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Kinshasa (formerly Léopoldville or, before 1960, also Leopoldstad) is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With a population of about 7.5 million (2005 census), it ties with Johannesburg for the status of the second largest city in sub-Saharan Africa, behind Lagos, and third largest in the whole continent, after Lagos and Cairo.

Ville-Province de Kinshasa
(City flag)
Nickname: Kin la belle
Country Image:Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svgDemocratic Republic of the Congo
City Capital Gombe
Largest commune Maluku
National language Lingala
Land area 9,965 km²
Governor Baudoin Liwanga

(est. 2005)

Communes 24
Territorial Organisation - Cities


[edit] Geography

Kinshasa is a city of sharp contrasts, with affluent residential and commercial areas, three universities, and sprawling slums coexisting side by side.

It is located along the southern bank of the Congo River, directly opposite the city of Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo. This is the only place in the world where two national capital cities are on opposite banks of a river, in sight of each other.

Kinshasa is located at 4°16′S 15°17′E.

[edit] Buildings and institutions

Image:Kinshasa downtown.jpg
The boulevard of 30 June, in downtown Kinshasa

Major areas of the city include the Cité de l'OUA, home to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zone de Matonge, known internationally for its nightlife, and the residential area of Gombe.

Notable features of the city include the SOZACOM Building and Hotel Memling skyscrapers, the central market, the Kinshasa Museum and the Kinshasa Fine Arts Academy. The Boulevard du 30 Juin links the areas of the city together. Kinshasa is home to the country's national stadium, the Stade des Martyrs.

Kinshasa is served by the Kinshasa International Airport, with connections to other African countries, and to Brussels, Paris, and Madrid in Europe.

[edit] Education

Kinshasa is home to several higher-level education institutes, covering a wide range of specialties, from civil engineering to nursing, to journalism. The city is also home to three large universities:

[edit] History

The city was founded as a trading post by Henry Morton Stanley in 1881 and named Léopoldville in honor of King Léopold II of Belgium, who contolled the vast territory that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as a colony. The post flourished as the first navigable port along the Congo River above Livingstone Falls: at first, all goods arriving at Léopoldville from the interior would have to be carried by porter to the port of Matadi along the coast. The completion of a railroad in 1898 provided a viable means of transportation along the river's lower reaches and sparked the rapid development of Léopoldville. By 1920, the city was elevated to capital of the Belgian Congo, replacing the seaside town of Boma.

Image:Brazzaville ISS007-E-6305.jpg
Image of Kinshasa and Brazzaville, taken by NASA

In 1965 Mobutu Sese Seko seized power in the Congo in his second coup and initiated a policy of "Africanizing" the names of people and places in the country. In 1966 Léopoldville was renamed Kinshasa for a village named Kinchassa that once stood near the site. The city grew rapidly under Mobutu, drawing people from across the country who came in search of their fortunes or to escape ethnic strife elsewhere. This inevitably brought about a change to the city's ethnic and linguistic composition as well. Although it is situated in territory that traditionally belongs to the Bakongo people, the lingua franca in Kinshasa today is not Kikongo but Lingala. In 1974, Kinshasa hosted the "Rumble in the Jungle" fight between Muhammad Ali & George Foreman, in which Ali defeated Foreman to regain the World Heavyweight Title.

Image:Kinshasa 2003.jpg
The La Gombe district, off of the boulevard of 30 June in Kinshasa, April 2003

Kinshasa suffered greatly due to Mobutu's excesses, mass corruption, nepotism and the civil war that led to his downfall. Nevertheless, it is still a major cultural and intellectual center for Central Africa, with a flourishing community of musicians and artists. It is also the country's major industrial center, processing many of the natural products brought from the interior. The city has recently had to fend off rioting soldiers who were protesting the government's inability to pay them.

Kinshasa had the earliest documented HIV-1 infection, which dates from 1959 and was discovered in the preserved blood sample of a local man (see AIDS origin).

[edit] Media

Image:Boulevard Lumumba01.jpg
The boulevard Lumumba in Masina

Kinshasa is home to a large number of radio and TV stations. The National TV is housed in the city. Its 2 channels reach more or less the entire country. In addition to these stations, there are nearly a dozen terrestrial stations reaching the environs of the city, and sometimes a bit beyond.

[edit] Transport

Image:Kinshasa 2001.jpg
Kinshasa, Kongo, 2001

Kinshasa is linked by ferry from the river port (called the "Beach Ngobila"), across the Congo river, to Brazzaville. There are also river transports upstream to places inland, such as Kisangani and Bangui.

There are road and rail links to Matadi, the major sea port on the Atlantic Ocean.

There are no rail links inland and road connections to much of the rest of the country are in poor condition or scarce.

Kinshasa's airport is at N'Djili.

[edit] The Arts

[edit] External links

[edit] See also

Communes of the city of Kinshasa Image:Kinshasa-flag.png
Bandalungwa | Barumbu | Bumbu | La Gombe | Kalamu | Kasa-Vubu | Kimbanseke | Kinshasa (commune) | Kintambo | Kisenso | Lemba | Limete | Lingwala | Makala | Maluku | Masina | Matete | Mont Ngafula | N'Djili | Ngaba | Ngaliema | Ngiri-Ngiri | N'sele | Selembao
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