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The city of Kinshasa holds a provincial status. It covers 9,965 sq km (3,848 sq mi), some 60% of which are rural areas outside the urban core. The population of Kinshasa is close to ten million people (2012 estimate). It is the second biggest city in Central Africa after Lagos, and the third biggest on the continent after Cairo and Lagos. Although most of the native of Kinshasa are not ethnic French, the city is regarded as the largest French-speaking city outside of Paris, as French is the language here for administration and commerce.
The site of Kinshasa was founded by Welsh explorer Henry Morton Stanley in 1881. He named it Léopoldville, in honor of King Leopold II of Belgium, who owned the territory as his private property. It developed as a river port, the first navigable port on the Congo River above Livingstone Falls.
In 1966, after a coup staged by Joseph-Désiré Mobutu the preceding year, L&eaucte;opoldville was renamed Kinshasa, after the village of Kinchassa that was once located in the area. Under Mobutu, Kinshasa grew rapidly, receiving an influx of refugees from the strive-torn countryside as well as squatters looking to make a better living in the city. As a result, Lingala became the predominant language spoken in Kinshasa, although the natives of the area are the Bateke and Bahumbu people.
Mobutu's excesses eventually led to his downfall. Kinshasa however continued to flourish as the cultural and intellectural center for Central Africa.