Per-Anders Pettersson


European exploration and exploitation took place from around 1870. During this period King Leopold II of Belgium, under whose rule the Congo faced what some believe to be the single most brutal and greedy episode of colonization in modern history controlled the area as a private territory.

The country became a colony of Belgium in 1908 and became independent in 1960. It became marred by political and social instability and in 1965 Col. Joseph Mobuto seized power in a coup, and renamed himself Mobuto Sese Seko and called the country - Zaire.

Mobuto then ruled for 32 years and corruption and mismanagement of billions dollars from the treasury begun. He lived a lifestyle fit for a king, with especiallychartered Concorde planes, and he built big palaces in the jungles of Congo, with everything imported from Europe.

At the same time his people suffered terribly. Hardly any infrastructure was built, and most of the mineral riches in the country lined the pockets of Mobuto, his family, ministers, generals and international companies. Some of the riches in the Congo are cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal, timber

Mobuto fled the country in 1997, and died shortly after in exile in Morocco. A civil war broke out and Laurent Desire Kabila, a guerilla leader, took over. He renamed the country The Democratic Republic of Congo. He was later assassinated and his young son Joseph Kabila took over.

Joseph Kabila headed a transitional government, and became officially president after the elections in July 2006.

DRC is still struggling with lack of infrastructure, sporadic fighting by guerilla groups in the east, bordering Rwanda. For most of DR Congo's citizens is little improved. It is estimated that about 1,000 people are dying every day from war-related causes, including disease, hunger and violence.

About 20,000 refugees gathered in a makeshift camp after fleeing fighting between The Congolese Army and Mai-Mai rebels, Dubie, Katanga, 2005
Passengers depart on the only commuter train in this city of 9 million people, Kinshasa, DRC, 2006
Young child prostitutes paint their nails before working on the street in Matonge, Kinshasa, DRC, 2006
Contestants in the Miss Congo pageant prepares backstage for the final at the Grand Hotel, Kinshasa, DRC, 2006
Contestants in the Miss Congo pageant on stage for the final at the Grand Hotel, Kinshasa, DRC, 2006
Refugee children wait to be registered after arriving with about 20,000 other refugees in a few days, Dubie, Katanga, 2005
Members of the Congolese National Police Brass band wait to depart after performing at a police graduation ceremony, Kasangulu, DRC, 2006