Congo Kinshasa: Kinshasa City

2012/12/18

Kinshasa (formerly French Léopoldville, and Dutch Leopoldstad (help·info)) is the capital and the major city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River.
Once a site of fishing villages, Kinshasa is now an urban area with a people of 9 million inhabitants. It faces the capital of the neighbouring Republic of Congo, Brazzaville, which can be seen in the distance across the wide Congo River. The city of Kinshasa is as well of the DRC's 11 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.


Kinshasa is the second major city in sub-Saharan Africa and the third major in the whole continent after Lagos and Cairo. It is as well the second major "francophone" urban area in the world after Paris, 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.

If current demographic trends continue, Kinshasa should surpass Paris in people around 2020.Kinshasa hosted the 14th Francophonie Summit in October 2012.
Residents of Kinshasa are known as Kinois (in French and sometimes in English) or Kinshasans (English).

Administration

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

Kinshasa is a city of sharp contrasts, with affluent residential and commercial areas and three universities coexisting side by side with sprawling slums.

Geography
It is located along the south bank of the Congo River, directly opposite the city of Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo. This is the only place in the world where national capital cities are facing another and in sight of each other on opposite banks of a river.
The Congo river is the second longest river in Africa after the Nile, and is the major in terms of discharge. As a waterway it provides a means of transport for much of the Congo basin, being navigable for large river barges between Kinshasa and Kisangani, and a lot of of its tributaries are navigable too. The river is an significant source of hydroelectric power, and downstream of Kinshasa it has the potential to generate power equivalent to the usage of roughly half of Africa's population

Language

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 second major officially Francophone city in the world 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 part people of uneven rank; people of equal rank, however, speak the Congolese languages (Kikongo, Lingala, Tshiluba or Swahili) part themselves. Thus, while the culture is dominated by the Francophonie, a complex multilingualism is present in Kinshasa.

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