Chapter II : Physical Geography
Part 1 : The Location

from : J. Roland and E. Duchesne, Cours Complet de Geographie : Le Congo Belge, Namur 1914, pp.12-13

Geograpical and Astronomical Location.

The Belgian Congo is located in the very heart of Central Africa. It forms part of a vast region comprised between the Sudan in the north, the Zambezi in the south; it is limited in the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and in the east by an immense fracture in which the lakes Tanganyika, Kivu, Albert-Edward and Albert are located. It poses as a wall terminating the basin of the Congo to the east, as a whole, and makes up a minor part of the basin of the Nile.
The territory of the Belgian colony extends to both sides of the equatur, over 19 degrees of latitude; in the North it reaches until 5 degrees 20 minutes northern latitude; in the South, until 13 degrees 40 minutes southern latitude. It is believed to lie entirely within the hot zone.
In longitude, it extends a little less than in latitude, namely 18 degrees 30 minutes : that is between 12 degrees 10 minutes and 31 degrees 30 minutes east of Greenwich. The meridian at 22 degrees east of Greenwich divides the country in two halves of approximately equal size. The Belgian Congo belongs thus partially to the Central European timezone and to the Eastern European timezone. The official time is that of the 15th meridian; but it is not used in the Lower Congo. Katanga has adopted as official time that of the 30th meridian.

Political Borders and Physical Limitations.

The Belgian Congo is bordered by the African colonial possessions of four great powers : of France, Britain, Germany and Portugal. As borders, there are, beginning with the Atlantic : in the north the Portuguese enclave of Cabinda, from which it is separated by the little river Shiloango; by the Congo, the Ubangi and the Bomu, it is separated from French Equatorial Africa (Congo, Oubangui-Chari), across which the German colony of Kamerun makes two indentations, one until the Congo river, the other until the Ubangi; by the line marking the watershed between the Congo and the Nile basin, from the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (Bahr-el-Ghazal); to the east, by Lake Albert, the Semliki, the Ruwenzori Mountains and Lake Albert Edward from British East Africa (Uganda); from German East Africa by the volcanic Virunga Mountains, Lake Kivu, the Ruzizi river and Lake Tanganyika; from British Rhodesia by the southern bank of Lake Tanganyika, along Lake Moero and the river Luapula; to the south from British Rhodesia by the watershed separating the Congo and Zambezi basins; from Portuguese Angola by conventional limitations which include the Kasai and the upper Kwango, the Noki parallel (until Matadi) and the Congo estuary, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, where ity owns a coastal stretch of only 40 km.
It is connected with the Atlantic by a narrow outflow, which, according to a graphic phrase, is called " the emptying bottle".
The total length of the borders amounts to 9,165 km (for Belgium 1,338 km, and 67 km of coastline).


The Belgian Congo occupies a total surface of 2,365,000 square km, which corresponds to 80 times the area of Belgium and to more than 4 times the area of France.

This page is part of World History at KMLA
Last revised on February 13th 2002

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