The Central African nation now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, was previously administered as a colonial possession by Belgium until 1960. It was officially established as an official colony after King Leopold II of Belgium ceded his personal control of the area to the government in 1908. To the northwest of the DRC, and separated by the Congo River, the country now known as the Republic of Congo was formerly a French colony until 1960.
The Portuguese were among the first Europeans to begin to explore the regions around the Congo River in the late 1400s and to make contact with the indigenous people of the areas. It was not until the 1800s, however, that other European nations became interested in colonizing the area. By that time, the Portuguese had already established themselves in the area to the south of the Congo River, which is now known as Angola.