Kinshasa Profile

Kinshasa Profile

The capital cities of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo ~ Brazzaville and Kinshasa respectively ~ are the two closest capital cities in the world by proximity, being separated by the area of the Congo River known as Pool Malebo and connected by ferry. Kinshasa was originally called Leopoldville after King Leopold II of Belgium who ran the country like a personal fiefdom and it was founded as a trading post being the home to many fishing communities on the Congo. Leopoldville superseded Boma as the capital of the Belgian Congo in 1926 and became centre of the colonial administration and home to its Governor-General with its then population of some 23,000 having grown rapidly from a mere 5,000 people in 1889. When the newly formed Republic of the Congo gained independence in 1960, Leopoldville became its named and defacto capital city and, under the new President of the Republic Joseph-Desire Mobutu, it continued to expand a pace although simultaneously being stripped of its foreign and colonial influences, even being renamed as Kinshasa in 1966, a name taken from an existing African residential area. Today Kinsasha is home to 17.07 million people (2021), generally known as 'Kinois', making it one of the world's fastest growing cities and the largest French speaking city in the world, larger even than Paris.

Kinshasa may look modern but, in reality, it was badly damaged by the years of conflict and many buildings are still in a state of disrepair and abandoned. The city centre is the only place with a reliable electricity and water supply with outlying areas subject to frequent power outages and breakdown of water supplies. Many of these outer areas of Kinshasa don't have even have paved roads, just dirt tracks. Kinshasa is divided into zones. Most of the key administration buildings, embassies and offices of international organizations can be found at its centre whilst, along the western edge of the central city, lies the industrial zone sector with the waterfront, along Kinshasa's northern edge, being lined with quays and large warehouses. The east of the city itself is home to the residential apartments for the elite class of Congolese and Europeans while poorer areas extend southward on the east and west of Kinshasa with satellites such as Ndjili, to the south-east, being a large residential area. Generally Kinshasa is considered relatively safe but as in any major conurbation, tourists and visitors should exercise caution especially when moving alone at night not least because there is widespread poverty in the city and many reports of muggings, pick-pocketing and other thefts. Kinshasa is also home to thousands of street children, known as 'Shegue', who have to rob, steal and harass to stay alive and numb their pain by taking drugs, entering into violent gangs and sniffing glue. Best avoided!

Kinshasa City Profile

The main tourist attractions in Kinsasha include the Musee National de Kinshasa (National Museum of Kinshasa) which has an archive of some 46,000 artifacts chronicalling the country's history, wildlife, rivers, lakes and the different tribes. The museum however has been somewhat superceeded by the opening in June 2019 of the Musee National de la Republique Democratique du Congo, built largely with financial assistance from Korea, which today houses three public exhibition halls of 6,000 m2,in which 12,000 objects can be presented in their cultural context. Other places of interest include Notre Dame Cathedral, built in 1947 and one of Kinsasha's most important religious buildings; Eglise Ste Anne, the city's main Catholic church and Marche Central, one of the largest markets in Central Africa where you can pick up practiaclly anything and where others will pick up practically anything you are carrying including watches, cameras and bags unless you're careful. We recommend going with a local guide!

For those who prefer something a bit different, the 'Lola ya Bonobo', a sanctuary for orphaned bonobos (dwarf chimpanzees) can be found just outside the city and the 'Lac de Ma Vallee' is a park to relax complete with water bodies, forests and wildlife. The Kisantu Botanical Garden is also worth a look, while further afield is the 'Serpents du Congo', home to both venomous and non-venomous snakes. There are may places to eat out in Kinshasa not least because the city is home to large expatriate communities meaning there is no shortage of quality restaurants serving meals to suit all tastes. We recommend you try, at least once, the local favourite 'Poulet a la Moambe', a local Congolese dish made from chicken, cassava leaves and palm butter served with ugali (millet and cassava flour). There are also many fish restaurants, perhaps obviously considering that the city borders the Congo River. Local beers include Simba and Bracongo (though be mindful beer in Africa is normally stronger than in the West.) The video below explores Kinshsa's profile further.

Kinshasa Profile: Volunteer Congo Kinshasa

African Volunteer Work: Congo Kinshasa

Check out all the latest fee paying and free African volunteer work placements and charity work job opportunities abroad with local projects and volunteering organisations in Congo Kinshasa.

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Kinshasa Profile: Kinshasa City Map

Kinshasa City Map

A satellite map of Kinshasa, capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which you can use to zoom in to explore each street of the city and its major tourist attractions.

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Kinshasa Profile: Kinshasa Airport

Kinshasa Airport

Make a virtual landing at Kinshasa Airport in the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo where you will probably enter the country for your volunteering experience.

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Kinshasa Profile: Child Sponsor DRC

Child Sponsor Democratic Republic of Congo

Details of how to sponsor children in the Democratic Republic of Congo with DR child sponsor organisations, charities, programs and projects.

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Kinshasa Profile: Congo Kinshasa Country Profile

African Country Profiles: Congo Kinshasa

In another of our African country profiles, find out all about Congo Kinshasa in a series of information articles, latest daily news, videos, and images together with volunteering and child sponsorship opportunities.

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