Democratic Republic of the Congo: History

  1. 1482

    Portuguese navigator Diego Cao becomes the first European known to have visited the Congo area.

  2. 1885

    Belgian King Leopold II officially announces the colonization of the Congo Free State.

  3. 1960

    Belgian Congo gains its independence after a series of riots and unrest. The new country is renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  4. 1960

    Several events destabilize the country: the army mutinies, the governor of the Katanga Province attempts to secede, and Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba is murdered. UN troops are sent to restore order.

  5. 1971

    Joseph Mobutu, leader of the country since a coup in 1965, renames the country the Republic of Zaire.

  6. 1989

    Zaire defaults on loans from Belgium, weakening the economy. The faltering economy, along with heightened international criticism of the regime’s human rights practices, leads to a series of domestic protests.

  7. 1997

    Anti-Mobutu rebels march into the capital and take hold of it, ousting Mobutu. Laurent-Desire Kabila is named president, and the Republic of Zaire is renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  8. 1999

    Tensions emerge between Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) rebels, who are backed by Uganda’s government and Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) rebels backed by Rwanda.

  9. 2010

    An $8 billion debt relief deal is approved by the World Bank and IMF.

  10. 2013

    The M23 rebel group, which has ravaged the eastern portion of the Democratic Republic of Congo, agrees to end military action after 20 months of fighting.


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