Pygmies who roamed the area during the Stone Age are believed to be the original inhabitants of what is now the Congo. The Congo Basin is thought to have been the starting point of the Bantu expansion throughout eastern and southern Africa that began about the first century A.D. Most of the peoples now inhabiting the country had established themselves in the region by 1000 A.D. By the time white explorers arrived in the late 15th century, the Kongo, Luba, Lunda, Mongo, Mangbetu, and Zande had become the most powerful chiefdoms.

Important dates in Congo (Kinshasa)
A.D. 700's Advanced civilizations grew up in what is now Congo.
c. 1400 Kongo and other kingdoms grew up in the area.
Early 1500's The slave trade began in what is now Congo.
1885 King Leopold II of Belgium took control of the area and named it the Congo Free State.
1908 The Belgian government took control of the Congo Free State and renamed it the Belgian Congo.
1960 The Belgian Congo gained independence from Belgium and was renamed Congo.
1965 President Joseph Mobutu came to power and established a one-party state.
1971 The country's name was changed to Zaire.
1977 and 1978 Katanga rebels invaded Zaire from Angola, but were defeated.
1997 Rebels led by Laurent Kabila overthrew President Mobutu and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
1998-2003 A major war took place between the Congolese government and rebel groups, with each side backed by troops from other African countries.
2006 Congo (Kinshasa) held its first multiparty elections since 1965.