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Kinshasa Travel Guide, Zaire

Kinshasa is the 3rd biggest city in Africa with a population of almost 8 million people.  The people here are called Kinois and are known for their love of music, dancing, and how friendly they are.  This city is very vibrant, with extreme poverty and commercial wealth found directly beside each other.  French and Lingala are the two main languages that the inhabitants speak here.  Kinshasa is situated on the Congo River's south bank, facing Brazzaville, which is the capital of the Republic of the Congo.  Both of these cities are the only capitals worldwide that directly face each other.

The main artery of the city is the Boulevard de 30 Juin, which cuts right through it.  There are 3 main areas of Kinshasa:  the cité de l'OUA, the governmental area; Gombe, the residential and commercial area; and the Commune de Matongue, the popular area for nightlife.  Kinshasa is referred to frequently as the capital for African music because of Ndombolo, its famous music.  Two of the more popular bands based in Kinshasa are Kofi Olomide and Papa Wemba.

The infrastructure of the city is nearly none existent.  Road connections throughout the country are scarce or in poor condition, and there aren't any rail links inland.  The N'Djili Airport connects Kinshasa to the rest of the world, operating regular flights to the capital of Brussels.

Right now, this area is one of the craziest places that a traveler could go to.  However, when things go back to normal, the St. Anne's Cathedral, as well as the nearby art market, is a great place to go.  Travelers should also visit the Lovanium University's ethnological museum, the Aviators' and Stanley monuments, and the botanical gardens.

It is also worth spending time walking around both the new and old sections of town, looking at the variety of shops, as well as just watching some of the people.  Gombe is the more wealthy part of Kinshasa, with upscale restaurants and shops.  At night, the nightclubs and restaurants of the downtown area of Matonge are great places travelers can visit where the sounds of the city's live music rings out.  However, it is good to be know that robberies are notorious for occuring in this area.

If there is additional time for you to spend, then taking a car or hiring a taxi is a great option for driving alongside the Congo River to visit Zongo Falls, as well as stopping at the other small villages on the way.

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