Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Provinces de la République démocratique du Congo (French)
Category Unitary State
Location Democratic Republic of the Congo
Number 26 provinces (1 is a city-province)
Populations 1,093,845 (Bas-Uele) – 8,981,552 (Kinshasa)
Areas 9,481 km2 (3,661 sq mi) (Kasaï-Oriental) – 199,567 km2 (77,053 sq mi) (Tshopo)
Government Provincial government
Subdivisions Territory
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There are currently 26 provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[1] The capital, Kinshasa, is a city-province.[2][3]


Districts of the Belgian Congo in 1914
Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1997-2015
1. Bandundu
2. Bas-Congo
3. Équateur
4. Kasaï-Occidental
5. Kasaï-Oriental
6. Katanga
7. Kinshasa
8. Maniema
9. Nord-Kivu
10. Orientale
11. Sud-Kivu

When Belgium annexed the Belgian Congo as a colony in 1908, it was initially organized into 22 districts. Ten western districts were administered directly by the main colonial government, while the eastern part of the colony was administered under two vice-governments: eight northeastern districts formed Orientale Province, and four southeastern districts formed Katanga. In 1919, the colony was organized into four provinces:

In 1932, the colony was reorganized into six provinces. Initially they were named after their capital cities, but in 1947 regional names were adopted.[2]

The Belgian Congo became an independent country in 1960, named Republic of the Congo. By 1963, the country was organized into 21 provinces (informally called provincettes) plus the capital city of Léopoldville, similar to the original 22 districts under colonial rule. In 1966, the 21 provincettes were grouped into eight provinces, and the capital city was renamed Kinshasa.[2]

In 1971, the country was renamed Zaire, and three provinces were also renamed. In 1975, the capital city of Kinshasa obtained the status of a province. In 1988, the province of Kivu was split into three. In 1997, the country was renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the three provinces that had been renamed in 1971 either retook their previous name or took another.[2]

Article 2 of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, adopted in 2006, specifies a territorial organization into 26 provinces,[4] again resembling the previous provincettes and original colonial districts. The reorganization was scheduled to take effect within three years of the new constitution's promulgation, however progress was slow.[5] In October 2007 the Minister for Decentralization, Denis Kalume Numbi, presented a bill for decentralization in the National Assembly. The subsequent debate turned up a variety of issues that first had to be addressed with changes to related laws.[6] In an October 2010 conclave of the ruling AMP coalition, it was proposed to revise Article 226, which calls for the creation of 26 provinces out of the current 11, in order to allow more time for the transition.[7] On 9 January 2015 the National Assembly passed a law on the new administrative divisions of the country, according to which new provinces should be installed in period of 12 months. [8][9]

Approximate correspondence between historical and current provinces
Belgian Congo Republic of the Congo Zaire Democratic Republic of the Congo
1908 1919 1932 1947 1963 1966 1971 1988 1997 2015
22 districts 4 provinces 6 provinces 6 provinces 21 provinces + capital 8 provinces + capital 8 provinces + capital 11 provinces 11 provinces 26 provinces
Tanganika-Moero Katanga Élisabethville Katanga Nord-Katanga Katanga Shaba Katanga Tanganyika
Lulua Lualaba Lualaba
Haut-Luapula Katanga-Oriental Haut-Katanga
Lomami Lusambo Kasaï Lomami Kasaï-Oriental Lomami
Sankuru Congo-Kasaï Sankuru Sankuru
Kasaï Sud-Kasaï Kasaï-Oriental
Luluabourg Kasaï-Occidental Kasaï-Central
Unité-Kasaïenne Kasaï
Moyen-Congo Léopoldville Léopoldville Kinshasa
Bas-Congo Congo-Central Bas-Zaïre Bas-Congo Kongo Central
Kwango Kwango Bandundu Kwango
Kwilu Kwilu
Lac Léopold II Équateur Mai-Ndombe Mai-Ndombe
Équateur Coquilhatville Équateur Cuvette-Centrale Équateur Équateur
Lulonga Moyen-Congo Mongala
Ubangi Ubangi Nord-Ubangi
Bas-Uele Orientale Stanleyville Orientale Uele Orientale Haut-Zaïre Orientale Bas-Uele
Haut-Uele Haut-Uele
Ituri Kibali-Ituri Ituri
Stanleyville Haut-Congo Tshopo
Maniema Costermansville Kivu Maniema Kivu Maniema
Kivu Nord-Kivu Nord-Kivu
Kivu-Central Sud-Kivu

See also


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