The Democratic Republic of the Congo also often referred to as DR Congo, DRC, RDC or formerly as Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, The Congo, Congo-Leopoldville, Congo-Kinshasa, and Zaire (or Zaïre in French), is the third largest country by area on the African continent.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo was formerly, in chronological order, the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Congo-Léopoldville, Congo-Kinshasa, and Zaire. In most Harry Turtledove works, the DR Congo is still the Belgian Congo.
The Belgian Congo was Belgium's only colony prior to the Great War. Following the conquest of Belgium by Germany, the Congo became another one of Germany's African colonies. Though the Belgians had been cruel in their oppression of the native Congolese, the Germans were worse.
The Republic of Zaire was the name of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between October 27, 1971, and May 17, 1997. The name of Zaire derives from the Portuguese: Zaire, itself a mispronunciation of the Kongo word nzere or nzadi, or "the river that swallows all rivers" and is often still used to refer to that state. The country's post-independence name Republic of the Congo was used from 1960 until 1964, when it was changed to Democratic Republic of the Congo, to distinguish it from the neighboring Republic of the Congo. By the Twenty-second Century, the name Zaire had re-emerged.