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FIRST STAMPS inscribed ETAT DU CONGO 1 January 1886.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED inscribed ZAIRE 18 December 1971.


Until 1967, Belgian.
From 1967, 100 sengi = 1 likuta. 100 makuta = 1 Zaire.

Although the mouth of the Congo was explored by British Admiralty expeditions from 1816 and became a steamer port-of-call on the Atlantic route to South Africa, all the knowledge and colonization came from the east side. A Belgian trading post was established at Karema on Lake Tanganyika in 1879 and similar posts along the Congo basin by H.M. Stanley. The independent state of the Congo was proclaimed at Boma on 1 July 1885 under the personal rule of Leopold II. Country annexed to Belgium on 15 November 1908. Independence as a republic on 30 June 1960 heralded chaos, the intervention of the UN and, after 1965, military dictatorship. Country changed its name to Zaire on 27 October 1971.

Political reforms were commenced in April 1990 and President Mobutu called a conference to draft a new constitution. Mobutu accepted an opposition dominated government in October 1991. The National Conference confirmed the government as legitimate in August 1992.

From 1992 to 1995 the President and his opposition were locked in a power struggle. In January 1994, Mobutu dissolved the Government and, on 4 April 1994 established a transitional government that regulated a 15 month period of democracy. In July 1995, this period was extended for a further 2 years.

Inevitably, fighting broke out between Zairean Tutsis and the Hutu dominated Zairean Army in North and South Kivu provinces. The pro-Hutu army attempted to expel the Tutsis but discovered that they were militarily weaker than the rebels, who were under the leadership of Laurent Kabila. The rebels were backed by the Rwandan and Ugandan governments. Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDC) captured Kinshasa in May 1997; President Mobutu fled and Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Democratic Republic of Congo



100 centimes = 1 Congolese Franc.

Formed from Zaire (qv) after the defeat of President Mobutu by Laurent Kabila.

A revolution against Kabila's government began on 2 August 1998 and by the end of the month the rebels had taken over large areas in the east and west of the country. Most of the neighbouring countries promised Kabila military support and the Angolan army quickly recaptured several towns in the south-west of the country, but the rebels maintained their hold on the eastern region. The rebel movement, the Congolese Democratic Rally (RCD), was supported by Rwanda and Uganda. The latter made peace with the Congolese in April 1999.

No exact date for the first issue of stamps is yet known, but adhesives are recorded from December 1999, usually on covers from the east of the country that have been back-stamped in Zambia.


FIRST STAMPS 12 September 1960

Breakaway province 11 July 1960-15 January 1963, re-absorbed in Congo by 30 August 1964.

Katangan town of Albertville was abandoned on 16 November 1961. In December 1961-March 1962 used stamps of Katanga locally overprinted CONGO until supplies arrived from Leopoldville.

South Kasai

FIRST STAMPS 12 September 1961

Another breakaway province that maintained autonomy 8 August 1960-2 October 1962.

Stamps exhausted or withdrawn by October 1961. (Various other stamps of Congo overprinted SUD KASAT were sold in Brussels but never issued in Africa.)

Indian UN Force in Congo

United Nations force operated in Congo in 1964. Troops of many nations were involved, using their own military postal facilities and generally their national stamps. The Indian contingent in 1962-3 had (but doubtfully used) specially overprinted stamps.

Angola & Belgian Congo
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