The Congo Democratic Republic (formerly Zaire), located in the south-central part of Africa, has an area of 905,568 sq. mi. (2,345,409 sq. km.) and a population of 51.75 million. Capital: Kinshasa. The mineral-rich country produces copper, tin, diamonds, gold, zinc, cobalt, and uranium. ,In ancient times the territory comprising Zaire was occupied by Negrito peoples (Pygmies) pushed into the mountains by Bantu and Nilotic invaders. The interior was first explored by the American correspondent Henry Stanley, who was subsequently commissioned by King Leopold II of Belgium to conclude development treaties with the local chiefs. The Berlin conference on 1885 awarded the area to Leopold, who administered and exploited it as his private property until it was annexed to Belgium in 1908. Following eruption of bloody independence riots in 1959, Belgium granted the Belgium Congo independence with the distinction of being the most ill-prepared country to ever undertake self-government. Without a single doctor, lawyer, or engineer, with no organized unit capable of maintaining law and order, independence disintegrated into an orgy of anarchy. Provinces seceded. Intertribal warfare erupted. Belgian troops intervened to protect Belgian citizens from retributive massacre. By 1961, four groups were fighting for political dominance. The most serious threat to the viability of the country was posed by the secession of mineral-rich Katanga province on July 11, 1960.,, ,After two and one-half years pf sporadic warfare with a U.N. military force, Katanga?s leaders capitulated, January 14, 1963 and the rebellious province was partitioned into three provinces. The nation officially changed its name to Zaire on October 27, 1971. In May 1997, the dictator was overthrown after a three year rebellion. The country changed its name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A change to a Francs-Congolese currency has been considered, but meanwhile ?had? currency such as U.S.A. dollars circulate freely.,, ,See also Rwanda, Rwanda-Burundi, and Zaire.,, Monetary System:,,, ,1 Franc = 100 Centimes to 1967,, ,1 Zaire = 100 Makuta, 1967-71,, ,1 Franc = 100 Centimes, 1997-,,