The City Of Kinshasa

The City Of Kinshasa

Kinshasa, Sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest city, stretches outwardly forever from the Congo River banks to its distant towns. Not only is it the largest city but also the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was the former Leopoldville until 1966. Kinois is what the residents of Kinshasa are known as.

The most inhabited area of Kinshasa covers about 150km2. Kinshasa spreads down south from the shore of the Congo River at Malebo pool. This is the plain where the city lies. Differing mostly between 918 and 1,148 feet above sea level and is partly surrounded by a higher ground. The surrounding countryside is heavily cultivated savannah and gallery forest. The main crops grown are cassava, sugar cane, oil palms, plantains, maize, peanuts and beans.


The climate is hot all year-round. From May to September there is a dry season and a rainy season from October to May. The mean annual rainfall is slightly more than 1,520 mm. Brutal rainstorms occur frequently but rarely last more than a few hours. The hottest month is April, with a daily mean temperature of 32 °C to 22°C. The corresponding figures for July, the coolest month, are 27 °C to 18 °C. The higher outskirts are somewhat cooler than the central city.

City layout

Kinshasa is separated into industrial, residential, and commercial zones. In the west of the city there is an industrial zone called Léo-Ouest thriving near the first depot. To the east there is a residential riverside called Gombe. Most of the expats, Congolese elite and embassies are located here.

The eastern sector known as Léo-Est is a major profitable area. The waterfront is lined with quays and large warehouses. Ndolo which is east of Gombe, has port facilities and industrial plants.

The other areas extend southward on the east and west of Kinshasa. There is Kinshasa’s satellite cities, Ndjili and Kimpoko. Ndjili has become a residential area, while Kimpoko has been developed as an outer port.

There are a many architectural styles in Kinshasa. These include high-rise apartment blocks, luxurious appointed banks, stores, offices and government agencies in the centre of town. There is also spacious villas surrounded by high walls, iron bars and flower gardens.

The People

From 1889 to 1923, the population of Kinshasa grew from 5,000 people to 23,000. However after 1940 it increased fast and kept doubling every 5 years. By the 21st century it was approaching 5,000,000.  Kinshasa has a young population. More than half the people are under 22 years of age, and only few are over 50.

In its early years the city received immigrants from western and central Africa. However, most new inhabitants have come from within Congo, especially the nearby areas of Bandundu to the west and Bas-Congo (Lower Congo) to the south and east.


Kinshasa is well served by roads, but its solid and rapidly increasing population causes much congestion. The city is connected by a paved road to Matadi and another to Kikwit. The railway line from Matadi, detouring on the river below Kinshasa, brings in most of the country’s imports. The Congo is controllable to Kisangani 1,600 km upstream and connected by railways. Therefore bringing almost all inland traffic carrying exports destined for Matadi down the Congo and through the port of Kinshasa.

To the south east there is Ndjili International Airport, which is one of Africa’s largest airports. A busy ferry connects Kinshasa to Brazaville, across Malebo pool. Within Kinshasa, public transportation includes buses, taxis, minibuses, taxis, and fula-fula.

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