Chapter III : Human Geography
Part 1 : Population.

from : J. Roland and E. Duchesne, Cours Complet de Geographie : Le Congo Belge, Namur 1914, pp.25


The figure of the indigenous population is not exactly known; it can approximatelt be established at 15 million inhabitants, thus, for a total surface of 2,365,000 square km, less than 7 inhabitants on average per square km.
The number of white inhabitants, as of Jan. 1st 1912, is 5,465, of whom are 3,307 Belgians, 505 British, 303 Portuguese, 278 Italians, 210 Swedes and Norwegians, 150 Germans, 129 Dutchmen, 91 Frenchmen, 69 Swiss, 46 Americans, 30 Danes, 347 of various nationalities.
The low density of the indigenous population prevails across the great extent of the equatorial forest : except along the river and it's affluents, the population is, in effect, very thinly spread and certain regions, notably the region to the west of Lac Kivu, are almost uninhabited. The savannah is more populated : yet, here alsi, the population is very unevenly spread.
In certain regions, the Arab razzias, before the repression of that trade, significantly reduced the population; furthermore the sleeping sickness is a decimatoing force.
The indigenous live in villages which count, on average, 200 to 300 inhabitants. In certain regions, it is not rare to find agglomerations of 5,000 to 8,000 individuals. Generally, the populations live in independent tribes, the one or the other, and composed of a certain number of villages. Every tribe recognizes the authority of a hereditary chief who, before the actual organization, exercized an absolute power and had the right to decide over life and death of his subjects. Today, the power is limited and the colonial government makes useof the indigenous chieftaincies for the exercise of it's proper authority.
Because of the climate, the Congo is not an immigration colony; thus the rarity of the white element. The residents of European race are living only temporarily in the colony. Except in Katanga and several other high plateaus, where the climate and the conditions are such the whites can adjust to, a colonisation of exploitation, of plantation and of commerce is the only one possible in the Congo.

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Last revised on February 13th 2002

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