Mbandaka

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Mbandaka
Coquilhatville
Ville de Mbandaka
Commercial center of Mbandaka, 2008
Commercial center of Mbandaka, 2008
Mbandaka is located in Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mbandaka
Mbandaka
Location in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Coordinates: 0°02′52″N 18°15′21″E / 0.04778°N 18.25583°E / 0.04778; 18.25583Coordinates: 0°02′52″N 18°15′21″E / 0.04778°N 18.25583°E / 0.04778; 18.25583
CountryDemocratic Republic of the Congo
ProvinceÉquateur Province
Founded1883
Area
 • Total460 km2 (180 sq mi)
Elevation370 m (1,210 ft)
Population (2012)[1]
 • Total345,663
 • Density750/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
Time zoneWAT (UTC+1)
 
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Mbandaka
Coquilhatville
Ville de Mbandaka
Commercial center of Mbandaka, 2008
Commercial center of Mbandaka, 2008
Mbandaka is located in Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mbandaka
Mbandaka
Location in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Coordinates: 0°02′52″N 18°15′21″E / 0.04778°N 18.25583°E / 0.04778; 18.25583Coordinates: 0°02′52″N 18°15′21″E / 0.04778°N 18.25583°E / 0.04778; 18.25583
CountryDemocratic Republic of the Congo
ProvinceÉquateur Province
Founded1883
Area
 • Total460 km2 (180 sq mi)
Elevation370 m (1,210 ft)
Population (2012)[1]
 • Total345,663
 • Density750/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
Time zoneWAT (UTC+1)

Mbandaka, formerly known as Coquilhatville or Coquilhatstad (named after Camille-Aimé Coquilhat), is a city on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, lying near the confluence of the Congo and Ruki Rivers. It is the capital of Équateur province.

Geography[edit]

Mbandaka lies on the east side of the Congo River below the mouth of the Tshuapa River, a tributary of the Congo. It is south of the Ngiri Reserve on the opposite bank of the Congo, a large area of swamp forest, and is at the center of the Tumba-Ngiri-Maindombe Ramsar wetland.[2] Mbandaka is the capital of the Équateur province, and located only a few miles from the equator. It is home to Mbandaka airport and is linked by riverboat to Kinshasa and Boende. The city's population is approximately 729,257 (2004).

Mbandaka is largely populated by people of the Mongo ethnic group, although people from many different regions live in the city. The main languages spoken in Mbandaka are Lingala, French and Mongo.

Years of war and neglect have taken a heavy toll on the city infrastructure, with no electricity or running water in large sectors of the city. Most of the streets and avenues of the city are dirt roads.

Church of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC)[3] at Bamanya, Equateur province, 2008
Banque du Congo belge, Mbandaka

History[edit]

Mbandaka was founded in 1883 by Henry Morton Stanley with the name of "Équateurville". In fact the Town Hall is about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) north of the Geographic Equator Line, and Mbandaka is indeed one of the closest of any substantial city in the world. Stanley placed a large "Equator Stone" near the river bank south of the city to mark the point where he believed the Equator to cross the river. It still remains there today. Due to its symbolic location close to the equator and the Congo River there were early plans to locate the capital of the Congo Free State in Mbandaka. Although plans were made, they never came off the drawing board. These plans included infrastructure for an estimated population of 100,000 people, a train station, a Catholic cathedral, a governor's residence and a palace for future visits of Leopold II.[4]

In 1886, at the beginning of their colonial rule, the Belgians changed the city's name to "Coquilhatville".

During the colonial time in 1938 works started on a bridge over the Congo River connecting Mbandaka with the French Congo. Work was abandoned at the outbreak of WWII and only the foundations of the bridge pillars remain. In the 1930s several other projects were started by the Belgian colonial administration, including several factories and a new city hall. The city hall was completed only after the war in 1947 and was at that time, with a height of 39 meters, the tallest building in the Belgian Congo. On top of the city hall was a statue of Leopold II. The city hall was destroyed by a fire in 1963.[5]

In 1966 the city's name was changed once again, this time by the new independent government, to "Mbandaka" to honor a prominent local leader.

Hundreds of people (mainly Hutu refugees, women and children) in the city were massacred on May 13, 1997 near the end of the First Congo War.

Notable places[edit]

Catholic Mission station and Central African history research centre of Bamanya[edit]

A large research center for Central African history, originally set up by Fathers Gustaaf Hulstaert (1900–1990) and Honoré Vinck, is at the Catholic Mission station of Bamanya (Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC)), 10 kilometres east of Mbandaka.[6]

Botanic Garden of Eala[edit]

One of the finest botanical gardens representing central Africa is at nearby Eala, about 7 km east of the town centre. The Botanic Garden of Eala (founded in 1900) contains the floral richness of Central Africa with between 4,000 and 5,000 species. It covers approximately 370 hectares with special collections (125 ha), forest (190 ha), marsh (50 ha) and savanna "Euobe" (7 ha). The garden is neglected and unfenced and there is illegal logging. The last catalogue was published in 1924.

First Habitat for Humanity International housing project[edit]

Mbandaka is the home of the world's first project of Habitat for Humanity International. Habitat for Humanity's founder Millard Fuller served as missionary with the Disciples of Christ Church in Mbandaka from 1973-76. The housing project Fuller started in Mbandaka in 1973 became the original project of Habitat for Humanity when Fuller founded Habitat upon his return to the United States.

Climate[edit]

The city is located at the center of the Tumba-Ngiri-Maindombe area, designated a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention in 2008.[7] Mbandaka features a tropical rainforest climate under Köppen's climate classification. The city does feature wetter and drier months, with the driest month, January averaging around 80 mm of precipitation per year. However the city does not have a dry season, all months average above 60 mm of precipitation in a year. Temperatures are relatively constant throughout the course of the year, with average temperatures ranging from 23-26 degrees Celsius during the course of the year.

Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Climate chart (explanation)
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
80
 
31
19
 
 
100
 
32
20
 
 
150
 
32
20
 
 
140
 
31
20
 
 
130
 
31
20
 
 
110
 
30
19
 
 
100
 
30
17
 
 
100
 
29
17
 
 
200
 
30
19
 
 
210
 
30
19
 
 
190
 
30
19
 
 
120
 
30
19
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [1]
Climate data for Mbandaka
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Average high °C (°F)31
(88)
32
(90)
32
(90)
31
(88)
31
(88)
30
(86)
30
(86)
29
(84)
30
(86)
30
(86)
30
(86)
30
(86)
30.5
(87)
Average low °C (°F)19
(66)
20
(68)
20
(68)
20
(68)
20
(68)
19
(66)
17
(63)
17
(63)
19
(66)
19
(66)
19
(66)
19
(66)
19
(66.2)
Precipitation mm (inches)80
(3.15)
100
(3.94)
150
(5.91)
140
(5.51)
130
(5.12)
110
(4.33)
100
(3.94)
100
(3.94)
200
(7.87)
210
(8.27)
190
(7.48)
120
(4.72)
1,630
(64.18)
[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "World Gazetteer". Archived from the original on February 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ "CD003 Ngiri". Birdlife International. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  3. ^ [Missionaries of the Sacred Heart: Where we minister throughout the world http://www.mscireland.com/where-we-are-mainmenu-43/international-mainmenu-45?task=view]
  4. ^ Le Congo: de la colonisation belge à l'indépendance, Auguste Maurel, page 94-95
  5. ^ Le Congo : de la colonisation belge à l'indépendance, Auguste Maurel, page 153-155
  6. ^ See: www.aequatoria.be
  7. ^ "DR Congo Announces World's Largest Protected Wetland". Environment News Service. July 24, 2008. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 

External links[edit]