Kinshasa was first established at the end of the nineteenth century.  At that time, it was named Leopoldville, after the Belgian King who ruled the area. It was set up by Henry Morton Stanley for purposes of trade.  It did well as a trade location, in large part because of its prime location on the Congo River.  Approximately fifteen years after it was first established, a railway came through the area, making trade even better there.  By the early twentieth century, the city was named the area’s capital.

The area thrived until the 1960’s.  At that time a series of political problems in the area began, problems which would continue off and on to this day.  The first of these issues took place in 1965 when Mobutu Sese Seku took control of the area.  His first act was to get rid of names associated with white rulers and to rename everything in the area, thus creating Kinshasa.  Mobutu managed to continue expansion of the area, creating a more diverse environment than previously seen there.

By the end of the twentieth century, social and political strife was the norm in the area.  Diversity contributed to these problems.  Warfare began to sporadically pop up all over the place.  Riots began to become a frequent issue, affecting residents and travelers across the country.  In spite of this, the area continues to have a strong academic and artistic base which keeps it going.

Learn more about this history by reading the books recommended at .