Have you ever wondered why there are two Congos?
In central Africa, there are two countries which both
have very similar names:
the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and its neighbour,
the much smaller country called the Republicof the Congo.
Sometimes to differentiate the two,
they’re referred to by the name of their capital cities,
刚果-金沙萨 和 更加常用的刚果-布拉柴维尔
Congo-Kinshasa and the much more commonlyused Congo-Brazzaville.
So why do these countries
have basically the same name?
Well the names and indeed the borders
of the modern-day countries both come from the colonial
European times. The two countries were Belgian and French colonies,
and the name Congo was
independently used by both Belgium and France for their colony,
named after the River Congo,
which formed a large part of the border
between the two colonies and today the two countries.
Although the name of the river was actually taken
from Kingdom of Congo, an African kingdom
which existed from the around late 14th century.
During the Berlin conference of 1884
in which the European powers divided the continent
of Africa, Belgium and France were awarded
the lands which today are the two countries of Congo.
Well, the situation with Belgium
was actually a little more complicated than that,
Congo didn’t actually became a Belgian colony until 1908.
Before that, it was known as the
Congo Free State and was actually a corporate
state which was privately owned by King Leopold II.
He convinced the international community the
he should be the owner of the land because
of the humanitarian work he was involved in,
and was not in it for profit.
However as it
turned out… this couldn’t have been furtherfrom the truth.
There were so many atrocities
committed during his short reign
that this period is sometimes referred to as the “ Congo
Horrors ”. It was
for this reason the he had to give up the colony, which was reluctantly
annexed by Belgium.
The smaller country, the Republic of the Congo,
was at the time known as French Congo, although
this was later reorganised as part
of French Equatorial Africa, and sometimes referred
to as Middle Congo during this time.
Now there was actually a third Congo – PortugueseCongo. Today,
this is the small exclave of Angola,
which is separated from the mainland.
After WWII and the creation of the United Nations,
was when the European powers began
the process of decolonisation of Africa.
The name confusion was even greater
when both countries gained their independence in 1960,
when both countries named themselves the “Republicof the Congo”. Again,
the capital city was
当时是刚果—利奥波德维尔 及 刚果—布拉柴维尔
used to avoid ambiguity, although at the time it was Congo-Leopoldville and Congo-Brazzaville.
1964年 刚果—利奥波德维尔 把名字改变成今天我们所知道的
In 1964 however, Congo-Leopoldville changedits name to what we know it as today: the
Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Two yearsafter that and the country’s capital city
was changed to what it is today as well: Kinshasa.
The government at the time really wanted to
distance themselves from their colonial past.
For the first five years of independence,
the country was in turmoil, in what today
is often referred to as the Congo Crisis,
after the first democratically elected Prime Minister,
Patrice Lumumba, was arrested andlater assassinated.
Power was seized by Mobutu
Sese Seko, who had significant backing
from the United States and Belgium, establishing
a military dictatorship,
and in 1971 changed the country’s name to Republic of Zaire.
Both Congos became involved in the Cold War,
but found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.
The Republic of the Congo had very close ties
with the Soviet Union, and became a one-party,
communist state in 1969 after a coup by Marien Ngouabi,
who assumed control and established
the People’s Republic of the Congo,
with the Congolese Workers’Party as the government.
扎伊尔共和国 和 刚果人民共和国
Both the Republic of Zaire and the People’s Republic
of the Congo came to an end in the 1990’s.
Zaire collapsed due to instability in the general region,
primarily caused by
the Rwandan Genocide and the violence that spilled over as well
as the refugees who fled
the country, becoming the Democratic Republic of the Congo again
in 1997, with the ousting
the Mobutu, who fled the country as the First Congo War began.
The People’s Republic of the Congo established multi-party elections in 1992,
with the fall of communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union,
changing their name and flag to what
they are today.
So that’s how we ended up with two Congos,
two European colonies that were both named
after the Congo River, which was named after the African Kingdom of Congo.
Now this isn’t the only example of countries having very similar names.
Sticking with Africa
几内亚 几内亚—比绍 赤道几内亚
and we have: Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and EquatorialGuinea.
And it’s pretty much the same situation.
All were former colonies:
分别是 法属几内亚 葡萄牙属几内亚 西班牙几内亚
French Guinea, Portuguese Guinea, and Spanish Guinea, respectively,
all named after the general Western region of Africa known as Guinea.
And of course, there’s also Papua New Guineain south-east Asia.
The island was named New
Guinea as the explorers thought the
locals resembled the people of the African region
of Guinea, and one of the local names
for the island was Papua, hence Papua New Guinea.
Now Guinea should not be confused with the completely unrelated Guyana.
Where yet again we find a somewhat similar naming situation in South America.
There were five European
colonies in the region known as Guyana: Spanish,
英属圭亚那 荷属圭亚那 法属圭亚那 葡属圭亚那
British, Dutch, French, and Portuguese Guyana.
These became… part of Venezuela, the independent country of Guyana,
the country of Suriname,
the overseas department French Guiana, andpart of Brazil.
还有其他例子 比如 尼日尔和尼日利亚
There are other examples of this such as Niger and Nigeria,
both named after the Niger River…
and some countries that sound alike that are completely coincidental,
for example Austria and Australia.
Although interestingly enough,
both countries were name after points on a
compass… but different points and in differentlanguages.
Austria comes from the German for West,
while Australia comes from the Latinfor South.
Now on a somewhat related topic,
something you might have noticed about a few of the
African nations that I’ve mentioned
in this video… the Republic of the Congo, Guinea,
and Guinea-Bissau… is that they all havethe same colours on their flag: green, yellow,
绿色 黄色 和 红色
The colours were originally used by Ethiopia,
a country which managed remain outside Europe
colonial rule. Because of this,
many newly independent African nations chose to use these
colours as a symbol of their freedom
from European rule once they gained their independence
in the mid 20th century.
More than a dozencountries in Africa share this colour scheme,
which has become a symbol for Pan-Africanism,
the unity of those of African descent.
The two Congos, and indeed the three Guineas,
all got their names and international borders
from the European colonisation of Africa,
a time when the imperial European powers took
control of almost the entire continent, primarilyfor economic gain.
The colonisation of Africa
is topic that I plan on doing a video about in the near future,
so hopefully you’re subscribed and don’t miss that when it comes out.
But for now I just want to say thanks
for watching this slightly shorter than normal video,
and I’ll see you next time.