October 27, 2011 - Three-Z Day

– Democratic Republic of the Congo

On this day in 1971, the then-president of Congo, Mobutu Sese Seko, changed the country's name to Zaire. He also renamed the Congo River the Zaire River, and the money, franc congolais, also became zaire.

See? Three Zs.

Unfortunately, Mobutu was a horrible leader. He repressed any criticism or political opposition, stole money from the nation, and violated his people's rights—including torturing and killing people!

The Congolese people rose up to oppose this autocratic and corrupt president, and in 1997, he had to flee the nation. The people of Zaire reclaimed their older name, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, because the name Zaire was so closely connected to Mobutu. I'm sure that the people of Democratic Congo no longer celebrate Three-Z Day (sometimes called Name Day), but that doesn't stop it from still being a listed holiday all over the internet!

The heart of Africa...

  • Democratic Congo's position in the middle of Africa doesn't mean that it is landlocked. The nation includes a narrow arm of land surrounding the Congo River all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Remember, it is important to a nation to have access to the sea so it can participate in shipping and trade without relying on another nation...

  • Congo has a lot of rain – more than 80 inches (2,000 mm) per year – and the most thunderstorms in the world. It has a large, lush jungle that is the second largest rainforest in the world. (Any idea what the largest rainforest in the world is?....Hint: it starts with the letter “A.”)

  • A rift valley in Congo has exposed some minerals that are useful or beautiful. These minerals are mined: cobalt, copper, cadmium, diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, germanium, uranium, radium, bauxite, and iron.

  • By the way, one of Democratic Congo's neighbors is named the Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville. Confusing, huh?
Gorillas live in the rainforests of Congo.

Check out...

  • the rainforest of the Congo river basin. 
  • the life of a 10-year-old boy, Kani, who lives in Congo.
  • the lives of other kids in Congo. 

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