According to anycountyprivateschools, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a Central African state (formerly Belgian Congo, Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1960-66, Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1966-71, Zaire in 1971-97). It is one of the largest African states and occupies a large part of the Congo River basin (or Zaire), with its large forests and mineral resources. The capital Kinshasa (formerly Léopoldville) and the small ocean outlet are in the far West, while the territorial mass of the DRC is a composite whole from an environmental and human point of view, strongly regionalized and with fundamental problems in terms of national homogeneity that reflect in its troubled history. Originally populated by pygmoid communities (➔ twa), the country saw the settlement of Bantu groups from the 1st millennium Democratic Republic of the Congo Between the 15th and the 20th century. several great kingdoms flourished there (Luba, Lunda, Congo, Kuba, Kazembe, Mwata Yamvo, Azande, Mangbetu, Tippu Tib, Msiri). Since 1876 it was the object of the mining and forestry interests of King Leopold II of Belgium, who created a personal possession there, the Free State of Congo (1885), whose administration, after the scandals caused by the wild exploitation of local labor, passed to Parliament of Belgium (1908). Belgian colonialism, based on large mining and agricultural concessions, a white administrative bureaucracy and the social and welfare role of the Catholic Church, did not favor the growth of indigenous middle classes. Anti-colonialism was first expressed by the ethnic movement of the Kongo peoples, the Alliance des Ba Kongo (ABAKO) by J. Kasavubu. Other ethnic-regional formations advocated a federal state, opposed instead by the socialist-inspired Mouvement national congolais (MNC) of P. Lumumba. Having reached an agreement for a unitary state with provincial autonomies, Kasavubu became president of the Republic of Congo, which became independent on 30 June 1960, while Lumumba, winner in the elections, was head of the government. However, a military mutiny (August) led to the intervention of Belgian troops, while the mining region of Katanga, led by M. Tshombe, proclaimed the secession, supported in fact by Belgium, and the general JD Mobutu (➔ Mobutu Sese Seko) assumed a role of guardianship of the government.
Having obtained the intervention of the UN, Lumumba asked the USSR for logistical assistance, making the crisis a scenario of cold war. Lumumba was killed (1961) in the very hard civil war that lasted until 1963, when the secession returned. Instability and rebellions (➔ Mulele, Pierre) led to the military coup of Mobutu (1965), which carried out an autocratic and centralist turn. In 1971 he imposed a single party, renamed the country (which in 1966 had already changed its name to DRC) Zaire and formulated a doctrine of national cultural “authenticity”. France and Morocco helped Mobutu to suppress new secessionist outbreaks in Katanga (1977 and 1978). A crucial African client-ally for the US, Mobutu enjoyed external support but led a corrupt and violent system. Pressures from below for a reform intensified at the end of the 1980s and in 1990 Mobutu said he was ready to return to multi-partyism, but he carried out new bloody repressions that alienated his old external supporters (United States and Belgium above all), who, the Cold War, they were abandoning it. The National Constituent Conference convened in 1991 was wrecked due to the fragmentation of the opposition (on an ethnic-regional basis) and the resistance of the president, despite strong protests led by the Catholic Church. In 1994 Mobutu, increasingly isolated, accepted formal constitutional changes as the country slipped into anarchy.
At the end of 1996 Laurent Kabila, an old dissident, supported by Tutsi militias of Kivu and by forces from Uganda and Rwanda, he marched on Kinshasa and occupied it in May 1997, while Mobutu fled. Having assumed the presidency, Kabila re-established the DRC denomination and seemed to initiate democratic reforms, but in reality he consolidated his power. In 1998 he broke with Rwanda and Uganda, who refused to evacuate the occupied (mining) areas in the East and who turned him against his former local allies, while forces from Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia intervened to support Kabila. The DRC plunged into a devastating internal and international conflict, complicated by cross-cutting aims over its huge natural resources. In 2001 Kabila was assassinated. He was succeeded by his son, Joseph. The civil war lasted until the Pretoria agreement (December 2002) – proposed by the UN and mediated by South Africa – which provided for a division of power, the withdrawal of foreign troops and a democratic transition. The country was devastated, over 3 million dead, the economy destroyed. It was the bloodiest conflict since the Second World War. In a situation of extreme internal fragility, growing violence, weakness of the central power, rampant corruption, Kabila won free elections in 2006 under international supervision. Kivu, in the East, remained an area of conflict and the peace agreement of December 2008 between the government and local militias was soon broken by the rebel officer Laurent Nkunda, then arrested thanks to an agreement with Rwanda (2009).