"Léopoldville" redirects here. For other uses, see Leopoldville.
Ville de Kinshasa
Ville-province (city-province)

City сentre


Nickname(s): Kin la belle
(English: Kin the beautiful)

DRC, highlighting the city-province of Kinshasa

DRC, highlighting the city-province of Kinshasa

Coordinates: 4°19′30″S 15°19′20″E / 4.32500°S 15.32222°E / -4.32500; 15.32222Coordinates: 4°19′30″S 15°19′20″E / 4.32500°S 15.32222°E / -4.32500; 15.32222
Country  Democratic Republic of the Congo
Province Kinshasa
Founded 1881
Administrative HQ La Gombe
  Governor André Kimbuta
  City-province 9,965 km2 (3,848 sq mi)
  Urban[2] 583 km2 (225 sq mi)
Elevation 240 m (790 ft)
Population (2014)[2]
  City-province 10,125,000
  Density 1,000/km2 (2,600/sq mi)
  Urban[2] 21,265,000
  Urban density 36,000/km2 (94,000/sq mi)
  Language French, Lingala
Time zone GMT+1
Area code(s) 243 + 9
HDI 0.58 Medium (2012)[3]

Kinshasa (/kɪnˈʃɑːsə/; formerly Leopoldville (French: Léopoldville or Dutch  Leopoldstad )) is the capital and the largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is on the Congo River.

Once a site of fishing villages, Kinshasa is now an urban area with a 2014 population of over 11 million.[2] It faces Brazzaville, the capital of the neighboring Republic of the Congo, which can be seen in the distance across the wide Congo River, making them the two closest capital cities on Earth. The city of Kinshasa is also one of the DRC's 26 provinces. Because the administrative boundaries of the city-province cover a vast area, over 90% of the city-province's land is rural in nature, and the urban area only occupies a small section in the far western end of the city-province.[1]

Kinshasa is Africa's third-largest urban area after Cairo and Lagos.[2] It is also the world's largest "francophone" urban area (recently surpassing Paris in population),[4][5] with French being the language of government, schools, newspapers, public services and high-end commerce in the city, while Lingala is used as a lingua franca in the street.[6] Kinshasa hosted the 14th Francophonie Summit in October 2012.[7]

Residents of Kinshasa are known as Kinois (in French and sometimes in English) or Kinshasans (English).


View of Léopoldville station and port (1884)
Kinshassa village (1912)

The city was founded as a trading post by Henry Morton Stanley in 1881. It was named Léopoldville in honor of King Leopold II of Belgium, who controlled the vast territory that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, not as a colony but as a private property. The post flourished as the first navigable port on the Congo River above Livingstone Falls, a series of rapids over 300 kilometres (190 miles) below Leopoldville. At first, all goods arriving by sea or being sent by sea had to be carried by porters between Léopoldville and Matadi, the port below the rapids and 150 km (93 mi) from the coast. The completion of the Matadi-Kinshasa portage railway, in 1898, provided an alternative route around the rapids and sparked the rapid development of Léopoldville. In 1914, a pipeline was installed so that crude oil could be transported from Matadi to the upriver steamers in Leopoldville.[8] By 1923, the city was elevated to capital of the Belgian Congo, replacing the town of Boma in the Congo estuary.[8] The town, nicknamed "Léo" or "Leopold", became a commercial centre and grew rapidly during the colonial period.

In 1965, Joseph-Désiré Mobutu seized power in the Congo in his second coup and initiated a policy of "Africanizing" the names of people and places in the country. In 1966, Léopoldville was renamed Kinshasa, for a village named Kinchassa that once stood near the site, today Kinshasa (commune). The city grew rapidly under Mobutu, drawing people from across the country who came in search of their fortunes or to escape ethnic strife elsewhere. This inevitably brought a change to the city's ethnic and linguistic composition. Although it is situated in territory that traditionally belongs to the Bateke and Bahumbu people, the lingua franca among African languages in Kinshasa today is Lingala, and the administrative and main written language is French (see further Languages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo). In 1974, Kinshasa hosted The Rumble in the Jungle boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, in which Ali defeated Foreman, to regain the World Heavyweight title.

In the 1990s, a rebel uprising began, which, by 1997, had brought down the regime of Mobutu.[8] Kinshasa suffered greatly from Mobutu's excesses, mass corruption, nepotism and the civil war that led to his downfall. Nevertheless, it is still a major cultural and intellectual center for Central Africa, with a flourishing community of musicians and artists. It is also the country's major industrial center, processing many of the natural products brought from the interior. The city has recently had to fend off rioting soldiers, who were protesting the government's failure to pay them.


Kinshasa is both a city (ville in French) and a province (province in French), one of the 11 provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its status is thus similar to Paris which is both a city and one of the 101 departments of France.

Administrative divisions

Main article: Communes of Kinshasa

The ville-province of Kinshasa is divided into four districts which are further divided into 24 communes (municipalities).[1]

The 24 communes of Kinshasa
Abbreviations : Kal. (Kalamu), Kin. (Kinshasa), K.-V. (Kasa-Vubu), Ling. (Lingwala), Ng.-Ng. (Ngiri-Ngiri)


Kinshasa is a city of sharp contrasts, with affluent residential and commercial areas and three universities alongside sprawling slums. It is located along the south bank of the Congo River, directly opposite the city of Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo.

The Congo river is the second longest river in Africa after the Nile, and has the continent's greatest discharge. As a waterway it provides a means of transport for much of the Congo basin; it is navigable for large river barges between Kinshasa and Kisangani, and many of its tributaries are also navigable. The river is an important source of hydroelectric power, and downstream from Kinshasa it has the potential to generate power equivalent to the usage of roughly half of Africa's population.[9]


Under the Köppen climate classification, Kinshasa has a Tropical wet and dry climate. Its lengthy rainy season spans from October through May, with a relatively short dry season, between June and September. Kinshasa lies south of the equator, so its dry season begins around its "winter" solstice, which is in June. This is in contrast to African cities further north featuring this climate where the dry season typically begins around January. Kinshasa's dry season is slightly cooler than its wet season, though temperatures remain relatively constant throughout the year.

Climate data for Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 36
Average high °C (°F) 30.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 25.9
Average low °C (°F) 21.2
Record low °C (°F) 18
Average precipitation mm (inches) 163
Average precipitation days 12 12 14 17 12 1 0 1 6 10 16 14 115
Average relative humidity (%) 83 82 81 82 82 81 79 74 74 79 83 83 80.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 136 141 164 153 164 144 133 155 138 149 135 127 1,739
Source #1: (tempetature)[10] Weatherbase (extremes)[11]
Source #2: Danish Meteorological Institute (precipitation, sun, and humidity)[12]

Buildings and institutions

The People's Palace, seat of the Congolese parliament
Tower of Limete and monument to Lumumba

Major areas of the city include the Cité de l'OUA, home to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the quartier Matonge, known regionally for its nightlife; and the residential area of Gombe.

Notable features of the city include the Gecamines Commercial Building (formerly SOZACOM) and Hotel Memling skyscrapers; L'ONATRA, the impressive building of the Ministry of Transport; the central market; the Kinshasa Museum; and the Kinshasa Fine Arts Academy. The face of Kinshasa is changing as new buildings are being built on the Boulevard du 30 Juin: Crown Tower (on Batetela) and Congofutur Tower. The Boulevard du 30 Juin (Boulevard of the 30 June) links the main areas of the central district of the city. Kinshasa is home to the country's national stadium, the Stade des Martyrs (Stadium of the Martyrs).


Big manufacturing companies such as Marsavco S.A.R.L., All Pack Industries and Angel Cosmetics are located in the center of town (Gombe) in Kinshasa.

There are many other industries, such as Trust Merchant Bank, located in the heart of the city. Food processing is a major industry, and construction and other service industries also play a significant role in the economy.[13]

Social issues


In 2004, Kinshasa was rated as one of Africa's most dangerous cities in terms of crime. Since the Second Congo War, the city has been striving to recover from disorder, with many gangs hailing from Kinshasa's slums. Muggings, robberies, rape, kidnapping and gang violence are relatively common.[14] Kinshasa's homicide rate is estimated to be as high as 112 homicides per 100,000.[15]

Street children

Street children,[16][17] often orphaned, are subject to abuse by the police and military. Of the estimated 20,000 children – up to the age of eighteen – living on Kinshasa's streets, almost a quarter are beggars, some are street vendors and about a third have some kind of employment.[18] Some have fled from physically abusive families, notably step-parents, others were expelled from their families as they were believed to be witches,[19] and have become outcasts.[20][21][22] Previously a significant number were civil war orphans.

Street children are mainly boys,[23] but the percentage of girls is increasing according to UNICEF. Ndako ya Biso provides support for street children, including overnight accommodation for girls.[24] There are also second generation street children.[25]


Kinshasa is home to several higher-level education institutes, covering a wide range of specialities, from civil engineering to nursing and journalism. The city is also home to three large universities and an arts school:


There are twenty hospitals in Kinshasa, plus various medical centres and polyclinics.[27] In 1997, Dikembe Mutombo built a 300-bed hospital near his home town of Kinshasa.

Since 1991, Monkole Hospital is operating as a non-profit health institution collaborating with the Health Department as district hospital in Kinshasa. Directed by Pr Léon Tshilolo, paediatrician and haematologist, Monkole Hospital opened a 150-bed building in 2012 with improved clinical services as laboratory, diagnostic radiology, intensive care, neonatal unit, family medicine, emergencies unit and a larger surgical area.


Office of the Agence Congolaise de Presse (ACP)

Kinshasa is home to a large number of media outlets, including multiple radio and television stations that broadcast to nearly the entire country, including state-run Radio-Television Nationale Congolaise (RTNC) and privately run Digital Congo and Raga TV. The private channel RTGA is also based in Kinshasa.

Several national radio stations, including La Voix du Congo, which is operated by RTNC, MONUC-backed Radio Okapi and Raga FM are based in Kinshasa, as well as numerous local stations. The BBC is also available in Kinshasa on 92.6 FM.[28]

The state-controlled Agence Congolaise de Presse news agency is based in Kinshasa, as well as several daily and weekly newspapers and news websites, including L'Avenir (daily), La Conscience, LeCongolais (online),L'Observateur (daily), Le Phare, Le Potentiel, and Le Soft.[29]

Most of the media uses French and Lingala to a large extent; very few use the other national languages.


The official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, of which Kinshasa is the capital, is French (See: Kinshasa French vocabulary). Kinshasa is the largest officially Francophone city in the world[4][30][31] although Lingala is widely used as a spoken language. French is the language of street signs, posters, newspapers, government documents, schools; it dominates plays, television, and the press, and it is used in vertical relationships among people of different social classes. People of the same class, however, speak the Congolese languages (Kikongo, Lingala, Tshiluba or Swahili) among themselves.[32] Thus, while the culture is dominated by the Francophonie, a complex multilingualism is present in Kinshasa.


Several private companies serve the city, among them the Urban Transport Company (STUC) and the Public City train (12 cars in 2002). The bus lines are:

Other companies also provide public transport: Urbaco, Tshatu Trans, Socogetra, Gesac and MB Sprl. The city buses carry up to 67,000 passengers per day. Several companies operate taxis and taxi-buses. Also available are fula-fula (trucks adapted to carry passengers).[33] The majority (95.8%) of transport is provided by individuals.

During the early years of the 21st century, the city's planners considered creating a tramway in collaboration with public transport in Brussels (STIB), whose work would start in 2009. That work has not moved beyond the planning stage, partly due to lack of a sufficient electrical supply.[34][35]


Several international airlines serve Kinshasa (Ndjili) International Airport (FIH) in Kinshasa, including Kenya Airways, Air Zimbabwe, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Air France and Turkish Airlines. As of June 2016 DR Congo has two national airlines, Congo Airways, formed with the help of Air France, and Air Kasaï. Both offer scheduled flights from Kinshasa to a limited number of cities inside DR Congo.


A memorial at Kinshasa train station commemorating the thousands of Congolese slave laborers who were forced to build the railroad

The Matadi–Kinshasa Railway connects Kinshasa with Matadi, Congo's Atlantic port. The line reopened in September 2015 after around a decade without regular service. As of April 2016, there was one passenger trip per week along the line, which travels the 350 km between Kinshasa and Matadi every Saturday in about 7 hours; more frequent service was planned.[36] Brazzaville in the neighboring Republic of Congo is connected to its Atlantic port at Pointe-Noire via the Congo–Ocean Railway.

ONATRA operates three lines of urban railways linking the town centre, which goes to Bas-Congo.[37]

In 2007, Belgium assisted in a renovation of the country's internal rail network.[38] This improved service to Kintambo, Ndolo, Limete, Lemba, Kasangulu, Gombe, Ndjili and Masina.

External transport

Kinshasa is the major river port of the Congo. The port, called 'Le Beach Ngobila' extends for about 7 km (4 mi) along the river, comprising scores of quays and jetties with hundreds of boats and barges tied up. Ferries cross the river to Brazzaville, a distance of about 4 km (2 mi). River transport also connects to dozens of ports upstream, such as Kisangani and Bangui.

There are road and rail links to Matadi, the sea port in the Congo estuary 150 km (93 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean.

There are no rail links from Kinshasa further inland, and road connections to much of the rest of the country are few and in poor condition.

The city has two airports: N'djili Airport is the main airport with connections to other African countries as well as to Brussels, Paris and some other destinations. N'Dolo Airport, located close to the city centre, is used for domestic flights only with small turboprop aircraft.


Twin towns – sister cities

Kinshasa is twinned with:

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Géographie de Kinshasa". Ville de Kinshasa. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "DemographiaWorld Urban Areas - 8th Annual Edition" (PDF). Demographia. April 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  3. "State of the World's Cities 2012/2013" (PDF). UN Habitat. 2013. p. 18. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  4. 1 2 "Populations Of 150 Largest Cities In The World". World Atlas. 7 March 2016. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  5. "Time series of the population of the 30 largest urban agglomerations in 2011 ranked by population size, 1950-2025" (XLS). United Nations, Population Division. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  6. Cécile B. Vigouroux & Salikoko S. Mufwene. Globalization and Language Vitality: Perspectives from Africa, pp. 103 & 109. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  7. "XIVe Sommet de la Francophonie". OIF. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  8. 1 2 3
  9. Wachter, Sarah J. (19 June 2007). "Giant dam projects aim to transform African power supplies". New York Times. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  10. "Climate: Kinshasa". AmbiWeb GmbH. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  11. "KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO". Weatherbase. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  12. "STATIONSNUMMER 64210" (PDF). Danish Meteorological Institute. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  14. "U.S. Dept. of State – Congo, Democratic Republic of the Country Specific Information". United States Department of State. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  16. World Street Children News :: Congo (DR) Streetkid News
  17. Manson, Katrina (22 July 2010). "Congo's children battle witchcraft accusations". Reuters. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  18. "Street Children in Kinshasa". Africa Action. 8 July 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  19. "A night on the streets with Kinshasa's 'child witches'". War Child UK – Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  20. "Danballuff – Children of Congo: From War to Witches(video)". Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  21. "Africa Feature: Around 20,000 street children wander in Kinshasa". 1 June 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  22. "Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children". Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  26. "". Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  27. "Provincial Health Division of Kinshasa" African Development Information Services
  28. "Democratic Republic of Congo country profile – Media". BBC News. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  29. "Countries: Democatric Republic of the Congo: News" (Archive). [sic] Stanford University Libraries & Academic Information Resources. Retrieved on April 28, 2014.
  30. Nadeau, Jean-Benoit (2006). The Story of French. St. Martin's Press. p. 301; 483. ISBN 9780312341831. The world's second-largest francophone city is not Montreal, Dakar, or Algiers, as many people would assume, but Kinshasa, capital of the former Zaïre.
  31. Trefon, Theodore (2004). Reinventing Order in the Congo: How People Respond to State Failure in Kinshasa. London and New York: Zed Books. p. 7. ISBN 9781842774915. Retrieved 31 May 2009. A third factor is simply a demographic one. At least one in ten Congolese live in Kinshasa. With its population exceeding eleven million, it is the second-largest city in sub-Saharan Africa (after Lagos). It is also the second-largest French-speaking city in the world, according to Paris (even though only a small percentage of Kinois speak French correctly),
  32. Manning, Patrick (1998). Francophone sub-Saharan Africa: Democracy and Dependence, 1985–1995. London and New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 189. ISBN 9780521645195. Retrieved 31 May 2009. The apostles of francophonie in the 1980s labelled Zaïre as the second-largest francophone country, and Kinshasa as the second-largest francophone city. Yet Zaïre seemed unlikely to escape a complex multilingualism. Lingala was the language of music, of presidential addresses, of daily life in government and in Kinshasa. But if Lingala was the spoken language of Kinshasa, it made little progress as a written language. French was the written language of the city, as seen in street signs, posters, newspapers and in government documents. French dominated plays and television as well as the press; French was the language of the national anthem and even for the doctrine of authenticity. Zairian researchers found French to be used in vertical relationsihps among people of uneven rank; people of equal rank, no matter how high, tended to speak Zairian languages among themselves. Given these limits, French might have lost its place to another of the leading languages of Zaïre – Lingala, Tshiluba, or Swahili – except that teaching of these languages also suffered from limitations on its growth.
  34. (French) La Stib à Kinshasa ?, La Dernière Heure, 24 May 2007.
  35. (Dutch) Werkt MIVB mee aan uitbouw tramnetwerk Kinshasa?
  36. Radio Okapi, Plus de 13 000 passagers transportés par train entre Kinshasa et Matadi, Publié le dim, 10/04/2016 - 11:14,
  37. (French) L'enfer des chemins de fer urbains kinois, Le Potentiel, 25 July 2005.
  38. DRC CONGO: KINSHASHA|Railways Africa
  39. EbenezerStudio
  40. Sub-Saharan Africa: Architectural Guide
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