The New Student's Reference Work/Congo Free State

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Congo Free State grew out of the International Association, which was formed in 1878 with King Leopold of Belgium at its head. The European powers recognized the state in 1885, and in 1890 its territories were declared inalienable, though a convention between Belgium and the Independent State reserved to the former the right of annexing the latter after a period of ten years. In 1901 this right was renewed. Treaties with various interested nations have defined the boundaries. It has a narrow seacoast, with the Congo as its northern boundary, and in the interior widens north and south, extending to Lakes Albert Edward and Tanganyika. It is governed by an official living in the country and by another at Brussels under the headship of King Leopold. The people of the Congo basin are of the Bantu race. They are harmless, and born traders, and are lighter in color than the Sudanese. The European population in 1910 numbered 3,399, chiefly Belgians, Portuguese, Italians, English and Americans. The chief districts are Boma, Bangala, Aruwimi, Lualaba, Kwango, Equator, Ubangi and Stanley Pool. The area is estimated at 900,000 square miles. Population possibly 15,000,000 or 16,000,000.

There has been a rapid expansion of commerce, and it is being pushed and developed with full regard for the welfare of the country. In 1905 the imports were 45,961,295 francs and exports 121,573,949 francs. (The franc is about 19 cents.)

The chief imports are fabrics, food, machinery, steamboats, drink, metals, arms and ammunition; the exports consist of rubber, ivory, palm-nuts and oil, white copal, coffee and cocoa. Tobacco is being successfully grown. A railway of about 250 miles connects Matadi with Stanley Pool. A local railway of 50 miles is open for traffic in Mayumbe, and a Belgian company is constructing 900 miles of railway from the Congo at Stanleyville and Nyangwe to Lakes Albert and Tanganyika. Over 100 miles of this already are open. Thirty-two steamers ply the upper Congo. Telegraph lines connect Boma and the Equator by way of Leopoldville, 744 miles long, Kasonga and Baroka on Lake Tanganyika, 200 miles, Lisala and Umangi, 14 miles, and some 50 miles in Mayumbe, a total of 1,008 miles.