Formerly the Belgian Congo; its 70's/80's "Zaïre" phase was sandwiched by its once and current name, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (similar to its neighbor's name). The name of the Congo River was likewise changed to Zaïre. Like its northern neighbor, the Central African Republic, its now-deposed longtime dictator (the late Mobutu Sese Seko) looted the wealth of the country, leaving his subjects among the poorest on the continent. Potentially a financial superpower, once it gets its act together for a few generations.

The zaire is also the name of the monetary unit of Zaire, introduced in 1967 to replace the Congolese franc. It was divided into 100 makuta (plural of likuta), each nominally divided into 100 sengi. After hyperinflation it was replaced by the new zaire at a rate of 3 000 000 for one. In 1998, a year after the country was renamed Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congolese franc was reintroduced, replacing the new zaire at 100 000 for one.

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