The former Belgian Congo became independent in 1960,
and in 1971 changed its name to the Republic of Zaïre.
Following the civil war of 1996, a further name change has
taken place, and it is now the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, capital Kinshasa, not to be confused with its neighbour
to the west, the Congo Republic (Congo Brazzaville).
The mapping base was established by the Belgian colonial
authorities, and much mapping was undertaken prior to
independence, initially in Katanga (now Shaba) province, by
the Comité Spécial du Katanga (CSK), founded in 1919. A
program of mapping the whole country was initiated after
World War II, when, in 1949, an Institut Géographique du
Congo Belge was established in Léopoldville (now Kinshasa).
With independence, this became the Institut Géographique
du Zaïre (IGZa), a name which will presumably change
again with the re-adoption of the name Congo. Extensive
aerial photography was obtained during the 1950s and series
of 1:200,000 scale one-degree sheets, 1:100,000 scale
quarter-degree sheets, and 1:50,000 scale sheets covering
one-sixteenth-degree were initiated. This mapping took
various forms, some printed in one, two or four colours and
others issued as dye-lines. A number of 1:50,000 scale
uncontrolled photomosaics were also produced, and some
1:200,000 scale regional maps (Carte de territoire). Most
sheets lacked contours. Early sheets were on a Polyconic
projection, but more recent mapping adopted the UTM
projection, Clarke 1880 ellipsoid. In the 1950s, large scale,
contoured maps of the capital and other major towns were
also produced. After independence there was a hiatus in
mapping until the late 1960s, and then in 1971 a new
program of 1:50,000 scale mapping began, with the
intention of achieving complete cover of the country at this
scale. About one-third of the country has been covered, but
most sheets are planimetric dye-lines, and all work on the
1:50,000 map ceased in 1975. 1:200,000 scale sheets were
still being produced in the late 1980s. No funding has been
forthcoming for much needed new aerial photography, and
with the recent political unrest further progress has not been
possible. The post-colonial topographic mapping is all
restricted, and the only detailed mapping available is the
earlier mapping of Katanga by CSK, which is available from
the Musée Royale de l'Afrique Centrale (MRAC),
Tervuren, and some more extensive pre-colonial cover.
Soviet military topographic mapping of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) exists at the following scales:
1:1,000,000 (19 sheets, complete coverage, published 1953-1987); 1:500,000 (50 sheets, complete coverage, published 1962-1987);
1:200,000 (95 sheets, partial coverage, published 1979-1985) and city (1:10,000 to 1:25,000) topographic maps of Bangui and Lubumbashi published in 1981.
These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
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