1. Leopold II or Leopold Lodewijk Filips Maria Victor (Dutch) (April 9, 1835December 17, 1909) was King of the Belgians. Born the second (but eldest surviving) son of Leopold I, he succeeded his father to the throne in 1865 and remained king until his death. He was the brother of Empress Carlota of Mexico and first cousin to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. Outside Belgium, he is chiefly remembered as the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State, a private project undertaken by the King. The extraction of rubber and ivory in the Congo relied on forced labour and resulted in the deaths of millions of Congolese. 2. The regime of the Congo Free State became one of the more infamous international scandals of the turn of the century. The famous 1904 report by the British Consul Roger Casement led to the arrest and punishment of white officials who had been responsible for cold-blooded killings during a rubber-collecting expedition in 1903 (including one Belgian national for causing the shooting of at least 122 Congolese people). 3. Estimates of the total death toll vary considerably. As the first census did not take place until 1924, it is difficult to quantify the population loss of the period. Casement's report set it at three million, ascribing the depopulation to four main causes: indiscriminate war, starvation, reduction of births, and tropical diseases. Of those deaths, 40% are believed to have occurred after 1900.
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