The former colony adopted its present name, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in 1964. Although reasonably plentiful, existing water supplies incur heavy demands from industrial and domestic consumers. Their output is counted in Brussels and not where they live, artificially raising the per capita GDP of Brussels and slightly lowering that of Flanders and Wallonia. The Belgian government forced Leopold to surrender his personal country in 1908. The colony in the Congo - the Congo Free State - was personal property for the Belgian king and there was little oversight over what happened there. After international protests, Leopold II sold the private colony to the Belgian state in 1908. Belgian King Baudouin I finally relented and released the DR Congo into independence on 30 June 1960. In southeast Congo, the Belgians discovered large ore deposits and exported copper, tropical wood, cotton, cocoa and coffee to Europe. If you do nothing, you will be auto-enrolled in our premium digital monthly subscription plan and retain complete access for $69 per month. With the onset of a recession in the 1970s, this system became an increasing burden on the economy and accounted for much of the government budget deficits. Much of that money, Hochschild suggests, went to buying Leopold's teen-age mistress, a former call girl named Caroline, expensive dresses and villas, and building ever grander . This sham was supposedly a scientific and philanthropic organization which would greatly improve the lives of native Africans by converting them to Christianity, ending the trade of enslaved people, and introducing European health and educational systems. 9. On the one hand, Belgium wanted to maintain ties with the former colony for geopolitical and economic reasons. During the 100-day genocide, hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and sympathizers were massacred at the hands of predominantly Hutu aggressors. The Congo is a massive country, the size of Western Europe. On February 5, 1885, Belgian King Leopold II established the Congo Free State by brutally seizing the African landmass as his personal possession. They were given very little education. , For 50 years through World War II, French-speaking Wallonia was a technically advanced, industrial region, with its industry concentrated along the sillon industriel, while Dutch-speaking Flanders was predominantly agricultural with some industry, mainly processing agricultural products and textiles. It is the first time that a Belgian monarch has offered any form of apology for the brutality, death and plunder that the nation oversaw after colonising Congo in the 19th century. Leopold's army mutilated or killed any African who didn't produce enough of these coveted, profitable resources. Richard, Katherine Schulz. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Congolese societies, in contrast, were deprived of the potential to develop due to exploitation, slavery and genocide. The museum, in the Brussels suburb of Tervuren, was founded in 1897 by Leopold II at the height of colonialism. Reuters. In 2020, the AfricanMuseum changed its guidelines in dealing with objects from colonial contexts. But by the time Leopold was stopped, the damage was done. Belgium controlled several territories and concessions during the colonial era, principally the Belgian Congo (modern DRC) from 1908 to 1960 and Ruanda-Urundi (modern Rwanda and Burundi) from 1922 to 1962.It also had small concessions in Guatemala (1843-1854) and in China (1902-1931) and was a co-administrator of the Tangier International Zone in Morocco. Belgiums water resources are concentrated in the southern part of the country. The Belgian Congo (French: Congo belge, pronounced ; Dutch: Belgisch-Congo) was a Belgian colony in Central Africa from 1908 until independence in 1960. But he demanded and received a huge cash payment and other benefits from Belgium for "his great sacrifices made for the Congo." Again, the Congo people had no say in their fate. The Congolese, who by then had some rights such as owning property and voting in elections, began to demand independence. Brussels Monopoly game row 'ends in samurai swordfight' with man said to be fighting for his life, Belgian mother who murdered her five children euthanised at own request - on 16th anniversary of killings, How Belgian mayor faced down death threats to make his city's transport go green. Secondly, there was colonial nostalgia among the Belgian population. Marchal, the Belgian scholar, estimates that Leopold drew some 220 million francs (or $1.1 billion in today's dollars ) in profits from the Congo during his lifetime. However, thanks to Belgium's high personal savings rate, the Belgian Government financed the deficit from mainly domestic savings, minimizing the deleterious effects on the overall economy.. The Belgian authorities are, as a rule, anti-protectionist and try to maintain a hospitable and open trade and investment climate. Rather than control the Congo as a colony, as other European powers did throughout Africa, Leopold privately owned the region. By 1992 mining had ceased there and in the countrys other major coal-mining area, in the Kempenland (Limburg province) in northeastern Belgium. The industrial complex of Seraing was the largest in the world. Inhabitants were forced to pay taxes and grow cash crops such as coffee. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------, Painter's rural idyll irks Russian villagers. It must negotiate politically on an equal footing with its former colonies. In Brussels, Leopold left his mark in stone - in monuments and buildings. * As many as 10 million people are estimated to have died in Congo from killings, famine and disease between 1885 and 1908 after Belgian's King Leopold II declared the vast territory his personal property. Joseph Conrad set his popular novel Heart of Darkness in the Congo Free State and described European abuses. Many European countries wanted to colonize distant parts of the world in order to exploit the resources and "civilize" the inhabitants of these less-developed countries. "Leopold drew some 220 million francs (or $1.1 billion in today's dollars) in profits from the Congo during his lifetime. After slavery was officially abolished in 1910, Congolese workers received a wage for their work in the mines and on the plantations. He quickly disregarded all of his Berlin Conference guidelines and began to economically exploit the region's land and inhabitants. And that was how he viewed the raw materials and the people of the Congo - as a prize to be consumed. Belgium's riches came at the cost of so much pain in the Congo - so much suffering and misery. Government Spending in Belgium increased to 27582 EUR Million in the fourth quarter of 2022 from 27324 EUR Million in the third quarter of 2022. It is thought the king's letter would not be considered as a "full apology", for fear that this would lead to claims for reparations. Foreign investment led to considerable growth in the engineering sector of Belgiums economy in the late 20th century. In May 1990, the government linked the Belgian franc to the Deutsche Mark, primarily through closely tracking German interest rates. 10 Horrifying Facts About The Genocide In The Congo Free State. This was against the backdrop of the global Black Lives Matter movement in which protests against racism and the neglect of colonial history grew within the Belgian population. Killed her. The trip was billed as a chance to recalibrate the relationship between the two countries after a dark colonial past. Economic growth rose from 2% in 1984 to a peak of 4% in 1989. The Congo had just as much a civilization as most European countries during the 16. th. He gave her tons of money, land, jewels, and even made her a baroness. or The government has balanced the budget every year since, until 2009 where it ran a deficit of about $25 billion. The Congolese did not need people to come and rule them, but at the time it was presented as if King Leopold came to Congo to bring civilisation. Belgium's accumulated public debt remains high at 99% of 2009 GDP. Its capital is Kinshasa, formerly named Leopoldville. Only the Scandinavian countries have a higher trade union density.  A slight decrease in the accumulated public debt compared to GDP has been seen, however, thanks to a higher economic growth rate compared to the budget growth rate, which pushed the percentage from 99% of GDP in 2009 to 95% of GDP in 2011, a four-point decrease in two years, a feat rare enough to mention in the Western World. But in Congo his influence was much more malign. Lige is also a very important logistic center: the city possesses the third largest river port in Europe, directly connected to Antwerp, Rotterdam and Germany via the Meuse river and the Albert Canal. The economy of Belgium is a highly developed mixed economy. In the 1980s and 1990s, the economic center of the country continued to shift northwards to Flanders with investments by multinationals (Automotive industry, Chemical industry) and a growing local Industrial agriculture (textiles, food). For centuries the Congo River basin was inhabited by tribes and kingdoms with individual cultures. There is a Congo flavour in music and food and Congo exiles can be found plotting in Brussels' bars and hotels - some still referring to their homeland by its former name, Zaire. Other industrial and service activities include car manufacturing, telecommunications, photographic products. The country became a major steel producer in the early 19th century, with factories centred in the southern Walloon coal-mining region, particularly in the Sambre-Meuse valley. Marchal, the Belgian scholar, estimates that Leopold drew some 220 million francs (or $1.1 billion in today's dollars) in profits from the Congo during his lifetime. The ABVV-FGTB in its current form dates back to 1945. Links to more From Our Own Correspondent stories are at the foot of the page. Exclusive news, data and analytics for financial market professionals, Editing by Gabriela Baczynska and Alison Williams, Sudan conflict could prompt 800,000 people to flee, UN says, Initial autopsies show children starved, asphyxiated in Kenyan cult, Wall St stocks end lower, dollar gains after data; Fed, earnings in the wings, Dollar gains before Fed meeting, jobs data, Israeli attack puts Syria's Aleppo airport out of service, one soldier killed -state media, British royals release photo of a beaming Princess Charlotte, Kuwait again dissolves reinstated parliament by decree, UK retailers report record food inflation but see falls ahead, Sudanese fleeing north face arduous crossing into Egypt. It is an eye-catching centrepiece for an elegant park. From 1885 to 1908, Belgian King Leopold II took control of the Congo. It was the first time that a member of the royal family had addressed the Congolese people with such words. Like a lot of people, I suppose I am a mixture of Belgian and Congolese. Even the district largely rebuilt with European Union offices is dominated by an imperial Arc de Triomphe - a rival to the one in Paris. On the other, the Belgian government had to respond diplomatically to the countless human rights abuses committed by Mobutus regime. 1908 - Belgian state annexes Congo amid protests over killings and atrocities carried out on a mass scale by Leopold's agents. The national unemployment figures mask considerable differences between Flanders and Wallonia. Annually about 2.5 million day tourists visit the city and in 2007 there were about 1.4 million overnight stays. Two civil wars in DRC have turned into the world's deadliest conflict since World War II. King Leopold and his European rivals created the conditions for chaos in Congo a century ago, the most the former colonial powers will do now is withdraw their nationals and stand well back.
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