Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as Zaire from 1971 to 1997. The city is located on the Congo River. Once a site of fishing villages, Kinshasa is now an urban area with a population of 10,076,099 inhabitants in 2009. The city of Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo, lies just across the Congo River. Together, the combined conurbation of Kinshasa-Brazzaville has thus nearly 12 million inhabitants—making it the most populous transborder metropolitan area in the world.
Because the administrative boundaries cover such a vast area, over 60% of the city's land is rural in nature, and the urban area only occupies a small section in the far western end of the province. Although it has no significant native French speaking population, it is often considered the second largest francophone city in the world after Paris, inasmuch as French is the language of government and commerce, and is used as a lingua franca. If current demographic trends continue, Kinshasa will surpass Paris in population before 2020