What Do You Know about Zaire?
Zaire, officially the Republic of Zaire was the name of a country that is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It used this name from 27 November 1971 to 17 May 1997. The name “Zaire” comes from a Portuguese corruption of the Kongo word nzare, meaning “river”.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, commonly referred to as DR Congo, Congo-Kinshasa or the DRC, is a country in central Africa. Capital, Kinshasa; area about 2,345, 409 sq km (905 567 sq miles).
It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world. With a population of over 71 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the nineteenth most populous nation in the world, the fourth most populous nation in Africa, as well as the most populous Francophone (French-speaking) country.
DRC borders the Central African Republic and South Sudan to the north; Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi in the east; Zambia and Angola to the south; the Republic of the Congo, the Angolan exclave of Cabinda, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It is separated from Tanzania by Lake Tanganyika in the east.
The region was explored by Henry Morton Stanley in the 1870s. The Congo Free State, which was ruled personally by King Leopold of the Belgians, was established in 1885. It was annexed to Belgium as the Belgian Congo in 1908. In 1960 it became an independent republic, later changing its name to Zaire.
This huge country consists mainly of the basin of the great Zaire River, ringed by mountains. The land is mostly rather low, except for the Katanga plateau. The north is covered in dense forest, and the south is mainly savannah. Temperatures throughout are high. There are several national parks to protect the rich wild life.
The people are a mixture of races, and include Pygmies in the forests. At least 200 languages or dialects are spoken in Zaire. The majority of people are poor farmers. Agriculture is generally poor, but Zaire has great mineral resources. It is the world’s largest producer of industrial diamonds and cobalt, a major source of many other minerals, and Katanga is rich in copper.
Some plantation crops, such as rubber, coffee, tea, cotton and peanuts are exported. Communications are very difficult in the dense forest, and the Zaire River is still the main transportation route, but it is interrupted by rapids.