Belgian Congo

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The Belgian Congo (French: Congo Belge, Dutch: About this sound Belgisch-Kongo ) was the formal title of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between King Leopold II's formal relinquishment of his personal control over the state to Belgium on 15 November 1908, and Congolese independence on 30 June 1960.[3]


Congo Free State, 1884–1908

Until the later part of the 19th century, the Europeans had not yet ventured into the Congo. The rainforest, swamps and malaria, and other diseases such as Sleeping sickness made it a difficult environment for European exploration and exploitation. In 1876 King Leopold II of Belgium organized the International African Association with the cooperation of the leading African explorers and the support of several European governments for the promotion of African exploration and colonization. After Henry Morton Stanley explored the region, a journey that ended in 1878, Leopold courted the explorer and hired him to help establish Leopold's interests in the region.[4] Léopold II had been keen to acquire a colony for Belgium even before he acceded to the throne in 1865. He was convinced that the acquisition of a colony would bestow international prestige on his relatively young and small home country and that it might provide a steady source of income. Belgium was not greatly interested in its monarch's dreams of empire-building. Ambitious and stubborn, Léopold II decided to pursue the matter on his own account.

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