The Belgian Congo (French: Congo belge; Dutch: Belgisch-Congo) was a Belgian colony in Central Africa from 1908 until independence in 1960.
Colonial rule in the Congo began in the late 19th century. King Leopold II of Belgium attempted to persuade the Belgian government to support colonial expansion around the then-largely unexploited Congo Basin. Their ambivalence resulted in Leopold's establishing a colony himself. With support from a number of Western countries, Leopold achieved international recognition of the Congo Free State, in 1885. By the turn of the century, the violence used by Free State officials against indigenous Congolese and a ruthless system of economic exploitation led to intense diplomatic pressure on Belgium to take official control of the country, which it did by creating the Belgian Congo in 1908.
In 1960, as the result of a widespread and increasingly radical pro-independence movement, the Congo achieved independence, becoming the Republic of Congo. The former colony adopted its present name, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in 1964.