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Kinshasa History, Zaire

Kinshasa is the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It sits on the Congo River and is often referred to Congo Kinshasa.  The city was once the site of several small fishing villages, but now Kinshasa’s has a population of more than 7 million.  Kinshasa is the third largest city in sub-Saharan Africa, surpassed only by Lagos and Cairo.

The city originally began as a trading post in 1881.  The post grew rapidly and the Matadi-Kinshasa railway completed in 1898, there was finally a more efficient route around an area of rapids called Livingston Falls in the Congo River.  In 1966, Mobutu Sese Seko finally gained control after his second coup attempt.  He began to Africanize the names of places and people.  This is how Kinshasa got its name. 

Kinshasa grew quickly under Mobutu, with many people looking to better their lives, or get away from ethnic problems within the country.  Even with Mobuto’s mass corruption at the national level, Kinshasa has still remained an intellectual and cultural center for Africa.  It has a large number of artists and musicians in the city that are often on display on Kinshasa’s streets.  However, the city recently had to protect itself from some soldiers who rioted when they were not paid.

Kinshasa also has the earliest document case of an HIV infection, dating back to 1959.  It was discovered in a preserved sample of blood from a local citizen.  Kinshasa is also well known for the 1974 title boxing fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali.  Ali won the fight and regained his title.

This Africa city should continue to grow quickly.  It is the home to many industrial businesses that export textiles to many areas of the world.  The cultural and historical life of Africa is easily seen throughout the areas of the city. 

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