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Provincial capital and city
Ville de Lubumbashi
Downtown Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo - 20061130.jpg
Lubumbashi, 2006
Flag of Lubumbashi.svg
Lubumbashi coat of arms.svg
L'shi – Lubum
Democratic Republic of the Congo adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Coordinates: 11°39′51″S27°28′58″E / 11.66417°S 27.48278°E / -11.66417; 27.48278
CountryDemocratic Republic of the Congo
Province Haut-Katanga
   Mayor Martin Kazembe [1]
  Land747 km2 (288 sq mi)
747 km2 (288 sq mi)
1,208 m (3,963 ft)
  Urban density3,500/km2 (9,000/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+02:00 (Central Africa Time)
Climate Cwa

Lubumbashi (former names: Élisabethville (French); Elisabethstad (Dutch)) is the second-largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, located in the country's southeasternmost part, along the border with Zambia. The capital and principal city of the Haut-Katanga Province, Lubumbashi is the center of mining in the region, acting as a hub for many of the country's largest mining companies. [3] No definite population figures are available, but the population of the city's urban area is estimated to be around 2,584,000 in 2021. [2]



Élisabethville under Belgian rule

The Belgian government established the modern-day government in the city of Élisabethville (sometimes Elizabethville, both in French, or Elisabethstad in Dutch) in 1910, named in honour of Queen Elisabeth, consort to King Albert I of the Belgians. [4] By that time, the government had taken over the colony from King Leopold II, and renamed it as the Belgian Congo. This site was chosen by Vice-Governor-General Emile Wangermée because of its proximity to the copper mine of Etoile du Congo and the copper ore smelting oven installed by Union Minière du Haut Katanga on the nearby Lubumbashi River.

The Comité Spécial du Katanga (CSK), a semi-private concessionary company set up in 1900, had its headquarters in Élisabethville throughout the colonial era. It enjoyed major privileges, mainly in terms of land and mining concessions, in the Katanga province.

The city prospered with the development of a regional copper mining industry. [5] Huge investments in the 1920s, both in the mining industry and in transport infrastructure (railline Elisabethville-Port Francqui and Elisabethville-Dilolo), developed the Katanga province into one of the world's major copper ore producers. The population of the city grew apace from approx. 30,000 in 1930, to 50,000 in 1943 and 180,000 in 1957. It was the second city of the Belgian Congo, after Léopoldville.

The Belgian Quarter in Lubumbashi Belgian Neighborhood, Lubumbashi, DRC.jpg
The Belgian Quarter in Lubumbashi

As was customary with European colonies, the city centre of Élisabethville was reserved for the minority white (European) population. This consisted mainly of Belgian nationals, but the city also attracted important British and Italian communities, as well as Jewish Greeks. Congolese were allowed in the white city only during the day, except for the house servants ("boys") who often lived in shanty dwellings ("boyeries") located in the backyards of the European city houses.

Many men in the black population were labour immigrants from neighbouring regions in the Belgian Congo (Northern Katanga, Maniema, Kasaï), from Belgian Rwanda and Burundi, and from British Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia). [6] The black population lived initially in a so-called cité indigène called Quartier Albert (now Kamalondo), south of the city centre and separated from the white city by a 700-metres-wide neutral zone. With population growth, new indigenous quarters were created. These still form the main suburbs of present-day Lubumbashi: Kenia, Katuba, and Ruashi. The work and businesses related to the mines made Élisabethville the most prosperous region of the Congo during the last decade of Belgian rule. In 1954, there were 8,000 black homeowners in the city while thousands more were skilled workers. It was estimated that black Africans living in Élisabethville had a higher standard of living than anywhere else on the continent at that time. [7]

Lubumbashi Palace of Justice, c. 1920s Lubumbashi Palais de Justice 2.jpg
Lubumbashi Palace of Justice, c. 1920s

Miners in Élisabethville conducted a strike in December 1941 to protest the increasingly severe forced-labour regime that the Belgians imposed on the population because of the "war efforts". [8] A rally in the Union Minière football stadium got out of hand. Police opened fire and numerous protesters were killed. In early 1944, the city was again in the grip of severe tensions and fear of violent protests, following a mutiny of the Force Publique (army) in Luluabourg. [9]

Starting in 1933, the Belgian colonial authorities experimented with a limited form of self-governance by establishing the cité indigène of Élisabethville as a so-called centre extra-coutumier (a centre not subject to customary law). It was administered by an indigenous council and presided over by an indigenous chief. But due to constant interference from the Belgian authorities, the experiment soon proved a failure. [10] The first indigenous chief – Albert Kabongo – appointed in 1937, was dismissed in 1943 and not replaced.

In 1957, Élisabethville was established as a fully autonomous city; it held the first free municipal elections in which the Congolese could vote. The people of Élisabethville gave a vast majority to the nationalist Alliance des Bakongo, which demanded immediate independence from Belgium.

Élisabethville functioned as the administrative capital of the Katanga province. It was also an important commercial and industrial centre, and a centre of education and health services. The Benedictine Order and missionary Order of Salesians offered a wide range of educational facilities to Europeans and Congolese alike, including vocational training (Kafubu). The Belgians established the University of Élisabethville in 1954–1955 (now the University of Lubumbashi).

Lubumbashi: Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral Lubumbashi cathedral S Pierre et Paul.jpg
Lubumbashi: Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
Lubumbashi in 2011 Square in Lubumbashi, 2011.jpg
Lubumbashi in 2011

Lubumbashi from 1960

Élisabethville served as the capital and centre of the secessionist independent state of Katanga during the 1960–1963 Congolese civil war. Moise Tshombe proclaimed Katangan independence in July 1960. Congolese leaders arrested him and charged him with treason in April 1961; however, he agreed to dismiss his foreign advisers and military forces in exchange for his release. Tshombe returned to Élisabethville but repudiated these assurances and began to fight anew. United Nations troops opposed Katangan forces and took control of the city in December 1961 under a strong mandate. Roger Trinquier, well known for his published works on counter-insurgency warfare, served as a French military advisor to President Tshombe until international pressure, led by Belgium, caused his recall to France.

Mobutu Sese Seko ultimately assumed power of the Congo, which he renamed Zaïre. He renamed Élisabethville as "Lubumbashi" in 1966 and in 1972 renamed Katanga as "Shaba."

In May 1990, the university campus of Lubumbashi was the scene of a brutal killing of students by Mobutu's security forces. In 1991–92 ethnic tensions between the Luba from Katanga and the Luba from Kasaï, resident in the city, led to violent confrontations and the forced removal from the city of the latter.

Congo entered another genocidal civil war in the late 1990s. The Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo rebels captured Lubumbashi in April 1997. Rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila spoke from Lubumbashi to declare himself president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 17 May 1997 after Mobutu Sese Seko fled Kinshasa.

When Laurent-Désiré Kabila decided to appoint a transitional parliament, in 1999, he decided to install the Parliament in Lubumbashi, in order to consolidate the fragile unity of the country. The parliament was installed in the building of the National Assembly of secessionist Katanga (the former city theatre), which had its capital in this city as well, in the 1960s. Lubumbashi was therefore the Legislative capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1999 to 2003, when all the country's central institutions were brought back to Kinshasa.

On 7 September 2010 a large prison break happened in Lubumbashi after gunmen attacked a prison on the outskirts of the city. 960 prisoners managed to escape, including the Mai-Mai leader Gédéon Kyungu Mutanga. [11] On 23 March 2013 a militia group of 100 fighters attacked Lubumbashi and seized a United Nations compound, which was surrounded by Congolese soldiers and members of the president's Republican Guard. [3]


Lubumbashi lies at around 1,208 m (3,963 ft) above sea level. The high altitude serves to cool the climate, which would otherwise be very hot. The Kafue River rises along the Zambian border near the city and meanders through north-central Zambia to the Zambezi River, cutting a long, deep panhandle into the country.


Lubumbashi has a dry-winter humid subtropical climate (Cwa, according to the Köppen climate classification), with warm rainy summers and pleasant, dry winters, with most rainfall occurring during summer and early autumn. Annual average rainfall is 1,238 mm (48.75 inches).

Climate data for Lubumbashi
Average high °C (°F)26
Daily mean °C (°F)21
Average low °C (°F)16
Average rainfall mm (inches)253
Average rainy days24232192000151724126
Maximum UV index for Lubumbashi
Average Ultraviolet index 11+11+11+11+10991111+11+11+11+10.8
Source: [12]



French is the official language, but the main spoken lingua franca in Lubumbashi is Kiswahili. The dialect of Kiswahili spoken all down the east side of Congo (including the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema, Katanga and Oriental, Western Kasai and Eastern Kasai) and almost all the way across to the Katangan border with Angola is called Kingwana. [13] As many people have moved into Lubumbashi for employment from rural areas, they have brought many other local languages including Kiluba, Chokwe, Bemba and Kisanga. Kiswahili has been the chief language shared by most people. [14]

Religious expression

Religious places of worship in Lubumbashi are predominantly Christian: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lubumbashi (Catholic Church), Kimbanguist Church, Baptist Community of Congo (Baptist World Alliance), Baptist Community of the Congo River (Baptist World Alliance), Assemblies of God, Province of the Anglican Church of the Congo (Anglican Communion), Presbyterian Community in Congo (World Communion of Reformed Churches). [15] On April 5, 2020, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans to construct a temple in Lubumbashi, its second temple in the country. [16] There are also Muslim mosques.


Commercial Bank of Congo Banque commerciale du Congo de Lubumbashi.JPG
Commercial Bank of Congo
Storefronts in Lubumbashi Lubumbashi Storefront.jpg
Storefronts in Lubumbashi

Lubumbashi serves as an important commercial and national industrial centre. Manufactures include textiles, food products and beverages, printing, bricks, and copper smelting. The city is home to the Simba brewery, producing the famous Tembo beer.

The city hosts the headquarters of one of the country's largest banks, Trust Merchant Bank. The area also has a daily newspaper.


Lubumbashi, the mining capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a base for many of the country's biggest mining companies. The Democratic Republic of Congo produces "more than 3 percent of the world's copper and half its cobalt, most of which comes from Katanga." [3]


Lubumbashi International Airport Lubumbashi International Airport.png
Lubumbashi International Airport

The city serves as a distribution centre for such minerals as copper, cobalt, zinc, tin, and coal.


The city is crossed by Transafrican Highway 9 (TAH 9), which connects it to the cities of Lusaka and Kolwezi. [17]


Lubumbashi is the center of the railway lines from Cape to Cairo Railway, which serves as a link with the cities of Ilebo, Kindu, Tenke, Sakania and Ndola. [18]

In Tenke, the city connects with Kolwezi and Lobito, through the Benguela railway. [19]


Lubumbashi is home to the modern Lubumbashi International Airport. [20]


University of Lubumbashi University of Lubumbashi.jpg
University of Lubumbashi

The largest institution of higher education is the University of Lubumbashi, founded in 1955, with also the teaching institutions Protestant University of Lubumbashi and the Graduate Institute of Health Sciences.

The Belgian international school École Privée Belge de Lubumbashi and the French international school Établissement scolaire français Blaise-Pascal are in the city.

Urban infrastructure


Muyambo Kyasa popularized the concept of parks. Muyambo Park opened in 2010. Located about 15 km from Lubumbashi, it is a large garden where children can play games, and adults relax. Other parks (or farms) include Mikembo and Futuka (once a reserve, now closed) on Kasenga Road in the city's outskirts.


The zoo of Lubumbashi is one of the most visited tourist attractions. It was created during the colonial period, and is considered the most attractive zoo in the country. During the years of war, it deteriorated but it has been rehabilitated by AZLU, a non-profit organization. By 2007, great animals had been acquired for the zoo. AZLU is keeping the zoo "for education purposes, and the protection of the natural heritage of the country," as it can be read on signs. Today, it has almost been restocked with lions, tigers, monkeys, apes, pelicans, wart hogs, crocodiles, snakes, turtles, monitor lizards, eagles, parrots, ostriches, gazelles, etc. Apart from animals, the zoo features a restaurant, a veterinary center, and a termite museum.


Attractions in the city include a botanical garden, a zoo, and the regional archaeological and ethnological National Museum of Lubumbashi. Every two years, the Biennale of Lubumbashi is held across the city, showcasing works by artists from the region. In an interview in Ocula Magazine in 2019, the Biennale's artistic director, Sandrine Colard explained, 'The Congo is a country that is perpetually in the future. All of these different periods coalescing in one city is something I wanted to address.' [21]


Bogumił Jewsiewicki says that contemporary Lubumbashi art making is weak, especially when compared to the Kinshasan. He writes,

"No Lubumbashi popular painter has had an international career like that of the Kinshasa artist Chéri Samba, and there are in fact a number of artists and musicians in Kinshasa whom the whirlwind of international success has whisked farther from local audiences than any artist in Lubumbashi, and not only in Lubumbashi but in the surrounding province of Katanga." [22]

He names painters like Pilipili, Mwenze, Angali, Nkulu wa Nkulu, Maka, Tshimbumba, Dekab, and others.


Ciné Bétamax, formerly "Ciné Palace" and "Ciné Eden", [23] are the only modern movie theaters in the city which generally show popular recent Hollywood productions as well as NC-17 films. However, they also show movies about Congolese and African recent history like Mister Bob, Sniper: Reloaded, SEAL Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines, and Tears of the Sun. Before films, they both showed Congolese and international music videos, and US wrestling. The communication department of the University of Lubumbashi has collaborated with the movie theater to show students’ films.

Ciné Bétamax in particular also screens great football matches, and local singers’ concerts and Christian meetings are regularly held here.

Nigeria's Nollywood films are also, as in many other parts of the DRC and Africa, popular among the residents. These films are often sold on VCD and DVD platforms.


The popular music from Kinshasa is much appreciated and played in Lubumbashi. Jean-Bosco Mwenda is likely the most famous Katangese musician. Many of his songs have become classical, and are endlessly remixed by new young artists. Modern Lubumbashi singers fall into two groups: those who play Soukous, such as Jo Kizi and Képi Prince, and those who play international urban music, such as Ced Koncept, Tshumani, M-Joe, RJ Kanyera, Oxygène, Agresivo, Nelson Tshi, and Da Costa on the other. Most artists are influenced by successful Dj Spilulu's productions, Kinshasa singers Fally Ipupa, Ferre Gola and World Music.

Lubumbashi music is characterized by the use of many languages (Swahili, Lingala, Tshiluba, French and some English) in the lyrics. It is rare to hear songs composed in only one language. This code switching and mixing expresses the cosmopolitan character of the city, but some critics think it weakens the lyrics, which seem to be particularly made for teenagers anyway. Serge Manseba and Karibyona are humorist-singers featured by G'Sparks.

French cultural influence

The "Institut Français" (formally known as "Centre Culturel Français"), located in the heart of the city, contributes a great deal to the cultural and artistic life of Lubumbashi. Students and researchers spend time in its library; it shows European and other French-language films; produces plays and other shows in its theater; and features local singers’ records for sale on display at the entrance.

Radio Okapi's cultural participation

Radio Okapi's Lubumbashi presenters participate each Saturday evening in "métissage," the cultural program of the radio. The whole country is informed of the cultural activities in the city.


National channel (RTNC/Katanga)

RTNC (Congolese National Radio and Television) has a provincial station located in Lubumbashi district at the junction of Lubilanshi and Sandoa. It has been very influential from the 1960s to the mid-1990s, at the end of the one-party system, and before the information technology revolution.

Independent channels

Zenith Radio, the first independent radio station in the city, started broadcasting in 1996; since then numerous radio and television stations have been established. They can be classified in three groups: religious channels (Zenith, RTIV, Canal de Vie, RNS, etc.), commercial channels (RTA, Mwangaza, Nyota, RTLJ, Malaïka, Kyondo, etc.), and mixed ones like Wantanshi Radio and Television.

Notable people



Football is the most popular sport in Lubumbashi. The city is home to football clubs of the top national level such as FC Saint Eloi Lupopo, CS Don Bosco and TP Mazembe. TP Mazembe is the most successful club in national competitions and the most successful Congolese club in international football achieving 5 Africa's Champions League and reaching a FIFA Club World Cup final. The Chairman of Mazembe is the former governor of the province of Katanga Moïse Katumbi Chapwe.

Until 1960, Congolese football was segregated between whites-only and blacks-only leagues and competitions. In 1911 the whites-only Ligue de Football du Katanga was founded in Elisabethville, organising in 1925 the first official local championship called the B. Smith Cup. [24] The Katanga tournament was won by teams from Lubumbashi every recorded season except 2005. Simultaneously three blacks-only regional tournaments were played in the country. In 1950, the 'black' Elisabethville Football Association (FASI, Fédérations et Associations Sportives Indigènes) had over 30 affiliated clubs competing in four leagues divided over 3 divisions.

Both black and white tournaments in Lubumbashi and the country were played simultaneously until 1960, when they were unified. Since then the traditionally black clubs have dominated both local and national football. [25]

The 'black' Ligue de Football du Elisabethville, now renamed the Ligue de Football du Lubumbashi, is the city's football tournament, organized since 1960 by the city's federation EFLU. FC Saint-Eloi Lupopo won the EFLU league 25 times in all up to 2003 being the most successful club in the seasons for which records are known (some are not known).


Basketball players Myck Kabongo and Bismack Biyombo are from Lubumbashi. [26] Oscar Tshiebwe, the consensus 2022 NCAA Division I men's player of the year at the University of Kentucky, is also from Lubumbashi.

Sister city

Related Research Articles

The earliest known human settlements in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been dated back to the Middle Stone Age, approximately 90,000 years ago. The first real states, such as the Kongo, the Lunda, the Luba and Kuba, appeared south of the equatorial forest on the savannah from the 14th century onwards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Katanga Province</span> Former province in DR Congo

Katanga was one of the four large provinces created in the Belgian Congo in 1914. It was one of the eleven provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 1966 and 2015, when it was split into the Tanganyika, Haut-Lomami, Lualaba, and Haut-Katanga provinces. Between 1971 and 1997, its official name was Shaba Province.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Belgian Congo</span> 1908–1960 Belgian colony in Central Africa

The Belgian Congo was a Belgian colony in Central Africa from 1908 until independence in 1960 and became the Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville). The former colony adopted its present name, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in 1964.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Democratic Republic of the Congo</span> Country in Central Africa

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, is a country in Central Africa. By land area, the DRC is the second-largest country in Africa and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of around 112 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populous officially Francophone country in the world. The national capital and largest city is Kinshasa, which is also the economic center. The country is bordered by the Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, the Cabinda exclave of Angola and the South Atlantic Ocean.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Moïse Tshombe</span> Congolese politician and secessionist leader (1919–1969)

Moïse Kapenda Tshombe was a Congolese businessman and politician. He served as the president of the secessionist State of Katanga from 1960 to 1963 and as prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1964 to 1965.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">United Nations Operation in the Congo</span> 1960s United Nations military operation

The United Nations Operation in the Congo was a United Nations peacekeeping force deployed in the Republic of the Congo in 1960 in response to the Congo Crisis. ONUC was the UN's first peacekeeping mission with significant military capabilities and remains one of the largest UN operations in size and scope.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">State of Katanga</span> 1960–1963 unrecognised state in Africa

The State of Katanga, also known as the Republic of Katanga, was a breakaway state that proclaimed its independence from Congo-Léopoldville on 11 July 1960 under Moise Tshombe, leader of the local Confédération des associations tribales du Katanga (CONAKAT) political party. The new Katangese state did not enjoy full support throughout the province and was constantly plagued by ethnic strife in its northernmost region. It was dissolved in 1963 following an invasion by United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC) forces, and reintegrated with the rest of the country as Katanga Province.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Index of Democratic Republic of the Congo–related articles</span>

Articles related to the Democratic Republic of the Congo include:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville)</span> 1960–1965 state in Central Africa

The Republic of the Congo was a sovereign state in Central Africa, created with the independence of the Belgian Congo in 1960. From 1960 to 1966, the country was also known as Congo-Léopoldville to distinguish it from its northwestern neighbor, which is also called the Republic of the Congo, alternatively known as "Congo-Brazzaville". In 1964, the state's official name was changed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the two countries continued to be distinguished by their capitals; with the renaming of Léopoldville as Kinshasa in 1966, it became also known as Congo-Kinshasa. After Joseph Désiré Mobutu, commander-in-chief of the national army, seized control of the government in 1965, the Democratic Republic of the Congo became the Republic of Zaire in 1971. It would again become the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997. The period between 1960 and 1964 is referred to as the First Congolese Republic.

This is a history of Katanga Province and the former independent State of Katanga, as well as the history of the region prior to colonization.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Zaïrois</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jason Sendwe</span> Congolese politician (1917–1964)

Jason Sendwe was a Congolese politician and a leader of the Association Générale des Baluba du Katanga (BALUBAKAT) party. He served as Second Deputy Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from August 1961 until January 1963, and as President of the Province of North Katanga from September 1963 until his death, with a brief interruption.

Joseph Okito was a Congolese politician and close political ally to Patrice Lumumba who briefly served as Second Vice-President of the Senate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was executed alongside Lumumba in Katanga in 1961.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Isaac Kalonji</span>

Isaac Kalonji Mutambayi was a Congolese Protestant minister and statesman who served as the President of the Senate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1962 until 1965. He was one of the few politicians to serve the country continuously from its independence in 1960 until its democratisation in the 1990s.

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Rémy Mwamba (1921–1967) was a Congolese politician who twice served as Minister of Justice of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was also a leading figure of the Association Générale des Baluba du Katanga (BALUBAKAT).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dominique Diur</span> Congolese politician

Dominique Diur (1929—1980) was a Congolese and Katangese politician who was one of the founders of the CONAKAT party.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Compagnie du chemin de fer du bas-Congo au Katanga</span>

The Compagnie du chemin de fer du bas-Congo au Katanga (BCK) was a railway operator in the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo and later in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zaire. Most of the lines were in the southern Katanga Province, with links to the Kasai River for transport of mineral exports down to Kinshasa and onward to the port of Matadi, and a link to the Angolan railway network for transport to Lobito on the Atlantic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Operation Unokat</span> 1961 UN offensive in the Congo

Operation Unokat, also styled Operation UNOKAT, was an offensive undertaken by United Nations peacekeeping forces from 5 December 1961 to 21 December 1961 against the gendarmerie of the State of Katanga, a secessionist state rebelling against the Republic of the Congo in central Africa. The United Nations had tried several times to reconcile the government of the Congo with the State of Katanga, which had declared independence under Moïse Tshombe with Belgian support in 1960.

Paul Muhona Lumbu Mukangana Ndjamba was a Congolese and Katangese politician.


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