It was just one of many names that were changed under Mobutu’s regime. Others included the change of Léopoldville to Kinshasa.
Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo in this day in 1997. This took place practically immediately after the fall of dictator Mobutu. Mobutu’s regime was known for imposing many unusual name changes – for example, Christian or “Western” names had to be changed to “authentic” African names. One of these changes was the renaming of the capital from Léopoldville to Kinshasa, which has remained in effect until today.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the second-largest country in Africa (after Algeria). It has over 80 million inhabitants and that number is growing steadily – it is currently the 19th most populous of the world’s countries.