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Zaïre was the name between 1971 and 1997 of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Belgian Congo became independent in 1960 as the "Republic of the Congo", the same name as its neighbour the former French colony of Congo. The title Democratic Republic was adopted in 1966, but they were more usually distinguished by the names of their capitals, as Congo (Léopoldville) and Congo (Brazzaville). In the years after General Joseph-Désiré Mobutu came to power in 1965 he embarked on an "authenticity" campaign. The country was renamed the Republic of Zaïre, after a local word for "river", General Mobutu became Mobutu Sese Seko and forced all his citizens to adopt African names, a new currency, the zaïre of 100 makuta (singular likuta ) replaced the franc, and many cities were renamed:

  • Léopoldville became Kinshasa
  • Stanleyville became Kisangani
  • Elisabethville became Lubumbashi
  • Jadotville became Likasi
  • Albertville became Kalemie

After the overthrow of Mobutu by Laurent-Desiré Kabila in 1997, the country reverted to the name Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Country code (Top level domain): ZR (obsolete – Democratic Republic of the Congo has country code CD)

Zaire is also the name of a province of Angola, see Zaire Province.

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45