The Democratic Republic of the Congo was and still is under a lot of stress and has many problems and challenges caused by imperial rule, as did many other countries in Africa. To analyze how imperialism caused these problems and challenges and to realize their relationships, we must take a look at the extensive history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. .
Beginning in 1482, Diogo Cao, a Portuguese navigator, became the first European to visit the Congo when he reached the mouth of the Congo River and sailed a few miles upstream. The Portuguese then established ties with the king of Kongo, and in the early 16th century they established themselves on parts of the coast of modern Angola. The Portuguese had little influence on the Congo until the late 18th century, when the African and mulatto traders traveled far inland to the kingdom of Mwata Kazembe. Following that, in the mid-19th century, Arab, Swahili, and Nyamwezi traders from present-day Tanzania went into Congo, where they traded and raided for slaves and ivory. Some of the traders established states with a significant amount of power. In the 1870s, at the beginning of the scramble for African territory among the European powers, the territory of the Congo had no overall political unity. Leopold II thought that Belgium would need colonies to make sure it would prosper, and sensing that the Belgians would not support colonial excursions, he instead presented the idea of establishing a colonial empire. Between 1874 and 1877, Henry M. Stanley made a journey across central Africa and discovered the course of the Congo River. Leopold was excited to learn of the economic potential of the Congo and engaged Stanley in 1878 to establish the king's authority in the Congo basin. Between 1879 and 1884, Stanley founded a number of stations along the middle Congo River and signed treaties with several African rulers to give the king sovereignty in their areas.