.

The local government agencies are the regional, district, and commune people’s assemblies (councils), elected by the population.

The judicial system includes the Supreme Court, which is the court of highest instance, courts of appeal, and courts of first instance. The parliament may appoint special tribunals on the recommendation of the State Council to consider some types of cases. A centralized procuratorate, headed by a procurator-general, has been established under the Supreme Court.

Natural features. The country lies in the Congo Basin and on the Southern Guinea Plateau that fringes it on the west. The coast is mostly flat and straight, with sandbars and lagoons. The Mayombé Mountains, with elevations rising to 930 m, run parallel to a narrow (40–50 km) sedimentary coastal plain. The Niari-Nyanga tectonic depression to the east of the Mayombé Mountains has primarily a ridgy-hilly terrain; its lowest part, less than 200 m above sea level, is a limestone plain with well-developed karst features. In the northeast the depression is bounded by the weakly dissected granite Chaillu Massif, and in the southeast, by the Plateau of the Cataracts. The central part of the Congo, to the north of Brazzaville, is occupied by the Batéké Plateau, with a hilly terrain and such isolated outliers as the Mbé, Nsah, Djambala, and Koukouya. In the northwestern part of the country lie socle plains and monadnocks (Mount Nabemba, 1,000 m). The entire northeast is occupied by the flat, mostly swampy, alluvial plains of the Congo Basin.

The coastal zone and the adjoining shelf of the Atlantic Ocean contain thick Late Mesozoic and Cenozoic deposits (continental, salt-bearing, marine, and again continental), which form the trough between the continent and the ocean. Petroleum and gas deposits have been found on the shelf of the trough. The eastern part of the country, north of Brazzaville, forms the northwestern rim of the Congo Basin, which is filled with continental Cretaceous and Cenozoic deposits. The remaining area is characterized by protruding Lower Precambrian rocks (gneisses, crystalline shales, and granites) and Upper Precambrian sedimentary formations, which are intensively folded and contain deposits of lead and zinc ores. There are also deposits of potassium chloride, iron ore, gold, and phosphorite.

In the north the climate is equatorial and constantly humid, with two rainy seasons (from March to May and from September to November); in the south it is subequatorial, with a dry season from June to September. The average temperature of the hottest month (April, sometimes March) ranges from 24° to 27°C; that of the coolest month (July or August), from 20° to 25°C. The annual precipitation ranges from 1,500 to 2,000 mm (1,200–1,400 mm in the extreme south).

The Congo has a dense network of deep rivers. The eastern (and greater) part of the country belongs to the basin of the Congo River, which flows along its entire eastern border, and the western part belongs mostly to the basin of the Kouilou River, called the Niari in its upper course. The Congo and several of its right tributaries, the Oubangui, Sangha, Likouala, and Alima, are navigable; the other rivers have many rapids and are generally not navigable.

Vegetation is dominated by equatorial rain forests and evergreen deciduous subequatorial forests with valuable trees, such as limba and okoumé, growing on red-yellow ferrallitic soils. The Congo Basin has periodically flooded, swampy forests growing on lateritic-gley soils. In the south much of the forest has been felled and replaced by high-grass savannas, growing on red ferrallitic soils. The fauna is rich, although greatly diminished in the 20th century. Monkeys are numerous, and elephants (in the north), hippopotamuses, and leopards are still encountered. Birds, mainly forest birds, are abundant, as are crocodiles, snakes, and insects, including the tsetse fly. The Odzala National Park was established in 1940 for the preservation of wildlife.


Population. The population of the Congo is composed of peoples of the Bantu language family. Most numerous are the Bakongo, who with the related Bavili and Bayombe peoples constitute more than 52 percent of the total population (1970, estimate); they live in the coastal regions and between the port of Pointe Noire and Brazzaville. Boubangui and Baboshi live in the interior, along the Congo River. The areas bordering Cameroon are inhabited by the small Ngiri, Ngundi, and Bomitaba peoples, and the tropical forests, by remnants of the ancient population of the Congo, the Baaca and Babinga Pygmies, totaling less than 20,000 persons. The official language is French. More than half the population professes traditional local beliefs, more than one-third are Christians, and about 10,000 persons are Muslims, mainly in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

Between 1963 and 1971 the average annual population increase was 2.2 percent. The economically active population numbers 550,000 persons (1970 estimate), of whom more than 70 percent are engaged in agriculture. In 1968 there were 40,000 hired workers, excluding government employees and military personnel. The Congo is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Africa, with an average population density of about three persons per sq km. In the most densely populated regions (around Brazzaville, in the Niari Valley, and along the coast) it does not exceed 20 persons per sq km, and the extensive equatorial forests in the north are almost uninhabited. Most of the population is rural, living in tribal communes. Urban dwellers accounted for 10 percent of the total population in 1945, rising to 30 percent in 1970. The major cities are Brazzaville, with a population of 200,000 (1970, estimate), Pointe Noire, Dolisie, and Jacob.

Historical survey. The history of the Congo before European colonization has been little studied. When Europeans arrived in the late 15th century, the patriarchal and communal system had reached various stages of disintegration among the different tribes. The southwestern part of the country was part of the extensive Kongo kingdom from the 14th through the 16th century. In the 16th century the coastal region broke away from the Kongo state, forming the Loango kingdom. The colonial partition of the basin of the Congo River began in the last quarter of the 19th century. In 1880 the French naval officer de Brazza imposed on the chief of the Bateke people an oppressive treaty establishing the Congo as a French protectorate; it became a French colony in 1886. De Brazza set up a fortified post, which subsequently became the city of Brazzaville. The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 recognized France’s sovereignty over the Congo. In 1910 the region (named the Middle Congo in 1903) became part of the Federation of French Equatorial Africa. The country came under the domination of French and Belgian concessionary companies, which seized large tracts of land and exercised broad administrative powers. The colonialists forced the Africans to work for negligible wages on the construction of roads, administrative buildings, and other facilities.

The Congolese people’s continuous resistance to the colonialists at times grew into large-scale outbreaks, as in 1924, 1928, and 1930. In the late 1920’s the Congo was swept by a political and religious movement called Matsouanism after its leader A. Matsoua. Struggling against the abuses of the colonial authorities and organizing resistance to the French administration, the Matsouanist movement continued its activity even after World War II (1939–45). The upsurge of the national liberation movement throughout Africa in the postwar years forced the French colonialists to make concessions in order to retain their domination in the Congo. In 1946 the native population won permission to form political parties and trade unions, and the voting rights of Africans were broadened in 1957. In 1958 the Congo was declared an “autonomous state,” a member of the French Community with the name of the Republic of the Congo. In November of that year a government was formed by the priest F. Youlou, leader of the Democratic Alliance for the Protection of African Interests, which had been founded in 1956. The further growth of the liberation movement in Africa brought independence to the Congo, proclaimed on Aug. 15, 1960. On Sept. 20, 1960, the Congo was admitted to the UN. However, under agreements concluded on Aug. 15, 1960, France retained control over the Congo’s defense, foreign and economic affairs, and higher education, and the Congo remained a member of the Community. A constitution providing for a presidential regime was adopted on Mar. 2, 1961, and the head of the government, F. Youlou, was elected president.

The Youlou government’s antipopular foreign and domestic policy strengthened the opposition and contributed to the unification of progressive forces. Revolutionary mass demonstrations led to Youlou’s overthrow in August 1963. A provisional government was formed with A. Massamba-Débat as prime minister; it dissolved the parliament, proclaimed amnesty for all political prisoners, and appointed a commission to draft a new constitution. In a referendum held on Dec. 8, 1963, the voters overwhelmingly approved the new constitution. The elections to the National Assembly held on that day brought victory to Massamba-Débat’s organization, the National Movement in Defense of the Revolution, which in 1964 became the National Revolutionary Movement party (NRM). On Dec. 20, 1963, A. Massamba-Débat was elected president of the Congo. The NRM was declared the country’s single party in 1964 in order to fulfill the economic development plans, to combat reaction, and to overcome tribal fragmentation. The previously existing parties lost their influence and ceased to function. A single trade organization, the Congolese Trade Union Confederation, was established in November 1964, and the other trade unions were disbanded under the law of Dec. 17, 1964. The Constituent Congress of the NRM, held in June and July 1964, resolved that the Congo would develop “on the basis of the principles of scientific socialism,” and the same year saw the adoption of the first five-year development plan (1964–68). To create the state sector called for by the congress, the government nationalized several enterprises. The National Assembly voted in favor of reviewing the unequal agreements with other countries imposed during Youlou’s administration, and in December 1964 the last French troops left the Congo.

Widespread public dissatisfaction was provoked by inconsistent implementation of the party’s program and by a trend toward a regime of personal rule: in 1968 parliament was dissolved, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the NRM ceased to function, and progressive leaders were persecuted. In August and September 1968 joint actions of leftist forces, including progressively minded officers, led to the resignation of Massam-ba-Débaf’s government and the formation of the National Council of the Revolution, headed by M. Ngouabi. When a permanent government was formed on Jan. 1, 1969, M. Ngouabi was appointed president. The new leadership reaffirmed the country’s socialist orientation and called for the strengthening of the state sector and the transformation of the NRM into a vanguard party. The Constituent Congress held in December 1969 founded the Congolese Workers’ Party (CWP), the successor to the NRM, and it became the dominant force in the country. In accordance with the constitution adopted on Dec. 30, 1969, the Congo was proclaimed a people’s republic.

Many social and economic transformations have taken place in the Congo since independence: the disintegration of the peasant communes has been accelerated, migration to the cities has increased, the working class has become larger, investments in mining and manufacturing industries have increased, new enterprises have been built, enterprises owned by foreign capital have been expanded and partly nationalized, and the proportion of agricultural output available for the market has increased. Democratic reforms carried out between 1969 and 1972 include the nationalization of the Transequatorial Communications Agency and of private highways, airports, bridges, ferries, sugar refineries, and some logging and woodworking enterprises. In carrying out the decisions of the Central Committee of the CWP, steps have been taken to improve the operation of enterprises and to strengthen the directing role of the party and trade unions. The CWP and State Council (government) have intensified their efforts to eradicate intertribal strife and corruption, create an efficient state apparatus, and strengthen national unity. The extraordinary congress of the CWP held in late 1972 adopted a new program and resolved to unite the popular masses on the basis of anti-imperialism and to enlist them in the governing of the state; the congress also decided to submit a new draft constitution to a referendum. The constitution entered into force after approval by a referendum in June 1973.

The Congo established diplomatic relations with the USSR in 1964 and with the other countries of the socialist community in the following years. The CWP advocates the development of all-around relations with the socialist countries.


Political parties and trade unions. The Congolese Workers’ Party (CWP, Parti Congolais du Travail), established at the Constituent Congress in December 1969, is the governing and sole party in the country. The Congolese Trade Union Confederation, founded in 1964, has been a member of the World Trade Union Federation since 1969.

Economic geography. The Congo is an agricultural country whose economy shows strong traces of colonial rule. The export branches of the economy, especially the exploitation of forest resources, are very important. Since 1964 state planning has been introduced and measures have been taken to create and strengthen a state sector within the national economy. Industrial and transportation facilities have been nationalized, and all land and mineral resources have been declared state property. A cooperative movement is developing, and state farms are being created. Nevertheless, foreign, mainly French, capital still controls several important spheres of the economy. The government promotes the creation of mixed companies with the aid of foreign capital, but retains control over them. The bulk of capital investments, both state and private, are channeled into industry and the infrastructure, so that the industrial sector has become increasingly important. The Congo is a member of the Central African Customs and Economic Union and an associate member of the European Economic Community (Common Market).

AGRICULTURE. Agriculture is dominated by small, mostly subsistence and semisubsistence farms belonging to African peasants. There are also highly productive plantations and live-stock farms, mainly in the Niari Valley, which are owned by European colonialists and which produce for foreign and domestic markets.

In 1963 cultivated land constituted 1.8 percent of the total land area, pastures 41.8 percent, forests 47.5 percent, and other land about 9 percent. On African farms hoe cultivation is practiced, and ground is cleared by the slash-and-burn method. Farming is more intensive in the European sector. The principal food crops, produced primarily for family consumption, are manioc, sweet potatoes, yams, taro, millet, corn, rice, plantains, and various vegetables. Farm products cultivated for domestic and foreign markets include oil-palm products (grown in the forested regions of the Niari basin and in the Congo Basin), sugarcane (on the European plantations in the Niari Valley), peanuts (also on the European plantations in the Niari Valley), bananas (in the Kouilou Region), coffee (in the forested areas of the Niari basin and in the Congo Basin), cocoa (in Kouilou and the Sangha Valley), tobacco (on the Batéké Plateau), citrus fruits, and hevea. (The area and yield of chief agricultural crops are shown in Table 1.)

In 1970–71 livestock numbered 32,000 head of cattle, 38,000 pigs, 60,000 sheep, and 89,000 goats, most of which were raised on the European farms in the Niari Valley.

There is fishing in the coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean and, to a lesser extent, in lakes and rivers. Of the total 1970 fish

Table 1. Sown area and yield of major crops
 Area (hectares)Yield (tons)
1Annual average 21970 31948/49–1952/53 41961/62–1965/66 51970/71 61971/72
Corn ...............6,0002,0008,0003,0002,0005,000
Manioc ...............70,000150,000110,0002500,000850,0004500002
Sugarcane ...............100035000421 ,000550000321000041,100,0005
Palm kernels ...............8,2007,1002,600
Palm oil ...............4,0006,8006,000
Peanuts (unshelled) ...............30,000 37,000 20,00010,0009,000 20,000
Coffee ...............4,0001,6001,900
Cocoa beans ...............30004200380041 ,0006

catch of 12,200 tons, saltwater fish accounted for 10,000 tons. Pointe Noire is the country’s only fishing port.

INDUSTRY. The lumber industry is the leading export branch of the economy. Prior to 1971 the industry was owned almost entirely by French companies. In March 1971 the government nationalized the foreign lumbering companies, which held concessions over a total area of 80,000 hectares, and took over the marketing of all the timber procured in those areas. Lumber is cut primarily in the southwest, in Kouilou and in the Niari basin. In 1970 lumber production totaled 950,000 eu m of round timber, mainly limba and okoumé, of which 431,000 eu m were exported. Some of the wood is processed at local sawmills and veneer (peeling) plants. There are about 20 enterprises in the logging regions and in Pointe Noire, where 40,000 eu m of sawn lumber and 75,000 eu m of veneer were produced in 1970.

The Congo’s mineral resources have been poorly developed. The Emeraude and Agat petroleum deposits, discovered in the early 1970’s, are now being exploited (the Agat deposit lies 15 km offshore), producing 15,000 tons of petroleum in 1971. The French-Congolese Elf Congo company and the Italian state-owned company Agip share equally in the exploitation of the Agat deposit. A small amount of natural gas (16 million cu m in 1971) is extracted at the Pointe Indienne deposit near Pointe Noire (largely exhausted) and from marine deposits. Other minerals extracted on a large scale include lead and zinc ores at the M’Passa deposit (2,200 tons of lead and 4,700 tons of zinc in 1969), copper in Mindouli (310 tons in 1969), and gold in Kouilou and in the northern part of the country (121 kg in 1969). In 1969 the Compagnie des Potasses du Congo (15 percent of whose assets were owned by the government and 85 percent by French companies) began exploiting the large potash salt deposits in the Holle-St. Paul region, producing 429,700 tons in 1971. The deposits of iron ore in Zanaga, of phosphorites in Tchivulam, and of polymetals are potentially important.

Electrical energy production totaled 88 million kilowatt-hours in 1971, most of it supplied by the Djoue hydroelectric power plant near Brazzaville, which has an installed capacity of 15 megawatts. There are steam power plants in Brazzaville, Pointe Noire, Dolisie, and Jacob.

The manufacturing industry is poorly developed, although it has been growing at an accelerated pace since 1963. The food industry is important, especially sugar refining (with two plants in Jacob that produced 76,000 tons of sugar in 1970) and vegetable-oil production. Other enterprises include a flour mill in Jacob, a fish-packing plant in Pointe Noire, breweries, soft drink bottling plants, rice-hulling and coffee-cleaning enterprises, and a cigarette factory in Brazzaville. A state-owned textile factory began operation in Kinsoundi, a suburb of Brazzaville, in 1969. The factory has an annual capacity of 3.5 million meters of cotton fabric and 1.8 million pieces of knitwear. There is a footwear factory in Pointe Noire. The chemical industry (Brazzaville, Pointe Noire) is represented by enterprises producing soap, plastics, and paints. A cement plant put into operation in Loutété in 1968 had a capacity of 120,000 tons in 1971. Pointe Noire and Brazzaville have wharves for small ocean and river vessels, railroad repair shops, and factories producing boilers and metal structural components. Recently built enterprises include a match factory in Bétou and plants producing glassware and phonograph records.

TRANSPORTATION. In 1971 the Congo had 797 km of railroad track. The main transportation artery is the Brazzaville-Pointe Noire railroad; the railroad’s Bela-M’Binda branch line is used mainly for shipping manganese ore out of Gabon. The Congo has 11,000 km of highways and more than 11,000 motor vehicles (1970). The river port of Brazzaville is the starting point of a waterway system on the Congo River and its tributaries, 2,500 km of which are in the People’s Republic of the Congo. Pointe Noire, the country’s only ocean port, had a freight turnover (together with nearby roadsteads) of more than 3 million tons in 1970; the port handles not only the foreign trade of the Congo but also that of the landlocked Central African Republic and the Republic of Chad and of the southeastern regions of Gabon. The port at Ouesso on the Sangha River, put into operation in 1970, also handles ships going to and from the Central African Republic and Cameroon. The country’s two international airports are in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire.

FOREIGN TRADE. In 1970 exports totaled 8.6 billion African francs and imports, 16.6 billion African francs (figures exclude trade with other countries of the Central African Customs and Economic Union). The major export commodities are round timber and other timber products and potash salt, followed by diamonds (reexport) and, to a lesser extent, palm kernels and oil, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, sugar, ores, and concentrates of nonferrous metals. Imports include machinery and equipment, vehicles, petroleum products, food products, and consumer goods. The principal trading partners are the Common Market countries, accounting for 58 percent of exports and 74 percent of imports in 1969; France accounted for 13 percent of exports and 57 percent of imports in 1969 and the Federal Republic of Germany for 17 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Other important trading partners are Great Britain and the USA. The Congo is developing economic and trade relations with the USSR and other socialist countries, with which it has signed several agreements on technical, cultural, and scientific cooperation. The monetary unit is the African franc; 100 African francs equal 2 French francs.


Armed forces. The armed forces, with a total strength of about 6,000 men in 1971, consist of ground troops, an air force, a navy, and a militia. The president is the supreme commander in chief of the armed forces. The army is maintained by voluntary enlistment and the selective conscription of young men between the ages of 18 and 20. The term of active military service is two years. Ground troops number about 2,800 men. Armaments and combat equipment are foreign made. The air force has several transport and training planes, and the navy has five patrol vessels.

Health and social welfare. According to incomplete data for 1967, the birth rate was 41.1 and the death rate 24.4 per 1,000 inhabitants. Infant mortality is very high, 180 per 1,000 live births. The average life expectancy is 37 years. Contagious diseases predominate. Intestinal infections, geohelminthiasis (especially ancylostomiasis) and leprosy are widespread. Malaria occurs everywhere, and the incidence of the disease varies from low (Brazzaville) or medium (Batéké Plateau) to universal (in the rest of the country). The incidence of sleeping sickness has declined sharply since 1968, and wuchereriasis is rare. Smallpox epidemics break out periodically. From 25 percent to 36 percent of the Bakongo people and 10 percent of the Bateke people have hemoglobin S. Cancer of the liver occurs frequently.

The southwestern and northern equatorial forest regions are marked by a high incidence of framboesia, leprosy, and loaiasis (a type of filariasis). These diseases are rare in the regions of park forests, where genitourinary schistosomiasis (around Dolisie and Jacob) and onchocercosis (west of Brazzaville) are endemic.

In 1967 the Congo had 275 hospitals with about 5,000 beds, of which 4,700 were in 238 state hospitals (5.8 beds per 1,000). Outpatient service was provided by outpatient departments of hospitals, one polyclinic, 224 outpatient clinics (of which 37 are privately owned), 22 infirmaries, and four mobile health units. In 1968 there were also 11 mother and child care centers, three centers for schoolchildren, two outpatient departments for work rehabilitation, two psychiatric clinics, and one tuberculosis facility. Medical personnel included 101 doctors (one doctor per 8,300), of whom 91 were state employees, 245 medical assistants, four dentists, 14 pharmacists, and about 600 middle-level medical workers. Doctors are trained mainly in France and at the University of Dakar in Senegal; middle-level medical personnel are trained at a school in Pointe Noire. In 1969 the USSR built a maternity hospital with 100 beds in Brazzaville.


VETERINARY SERVICES. Among farm animals infectious and parasitic diseases (mainly endemic) predominate, particularly streptotrichosis, trypanosomiasis, and rickettsiosis. Various helminthiases are widespread, especially schistosomiasis, cysticercosis, taeniasis, and filariasis, which cause great damage to animal husbandry. Other prevalent diseases include hydropericarditis of cattle, salmonellosis, fever and erysipelas of swine, and tuberculosis of cattle. Poultry are afflicted with New-castle disease, pullorum disease, poxdiphtheria, and ornithosis. In some regions pasteurellosis has been recorded and, occasionally, rabies. Among goats various skin diseases are prevalent. The State Veterinary Service was organized in 1965. There were 17 veterinarians in 1973.

Education and cultural affairs. Since independence, especially since 1964, much attention has been given to the development of public education. In 1965 the National Assembly enacted a law placing all private (missionary) schools under state control. Since the late 1960’s expenditures on education constituted between 20 and 25 percent of the state budget, totaling about 4 billion African francs in 1970. The number of students attending all types of schools has almost trebled since independence, rising from 103,000 students in 1960 to 300,000 students in 1972. The Congo has the highest proportion of school-age children attending schools (92 percent in 1972) of any African country. In 1970 the Congo was awarded the N. K. Krupskaia UNESCO Prize for its achievements in eradicating illiteracy.

The educational system consists of primary schools, general secondary schools, and various types of vocational schools. The six-year primary schools are compulsory for all children between the ages of six and 14. General secondary education is provided by seven-year lycées, divided into two levels of four and three years each, and by four-year collèges. Vocational and technical schools, which admit graduates of elementary schools, include two-year vocational-training centers, five-year technical colleges, and eight-year technical lycées. The public education system is now being reorganized to create unified polytechnical secondary schools. In 1971–72, 260,000 pupils, or 95 percent of eligible school-age children, attended primary schools, 35,000 students were enrolled in secondary schools, and 3,000 students attended vocational and technical schools. Primary school teachers are trained at pedagogical schools, with an enrollment of about 600 in 1971–72, and secondary school instructors at the Advanced Teacher Training Institute in Brazzaville, with 312 students in 1971–72.

The Congo’s first institution of higher learning, the Center of Higher Education in Brazzaville, was opened in 1961, with faculties of law, humanities, and natural sciences. In 1971–72 the center had an enrollment of over 800, including students from other African countries. The center was reorganized as the National University, which opened in the fall of 1972. More than 1,000 Congolese receive a higher or secondary specialized education abroad; 328 persons were sent to study in the USSR in 1972.

The National Museum, which has an archive and a library, was opened in Brazzaville in 1965.


Scientific institutions. The National Council on Scientific and Technical Research, founded in 1966 under the Ministry of Planning, supervises scientific research. Within the council there are commissions on medicine, astronomy, forestry, fishing, hydrology, geology, and technology. Other research institutions include the Research Institute of Cotton and Fiber Crops, the Research Institute of Essential-Oil Crops, and the Institute of Tropical Forestry. Divisions of the French Overseas Bureau of Scientific and Technical Research are located in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire. The African Institute offers an African studies program.

Press, radio, and television. About ten French-language newspapers were published in 1974, most of them in Brazzaville. Etumba (published since 1965, circulation from 2,000 to 5,000, weekly), the organ of the Central Committee of the Congolese Workers’ Party, originally appeared as the organ of the National Revolutionary Movement under the title Voix de la Révolution. La Semaine (since 1952, circulation 7,000), a Catholic Sunday newspaper, is distributed not only in the Congo but also in Chad, the Central African Republic, and Gabon. There are also private newspapers published as bulletins in mimeograph form, including Nouvelles Congolaises (circulation 500). Since 1970 the Congolese Workers’ Party has strengthened its control over the mass communications media.

The Congolese Information Agency, the government news service established in 1962, issues a mimeographed weekly information bulletin (600 copies). The Voice of the Congolese Revolution, the official government radio station established in 1963, broadcasts in French, Lingala, and other languages. Broadcasts of the Congolese National Television Center, begun in 1963, are received only in Brazzaville and its environs.

Literature. A rich and distinctive oral tradition has existed since ancient times, but written literature appeared only after World War II. Owing to the policy of cultural assimilation adopted by the French colonial authorities, many peoples of the Congo do not have a written language. French and Lingala are the literary languages.

The first Congolese poet, G. F. Tchicaya, began writing in 1948. Born in 1931 and now living in Paris, Tchicaya is the author of the collections of poems Black Blood (1955), Brush Fire (1957), With Cheating Heart, Abridgement: Rational Words for an Analysis of Passion (1960), and The Belly (1964), and of the collection African Legends (1968), a prose rendition of African legends. Tchicaya’s poetry, which has been influenced by French surrealism, is not restricted to intimate lyric verse. His complex poems reveal forebodings about the great changes taking place on the continent and intense reflection on Africa’s destiny. The poet M. Sinda published the collection First Song of Parting in 1956. His best poems vigorously denounce colonialism. The originality of Sinda’s style consists in his skillfull use of the rhythms of African folk poetry, for example, the rhythms of peasant working songs in the poem Daba (The Hoe). The poet J. B. Tati Loutard published the collection Congolese Roots (1968), containing mostly love lyrics, and the collection Poems of the Sea (1969).

Prose is represented by the novelist J. Malonga (born 1907), who wrote the novels Legend of M’Pfoumou Ma Mazono (1955) and Heart of an Aryan Woman (1955). In the first novel, set in the precolonial period, the romantic hero gathers fugitive slaves and creates a state of universal brotherhood and equality. In Heart of an Aryan Woman the author treats the problem of discrimination and racial inequality in the colonial period. H. Lopes, a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Congolese Workers’ Party, portrays tribal conflict in his collection of short stories Tribalism. P. Loni wrote the novel Matriculation Certificate 22 and published collections of legends, fairy tales, proverbs, and sayings. Important playwrights include F. Mouangassa and L. Ambili.


Architecture and art. The main type of native dwelling is a rectangular hut with a gabled roof; the huts are arranged in rows along the main street of the village. The roof of interlaced branches resembles a tortoise shell. Ritual huts are decorated with wooden panels painted in bright colors representing initiation rites. Since the second half of the 19th century European buildings have been erected in cities.

Of the representational arts, carved wooden sculpture and masks are the most important. The expressive modeling of the figures and their simple and balanced geometric forms are enhanced by linear patterns (tattooing, hair). Facial features are clearly defined and simplified, as in the Batéké figures of guardians of children and the Bavili ancestor figures, completely studded with nails. The sculpture of the Bakota people, in which the figure has become a rhombus surmounted by a flat head, is more decorative. Masks differ greatly: the white circular designs painted on Batéké masks accentuate their geometric form, Bayaka masks are grotesquely decorative, and the conventional forms of Bakota masks intensify their extraordinary expressiveness. The most important artistic handicraft is the carving of various wooden objects, gourds, and clay vessels.

In modern art the most significant works have been created at the Poto-Poto Art School, founded in 1951 by the French painter and ethnographer P. Lods and named after a suburb of Brazzaville. Turning to local traditions, the Poto-Poto artists have created an original style for representing the life of the people (gouache and aquarelle). In their paintings, sharp contrast, precise drawing, highly expressive movement, and dynamic silhouettes of elongated figures are combined with a decorative saturation of color.

Music. The musical genres and styles of the numerous peoples inhabiting the Congo arose in earliest times and developed in the precolonial period. The musical art of the Bakongo, Bavili, Bayombe, Boubangui, Baboshi, and other peoples was restricted to folk music. The professional narrators at the courts of chiefs and rulers did not establish enduring musical trends. The music of the peoples of the Congo, especially that of the Bacca and Babinga pygmies, is associated with hunting and farming. The songs and dances performed during work in the fields and while hunting are generally improvisations. French colonial rule retarded the development of a national culture. The growth of cities in the 20th century led to the development of urban folk music strongly influenced by French culture. After the proclamation of independence in 1960 there was a growth of interest in African folk music, which had retained many archaic features in its dance and song heritage as well as in its instruments.

The art of making instruments has been transmitted from generation to generation, and techniques of playing have also remained essentially unchanged. Drums (with and without resonators) in the shape of kettles and cylinders have become particularly widespread. The orchestral ensemble is based on the toku, lokuka, lungungu, and other drums. Drums are also used to relay information and to accompany the narration of legends and myths. The art of drum playing has been transmitted by tradition and reaches a high degree of virtuosity. Xylophones (with and without resonators) are used, such as the linzi, endara, mboka, nguka, and manza. The African piano, called the sansa, marimbula, or kisansi, consists of a wooden base to which metal, bamboo, or wooden strips, or tongues, are attached; sounds are produced by plucking the free ends of the strips. Stringed instruments are represented by the musical bow, lyre, harp, and zither and wind instruments by horns, flutes, and trumpets.

African music has increasingly reflected the social and political upheavals experienced by the Congolese peoples and the changes in Africans’ world view during the 1960’s and the early 1970’s. In contemporary music, especially in large urban centers, new musical forms have appeared. These new forms develop the principles of African music, employ European instruments, and show the influence of American jazz and Latin American music. Young composers, seeking to transcend the rules of traditional African music, have been turning to new musical forms.


Theater. From ancient times the peoples inhabiting the Congo have performed dances in which entire villages participate. The dances depict activities, such as harvest work, hunting, and fishing, and are associated with the customs of daily life and the rituals of ancestor worship. The government of the republic has supported and encouraged the development of folk art and has organized rural amateur artists’ festivals. After the attainment of independence in 1960, a theater resembling contemporary European theater began to develop—amateur companies were formed and plays were written and staged. The most important company is the National Congolese Theater (director P. Mayenga), founded in 1965 in Brazzaville. The theater staged G. Menga’s play Koka Mbala’s Pot, which was performed at the African art festival in Dakar in 1966, and his Oracle, presented at the Pan-African Festival in Algiers in 1969. L. Ambili, who emerged as one of the most important playwrights of the late 1960’s, won acclaim for his Europe Accused (1969), condemning imperialism.

The National Congolese Ballet, founded in 1966, performs traditional folk dances, frequently touring abroad. N. I. L’vov


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Balandier, G. Sociologie des Brazzavilles noires. Paris, 1955.
Wagnet, J.-M. Histoire et sociologie politique de la République du Congo (Brazzaville). Paris, 1963.
Sautter, G. De l’Atlantique au fleuve Congo: Une géographie du souspeuplement, vols. 1–2, Paris, 1966.
Vennetier, P. Géographie du Congo-Brazzaville. Paris, 1966.
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Mikhailov, Dzh. “Udivitel’nyi mir afrikanskoi muzyki.” In Afrika eshche ne otkryta. Moscow, 1967.
Ankermann, B. Die Afrikanischen Musikinstrumente. Berlin, 1901. (Dissertation.)
Johnston, H. George Grenfell and the Congo. London, 1908.



(called Zaire within the Republic of Zaire), a river in equatorial Africa, mostly in Zaire, forming part of Zaire’s border with the People’s Republic of the Congo and Angola. It flows into the Atlantic Ocean near the city of Banana. In basin area and water volume the Congo is the largest river in Africa and second largest (after the Amazon) in the world. Its length from the Lualaba source river is 4,320 km (4,374 km according to other data), and from the Chambezi source river its length exceeds 4,700 km. The basin area is 3,691,000 sq km (3,822,000 sq km according to other data). The drainage basin of the Congo lies within Zaire (more than 60 percent of its total area), the People’s Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola. In terms of physical geography it encompasses the Congo Basin and its marginal uplands. According to the structure of the river valley, three main sections may be identified: the Upper Congo (from the sources to Stanley Falls, about 2,100 km), the Middle Congo (from Stanley Falls to Kinshasa, more than 1,700 km), and the Lower Congo (about 500 km).

The upper course of the Congo (the Lualaba River), flows through uplands and plateaus; here rapids alternate with level and gently flowing stretches. The greatest drop (475 m over about 70 km) on the Lualaba occurs at the Zilo Gorge, which cuts through the southern spurs of the Mitumba Mountains. From Bukama the river slowly meanders along the flat floor of the Upemba Graben. Below Kongolo the Lualaba cuts through crystalline rock at Portes d’Enfer (Hell Gates), forming rapids and waterfalls; further downstream are several other groups of falls and rapids. Between Kindu and Ubundi the river again flows quietly through a broad valley. Just below the equator it drops from the marginal scarps of the plateau into the Congo Basin, forming Stanley Falls.

In the middle course, which lies within the Congo Basin, the river flows gently with a slight drop (averaging about 0.07 m per km). The channel, with its predominantly low, flat, often swampy banks, forms a series of lacustrine expansions (in places up to 15 km) separated by relatively narrow (up to 1.5–2 km) sections. In the central part of the Congo Basin the river’s flood-plains and those of its right tributaries, the Ubangi and the Sangha, merge to form one of the largest periodically flooded areas in the world. As the river approaches the western boundary of the Congo Basin it is compressed between high (100 m and more), steep original banks, narrowing in places to less than 1 km; the depth of the river increases (sometimes to 20–30 m), and its current becomes swifter. Upon leaving this narrow section, known as the Channel, the river forms Stanley Pool, a lacustrine expansion about 30 km long and up to 25 km wide, which marks the end of the Congo’s middle course.

In its lower course the Congo breaks through a deep (up to 500 m) gorge in the southern Guiñean elevation to reach the sea. Here the width of the channel narrows to 400–500 m and in places to 220–250 m. In the 350 km between Kinshasa and Matadi the river drops 270 m, forming about 70 rapids and waterfalls collectively called the Livingstone Falls. At Matadi the Congo enters the coastal lowlands, the channel widens to 1–2 km, and the depth of the fairway reaches 25–30 m. Near Boma the Congo estuary begins; in the middle part its width increases to 19 km, after which it decreases to 3.5 km, and then again enlarges at the mouth to 9.8 km. The head and middle part of the estuary are occupied by an actively forming young delta. When it reaches the end of the estuary the Congo flows through a submarine canyon, whose total length is at least 800 km.

In the upper course the most important right tributaries are the Lufira, Luvua, and Lukuga. In the middle course the chief left tributaries are the Lomami, Lulonga, Ruki, and Kasai (the largest of them), and the principal right tributaries are the Aruwimi, Itimbiri, Mongala, Ubangi (the Congo’s largest tributary), and Sangha. In the lower course the main left tributary is the Inkisi. The Congo system has several large lakes: Tanganyika and Kivu in the Lukuga basin, Bangweulu and Mweru in the Luvua basin, Leopold II (Mai-Ndombe) in the Kasai basin, and Tumba (which flows directly into the Congo through the Irebu).

Abundant rainfall is the chief factor influencing the flow of the rivers of the Congo drainage basin. Most of the Congo’s tributaries have autumn runoff: in the tributaries whose drainage systems lie in the northern hemisphere the maximum water rise occurs between September and November, and the tributaries with drainage systems in the southern hemisphere reach their highest level in April and May. Maximum runoff in April and May is also typical for the Upper Congo (Lualaba). In the middle and, especially, lower courses of the Congo seasonal fluctuations in runoff are largely evened out because the river’s various tributaries bring their floodwaters at different seasons. Of the world’s major rivers the Congo has the greatest natural regulation of flow. Nonetheless, in the course of a year there are two distinct rises and two falls in the river level. In the Middle Congo the water rise corresponding to the autumn maximum runoff of the Lualaba occurs in May and June and is secondary to the main rise, which occurs in November and December as floodwaters are received from the northern tributaries. In the lower reaches of the Congo the main rise also occurs in November and December; a less significant rise in April and May is related primarily to the autumn maximum runoff of the Kasai River. The average annual discharge in the lower course of the Congo (near Boma) is 39,000 cu m per sec: discharge varies from 60,000 cu m per sec in December, the month of highest water, to 29,000 cu m per sec in July, the month of lowest water. The absolute extremes of discharge range from 23,000 to 75,000 cu m per sec. The average annual runoff is 1,230 cu km (1,453 cu km according to other data). The enormous quantity of water that the Congo carries to the ocean distills the seawater up to 75 km from the coast. The Congo deposits about 50 million tons of silt a year at its mouth.

The large amount of water carried by the rivers of the Congo system and their significant drop provide the area with vast hydroenergy reserves; the Congo basin has the largest reserves of any river basin in the world. The potential capacity of the rivers of the Congo basin during average water discharge is estimated at 132 gigawatts (GW), and the full potential capacity is 390 GW. Less than 1 GW is being used; the most important hydroelectric power stations are Le Marinel (258 megawatts) and Delcommune (108 MW) on the Lualaba River. The large Inga Hydroelectric Power Station is under construction (1972) on the lower course of the Congo.

The total length of navigable waterways provided by the rivers and lakes of the Congo drainage basin is about 20,000 km. Most of the navigable sections are concentrated in the Congo Basin, where they form a single, branching system of waterways separated from the ocean by the Livingstone Falls in the lower course. The river itself has four principal navigable stretches: Bukama-Kongolo (645 km), Kindu-Ubundi (300 km), Kisangani-Kinshasa (1,742 km), and from Matadi to the mouth (138 km). The last section, called the maritime stretch, is accessible to ocean-going vessels. The navigable parts of the Congo are connected by railroads. The main river and lake ports on the Congo are Kinshasa, Brazzaville, Mbandaka, Kisangani, Ubundi, Kindu, Kongolo, Kabalo, and Bukama. Other major ports include Bangui on the Ubangi River, Ilebo on the Kasai River, Kalemi, Kigoma, and Bujumbura on Lake Tanganyika, and Bukavu on Lake Kiva. Along the lower course are the seaports Matadi, with an outer harbor at Ango-Ango, Boma, and Banana. The rivers and lakes of the Congo region abound in fish (about 1,000 species), many of which are commercially important, such as giant perch, tilapia, barbel, tiger fish, and freshwater herring.

The mouth of the Congo was discovered in 1482 (in 1484 according to some sources) by the Portuguese navigator D. Cam. The upper course of the Congo (the Lualaba) was visited by D. Livingstone in 1871. A large part of the Congo’s course was explored by H. Stanley in 1876–77.


Dmitrevskii, Iu. D., and I. N. Oleinikov. Reka Kongo. Leningrad, 1966.
Muranov, A. P. Velichaishie reki mira. Leningrad, 1968.
Oleinikov, I. N. “O vodnom rezhime reki Kongo i ee pritokov.” In the collection Strany i narody Vostoka, issue 7. Moscow, 1969.
Dmitrevskii, Iu. D., and I. N. Oleinikov. “Gidroenergeticheskie resursy basseina reki Kongo i ikh ispol’zovanie.” Ibid. Moscow, 1969.
Devroey, E. Le Bassin hydrographique congolais, spécialement celui du bief maritime. Brussels, 1941.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. Democratic Republic of. a republic in S central Africa, with a narrow strip of land along the Congo estuary leading to the Atlantic in the west: Congo Free State established in 1885, with Leopold II of Belgium as absolute monarch; became the Belgian Congo colony in 1908; gained independence in 1960, followed by civil war and the secession of Katanga (until 1963); President Mobutu Sese Seko seized power in 1965; declared a one-party state in 1978, and was overthrown by rebels in 1997. The country consists chiefly of the Congo basin, with large areas of dense tropical forest and marshes, and the Mitumba highlands reaching over 5000 m (16 000 ft.) in the east. Official language: French. Religion: Christian majority, animist minority. Currency: Congolese franc. Capital: Kinshasa. Pop.: 54 417 000 (2004 est.). Area: 2 344 116 sq. km (905 063 sq. miles)
2. Republic of. the short name of Congo-Brazzaville
3. the second longest river in Africa, rising as the Lualaba on the Katanga plateau in the Democratic Republic of Congo and flowing in a wide northerly curve to the Atlantic: forms the border between Congo-Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo Length: about 4800 km (3000 miles). Area of basin: about 3 000 000 sq. km (1 425 000 sq. miles).
4. a variant spelling of Kongo (the people and language)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Instead, the Congo Free State became infamous for the atrocities committed against the Congolese population during its relatively brief existence.
In 1885, a year after the Berlin conference, King Leopold II established the Congo Free State which was not a Belgian colony, but a personal possession of King Leopold II.
Even if he did, he might not have seen it; reproduced in the English magazine, "the 'story' runs to only a couple of sentences mixed in with two paragraphs of editorial commentary on the economic situation of the Congo Free State; and even those two paragraphs are buried among a mass other miscellaneous topical information" (Firchow 129-30).
But there was one early and remarkable achievement: the transformation of historical memory regarding Leopold II and the Congo Free State. Before the 1908 Belgian annexation of the vast Leopoldian proprietary estate in Central Africa and his 1909 death, the monarch, Stanard notes, was unloved, and the atrocities in his African estates were an international scandal and Belgian embarrassment.
The atrocities committed in the Congo Free State (Chapter 7) have been the subject of a number of works, including one recent bestseller in Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost (1998).
The strength of the book lies in the sensitive and imaginative recreation of workers' experiences along the Amazonian rubber trails in Peru and Brazil, in the brutal Congo Free State of Leopold II, in the stinking factories of Akron, in the steamy plantations of Malaya, and in the deadly German and Polish factories where rubber was synthesised for the Nazi war machine.
The Belgian King Leopold II established the Congo Free State as a private corporation and during the years of the rubber boom, after the invention of the rubber tire, a brutal system of enforcement emerged that compelled the Congolese to harvest huge quantities of rubber.
(8) True, in the larger West Central African context, the history of rubber has received quite a bit of attention, but these studies have been almost entirely concentrated on the atrocious plundering of human and natural resources in the Congo Free State since the 1890s.
I recalled hearing that the good people of Denbigh were saving their pennies to erect a bronze statue of Henry Morton Stanley, and that this was causing not inconsiderable protests from those who consider Stanley's African expeditions marked by a callous violence and brutality, not to mention his association with Leopold II, King of the Belgians, and his responsibility for helping the Butcher of Congo establish his rule over the Congo Free State which left a legacy of death and destruction.
But hardly can the history of the West be written without a reference to the crucial role that the Congo Free State played in the development of western industrial might especially that of the Belgian imperial state.
The so-called Congo Free State was unique among colonies in that it became the private property of the Belgian king, who brutally exploited the area's resources.