On February 5, 1885, Belgian King Leopold II established the Congo Free State as his personal possession. Rather than control the Congo as a colony, as other European powers did throughout Africa, Leopold privately owned the region. Leopold financed development projects with money loaned to him from the Belgian government.The king’s stated goal was to bring civilization to the people of the Congo, an enormous region in Central Africa. Leopold’s reign over the Congo Free State, however, has become infamous for its brutality. Estimates vary, but about half the Congolese population died from punishment and malnutrition. Many more suffered from disease and torture.As the realities and suffering within the Congo Free State became more widely known, people became upset. Demonstrations and protests demanded that Leopold end human rights abuses in the Congo Free State. In 1908, international pressure forced the king to turn the Congo Free State over to the country of Belgium. The newly named “Belgian Congo” remained a colony until the Democratic Republic of Congo gained its independence in 1960.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry brutal Adjective
extreme, harsh, or cruel.
complex way of life that developed as humans began to develop urban settlements.
Encyclopedic Entry: civilization colony Noun
people and land separated by distance or culture from the government that controls them.
construction or preparation of land for housing, industry, or agriculture.
harmful condition of a body part or organ.
to form or officially organize.
to fund or provide money to an organization or individual, usually for a specific purpose.
system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.
human rights Noun
basic freedoms belonging to every individual, including the rights to social and political expression, spirituality, and opportunity.
state or situation of being free.
having a very bad reputation.
lack of a balanced diet.
protest noun, verb
demonstration against a policy or action.
any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.
Encyclopedic Entry: region reign Verb
to rule as a monarch.
inflicting pain to force a victim to provide information.