Fabien Antoine gave me a reference that shows that the reorganization under the new constitution has been
passed into law.
The Democratic Republic of Congo promulgated its new constitution on 2006-02-18. Article 2 specified that
the country would be subdivided into Kinshasa city and 25 provinces. Kinshasa has equal status to a
province. The new provinces' boundaries are based on those of the provinces and districts in effect at the
end of the colonial era.
The constitution allowed 36 months for the new provinces to be organized. That didn't happen. Instead, a law
was passed on 2011-01-20 whose effect is to give the legislature the authority to set up the new provinces.
The current plan is to phase them in. The new provinces are listed below. Populations are from sources 
and , but with some corrections to discrepancies in those sources. The result is still very likely an
overestimate. It implies, among other things, that the population of Katanga has grown by a factor of 2.58
since the 1998 estimate shown below.
ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-2 was published on 2002-05-21. It shows the name and code for a
province changed from Haut-Congo (
HC) to Orientale (
OR), and the status
of the regions changed to provinces.
|Short name||DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO|
|Languages||French (fr), Lingala (ln), Kiswahili (sw), Tshiluba, Kikongo|
|Time zone||(see table)|
At the start of the 20th century, the État Indépendant du Congo (Congo Free State) was the
personal domain of King Léopold II of Belgium. In 1908, Leopold ceded it to Belgium. As a
Belgian colony, it was called Belgian Congo. It became independent on 1960-06-30 and took the
name République du Congo. A month and a half later, the French colony on the other side of the
Congo River, Moyen Congo, gained its independence and likewise took the name République du Congo.
Most people distinguished the two countries by calling them Congo-Léopoldville and
Congo-Brazzaville, according to their capitals. In 1964, the former Belgian colony changed its
official name to République democratique du Congo. On 1971-10-27 it was renamed to Zaire (or
Zaïre). On 1997-05-19, it changed back to République democratique du Congo.
Other names of country:
- Danish: Den Demokratiske Republik Congo, Zaire (obsolete)
- Dutch: Congo-Kinshasa, Democratische Republiek Congo, Belgisch Congo (obsolete)
- English: Congo-Kinshasa (informal), Belgian Congo (obsolete), Congo Free State (obsolete), Congo-Léopoldville (obsolete), Kongo Free State (obsolete), Zaire (obsolete)
- Finnish: Kinshasan Kongo, Kongon demokraattinen tasavalta, Zaire (obsolete)
- French: République f démocratique du Congo m, Congo Belge (obsolete), Zaïre m (obsolete)
- German: Demokratische Republik f Kongo m, Zaire n (obsolete)
- Icelandic: Kongó alþýðulýðveldi, Zaír (obsolete)
- Italian: Repubblica f Democratica del Congo m, Zaire m (obsolete)
- Norwegian: Kongo-Kinshasa, Den demokratiske republikken Kongo (formal), Zaïre (obsolete)
- Portuguese: República f Democrática do Congo m, Congo m Belga (obsolete), Zaire m (obsolete)
- Russian: ДРК (abbr), Демократическая Республика Конго (formal), Заир (obsolete), Конго (Киншаса)
- Spanish: República f Democrática del Congo m, Congo Belga (obsolete), Zaire m (obsolete)
- Swedish: Kongo (Kinshasa)
- Turkish: Kongo Demokratik Cumhuriyeti, Kongo Kinşasa (informal), Zaire Cumhuriyeti (obsolete)
Origin of name:
from the Congo river, which came from the ethnic name Kikongo
Democratic Republic of Congo is divided into twenty-five provinces and one ville neutre (neutral city), Kinshasa.
|New Province||HASC||Population||Area(km.²)||Area(mi.²)||Capital||Old Province||Ph|
Note: Phase 1 is provinces that are not changing from the previous arrangement. Phase 2 is new provinces
corresponding to former districts, some of which had functioned as provinces in the past. Phase 3 is
newly created provinces whose capitals were capitals of the former provinces.
See the Administrative Zones of the Democratic Republic of Congo page.
The regions are divided into 41 sous-régions (sub-regions), which are further divided into
216 zones administratives (administrative zones), which are in turn subdivided into
A 1930 text says that the Belgian Congo was divided into five provinces (naming Ruanda-Urundi as
one of them), subdivided into 21 districts, and then into 179 territoires (territories).
Sud-Kivu includes Île Idjwi, an island in Lake Kivu.
Origins of names:
- Bas-Congo: French for lower Congo. Region lies along the lower reaches of the Congo River.
- Haut-Congo: French for upper Congo
- Kinshasa: named after a nearby pre-colonial village, Kikongo for salt market
- Kivu: for Lake Kivu, whose name is Rwandese for large body of water
- Shaba: Swahili for copper, which is mined there
- Zaïre: From a native word n'zai: river, a traditional name for the Congo River. It
was the river's official name, and the country's, from 1971 to 1997.
- 1885-02-26: General Act of the Berlin Conference created the Congo Free State as personal
property of King Léopold II of Belgium. Initially it contained four districts. More were created
over the years.
- 1908-10-18: Under the Colonial Charter, Congo became a Belgian colony, under the name of
Belgian Congo (French: Congo Belge, Flemish: Belgisch Congo).
- 1910-09-01: Katanga merged with Belgian Congo, and was divided into four districts.
- 1912: Number of districts had reached 22. According to source , they were:
|Lac Leopold II|| ||Inongo|
|Moyen Congo|| ||Leopoldville|
- Vg: There were two vice-governments:
Katanga (K, capital Elisabethville),
Province Orientale (O, capital Stanleyville).
- Note: Lac Leopold II is now known as Lac Mai-Ndombe.
- 1926-03-01: Ruanda-Urundi became united administratively with Belgian Congo, although it
remained autonomous. (The date is the effective date of the law of 1925-08-21.)
- 1929: National capital moved from Boma to Léopoldville.
- 1933-10-01: Belgian Congo reorganized from four provinces (Congo Kasai, Équateur, Katanga, and
Orientale) into six provinces as shown in the following table:
|Costermansville||1,302,432||230,209||Kivu||Maniema, Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu|
|Léopoldville||1,997,796||362,953||Léopoldville||Bas-Zaïre, Bandundu, Kinshasa|
- Province: for Flemish names, replace "ville" with "stad".
- Capitals have the same names as their provinces.
- Population: 1938 census.
- Post-1947: Province names were changed in 1947 to these names
are shown, where the two names differ).
- Post-1997: Provinces correspond closely in extent to these modern provinces.
- 1952: Name of capital of Kivu province changed from Costermansville to Bukavu.
- ~1957: Capital of Kasai province moved from Lusambo to Luluabourg.
- 1960: After independence there were changes of all sorts. New provinces were created repeatedly.
Informally, they were called provincettes. By 1963-06-25, when Katanga-Oriental was formed, the list was as
- 1966-07-01: Country reorganized into Bandundu, Bas-Zaïre, Équateur, Haut-Zaïre,
Kasai-Occidental, Kasai-Oriental, Kinshasa, Kivu, and Shaba regions. National capital renamed
from Léopoldville to Kinshasa; Stanleyville renamed to Kisangani; Élisabethville renamed to
Lubumbashi; Coquilhatville renamed to Mbandaka; Banningville renamed to Bandundu; Bakwanga renamed
to Mbuji-Mayi; Luluabourg renamed to Kananga; Costermansville renamed to Bukavu.
- 1972: Katanga region renamed to Shaba.
- ~1975: Kongo-Central region renamed to Bas-Zaïre.
- ~1980: An area of 7,949 sq. km. transferred from Bas-Zaïre region to Kinshasa.
- 1997-05-17: The victorious Laurent-Désiré Kabila established the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- 1997-05-19: Name of Bas-Zaïre changed to Bas-Congo, Haut-Zaïre to Haut-Congo, and Shaba to
- ~1998: Name of Haut-Congo (ISO code
CD-HC) changed to Orientale.
- 1997-10-08: Status of regions changed to provinces by statutory order. Kivu region (ISO code
KV, FIPS code
CG07, capital Bukavu) split into Maniema, Nord-Kivu, and
Sud-Kivu. Thereupon, the Congo was divided into ten provinces and one neutral city.
- Province: Kinshasa is not a province, but a ville neutre (neutral city).
- ISO: Codes from ISO standard 3166-2, issued December 15, 1998. For full
identification in a global
context, prefix "
CD-" to the code (ex:
- FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4, including changes published in Change Notice 2,
- UPU: "Postal addressing systems" is a document available online from the Universal
Postal Union. Its
entry for Zaire has a list of provinces and codes. The province names are
those that were in effect about
1992-1997. My inference is that these codes were the official
postal abbreviations for the provinces.
- Tz: Time zone (offset from GMT).
- Population: 1998 estimate.
- Former name: Colonial name of capital.
- 1999-07: Brigadier General James Kazini created a new province called Kibale-Ituri in taking
part of the territory of Orientale. This province was not accepted as legitimate by the central
government. News reports as early as 2003 spoke of events in Ituri province, and of Bunia as its
capital. In 2015, under the new constitution, the same area became Ituri province.
- 2015-01-09: The National Assembly passed a law implementing the reorganization into 25 provinces and
one neutral city. The four divisions that are unchanged from the previous division are immediately
effective; the changed ones will probably become active by phases. Some of the capitals are in dispute.
The capital of Sankuru might end up at Lodja. In earlier plans, the name of Kasaï-Central was going to
Other names of subdivisions:
- Bas-Congo: Bas-Zaïre, Kongo-Central (obsolete); Lower Zaire (English-obsolete)
- Équateur: Equator, Equatorial (English)
- Kasai: Kassai (variant)
- Kasai-Occidental: Kasai West, West Kasai (English)
- Kasai-Oriental: East Kasai, Kasai East (English)
- Katanga: Shaba (obsolete)
- Kinshasa: Léopoldville (obsolete)
- Kivu: Kivou (variant)
- Orientale: Haut-Congo, Haut-Zaïre (obsolete); Upper Zaire (English-obsolete)
-  Nouvelles entités
provinciales , by Joseph M. Kyalangilwa, a Congolese living in Switzerland. The document has a
few typos. I found it necessary to adjust four of the area figures in order to reconcile the total areas with those of the
former provinces. (Retrieved 2009-02-27.)
-  Press releases from the Union de Congolais pour la Défense de la Patrie et du Peuple (UCDP), also by Joseph M.
Kyalangilwa. Populations are based on the assumption that registered (potential) voters as of 2005-12 represent exactly 33% of
the population in each province. (http://www.ucdp-info.com/presses_secu_al.htm, dead link, retrieved 2008-10-04.)
-  Cours Complet de Geographie : Le Congo
Belge , by Roland and E. Duchesne, Namur, 1914 (retrieved 2003-06-07).
-  The Rulers Web site has histories of the provinces on its Provinces
1960-66 page. I have yet to validate them against my other sources. (Retrieved 2003-06-07.)
-  A flags site also lists historical changes (http://www.vdiest.nl/Africa/zaire.htm, dead link, retrieved 2003-11-27).
-  Library of Congress country
study (retrieved 1999).
-  Interior
Minister's presentation to the Senate (in French, retrieved 2013-03-26).
-  "RDC: le découpage territorial
voté à l'Assemblée " (in French, retrieved 2015-02-27).