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The Pool Malebo, formerly Stanley Pool, also known as Lake Nkunda by local indigenous people in pre-colonial times[citation needed], is a lake-like widening in the lower reaches of the Congo River.[1] The former name Stanley Pool was named after early European explorer and journalist Henry Morton Stanley.

Pool Malebo
Kinshasa & Brazzaville - ISS007-E-6305.jpg
Satellite image of the Pool Malebo; the capital cities of Brazzaville, ROC and Kinshasa, DRC are indicated.
Coordinates4°16′55″S 15°29′19″E / 4.28194°S 15.48861°E / -4.28194; 15.48861Coordinates: 4°16′55″S 15°29′19″E / 4.28194°S 15.48861°E / -4.28194; 15.48861
Lake typeFluvial
Primary inflowsCongo River
Primary outflowsCongo River
Surface elevation900 ft (270 m)
SettlementsKinshasa, Brazzaville


In the late 19th century it was known as Stanley Pool. A railway was constructed traversing nearby. A plaque was installed to commemorate the rail line connecting Matadi to Stanley-Pool.[2]


Map of Stanley Pool

The Pool Malebo is about 35 km (22 mi) long, 23 km (14 mi) wide and 500 km2 in surface area. Its central part is occupied by M'Bamou or Bamu Island[1] (180 km2), which is Republic of the Congo territory. The pool is shallow with depths of 3–10 m, while water levels vary by as much as 3 m over the course of a year at an average altitude of 272 m (900 ft).


The capitals of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the CongoKinshasa and Brazzaville, respectively—are located on opposite shores of Pool Malebo. These are the two closest capital cities in the world (other than Rome, Italy and Vatican City, which are actually contiguous).

The Pool is the beginning of the navigable part of the Congo River upstream to the cities of Mbandaka, Kisangani and Bangui. Downstream, the river descends hundreds of meters in a series of rapids known as the Livingstone Falls[3]:Vol.Two,255 to reach sea level at the port of Boma after a trajectory of 300 km.



There are many palm and papyrus swamps along the edges of the river and pool, and often movement of floating mats of Eichhornia plants.[4]



Most fish endemic to the area are catfishes, including the mountain catfish, L. brieni, Leptoglanis mandevillei, L. bouilloni and Atopochilus chabanaudi, an upside-down catfish.[4] The area has over 200 fish species documented, with Mormyrids as the most common with over 40 species, and with the highest diversification.[4]

See AlsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Malebo Pool". Encyclopædia Britannica. Accessed June 2011.
  2. ^ "Kongo Central province (Democratic Republic of the Congo), plaque at Palabala commemorating the railway".
  3. ^ Stanley, H.M., 1899, Through the Dark Continent, London: G. Newnes, Vol. One ISBN 0486256677, Vol. Two ISBN 0486256685
  4. ^ a b c "Malebo Pool" Archived 2011-10-05 at the Wayback Machine. Freshwater Ecoregions of the World. The Nature Conservancy. Accessed June 2011.