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Unusually, the beginnings and early development of Belgian aviation was not to be found in Europe, but in its colony in Central Africa, where Soci¬ét¬é Anonyme Belge d√ïExploitation de la Navigation A¬érienne, always known as Sabena, went on to establish an extensive network of scheduled services within the Belgian Congo, and also inaugurated the Ligne imp¬ériale between Belgium and the Congo. A limited European network was also flown, as was a North American service after the World War Two. The loss of the Congo, which became independent in 1960, and with it, some two-thirds of its income, was a hefty blow from which it never fully recovered. An ill-fated alliance finally forced it into bankruptcy in 2001.
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