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Along with fierce local resistance, the rainforest, swamps, and attendant malaria, and other diseases such as sleeping sickness made it a difficult environment for Europeans to settle.Western states were at first reluctant to colonize the area in the absence of obvious economic benefits.In 1876 Leopold II of Belgium hosted a geographic conference in Brussels, inviting famous explorers, philanthropists, and members of geographic societies to stir up interest in a "humanitarian" endeavor for Europeans to take in central Africa to "improve" and "civilize" the lives of the indigenous peoples.
Via the International Association of the Congo he was able to lay claim to most of the Congo basin.
On May 29, 1885, the king named his new colony the Congo Free State.
Prior this appointment, he served as Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the Republic of India, where he was the dean of the diplomatic corps.
A native of [village], Ambassador Balumuene has also served as the DRC’s Ambassador to the Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka, as well as the chargé d’affaires of the DRC Embassy in South Africa.
The report of the British Consul Roger Casement led to the arrest and punishment of white officials who had been responsible for killings during a rubber-collecting expedition in 1903.
The loss of life and atrocities inspired literature such as Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and raised an international outcry.Leopold used the association to promote plans to seize independent central Africa under this philanthropic guise.Henry Morton Stanley, famous for making contact with British missionary David Livingstone in Africa in 1871, later explored the region during a journey that ended in 1877 and was described in Stanley's 1878 novel Through the Dark Continent."Independent State of the Congo") was a large state in Central Africa from 1885 to 1908, which was in personal union with the Kingdom of Belgium under Leopold II.Leopold was able to procure the region by convincing the European community that he was involved in humanitarian and philanthropic work and would not tax trade.The state would eventually include an area now held by the Democratic Republic of the Congo.