Skip to main content
Select Source:




Republic of Angola

República de Angola


FLAG: The upper half is red, the lower half black; in the center, a five-pointed yellow star and half a yellow cogwheel are crossed by a yellow machete.

ANTHEM: Angola Avanti.

MONETARY UNIT: The Angolan escudo (ae) was the national currency until 1977, when the kwanza (Kw) of 100 lwei replaced it. There are coins of 50 lwei and 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 kwanza, and notes of 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 kwanza. Kw1 = $0.01129 (or $1 = Kw88.6) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Anniversary of Outbreak of Anti-Portuguese Struggle, 4 February; Victory Day, 27 March; Youth Day, 14 April; Workers' Day, 1 May; Armed Forces Day, 1 August; National Heroes' Day, 17 September; Independence Day, 11 November; Pioneers' Day, 1 December; Anniversary of the Foundation of the MPLA, 10 December; Family Day, 25 December.

TIME: 1 pm = noon GMT.


Angola is located on the west coast of Africa, south of the equator. Angola is slightly less than twice the size of Texas, with a total area of 1,246,700 sq km (481,353 sq mi), including the exclave of Cabinda (7,270 sq km/2,810 sq mi), which is surrounded by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROCformerly Zaire) and the Republic of the Congo (ROC). Angola proper extends 1,758 km (1,092 mi) se-nw and 1,491 km (926 mi) nesw; Cabinda extends 166 km (103 mi) nnessw and 62 km (39 mi) esewnw. Angola proper is bounded on the n and ne by the DROC, on the se by Zambia, on the s by Namibia (South West Africa), and on the w by the Atlantic Ocean. Its total boundary length, including Cabinda's, is 5,198 km (3,233 mi).


Topographically, Angola consists mainly of broad tablelands above 1,000 m (3,300 ft) in altitude; a high plateau (planalto) in the center and south ranges up to 2,400 m (7,900 ft). The highest point in Angola is Mt. Moco, at 2,620 m (8,596 ft), in the Huambo region; other major peaks are Mt. Mejo (2,583 m/8,474 ft), in the Benguela region, and Mt. Vavéle (2,479 m/8,133 ft), in Cuanza Sul.

Rivers are numerous, but few are navigable. There are three types of rivers in Angola: constantly fed rivers (such as the Zaire River), seasonally fed rivers, and temporary rivers and streams. Only the Cuanza, in central Angola, and the Zaire, in the north, are navigable by boats of significant size.


Angola's climate varies considerably from the coast to the central plateau and even between the north coast and the south coast. The north, from Cabinda to Ambriz, has a damp, tropical climate. The zone that begins a little to the north of Luanda and extends to Namibe, the Malanje region, and the eastern strip have a moderate tropical climate. Damp conditions prevail south of Namibe, dry conditions in the central plateau zone, and a desert climate in the southern strip between the plateau and the frontier with Namibia. There are two seasons: a dry, cool season from June to late September, and a rainy, hot season from October to April or May. The average temperature is 20°c (68°f); temperatures are warmer along the coast and cooler on the central plateau. The Benguela Current makes the coastal regions arid or semiarid. The annual rainfall is only 5 cm (2 in) at Namibe, 34 cm (13 in) at Luanda, and as high as 150 cm (59 in) in the northeast.


Thick forests (especially in Cabinda and in the Uíge area in the north) cover the wet regions, and in the drier areas there is a thinner savanna vegetation. Fauna includes the lion, impala, hyena, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and elephant. There are thousands of types of birds and a wide variety of insects.


Long-standing environmental problems in Angola have been aggravated by a 30-year war. The main problems are land abuse, desertification, loss of forests, and impure water. The productivity of the land is continually threatened by drought and soil erosion, which contributes to water pollution and deposits silt in rivers and dams.

The cutting of tropical rain forests for international timber sale and domestic use as fuel contributes to the destruction of the land. Angola's forests and woodland declined 3.1% between 1983 and 1993. Between 19902000, a further decline of 0.2% was reported. In 2003, about 6.6% of the total land area was protected, including the Quicama National Park. In 2002, improved water sources were available to 70% of the urban population and 40% of rural dwellers.

Endangered species in Angola include the black-faced impala, three species of turtle (green, olive ridley, and leatherback), the giant sable antelope, the African slender-snouted (or long-snouted) crocodile, the African elephant, Vernay's climbing monkey, and the black rhinoceros. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 11 types of mammals, 20 species of birds, 4 types of reptiles, 9 species of fish, 5 types of mollusks, and 26 species of plants.


The population of Angola in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 15,375,000, which placed it at number 61 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 2% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 46% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 97 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be 2.6%. This relatively high rate, which the government viewed as satisfactory, is due in part to the low rate of contraceptive use (about 4.5%) in country. The projected population for the year 2025 was 25,876,000. The population density was 12 per sq km (32 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 33% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 4.92%. The capital city, Luanda, had a population of 2,623,000 in that year. Other principal cities are Huambo (population about 400,000), Benguela, Lobito, Cabinda, Malanje, and Lubango (population about 136,000).

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has had a significant impact on the population of Angola. The UN estimated that 5.5% of adults between the ages of 1549 were living with HIV/AIDS in 2001, and that the number was increasing rapidly. In addition, years of civil conflict have had significant impact on the populace, including the creation of one million internally displaced persons and refugees. Life expectancy in Angola is an average of 41 years.


From the 1960s until the mid-1990s, Angola was ravaged by civil war, with terrible effects on the Angolan population and social structure. Although fighting stopped in 1994, at the beginning of 1997 there were still an estimated 200,000 Angolan refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC); 96,000 Angolan refugees in Zambia; 12,000 refugees in the Republic of the Congo; 1,000 refugees in Namibia; and 15,000 Angolan refugees in 15 other countries. As of May 1997, there were still 1.2 million Angolans displaced within their country as a result of the civil war. By June 1996, 74,000 Angolan refugees had returned to their country. However, with an upsurge in the fighting again between May 1998 and June 1999, some 100,000 refugees fled the country once again. The Angolan repatriation operation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was suspended in September 1998. However, by June 2002 UNHCR had directly repatriated 45,000 Angolans and another 124,000 had returned on, their own. By October 2005 another 40,000 Angolans were repatriated from Zambia. This was more than half the total Angolan refugee population living in camps and settlements in Zambia and more than double the number that returned from Zambia in 2004, the UN reports. Besides Zambia major countries of asylum for Angolans in 2004 were the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, and South Africa.

In 2003, there were 450,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) within the country. Despite internal conflict, Angola still hosted some 105,145 refugees as of 2004. In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as 0.28 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.


The overwhelming majority of the population is Bantu, divided into a number of ethnolinguistic groupings. The main ones are the Ovimbundu, constituting some 37% of the population in 2005, the Kimbundu, totaling 25% of the population, and the Bakongo with 13%.

The mestiço (mixed European and Native African) make up about 2% of the population. Since the mestiços are generally better educated than the black population, they exercise influence in government disproportionate to their numbers. Europeans, mostly of Portuguese extraction, constitute 1% of the population; other varied groups account for the remaining 22%.


Portuguese is the official language, although Bantu and other African languages (and their dialects) are used at the local level.


Christianity is the primary religion, with Roman Catholicism being the largest denomination. An estimated five million people are Roman Catholic. About 35 million people are of Protestant denominations; the largest of which include Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists (United Church of Christ), and Assemblies of God. Almost half the population (47%) follow African traditional beliefs either exclusively or in conjunction with other faiths. The largest syncretic religious group is the Kimbanguist Church, whose followers believe that the mid-20th century Congolese pastor Joseph Kimbangu was a prophet. Communities in rural areas of the country practice animism and other indigenous religions. There is also a small Islamic community. There are very few declared atheists in the country.

The constitution provides for freedom of religion and this right is generally respected in practice. However, there is still a colonial-era law in effect banning non-Christian religions. Though this law has generally not been enforced, the minister of justice announced in 2004 that the law could be enforced against religious groups linked to public disturbances or acts of terrorism. Religious groups with a outreach for political and social change include the Inter-Church Committee for Peace in Angola and the Catholic Pro-Peace movement.


According to Portuguese estimates, there were 72,323 km (44,939 mi) of roads at the time of independence (1975), of which only 8,371 km (5,201 mi) were paved, all-weather highways. In the mid-1980s, these figures had increased to perhaps 80,000 km (50,000 mi), but by 2002 had fallen back to 76,626 km (47,615 mi), of which 19,156 km (11,904 mi) were paved. In 2003, there were 40,000 passenger cars and 63,400 commercial vehicles.

The rail network had a total extension in 2004 of 2,761 km (1,717 mi), of which 2,638 km (1,641 mi) were 1.067-m and 123 km (76.5 mi) were 0.600-m (narrow) gauge track. There was limited trackage in use because land mines were still in place from the civil war. There are three main railway lines, the Luando, Namibe, and Benguela railways, all of which experienced service disruptions as a result of the civil war. The Luanda railway connects the national capital with the provincial capital of Malanje in the north. The Namibe railway, which theoretically runs from Angola's port of Namibe to the provincial capital of Menongue in the south, formerly hauled an average of six million tons of iron ore a year from the Kassinga mines. The Benguela railway was formerly the main exit route for DROC and Zambian copper, extending through the country from the port of Benguela to the border with the DROC. As of 1991, service had resumed between Lobito and Huambo. By mid-1992, normal passenger traffic resumed from Lobito to Ganda. East of Ganda, however, the route was still severely damaged, with at least 75 bridges in serious disrepair. The Southern African Development Coordination Conference could not obtain the estimated $600 million in funds needed to repair the entire line, so a modest partial repair of the section from Lobito to Kuito was approved, for an estimated cost of $17 million. Angola has 1,300 km of navigable waterways. The merchant marine had 4 ships of 1,000 GRT or over in 2005, totaling 26,123 GRT.

Angola had an estimated total of 43 airports as of 2004, of which 31 had paved runways as of 2005. There is an international airport at Luanda. International and domestic services are maintained by Transportes Aéreos de Angola (TAAG), Air France, Air Namibe, Sabena, South African Airways, TAP (Portugal) and several regional carriers. In 2003, domestic and international carriers carried 198,000 passengers. There are airstrips for domestic transport at Benguela, Cabinda, Huambo, Namibe, and Catumbela (near Lobito).


Angola was inhabited first by people of the Khoisan group (Bushmen), and then by various Bantu peoples from farther north as well as east between 1300 and 1600. By the 15th century, several African kingdoms had developed in the area; the most notable included the kingdoms of the Kongo and Mbundu peoples. The Portuguese arrived on the coast in the late 15th century, and Luanda was founded as a trading settlement in 1575. The Portuguese developed trade with African nations, particularly with the Mbundu, whose ruler was called the ngola (from which the name of Angola comes). The slave trade assumed paramount importance during the 17th century, when slaves were carried to Portuguese plantations in Brazil. From the late 16th through the mid-19th century, Angola may have provided the New World with as many as two million slaves.

Slavery was formally abolished (with a 20-year grace period) in 1836, although under Portuguese rule forced labor was common until the early 1950s. Trade in other commodities was needed to replace the slave trade; hence, between 1870 and 1903 the Portuguese claimed control over more and more of the interior of the country. To strengthen their control, the Portuguese began building the Benguela railway in 1902. European domination continued until 1951, when Angola's status changed into an overseas province of Portugal. Increasing numbers of Portuguese settlers came to Angola, and by 1960 there were about 160,000 Europeans in the country.

Organized armed resistance to Portuguese rule began on 4 February 1961, when urban partisans of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) attacked the São Paulo fortress and police headquarters in Luanda. Within six weeks, the war had been extended to the north by the rural guerrillas of another organization, the Union of Angolan Peoples, which later became the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA). The FNLA, headed by Holden Roberto, set up a revolutionary government-in-exile in Zaire on 3 April 1962. A third movement, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), headed by Jonas Savimbi, came into being as the consequence of a split in the government-in-exile, of which Savimbi had been foreign minister. All three movements were divided by ideology, ethnic considerations, and personal rivalries; they were also active militarily in 1974 when the Portuguese decided to put an end to their African empire after the coup in Portugal on 25 April. After negotiations with FNLA, MPLA, and UNITA leaders, the Portuguese agreed on 15 January 1975 to grant complete independence to Angola on 11 November 1975. The agreement also established a coalition government headed by a three-man presidential council including MPLA leader António Agostinho Neto, Roberto, and Savimbi. As independence day approached, however, the coalition government fell apart; mediation attempts by other African countries failed.

Thus, at the dawn of Angola's independence, each of three rival organizations had its own army and sphere of influence. The FNLA primarily represented the Kongo people; it was based in Zaire and it received financial support mainly from China and the United States. Together UNITA and the FNLA established the Popular Democratic Republic of Angola (with its capital at Huambo); this was sustained with US funds, South African troops, and some white mercenaries (mostly former commandos in the Portuguese armed forces). UNITA had the support of the Ovimbundu, the largest ethnic group in Angola. The MPLA, a Marxist-oriented party, drew social support from mestiços in Luanda and other urban areas and from the Mbundu people. It received military as well as financial assistance from the USSR and from some 15,000 Cuban soldiers. The MPLA and Cuban forces soon seized the initiative, and by mid-February 1976 the FNLA and UNITA strongholds had fallen. On 11 February, the OAU formally recognized the MPLA government in Luanda as the legitimate government of Angola. South African troops subsequently withdrew, but the Cuban forces remained to consolidate the MPLA's control over the country and provide technical assistance. By 1982 there were 18,000 Cuban troops in Angola, with the number reportedly rising to 25,000 during the first half of 1983 and to 30,000 in late 1986.

A coup attempt on 27 May 1977 by an MPLA faction opposed to the Cuban involvement was suppressed and followed by a massive purge of the party. Activist groups were reined in, and the organization became more centralized. Meanwhile, UNITA, which had never been rooted out of southern Angola, began to regroup. Despite the Cuban troops and Soviet-bloc military assistance, the MPLA government remained vulnerable to the UNITA insurgency, operating from the southern Angolan countryside and from Namibia. Implicated in this conflict was the government of South Africa, whose continual incursions into southern Angola in the late 1970s and early 1980s were aimed chiefly at the forces of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), who were using Angola as a base in their bid to force South Africa to give up Namibia. By 1983, South African soldiers were said to be permanently stationed in southern Angola; in December, South Africa launched a major offensive in the region. In addition to harassing SWAPO, South Africa was continuing to provide supplies to UNITA. The Angolan government resisted efforts by the United States to secure the withdrawal of Cuban troops in return for Namibian independence and a South African pullback.

Under an agreement brokered by the United States, South African troops withdrew from southern Angola in 1985 but continued to raid SWAPO bases there and to supply military aid to UNITA, including air support. In 1986, the United States sent about $15 million in military aid to UNITA, reportedly through Zaire.

Fighting escalated in 1987 and 1988 even as negotiations for a settlement progressed. An Angolan settlement became entangled with the resolution of civil war in and the independence of Namibia. A controversial battle at Cuito Cuanavale in 1988, at which South African and Angolan/Cuban forces were stalemated, led to a South African willingness to agree to end its involvement in Angola and eventually to withdraw from Namibia. Included in the settlement was the Cuban commitment to a phased withdrawal of its military forces from Angola by mid-1991.

Those two agreements, signed on 22 December 1988 in New York by Angola, South Africa, and Cuba, also included a pledge that the signatories would not permit their territories to be used "by any state, organization, or person in connection with any acts of war, aggression, or violence against the territorial integrityof any state of southwestern Africa." This meant that South Africa would be prohibited from aiding UNITA and Angola would remove the ANC's training bases.

All the major parties had been brought to the conclusion that a settlement was better than a prolongation of the fighting. The Soviet Union wanted to disentangle itself from Angola. The administration of US president Ronald Reagan wanted to take the lead in a successful resolution, and its Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Chester A. Crocker, took the lead in the negotiations.

But as settlement in Namibia was moving forward, it proved much harder to bring the Angolan government and UNITA to terms. At a summit at Gbadolite involving 19 African leaders, MPLA Leader José Edvardo dos Santos and Savimbi shook hands publicly and endorsed the "Gbadolite Declaration" (cease-fire and reconciliation plan) on 22 June 1989. But from the start, the terms were disputed and swiftly unraveled. The parties returned to the battlefield.

Yet, the powers began to scale back their support. The relaxation of cold war tensions provided the basis for contacts between the warring parties. Progress moved in fits and starts and in April 1991, Savimbi and dos Santos initialed an agreement that led to the establishment of a UN-supervised cease-fire and a process of national reconciliation.

Tension increased when UNITA took de facto control of several provinces, and its generals were withdrawn from the officially "merged" national army. Fighting broke out in Luanda in October and more than 1,000 were killed in a week. UNITA gained control of 75% of the country. Its refusal to accept UN-brokered cease-fire terms agreed to by the government in May led to a Security Council resolution on 1 June 1993, condemning unanimously UNITA for endangering the peace process and to US recognition of the Angolan government on 19 May. In 1994, it was estimated that 1,000 were dying every day in the fighting.

On 20 November 1994, the Lusaka Protocol was signed, promising a new, if tenuous, era of peace in Angola. The third peace effort between the opposing groups, it was the first to guarantee a share of power to UNITA and the first to be supported by over 6,000 armed UN peacekeepers. Demobilizations of fighters were suspended and renewed as new offensives broke out and were halted. In 1995, the international community imposed sanctions against UNITA, though several governments have violated them, including African countries serving as arms transshipment points. In September 1995, the United States pledged $190 million to support Angolan reconstruction and development at the Brussels Roundtable.

In June 1997, the government and UNITA found themselves involved on opposite sides of the Zaire civil war (now the Democratic Republic of the CongoDROC). UNITA supported its ally, President Mobutu Sese Seko, while the government backed Laurent Kabila. Following Kabila's victory in May 1997, and subsequent to the 1998 invasion of DROC by Rwanda and Uganda, dos Santos joined other SADC leaders in providing military support to the Kabila government. By July 1999, all sides at war had signed the Lusaka Accords leading to an eventual withdrawal of most foreign troops by 2003.

In Angola, full-scale war resumed as the government launched offensives in December 1998, and again in March 1999. In February 1999, the UN Security Council voted to end its peacekeeping operations after Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared there was no longer any hope of carrying out the 1994 Lusaka peace agreement. In August 1999, the Office for Coordination of Human Affairs estimated 2.6 million persons were internally displaced in Angola. The following month, Human Rights Watch released a 200-page report detailing how the UN deliberately overlooked evidence showing rearmament and retraining of soldiers by both sides in breach of the 1994 accords. In October 1999, UNITA's main headquarters at Bailundo and Andulo had fallen, and in February 2000, the Fowler report was issued on strengthening UN sanctions against UNITA.

In February 2002, prospects for peace changed dramatically when the army announced that it had killed Savimbi in an attack in southeastern Angola. In addition, the death from illness of Savimbi's second-in-command, General Antonio, further weakened UNITA's military capacity. In March 2002 UNITA commanders issued a joint communiqué with the Angolan army (FAA) confirming a cessation of hostilities and reiterating unequivocal support for a political settlement based on the 1994 Lusaka Peace Accord. A peace accord between the government and UNITA followed in April.

As disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the armed forces, the repatriation of refugees, and the arduous task of rebuilding the country got underway, dos Santos said he would not seek reelection in the elections scheduled for late 2003early 2004. However, his departure depended on a successor who could be trusted not to prosecute him for human rights abuses and large-scale diversion of state funds. He may choose a hardliner to succeed him, who will permit dos Santos to run a shadow government. Yet another option for dos Santos would be to remain in powerfor one extra term, or for as long as possible. To seek either option, he could cite difficulties arising from Angola's tortuous postwar reconstruction, the demilitarization of society, and the integration of former militias into the national army. The next elections were scheduled for September 2006.


The constitution of 1975, amended in 1976 and 1980, was promulgated and revised by the MPLA. The president of the republic is both chief of state and head of government. He appoints and leads the council of ministers. In 1980, a 223-member National People's Assembly, indirectly elected, replaced the Council of the Revolution as the supreme organ of the state. In January 1987, the Assembly was enlarged to 289 members, and later reduced to 220. In 2006, there were 220 members elected by proportional vote to four-year terms.

A transitional government was established in December 1992 dominated by the MPLA. UNITA held six cabinet posts, and four other parties were also represented. In 1997, the MPLA and UNITA reached an agreement that allowed UNITA to participate in a Government of National Unity and Reconciliation. With the ruling party's approval, UNITA would nominate candidates for four ministerial positions: Trade, Geology and Mines, Health, and Hotels and Tourism. UNITA members would also occupy a number of deputy ministerial, governor, deputy governor, and ambassadorial posts. In early 1997, 70 elected UNITA deputies assumed their seats in the National Assembly, and Jonas Savimbi assumed the role of special advisor to President José Eduardo dos Santos.

The resumption of war in 1998 all but doomed this arrangement, and rendered the National Assembly nominally functional. In reality, it had little independence and did not have oversight over presidential appointments or the ability to initiate legislation. In 1999, dos Santos abolished the post of prime minister, vesting these powers in the director of his own office. He also created a parallel ministry of defense within the presidency.

The civil war officially ended in August 2002, after Jonas Savimbi died in a gun duel with government forces in February and UNITA signed a cease-fire agreement in April. In December 2002, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos Nando was appointed prime minister, though the position had very little real power. Elections were slated for 2006, but they were likely to be constrained by the poor state of roads and railways. A postponement was likely to allow more progress on the clearing of land mines, infrastructure development, and the return and resettlement of refugees.


Until 1974, the Portuguese suppressed movements and political parties that stood for self-determination and independence. The three leading political organizations at independence were the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de AngolaMPLA), founded in 1956; the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (Frente Nacional de Libertação de AngolaFNLA), founded in 1962; and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Indepêndencia Total de AngolaUNITA), founded in 1966. The victory of the MPLA and Cuban forces brought recognition to the MPLA government by the OAU and by most non-African countries. The MPLA-Workers' Party (MPLAPartido de Trabalho, or MPLAPT), a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party, was created in December 1977. UNITA remained in de facto control of part of the country, while the remnants of the FNLA continued low-level guerrilla activity in the northwest, as did the Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave.

Some 18 parties and 11 presidential candidates contested the 1992 elections. In the presidential contest, the MPLA's Dos Santos won 49.6% of the presidential vote and UNITA's Savimbi got 40.1%, requiring a runoff. Though international observers considered the elections reasonably free and fair, Savimbi repudiated the results and refused to participate in a second round. The contest was regarded as generally free and fair however; the MPLA won 54% of the votes and 129 seats, while UNITA took 34% of the votes and 70 seats. Also represented were the Angolan Democratic Forum (FDA), the Democratic Renewal Party (PRD), and the Angola Youth Worker, Peasant Alliance Party (PAJOCA). Separatist groups in Cabinda, such as the Frente Nacional de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda (FLEC) and the National Union for the Liberation of Cabinda (UNLC) did not take part in the national elections. They continue to wage a low-level armed struggle for the independence of oil-rich Cabinda province.

Opposition parties are extremely weak and fractured, many with little apparent influence in the National Assembly. Somethe UNITA Renovada is one examplehave formed working relationships with the MPLA. Such arrangements could well strengthen the ruling party's hands vis-a-vis small splinter groups; but they could also create opportunities for new opposition parties to spring up and find their feet. New elections were expected in September 2006.


Angola consists of 18 provinces. Cabinda is separated from the others. The provinces are divided into districts and communes. The communes are led by commissioners who are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the MPLA-PT.

Provincial legislatures consisting of 5585 members were created in 1980. In 1986, these legislatures were expanded up to 100 members each. In the 1992 elections, MPLA carried 14 of the provinces to UNITA's four. The civil war severely disrupted the performance of local government, and for many years, severed ties between Luanda and the outlying provinces.


The legal system is based on Portuguese civil law system and customary law, recently modified to accommodate political pluralism and increased use of free markets. Prior to independence, Portuguese civil and military law was applied by municipal courts, labor courts, ordinary courts, and administrative tribunals; final appeal was to the Metropolitan High Court in Lisbon. A 1978 law declared that people's courts with working class representatives would be courts of first instance. It also made provisions for criminal, police, and labor courts with lay judges whose voices would be equal to those of professional judges.

The judicial system includes municipal and provincial courts at the trial level and a Supreme Court at the appellate level. Municipal court judges are usually laymen. In theory, the Ministry of Justice administers provincial courts located in each of the 18 provincial capitals. The Supreme Court nominates provincial court judges. The judge of the provincial court, along with two laymen, acts as a jury.

In 1991, the constitution was amended to guarantee an independent judiciary. In practice, however, the president appoints the 16 Supreme Court judges for life upon recommendation of an association of magistrates, and he appoints the attorney general. Confirmation by the General Assembly is not required.

Several issues confront the legal system. Many of the seats on the Supreme Court remain vacant, and a Constitutional Court, authorized by law in 1992, has not yet been established. In addition, the courts were crippled by the war and are perceived as ineffective and untrustworthy by the few who have access to it. The system lacks the resources and independence to play an effective role and the legal framework is obsolete. Much of the criminal and commercial code reflects the colonial era with modifications from the Marxist era.


Defense responsibilities are vested in the Armed Popular Forces for the Liberation of Angola (Forças Amadas Populares de Libertação de AngolaFAPLA), which as of 2005, had 108,400 active personnel, divided into the Army, Navy, Air Force/Air Defense Force, and territorial troops (a militia). In 2005, FAPLA had a total of 90,000 active personnel of which the Army had 100,000 members, whose major equipment included over 300 main battle tanks, 600 reconnaissance vehicles, over 250 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 170 armored personnel carriers and more than 1,396 artillery pieces. The Navy had an estimated 2,400 personnel whose major naval units consisted of nine patrol/coastal vessels. The Air Force/Air Defense Forces had 6,000 personnel and 90 combat capable aircraft, including 22 fighters, 59 fighter ground attack aircraft and 16 attack helicopters. The defense budget in 2005 totaled $1.16 billion.


Angola, a United Nations member since 1 December 1976, participates in ECA and all the nonregional specialized agencies such as FAO, IAEA, IMF, ILO, UNESCO, UNIDO, WHO, and IFC; the nation is a member of the WTO (1996) and the World Bank. Angola also participates in the African Development Bank, G-77, the ACP Group, Interpol, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and the African Union. It is one of 14 countries in the SADC. Angola has observer status in the OAS and CEMA. It is also a participant of COMESA. As a result of offshore oil discoveries in the Gulf of Guinea, Angola has recently strengthened cooperation with Equatorial Guinea and São Tomé and Principe. Angola promotes the revival of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP). Angola is part of the Nonaligned Movement. In environmental cooperation, Angola is part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, and the UN conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


Angola is a potentially rich country of abundant natural resources, a surplus-producing agricultural sector, and a sizable manufacturing potential. This promise has remained unfulfilled due to the effects of the war for independence and a 27-year-long civil war that only ended in April 2002 when the army signed a peace agreement with the UNITA rebels. With the end of the war Angola has began to score astounding economic growth rates. In 2004 Angola's GDP grew by 12.2% and in 2005 the growth rate was 19.1%. This growth is expected to continue with heavy flow of foreign direct investments into the oil and mining sectors.

Having both temperate and tropical zones, Angola had the potential for producing a wide variety of agricultural products. Prior to the outbreak of hostilities, Angola produced major surpluses of coffee, sisal, cotton, and maize. Cassava was the staple food crop and the leader, though consumed almost entirely domestically, in terms of volume of agricultural output. The civil war resulted in famine conditions in many parts of Angola, especially during the 1990s. Although the civil war ended in 2002, farmers have been reluctant to return to their farms, and the country is littered with land mines. As such, food must be imported.

Petroleum production and diamond mining have led Angola's industrial sector. Economists estimated that Angola's alluvial reserves of diamonds totaled between 40 and 130 million carats. In addition, there were untapped diamond reserves in volcanic pipes called kimberlites. Angola's six known kimberlite pipes, among the ten largest on earth, held an estimated 180 million carats worth several billion dollars. Diamond production (official and unofficial) was estimated to be worth $1 billion per year in 2002.

The petroleum sector benefited from major investments, totaling over $2 billion since 1987, and from a relative immunity from the civil war. Producing around 980,000 barrels a day in 2004, up from 950,000 barrels a day in 2002, Angola was the second-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa. Crude oil accounted for 90% of total exports, more than 80% of government revenues, and 45% of the country's GDP. Known recoverable reserves were estimated to total several billion barrels, but Angola was not a member of OPEC at the time. In 2000, Angola was one of three countries to receive the largest amount of global and US foreign investment to the sub-Saharan region (the other two were Nigeria and South Africa). Inflation, always a problem, ran at approximately 44% in 2004 down from a high of 150% in 2001. The IMF was critical of the government's economic policy on a number of aspects, such as persistent opacity and uncertainty in the government's accounts, lack of progress on structural reforms, failure to implement policies to deal with systematically with poverty, and corruption in the management of oil revenues. The IMF recommended a slate of reforms, such as increasing foreign exchange reserves and encouraging a more transparent accounting of government spending. In 2005 the IMF gave some credit to the government's handling of the economy, particularly the sustained progress in lowering inflation and improved transparency in government financial accounting.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Angola's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $27.7 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $2,500. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 14.1%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 8% of GDP, industry 67%, and services 25%.

Foreign aid receipts amounted to $499 million or about $37 per capita and accounted for approximately 4.6% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 1990 household consumption in Angola totaled $3.67 billion or about $272 per capita based on a GDP of $13.8 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1980 to 1990 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of -0.1%. It was estimated that in 2003 about 70% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


In 2005, the Angolan workforce was estimated at 5.58 million. As of 2003, around 85% of the workforce was still engaged in agriculture, while the industry and services sectors together accounted for the remaining 15%. More recent employment figures are not currently available. In 2001, it was estimated that more than half of the population was unemployed or underemployed.

The 1991 constitution recognizes the right for Angolans to form unions, bargain collectively, and to strike. However, these rights are not respected in practice. While strikes are permitted by law, lockouts and the occupation of places of employment by workers are prohibited. Non-striking workers are also protected under the law. Armed forces personnel, firefighters, prison workers and police are prohibited from striking. Compulsory labor by children is also prohibited.

The government has established a 40-hour workweek, along with minimum health and safety standards, including 26 hours of rest per week. However, inadequate resources have prevented the government from enforcing these standards. The minimum working age is 14, but the government has been unable to enforce this standard. Although the legal minimum wage in 2005 was $60 per month, most wage earners must hold a second job, or rely on the informal economy, subsistance agriculture, or income from abroad in order to survive.


Agriculture has long been the backbone of the Angolan economy. Even though an abundance of arable land is available, only about 2.6% is cultivated. Agriculture engages about 85% of the population but accounts for 9% of GDP. Diverse climatic conditions favor a wide variety of crops, and there is also considerable irrigation potential. Coffee, primarily of the robust variety, at one time made Angola the world's fourth-largest producer, but during the civil war almost all the main plantations were abandoned, and crop disease set in. Moreover, the widespread use of landmines has discouraged farmers from venturing into their fields.

Marketed cash crops in 2004 included 1,250 tons of coffee (down from 225,000 tons in 1972), 4,400 tons of cotton (48,000 in 1972), and 500 tons of sisal. The principal food crops are cassava, with an estimated 5,600,000 tons in 2004, corn, 510,000 tons, and sweet potatoes, 430,000 tons. Other 2004 estimated yields included bananas, 300,000 tons; citrus fruits, 78,000 tons; millet, 96,000 tons; dry beans, 66,000 tons; potatoes, 27,000 tons; sugar cane, 360,000 tons; rice, 16,000 tons; and peanuts (in shell), 30,000 tons.


Lack of a pastoral tradition among northern Angolans, abundance of the tsetse fly in many regions, and the poor quality of natural pastures are some of the factors most frequently cited to explain the lag in animal husbandry in Portuguese Angola. What little there was of the livestock industry was virtually destroyed in the 197576 civil war.

Estimated livestock in 2004 included cattle, 4,150,000 head; goats, 2,050,000; hogs, 780,000; and sheep, 340,000. There were 6.8 million chickens. Livestock products included an estimated 85,000 tons of beef and veal and 195,000 tons of milk in 2004. Honey production totaled 23,000 tons in 2004 from 1.1 million beehives.


Fresh fish, fishmeal, dried fish, and fish oil are produced for the domestic market and for export. During 197576, some of the processing plants were destroyed, and most of the modern fishing boats departed with refugees. In 2003, the Angolan catch was 211,539 tons (up from 122,781 tons in 1995), 95% from marine fishing. Exports of fish products in 2003 totaled $8.9 million. Some of the Spanish, Japanese, and Italian vessels fishing under license also pay in kind. About 13% of the 2003 catch consisted of cunene horse mackerel.


About 18.4% of the country is classified as forest and woodland. Angola's large timber resources include the great Maiombe tropical rain forest in Cabinda. In addition, eucalyptus, pine, and cypress plantations cover 140,000 hectares (346,000 acres). In 2003, roundwood production was estimated at 4,518,000 cu m, and exports amounted to 1,000 cu m.


Diamonds are an important source of revenues to Angola, and are only second to petroleum. Petroleum accounted for more than 90% of exports by value ($7.56 billion) while diamonds followed at $638 million or 7.6% of the value of exports in 2002. Official reported diamond production in 2003 was 5 million carats, up from 5.022 million carats in 2002. However, that total does not include smuggled production. Sociedade Miniera de Catoca Ltd (SMC) is Angola's leading producer of diamonds, with an annual production of around 2.8 million carats from its Catoca kimberlite pipe. Reserves in the Catoca kimberlite were estimated to be at 189.3 million carats. SMC is a joint venture of Empressa Nacional de Diamantes de Angola (Endiama), the state-owned diamond mining company and the Joint Stock Company Almazy Rossii-Sakha (Russia), Odebrecht Mining Services Inc. (Brazil), and the Leviev Group (Israel).

Large iron ore deposits have been discovered in many areas. The deposits at Kassinga, with an estimated reserve of one billion tons of high-grade hematite iron ore, annually yielded millions of tons of ore exports before the civil war halted mining in 1975. Ferrangol, the state iron ore mining company, produced a slight quantity of ore in 1988; it has shown no output since. The mines in Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul provinces, previously controlled by UNITA rebel forces, were opened to foreign companies for exploration and development in 1996, and an Endiama-De Beers venture announced the discovery of 17 new kimberlites there in 2000. These areas contributed about $400 million to the annual $1.1 billion value of diamond production. SDM, an Endiama-Australian-Odebrecht venture formed in 1995 to mine alluvial diamonds in the Cuango River Valley, near Luzamba, produced 210,000 carats of high-quality diamonds in 2000 and 185,000 carats in 1999. Other such ventures saw their operations frequently suspended because of security problems. A feasibility study of the proposed Camafuca kimberlite estimated 23.24 million carats of diamonds valued at $109 per carat.

Salt production has remained steady at an estimated 30,000 metric tons annually from 1999 through 2003. Clay, granite, marble, and crushed stone were also reportedly mined throughout the country. The country is also rich in nickel, platinum-group metals, magnetite, copper, phosphates, gypsum, uranium, gold, asphalt, and feldspar, but areas have been off-limits to exploration during the civil war.


Angola has extensive hydroelectric power resources that far exceed its present needs. The Cambambe Dam, on the Cuanza River, provides Luanda's industries with cheap power. Two dams on the Catumbela River produce power for the Lobito and Benguela areas. Matala Dam in southern Cunene provides power to Lubango and Namibe. The Ruacaná Falls Dam, near the Namibian border, was completed in the late 1970s, but the power station is in Namibia. A 52 million kW hydroelectric station on the Cuanza River at Kapanda was tentatively scheduled to have begun production in early 2003. As of late 2002, only three of the country's six dams (Cambambe, Biopo, and Matala) were operational; $200 million has been allocated to repair the remaining dams, which suffered major damage in the civil war. In 2002, electricity generation was 1.728 billion kWh, of which 34.5% came from fossil fuels and 65.5% from hydropower. In the same year, consumption of electricity totaled 1.607 billion kWh. Total capacity in 2002 was 0.635 million kW.

Crude oil, in the production of which Angola ranks second in sub-Saharan Africa, has been Angola's chief export since 1973; it is also the leading source of government revenue, accounting for $2.9 billion in exports in 1994, or 95% of the total. As of end 2004, Angola had proven oil reserves of 8.8 billion barrels. Oil reserves are along the Atlantic coast, mostly offshore Cabinda and the northern border area between Quinzau and Soyo. In 1999, several oil companies were engaged in production, of which the largest was a subsidiary of Chevron, Cabinda Gulf Oil Company. This firm has a 49/51% participation agreement with Sonangol, the state oil company. Other firms included Fina Petróleos de Angola (a Belgian subsidiary), Elf Aquitaine, and Texaco. In 2004, crude oil production averaged 991,000 barrels per day. ExxonMobil subsidiary Esso began development of a section of the Xikomba offshore oilfield in August 2002. Development was planned for a new 200,000 barrel per day refinery in the city of Lobito, on the coast.

Gross natural gas production totaled 296.65 billion cu ft in 2002. Total natural gas reserves were estimated at 45 billion cu m (1.6 trillion cu ft) as of 2002. Domestic demand for refined petroleum products is expected to increase as the economy gradually rebuilds following the end of the civil war. As of 2002, Sonangol and Chevron Texaco had joined forces in a $2 billion project to develop liquefied natural gas from natural gas in Angola's offshore fields. Production was slated to begin in 2007.


In its pre-1975 prime, the Angolan industrial sector centered on petroleum refining and machinery, construction inputs, food processing, electrical products, chemicals, steel, and vehicle assembly. As a consequence of the civil war, Angola's industrial sector started operating at a fraction of prewar levels.

Industrial production during the 1990s included food processing and the production of textiles, soap, shoes, matches, paint, plastic bottles, and glues. In 1993, industrial production also included 9,000 tons of crude steel, 250,000 tons of cement, and 9 million barrels of refined petroleum products. Heavy industry for that year (cement, steel, oil refining, vehicle assembly, and tire production) accounted for about 15% of Angola's manufacturing output. Angola is now an importer of machinery, vehicles, and spare parts.

Angola is the second-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, behind Nigeria. In 2004, the petroleum industry accounted for about half of the GDP and over 90% of export revenues. Sonangol is the state-owned oil company, which controls exploration and production, although foreign companies participate in joint ventures and production sharing agreements. Oil production was expected to surpass 1 million barrels per day in 2003 but this target had not been achieved by 2004. However, with the coming online of new oil drilling platforms such as the Kizomba B platform owned by ExxonMobil and the Dalia platform owned by Total, the 1 million barrels per day should be surpassed in 2006. It is expected that by 2007 Angola will be producing 2 million barrels per day. Angola has one oil refinery in Luanda, with a crude oil processing capacity of 39,000 barrels per day, but is planning to build a 200,000-barrels per day refinery in Lobito. Angolan oil exports to Asia are growing, and China's oil imports from Angola grew by more than 400% in 2001. The government stated in 2003 that foreign oil companies would invest $25 billion in Angola over a five-year period, by building offshore production ships and a liquefied natural gas plant, among other projects. Many of these investments, such as ExxonMobil's Kizomba B have already begun to produce oil.

The diamond mining industry also plays an important role in Angola's economy, but during the 27-year-old civil war, many of the gemstones had been sold on the black market and were referred to as "conflict diamonds" because the parties in the civil war used the sale of them to fund their military campaigns. Since the civil war ended in 2002, Angola began to restructure its diamond sector. The government in 2003 ended the four-year-old monopoly of the state-controlled diamond marketing company, Ascorp, which was controlled by the state diamond company Endiama. Ascorp now competes with other private companies to buy diamonds from miners and small producers. The government also planned to build a new diamond cutting factory, to create an industry of diamond cutting in Angola.

The Economist Intelligence Unit, quoting a new report published in June 2005 by a Canadian nongovernmental group, Partnership Africa Canada, highlighted the fact that, although some $900 million-worth of diamonds will be mined in 2005, relatively little of the revenue will be spent on development in the diamond areas or will benefit the poor. The report said that 145 diamond licenses had been granted in 2004, often through nontransparent processes, of which nine were already operational, around ten were in the process of starting up and the remainder were vacant and were steadily being recolonised by garimpeiros (artisanal miners). The report also highlighted a number of problem areas in the sector, saying that transparency is lacking not only in published tax data but also in the 10% revenue allocation due to the diamond-producing provinces.


Security considerations and a severe shortage of skilled personnel have limited Angola's development of its extensive mineral reserves and abundant fertile land. Angola's research institutes include the Cotton Scientific Research Center in Catete, the Agronomic Research Institute in Huambo (founded in 1962), the Institute for Veterinary Research in Lubango (founded in 1965), the Angola Medical Research Institute in Luanda (Founded in 1955), and the Angolan Directorate of Geological and Mining Services in Luanda (founded in 1914). The University Agostinho Neto (founded in 1963) has faculties of sciences, agriculture, medicine, and engineering, and the National Center of Scientific Investigation. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 24% of college and university enrollments. The National Museum of Natural History and the National Anthropology Museum are located in Luanda.


Practically all domestic trade was in Portuguese hands before independence, when state people's stores and consumer cooperatives were established in the cities. Over half of Angolan consumer goods were still imported from Portugal in 1998. The Angolan domestic economy faced sporadic fighting during the late 1990s despite the 1994 peace accord, inhibiting domestic commerce. The rural population was displacedfirst by the war for independence that started in 1961, and then by the civil war that started after independence was gained in 1975and has not been able to fully return to agricultural production. Imports were strictly controlled due to a lack of foreign exchange, and barter was common. Though a privatization program has been in effect, there are very few groups or individuals in the private sector with the finances and/or administrative abilities to purchase and effectively run larger public corporations.


Crude petroleum and products top the commodities export list for Angola (89%), while only accounting for a small percentage of the world's exportation. Diamonds and other precious and semiprecious stones are the second-largest export, and shellfish exports follow. A small amount of natural and manufactured gas is also exported from Angola. As of 1999, the United States was buying up to 75% of Angola's crude oil production. Since then China has entered the picture as a second major trading partner for Angola.

Current Account -150.1
    Balance on goods 4,567.8
        Imports -3,760.1
        Exports 8,327.9
    Balance on services -3,115.2
    Balance on income -1,634.6
    Current transfers 32.0
Capital Account 18.3
Financial Account -356.7
    Direct investment abroad -28.7
    Direct investment in Angola 1,672.1
    Portfolio investment assets
    Portfolio investment liabilities
    Financial derivatives
    Other investment assets -1,321.0
    Other investment liabilities -679.1
Net Errors and Omissions 150.5
Reserves and Related Items 356.3
() data not available or not significant.

In 2004, the United States bought 40% of Angola's crude oil while China bought 30%, Taiwan 8%, and France 7%.


Oil exports produced substantial trade surpluses during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Despite this positive cash flow, Angola in 1979 began to request lines of credit in order to finance its reconstruction projects. By 1991 the government's economic policies encouraged neither private investment or non-oil exports. Furthermore, poor monetary policy created price distortions, which exacerbated a trade deficit and rapidly diminished agricultural exports. The results of the end of the 27-year-old civil war in 2002 on trade had yet to be assessed as of 2005.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2004 the purchasing power parity of Angola's exports was $12.8 billion while imports totaled $4.9 billion resulting in a trade surplus of $7.9 billion. With high prices of crude oil, the Economist Intelligence Unit predicts sustained trade surpluses in the near future.


In 1976, the government nationalized the two major banks, the Bank of Angola and the Commercial Bank of Angola (renamed the People's Bank of Angola). The Bank of Angola became the central bank, renamed the National Bank of Angola (Banco National de Angola-BNA). In 1996, this bank transferred its commercial accounts to the Caixa de Credito Agro-Pecuaria e Pescas (CAP) in order to function more as a regulatory organization for other state-owned banks. CAP, established in 1991, was owned by the Ministry of Finance and used to finance government activities. It has had liquidity problems in recent years, making it unable to clear checks at times, so some businesses refuse to accept CAP checks.

Banco de Comercio e Industria (The Bank of Commercial and Industrial Commerce-BCI) was a semiprivate bank, but was occasionally restricted to government financing. The government owns about 40% of the BCI's shares.

The opening in mid-November 1996 of the Banco Africano de Investimento (BAI) was Angola's first private bank launched since it gained independence in 1975, and Angola's only investment bank. Other major banks included Banco de Poupanca e Credito (BPC), serving primarily the trade sector and construction; and Banco Fomento Exterior and Banco Totta e Azores, both Portuguese commercial banks.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $648.2 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $1.9 billion. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 150%.

There were no securities exchanges in 2000.


The conflicts that began in the mid-1970s greatly shook the insurance industry, which was nationalized in 1978. At that time, the National Insurance and Reinsurance Co. of Angola was created. All private company policies were declared null and void except for life insurance.


Liberal monetary policies financed large public sector deficits, which led to high inflation and price distortions. Military expenditures consumed an enormous portion of the national budget. Since the 1970s, Angola has relied heavily on oil exports for revenue. However, revenues from oil sales went down as the result of a fall in the international price of oil in the late 1990s. Until 1991, Angola had a Soviet-style, centrally planned economy. The government planned privatization for the 1990s, but most companies remain state-run as of 2000, including the major energy companies and the diamond distributor.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Angola's central government took in revenues of approximately $8.5 billion and had expenditures of $10 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$1.5 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 40.9% of GDP. Total external debt was $9.879 billion.


The ordinary corporate tax is 35%, with a reduced rate of 20% for agricultural and forestry enterprises. Various corporate tax exemptions and reductions, and exemptions from real estate taxes on land and buildings are offered by the government as investment incentives.

Income tax for individuals ranges from 140% for employees, and 360% for self-employed professionals. Also levied are inheritance and gift taxes, and a payroll tax for social security.

The main indirect tax is a manufacturer's sales tax with rates ranging from 550% on 100 listed products.


Both specific and ad valorem duties are levied; but, as a member of the World Trade Organization, Angola is reviewing the need for reductions in tariffs and nontariff barriers. Specific duties are assessed by weight. Additional taxes are levied on luxury items and preferential treatment is accorded to goods from Portugal, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Princípe. All imports require a license and are handled by one of several state companies. Most exports are similarly handled by state agencies.


In spite of the civil war and the socialist legacy, sizable investments in the petroleum sector were made during the 1990s. In 1994, Texaco announced plans for a five-year, $600 million investment in its Angolan oil exploration and production efforts aimed at increasing the company's Angolan oil output by 50%. Approximately 15 foreign companies, including Chevron, Texaco, ExxonMobil, and Occidental, had invested more than $8 billion in Angola as of 1997. Elf Oil and Chevron both had major investments underway. In 1999, the Angolan government issued three new licenses to oil drilling companies in order to conduct exploration in ultra-deep water. By 2005, ExxonMobil's Kizomba B deep water platform had begun the production of oil. Total was also in the process of completing its Dalia platform and other oil companies were in the process of construction of new platforms.

Countering the illegal trade in diamonds, De Beers, in a 1991 agreement with the government diamond company Endiama, invested in new diamond exploration. A UN sanction on the purchase of black market diamonds has been hard to enforce and corruption in the diamond business continued as of 2005.

In spite of a 27-year civil war (1975 to 2002), an investment climate characterized by corruption, ineffective governance, arbitrary decision making, a deteriorating infrastructure, kidnappings for ransom targeted at foreigners in the Cabinda enclave, socialist suspicions about free markets, openly solicited bribes, no capital market or stock exchange, scarce skilled labor, and scarcer foreign exchange, Angola ranked second in the world in 2000 (after Lesotho) in foreign investment as a percent of GDP. The statistic is a result of both Angola's small economy and substantial investments in its oil sector that continued despite the civil war. With the war over and a semblance of peace and normalcy back to Angola, more investments should be forthcoming both in the oil and gas industries as well as the diamond mining sector.

On the basis of joint ventures (JVs) or production sharing contracts (PSCs), at least $8 billion ($1 billion a year average) was invested by foreign oil companies from 1990 to 1997 with the state oil company, Sonangol, which dominates both upstream and downstream operations. The main foreign operators upstream were Energy Africa (South Africa), Agip (Italy; now ENI-Agip), Elf (France; now TotalFinaElf), Chevron and Texaco (United States; now ChevronTexaco). About 30 other foreign companies have substantial interests in upstream enterprises. Petrofina of Belgium is both a major producer and a major downstream partner with Sonangol. Downstream operations are hampered by poor infrastructure and a small domestic market.

From 1998 to 2001, reported foreign direct investment (FDI) totaled about $5.6 billion, averaging about $1.2 billion a year from 1997 to 2001. This performance was driven by giant class offshore discoveries, particularly in 1999 when FDI peaked at close to $2.5 billion. Between 2000 and 2004 annual FDI flows averaged $2.05 billion with a peak in 2003 of $3.5 billion. With a combination of Diamond and oil reserves, Angola is expected to become one of the largest destination for FDI inflows in Africa.

FDI outflows are insignificant. FDI inward stock grew steadily from $1 billion in 1990 to $2.9 billion in 1995, and in 2002 it rose to $11.4 billion. In 1999, the Angolan government issued three new licenses to oil drilling companies in order to conduct exploration in deep-water, including ExxonMobil, the major investor in the offshore Kizomba field that began operations in August 2002. The only substantial FDI outside the oil sector before 2002 was a $36 million Coca-Cola bottling plant in 2000, 45% of which was bought in 2001 by SAB Miller of South Africa, which in 2003 was considering adding a brewery.

Before the peace accords of April 2002, there had been three other peace agreements, starting with the Lusaka Protocol of 1994, which had had virtually no effect. However, with the death of UNITA leader, Jonas Savimbi, in February 2002, Angola finally seemed to be able to move past the civil war. In September 2002, IDAS Resources, a subsidiary of London-based American Mineral Fields, Ltd., was granted the first clearance for diamond mining in 27 years. Under the contract, IDAS holds 51%; the state diamond company Endiama, 36%; and private investors 13%.

A 1991 agreement between Endiama and De Beers for diamond exploration was moribund because the territory was under the control of UNITA, which used smuggled diamonds to finance its operations. In 1998 the UN Security Council imposed an embargo on diamonds from areas controlled by UNITA. A report in 2000 implicated De Beers in the purchase of "blood diamonds," prompting the company to alter its policy of buying up diamonds to uphold the world price to a world certification system. In 2000, Angola set up ASCORP, a state-controlled company in partnership with Lev Leviev (Russian/Israeli diamond manufacturer), and established a monopoly on certified diamond buying. De Beers' plans to build a $30 million diamond processing facility in Luanda did not come to fruition, but in April 2003 the newly established National Private Investment Agency (ANIP) announced it was seeking funding for a diamond cutting and polishing factory in Luanda.

Before peace in 2002, the foreign investment regime as laid out in the foreign investment law of 1994 and administered by the Foreign Investment Institute (IIE) stood little chance of implementation. In February 2003, a new law on private investment and a companion law on tax incentives for private capital were passed, forming a new agency, the National Private Investment Agency (ANIP), for their implementation. As under the old regime, foreign companies are guaranteed national treatment, the right to repatriate profits, and the right to indemnification for property nationalized or expropriated. Added are incentives for private investment and provisions for streamlining the approval process. New investments receive up to 15 years exemption from industrial taxes and smaller investments, $50,000 to $250,000, are exempted from all customs duties. By law, approval requests for investments less than $5 million must be processed in 15 days and requests for larger investments, in 30 days. Despite the reforms, serious obstacles remain: poor infrastructure, a small market, single-entry visas, and registration costs that range from $20,000 to $60,000 for foreign corporations.


In March 2003, the South Africa-Angola Chamber of Commerce (SAACC) was established with the potential of channeling considerable investment from South Africa. In 2003, major South African investors included the construction company Grinaker-LTA, Investec Bank, Securicor Gray and the Shoprite Supermarket chain. In May 2003, TotalFinaElf announced a major offshore oil discovery and awarded contracts totaling $780 million to the French oil services company, Technip, for its development. Since then to 2005, a number of other partnerships have also been announced, which should see a large increase in diamond prospecting. For example in 2005 De Beers signed a prospecting agreement. On 22 June 2005, Russia's Technopromexport signed a $112 million contract to build a new, 260-MW generating unit at the Capanda dam near the northern town of Malange. The project will be financed with a ten-year, $225 million loan from a consortium of Russian banks, led by the Russian Regional Unified Bank. As well as this contract, two other contracts relating to the supply of equipment and the completion of civil engineering works have been signed with Brazil's Odebrecht. By 2005 the government of Angola was involved in diversifying the economy by continued attraction of foreign investors to partner with local private firms and government owned companies.

With the exception of the petroleum industry and possibly the fishing industry, economic development in Angola depended upon a political settlement of the civil war, which came in 2002. The diamond industry was no exception to this rule. In 1997, the Angolan state diamond enterprise, Endiama, provided for the establishment of a UNITA-backed mining company, SGM. Although the government initially granted SGM the right to prospect, UNITA claimed that the government was attempting to gain control over its mining operations. The continuation of the Angolan civil war began shortly thereafter (1998), with diamonds acting as the UNITA rebels' main source of income. The termination of the UN mission to Angola in early 1999 spelled disaster for any form of economic growth during the following years.

In 2000, Angola entered into a Staff-Monitored Program (SMP) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Although the program lapsed in 2001, the IMF remained engaged in the country. The World Bank prepared a Transitional Support Strategy (TSS) as a short- to medium-term plan for involvement in Angola. In 2002, the IMF reported that $900 million had disappeared from government finances in 2001. That amount was greater than the value of humanitarian assistance sent to Angola in 2002. In all, over $4 billion was unaccounted for from 19972005. These difficulties notwithstanding, the IMF in 2005 concluded that oil and diamonds will continue to form the backbone of Angola's economy for the unforeseeable future.


Until recently, social services for Africans were almost entirely the responsibility of the various tribal groups. The Roman Catholic Church also played an integral part in the administration of welfare, health, and educational programs. A number of international nongovernmental organizations have also gotten involved, particularly in the provision of health care.

Although women's rights are protected in the constitution, in practice there is discrimination in the workplace and in the home, and most women hold low-paid jobs. Spousal abuse against women is widespread. Credible evidence suggests that the majority of homicides against women were a result of a domestic dispute. Women and children are also at high risk for mutilation from land mines, due to foraging in the fields for food and firewood. Children are recruited to fight in both the government and UNITA forces. There were an estimated 1,500 children living on the street in Luanda in 2004, many of them engaging in prostitution. Angola's government has a poor human rights record. Security forces have reportedly been responsible for torture, beatings, rapes, and disappearances and prison conditions are life-threatening.


Angola lies in the yellow fever endemic zone. Cholera incidence is high. Only a small fraction of the population receives even rudimentary medical attention. As of 2004, the ratio of physicians per population was estimated at 7.7 per 100,000 people. In 2005, average life expectancy was estimated at only 38.43 years, one of the lowest in the world. That year infant mortality was estimated at 187.49 per 1,000 live births, the highest in the world. The incidence of tuberculosis in 1999 was 271 per 100,000 people. Immunization rates for one-year-old children in 1999 were estimated at 22% for diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus and 46% for measles. Malnutrition affected an estimated 53% of children under five years of age as of 1999. From 1975 to 1992, there were 300,000 civil war-related deaths. The overall death rate was estimated at 24 per 1,000 in 2002. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 3.90 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 240,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 21,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

In 2000, 38% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 44% had adequate sanitation.


Decades of war and lack of appropriate economic and legal reforms have posed a serious housing problem in Angola. During the war for independence, a majority of the Portuguese residents abandoned homes that were then confiscated by the government. In fact, all urban land is considered to be property of the State. But management and administration of dwellings is under the control of provincial governments and leasing or other housing and property regulations are ambiguous or nonexistent. As a result, a UN report indicated that about 90% of urban residents live in settlements without a clearly defined legal status.

Most people live in multi-family dwellings that were constructed in the 1960s and have since deteriorated to the point that basic utilities are limited or unavailable. Housing shortages have led to urban slum developments. These are most prominent in Luanda, where about four million people are living in a city designed for about 700,000.

Over the years, the government has made some efforts to ease the situation. The most recent has included government-sponsored housing construction projects. In April 2003, 331 houses were completed in Kilamba-Kiaxi. At least 65 of them were given to government employees and other civil servants.


In 1999 the adult illiteracy rate was estimated at 42%. Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and ten. As of 2001, the basic educational program consisted of a primary education system lasting for six years and a secondary education system divided into two cycles of three years each. There are also three-year vocational and four-year technical programs available for secondary students. In 2000, about 61% of eligible children were enrolled in primary school. Similar figures for secondary students were unavailable. The pupil to teacher ratio for primary school was at about 42:1 in 2003. The ratio for secondary school was about 18:1.

While Portuguese was the language of instruction in earlier times, the vernacular is more commonly used now. The academic year runs from October to July. The Ministry of Education oversees the national public programs. The government spends and estimated 2.8% of the GDP on education.

The University Agostinho Neto in Luanda was established in 1963 and has a faculty for science, engineering, law, medicine, economics, and agriculture. In 2001, all higher-level institutions had about 8,000 students and 800 faculty members.


The National Library of Angola, founded in Luanda in 1969, had 84,000 volumes in 2002 and the library of the University of Luanda (1963) had 75,000 volumes. The Municipal Library in Luanda has more than 30,000 volumes. Additional libraries of note are the Geological and Mining Services Directorate Library (1914) in Luanda (40,000 volumes) and the National Historical Center Library (1982) with 12,000 volumes located in Luanda.

The Angola Museum (which contains Angola's historical archives), the Coffee Museum, Museum of Geology, National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of Archaeology, Central Museum of the Armed Forces, and National Museum of Anthropology are all located in Luanda. There are regional museums in Namibe, Huambo, Lobito, Lumbango, and Uíge. The Museum of Chitato, located in Dundo, houses a distinctive ethnographic collection featuring the art of the local Chokue people, recordings of local folk music, and a photographic collection dating to the 1880s. The Municipal Museum of New Lisbon houses a collection of traditional and modern African sculpture. Elinga Teatro is gaining popularity as a modern urban art gallery and theater in Mutamba.


Telephone service is primarily limited to government and business use. In 2003, there were an estimated seven mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 240,300 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately nine mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Most of the media is controlled by the state. Rádio Nacional de Angola broadcasts in Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, and major local languages; government-owned, it is the only station with the capacity to broadcast nationwide. In 2004, there were five commercial radio stations, including the Catholic Church's Radio Ecclesia and Radio Lac Luanda. The primary news agency is the Angola Press. The only television station was the government Angola Public Television (TPA), which broadcasts in Luanda and most provincial capitals. In 2003, there were an estimated 78 radios and 52 television sets for every 1,000 people.

In 2005, the only national daily newspaper was the government-owned Jornal de Angola (circulation in 2000 was 41,000). There were at least seven private weekly publications with circulation in the low thousands.

In 2003 the country had about 17 Internet hosts. The same year, there were 1.9 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 3 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.

Though a constitution provides for basic freedom of speech and press, the government is said to restrict these freedoms in practice. Journalists are intimidated into practicing self-censorship, and the government tightly restricts the main newspapers, television stations, and radio broadcasts.


Organizations established by the MPLA include the Organization of Angolan Women, the Medical Assistance Service, and the Centers for Revolutionary Instruction. There are professional associations for a variety of fields.

The Angolan National Youth Council, founded in 1991, serves as a major nongovernmental organization representing the opinions and concerns of the nation's youth. The Association of Students of Higher Education (AEES: Associazao dos Estudiantes de Educacao Superior) and the National Union of Angolan Students (UNEA) have been major student movements. A scouting organization (Associação de Escuteros de Angola) is also present. There are branches of the YMCA and YWCA present. There are a few sports associations.

Angolan Action For Development (A.A.D.), the Angolan Women's Organization, and the League Of Angolan Women (LIMA) are groups focusing on the political, social, and developmental issues and concerns of women. There are associations for professional women in the fields of journalism, law, and law enforcement.

AfricareAngola provides aid to the rural population. The ACM - YMCA of Kuanza Sul offers assistance to displaced persons within the country. There are active chapters of the Red Cross, Caritas, and UNICEF.


Tourism was an important activity until 1972, when the guerrilla war and the subsequent civil war led to a precipitous drop in the number of tourists and hence of tourist revenues. Throughout the late 1990s, a yo-yo effect seemed to hit the tourist industry. In 1996, only about 21,000 visitors came to the country. In 1997, the number jumped to 45,000 and increased to 52,000 the following year. In 2003, the number of visitors again jumped to 106,625. Tourism receipts totaled approximately $71 million. A valid passport, visa, and International Certificate of Vaccination against yellow fever and cholera are required.

The US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Luanda at $289 in 2005. Staying in rural areas would cost much less.


António Agostinho Neto (192279), a poet and physician who served as the president of MPLA (196279) and president of Angola (197579), was Angola's dominant political figure. José Eduardo dos Santos (b.1942) succeeded Neto in both these posts. Jonas Malheiro Savimbi (19342002), the son of a pastor, founded UNITA in 1966.


Angola has no territories or colonies.


Brittain, Victoria. The Death of Dignity: Angola's Civil War. Chicago: Pluto Press, 1998.

Ciment, James. Angola and Mozambique: Postcolonial Wars in Southern Africa. New York: Facts on File, 1997.

Hodges, Tony. Angola: Anatomy of an Oil State. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

James, W. Martin. Historical Dictionary of Angola. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2004.

. Historical Dictionary of Angola [computer file], 2nd ed. Boulder, Colo.: netLibrary, Inc., 2000.

Kreike, Emmanuel. Re-creating Eden: Land Use, Environment, and Society in Southern Angola and Northern Namibia. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 2004.

McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Rotberg, Robert I. Ending Autocracy, Enabling Democracy: The Tribulations of Southern Africa, 19602000. Cambridge, Mass.: World Peace Foundation, 2002.

Zeilig, Leo and David Seddon. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Angola." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . 12 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Angola." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . (July 12, 2018).

"Angola." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . Retrieved July 12, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



People's Republic of Angola

Major Cities:
Luanda, Huambo, Lobito, Benguela

Other Cities:
Cabinda, Namibe


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 2001 for Angola. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


The name "Angola" comes from the Mbundu word for "king"-ngola. Few African countries have seen their natural and human potential as underutilized and thoroughly ravaged by violence as Angola.

In precolonial southern Africa, the area was home to some of the continent's richest kingdoms, which welcomed European merchants and missionaries in the 15th century, only to be corrupted and ultimately destroyed by the transatlantic slave trade in the 16th century. The abolition of the trade-a politically and economically destabilizing event-was followed by the repressive taxation and forced labor regimes of Portuguese colonialism. Although much of the rest of the continent underwent rapid decolonization in the 1960s, the armed struggle for independence in Angola took nearly 15 years and perpetuated internal divisions that turned into a decades-long, ongoing civil war.

Small groups of hunter-gatherers were the first to inhabit the region of present-day Angola, but late in the first millennium Bantu-speaking people migrated to the area from the north. They brought with them iron-smelting skills, agricultural practices, and cattle, all of which they used to establish some of the largest and most centralized kingdoms in Central Africa. In the mid-13th or 14th century, Congo kings organized agricultural settlements surrounding the mouth of the Congo River into provinces, collected taxes, and established an official currency of shells.

Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão sailed into the mouth of the Congo River in 1482. The Portuguese initially maintained peaceful relations with the Congo, trading goods in exchange for slaves. But the slave-traders became more intrusive and violent. When they began to meet resistance, the Portuguese monarchy sent troops to Angola.

Slavery existed in some form in most of Angola's kingdoms. It is estimated that between the late 16th century and 1836, when Portugal officially abolished slave trafficking, 4 million people from the region were captured for the slave trade. Slave trading agents, or pombeiros-some Portuguese, most African, or Afro Portuguese (mestiços)-bought slaves from local chiefs in exchange for cloth, guns, and other European goods.

Throughout the 19th century and until the military campaigns ended in 1930, many sectors of Angolan society resisted domination by the Portuguese monarchy. Kings, especially the well educated leaders of the Congo, invoked historical treaties to resist Portuguese dictates.

The country has been engulfed in war and civil strife since its independence from Portugal in 1975. A peace accord, signed in 1994, brought a temporary halt to the civil war, but war erupted again in 1998.

However, despite these grave difficulties, Angola is not without its share of intrigues. Numerous beautiful beaches surrounding Luanda-such as the Palmeirinhas, Ilha, and Ramiros-are popular places for water sports enthusiasts. Three museums include a Museum of Anthropology, with an excellent collection of African arts, and several discos and clubs are dotted throughout the city. Angolans are also known for their hospitality; it is not uncommon for visitors to be invited into their homes for a traditional meal.



Luanda, Angola's capital and largest city, lies less that 9 degrees south of the equator. It was established in 1576, and by 1627, the city had become the headquarters for the Portuguese colonial administration and the main outlet for slave traffic to Brazil. Luanda experienced a dramatic population increase after 1940 as thousands of Portuguese immigrants and rural Angolans flocked to the city. This population explosion ceased shortly after Angola's independence from Portugal in 1975, when Portuguese nationals returned en masse to Portugal. By 1976, Luanda's large white population had dwindled from 150,000 to 30,000. The city's population increased again during the Angolan civil war as an influx of Cuban soldiers and civilians settled in Luanda. Luanda has an estimated population of 3 million.

Today, Luanda is a city of contrasts. The lower part of the city serves as Luanda's commercial and industrial center. Skyscrapers and wide avenues give the city a modern appearance. However, vast poverty-ridden shanty-towns are prevalent in other parts of the city. These neighborhoods are filled with sun-dried, mud brick shacks known as "musseques."

Luanda is the site of the University of Luanda, the seat of the Roman Catholic archdiocese, and the location of 4 de Fevereiro, Angola's international airport. Luanda is a busy international port. Coffee, cotton, iron, salt, and diamonds are chief exports. Products are also transported by rail link to Malanje, a city located 200 miles east of Luanda.


Running water is available throughout much of the city, though outages do' occur. Electricity is 220 volts, 50-cycle electrical power. Power outlets are the standard European two round prong. Persons planning to bring sensitive electronic equipment should also bring a voltage regulator, UPS, and/or surge protector, as voltage may fluctuate as much as 10%. It is also advisable to bring only battery-operated clocks.


Most basic items (dairy products, eggs, butter, bread, sugar, flour, beans, rice, fresh and frozen meats, and limited amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables) can be purchased locally in open-air markets and supermarkets (Jumbo, Afri-Belg, and Intermarket) or in hard currency stores (ES-KO and Cantina Palança Items in the hard-currency stores are expensive compared to Washington, D.C. prices, but not prohibitive.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are grown locally or imported from South Africa with a moderate amount of variety (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, onions, lettuce, apples, oranges, mangos, papayas, bananas, etc.). Items purchased in the open-air markets are sold "as is." Care must be taken with these items, especially in the proper cleaning of all fresh produce. Fresh local fish is also abundant and reasonable. Alcoholic beverages are also found in a wide variety, such as wines from South Africa and Europe, beers from Angola, South Africa, Namibia, and hard liquors. Food stuffs, including perishables, can also be ordered on a bimonthly basis from South Africa. Due to the cost of air shipment, prices are high.


Locally available clothing is unacceptable by American standards. Size, selection, and availability are extremely limited. It is advisable to bring all clothing items and shoes with you. There are no local taboos regarding clothing, and the majority of people in Luanda dress in the "Western" style. As Luanda has a tropical climate, any type of washable cotton/linen tropical wear would be well suited for day and nighttime use. Replenishment of clothing items is done most often by catalog purchase through the pouch system. Clothes can also be bought in South Africa at reasonable prices and are of good quality.

Luanda's year-round climate is generally sunny, hot, and humid. Washable 100% cotton clothing is recommended, as dry cleaning facilities are unreliable. Comfortable, durable walking shoes are also recommended. Life, in general, and social functions, in particular, tend to be casual in the expatriate community. Angolans, on the other hand, always dress well for functions.

Supplies and Services

Luanda has one drycleaner shop that is considered adequate, plus a few well regarded, reasonably priced barbershops and beauty salons. There are auto repair shops in town that have received mixed reviews and are not inexpensive.

Domestic Help

Domestic help is readily available at reasonable rates, usually payable in U.S. dollars. However, those employed who have not worked before for Americans may need training, and most speak only Portuguese. Currently, there is no requirement for pension, social security, or retirement payments for domestic help. All household help should have a medical exam and routine security background check prior to beginning work.

Religious Activities

There are missionaries of all faiths living in Angola. Although their principal role is humanitarian assistance, many do hold religious services for their individual faiths. There is a large number of Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist churches in Luanda. The Catholic church has a resident cardinal, and the Methodist church has a resident bishop. Church facilities are simple; most services are conducted in Portuguese, and attendance by Angolans is normally high. An English nondenominational church group meets every Sunday morning and is open to everyone.


The International School of Luanda (LIS) instructs in English as a first language and has a preschool and kindergarten, as well as grades 1-8. It is a member of the Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA) and is listed in the worldwide International Education Handbook. The school is working in conjunction with the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) and their Primary Years Program and is also seeking US. accreditation. There are also French and Portuguese schools in Luanda.


The national sports of Angola are soccer and basketball. Local games are held regularly. Angola also sponsors tennis, European hand-ball, basketball, and field hockey teams. Dance, aerobics, karate, and "capoeira" lessons are available, located at several different fitness gyms and at reasonable prices. Runners can participate in the Hash House Harriers, a weekly "Fun Run" sponsored by the British Embassy, and more informal events.

The city has a tennis club; court rental is $10 per hour for nonmembers. Bring shoes, rackets, and balls sufficient to last a tour. Reasonably priced tennis lessons are available through private arrangement.


Entertainment in Luanda is limited. Alliance Française and the Portuguese Cultural Center will have special cultural programs to which all are invited. There is a small theater with local groups performing. Most people dine out for entertainment. Nightclubs, jazz clubs, and many relatively good restaurants serve Angolan, Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, and Cuban cuisine. Restaurants in Angola are expensive by U. S. standards.

Special Information

The security situation in Luanda requires caution. Civil war, banditry and landmines make travel throughout Angola unsafe. Street crime, sometimes violent, is common in Luanda and in other urban centers. Police, who often carry automatic weapons, patrol city streets. They are unpredictable, and their authority should not be challenged. Travel in many parts of Luanda is relatively safe by day, but doors must be locked, windows rolled up, and packages stored out of sight. Police checkpoints contribute to unsafe travel on roads leading out of the city. Visitors are strongly advised to avoid unnecessary travel after dark. All visitors are required at the earliest opportunity to contact the U.S. Embassy security officer for a briefing.


Located in west-central Angola, Huambo (formerly Nova Lisboa) was founded in 1912 and quickly became a major transportation center. The city is built on Angola's main railway, the Benguela Railway. The railway, which extends from Lobito on Angola's Atlantic coast to Zaire, was used extensively to transport coffee, wheat, and corn grown near Huambo. As a result of this activity, Huambo became a very prosperous city. Huambo's fortunes plummeted during the civil war when the Benguela Railway was severely damaged. The city itself has suffered severe damage. Most of Huambo's residents fled and the city was looted. Huambo faces hardship and years of rebuilding. The city's estimated population in 2000 was 400,000.


Lobito is Angola's third largest city and was founded in 1843. The completion of the Benguela Railway served as a stimulus for Lobito's growth into a major city. Lobito is Angola's largest and busiest port. Because of its extensive rail links with Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa, Lobito was once a leading transport center for Southern Africa's mineral wealth. However, damage to the Benguela Railway has severely disrupted Lobito's trade with other African countries. Several industries are located in the city, among them food processing, shipbuilding, and metalworking. The French built a new textile complex at Lobito in 1979 and a second textile mill is planned for the future. Grains, fruits, sisal, coconuts, and peanuts are grown near the city. Plans to rehabilitate Lobito and the surrounding area were in progress in mid-1991. Lobito's population is roughly 75,000.


The city of Benguela is an historic trading, fishing, and administrative center. Benguela was founded in 1617 by Portuguese traders seeking to open new ports and trade markets in Angola. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Benguela served as a major transport point for Portugal's lucrative slave trade. The city currently serves as a trading center for the coffee, corn, tobacco, sugarcane, and sisal grown near Benguela. Industry in the city consists of fish processing, sugar milling, and soap manufacturing. Manganese deposits have been discovered south of the city, but were not developed extensively because of Angola's civil war. Benguela has an estimated population of over 50,000.


The port city of CABINDA , situated in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda, was once a transportation point for West African slaves. Today, Cabinda province contains rich crude oil deposits and the city is a major port of Angolan oil exports. Timber, cocoa, coffee, phosphates, and potassium are also transported through Cabinda. Manganese and gold deposits have been discovered near the city, but have not been fully exploited. Cabinda has been able to escape damage during the civil war because it is geographically separated from Angola. Cabinda's status as a free port has made it attractive to foreign businesses and investors.

Cabinda is a small city located 200 miles east of Luanda. It developed in the mid-19th century as an important open-air market. Today, the city is the center of an important cotton-and coffee-growing area. The prosperity of the town was hampered by the exodus of skilled Portuguese workers following Angola's independence. In addition, the city was partially destroyed during the civil war. Malanje is linked by rail and road with Luanda. Several interesting attractions are located near the city. These attractions include the Luando Game Reserve, Milando Animal Reserve, and the 350-ft. high Duque de Breganca Falls. The city's population is estimated at 31,600.

The port of NAMIBE (formerly Moçamedes) was founded by Brazilians in the mid-19th century. Namibe is a city of small houses and administrative buildings crowded together along a low inland cliff with commercial buildings nestled along the Atlantic coast. The city was solely dependent on fishing until the discovery of iron ore near Namibe. A lucrative iron ore mine was opened at Cassinga, but operations were disrupted during the civil war. Fishing remains an important activity for Namibe's residents. Namibe has an estimated population of 77,000.


Geography and Climate

Angola is located on the western coast of central/southern Africa. It is bordered by Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) on the north and northeast, Zambia on the east, Namibia on the south and by the Atlantic Ocean on the west. Its coastline extends from the oil-rich enclave of Cabinda (north of the mouth of the Zaire River) to the northern border of Namibia, a distance of nearly 1,000 miles. Angola comprises a total area of approximately 481,354 square miles, larger than Texas and California combined.

The Atlantic coast of Angola is narrow and flat. Most of the country is comprised of a vast plateau elevated 3,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level. Northern and western portions of Angola have mountains, thick vegetation and fertile soil. The majority of Angolans live in the north and west. Many of the country's rivers originate in central Angola. However, only the Cuanza River is navigable. The eastern half of Angola consists of relatively flat, open plateau and sandy soil. Angola's southern areas are dominated by the Namib Desert. Population in southern and eastern regions is very sparse. The Cabinda province is covered by tropical rain forest.

Angola has a tropical climate. The hot season runs from January to April, with high temperatures and high humidity. There are light rains in November and December with rains falling in March & April.


With only about 12 million people, Angola is lightly populated. As a result for three decades of conflict, an estimated 80% of the population is now concentrated in 20% of the national territory closest to the coast, and nearly 30% of the total population now resides in the capital, Luanda. The rest of the population is spread over the central highlands.

Angolans are mostly of Bantu ethnic heritage. About 75% of Angola's people are members of Angola's four largest ethnic groups. The Ovimbundu, normally resident in the central highlands and southeastern parts of Angola, are the largest group, comprising about 37% of the population. The Ovimbundu were traditionally farmers and traders.

The Kimbundu, approximately 25% of Angola's population, live in and around Luanda and to the east. Prolonged contact with Portuguese colonial rulers has given the Kimbundu the highest proportion of Angolans assimilated into European culture.

The Bakongo, usually concentrated in the northwest, and areas adjacent to the Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cabinda Province, constitute 13% of the population. The Bakongo at one time formed a loose federation known as the Kingdom of the Kongo with whom the Europeans made initial contact in the 15th century when the Portuguese first landed at the mouth of the Congo River.

The Lunda and Chokwe occupy the northeastern sector of Angola, with branches also in Democratic Republic of Congo, and make up 10% of the population. These two ethnic groups once comprised a great kingdom in the Angolan interior and were barely touched by Portuguese influence.

Other relatively minor ethnic groups include the Nganguela in the southeast and the Ovambo and Herero in the southwest (about 7%). The Ovambo and Herero are migratory cattle herders, who maintain close ties to kinsmen in Namibia, and regularly migrate across the Angolan-Namibian border. The rest of the population is made up of mulatto or mestizo (mixed European and African, 2%), Europeans (1%), and others (5%).

Before the 1975 civil war, approximately 750,000 non-Africans, primarily Portuguese citizens, lived in Angola. About 500,000 fled to Portugal because of the war. Today, about 40,000 Portuguese live in Angola, constituting the largest foreign population. The mulatto/mestizo are influential politically and economically beyond their numbers.

The diverse ethnic backgrounds of the population suggest the wide range of languages spoken. No one African language is widely used beyond its ethnic area. Portuguese is Angola's official language and is used by the government, in schools, and by people throughout the country.

The last official Angolan census was taken in 1970. Since then, because the war has made accurate demography impossible, population figures have only been given as estimates. The Angolan Government estimated the 1988 population at almost 9.5 million. Today's best estimate is about 12 million inhabitants, with about 3 million of those residing in Luanda.


Modern-day Angola was first discovered in 1483 by the Portuguese explorer Diego Cao. Although the Portuguese government sent a small group of settlers to Angola in 1491, the establishment of large permanent settlements was not their primary objective. Rather, Angola was to serve as an ample source of slave labor for Portugal's profitable coffee plantations in Brazil. By the mid-nineteenth century, the Portuguese had established a lucrative slave trade in Angola. It is estimated that nearly three million Angolans were eventually sent to South America as slaves. More Portuguese flocked to Angola as the slave trade grew. In 1575, the Portuguese established their first permanent settlement at Luanda.

Angola's lucrative slave trade quickly captured the attention of Portugal's colonial rivals. In 1641, the Dutch invaded and occupied Luanda. For seven years, Portugal's Angolan slave trade was controlled by the Dutch. The Portuguese eventually wrested control of Angola from the Dutch in 1648.

Angola's boundaries were formally established by the Berlin West Africa Congress in 1884-1885 in which France, Germany and Portugal won international recognition of the borders of their African colonies. During the early 20th century, Angola was wracked by a series of tribal uprisings against Portuguese rule. All of these uprisings were ruthlessly crushed. By 1922, the Portuguese government claimed that all resistance against colonial rule in Angola had been silenced.

The years following World War II brought an influx of new Portuguese settlers. Beginning in 1950, the Portuguese government initiated a campaign to entice new settlers to Angola with a promise of free farmland. The plan was highly successful. By the end of 1950, there were 80,000 Portuguese living in Angola, compared with fewer than 10,000 in 1900. The Portuguese promises of free land created a series of hardships for native Angolans, however. Most of the free farmland was confiscated from traditional African farming areas. Many African farmers, displaced from their land, were forced to take menial jobs in Angola or work outside the country. The Portuguese settlement practices, coupled with harsh repression of dissent, led to deep bitterness and discontent among the Angolan people. The seeds of violent revolution had been sown.

In 1961, Angola was shaken by two separate uprisings. The first revolt was conducted by a political group known as the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). Shortly thereafter, the FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola) launched their own military campaign. Initially, both uprisings made impressive gains against Portuguese troops. However, the Portuguese eventually gained the upper hand and crushed the revolts. Members of the MPLA and FNLA were forced to flee to remote parts of the country. In 1966, after a series of disagreements, several members of the FNLA left the party and formed the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). UNITA began its own revolt against the Portuguese in late 1966. It was quickly defeated. Eventually, tribal rivalries, personality conflicts and ideological differences erupted between members of the MPLA, FNLA and UNITA. Relations between the three groups became so hostile at one point that they began murdering and imprisoning each others officials. Although the MPLA, FNLA and UNITA were equally committed to driving the Portuguese from Angolan soil, the bitter rivalries and hostilities between them and within their own parties severely hampered these efforts.

In 1974, the Portuguese government at home was overthrown. Weary of Portugal's prolonged involvement in Angola, the new government decided to grant independence. Representatives of the Portuguese government and the three opposition parties met in January 1975 to plan an orderly transition from colonial rule. At this meeting, the MPLA, UNITA and FNLA agreed to form a transitional government and to hold free elections. All Portuguese troops were to be removed from Angola. Complete independence was scheduled for 1975. Unfortunately, Angola's journey to independence would be marred by warfare and hardship.

Within a matter of months, the shaky coalition government collapsed. By mid-1975, the MPLA, FNLA and UNITA were engaged in open civil warfare.

On November 11, 1975, Portugal declared Angola independent. Because Luanda was in MPLA hands at the time of independence, the Portuguese handed control of the government to the MPLA.

Although the MPLA controlled Angola, they were faced with a host of internal and external problems. Years of civil warfare had decimated Angola's economy. Many Portuguese settlers fled the country after 1975, taking with them the expertise needed to rebuild the economy. Although substantially weakened, UNITA and the FNLA still posed a major threat to the MPLA. Foreign powers, such as South Africa, wanted to destroy the MPLA. Finally, the MPLA suffered from dissent within its own ranks.

In 1991, the MPLA and UNITA signed a formal peace agreement, effectively ending 16 years of civil war. However, the peace lasted only until October 1992, when the civil war resumed. The Lusaka Protocol of 1994, supported by armed UN peacekeepers, promised peace by guaranteeing UNITA a voice in the government. In spite of recurrent episodes of violence, some 100,000 troops had been demobilized by 1996.

Public Institutions

Angola changed from a one-party Marxist/Leninist system ruled by the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) to a multiparty democracy following the September 1992 elections. Since then, political power is increasingly concentrated in the Presidency. The political power of the MPLA Central Committee Political Bureau has diminished. Currently, the MPLA and eight other political parties are represented in the National Assembly, including the largest opposition party, UNITA, made up of former fighters who have abandoned the armed struggle.

In late 1999, a major Government offensive succeeded in destroying Jonas Savimbi's conventional military capacity and driving him to guerrilla tactics. Currently, the Government controls 90%-95% of the national territory, and a similar share of the population, with Savimbi's forces reduced to scattered, but sometimes effective, raids against civilian as often as military targets. As the UNITA military threat abated, the Government has slowly allowed for greater public dissent, a freer press, considerable leverage for opposition parties, and a proposal to hold national elections in 2002. Some of this public debate has increased and strengthened civil society, in the process helping to make the country a more dynamic and interesting place to work in international affairs.

The executive branch of the government is composed of the Chief of State, President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, Prime Minister (a position which, since the early 1999 government reorganization, is also held by the President), and the Council of Ministers.

The Constitution establishes the broad outlines of the government structure and delineates the rights and duties of citizens. The legal system is based on the Portuguese civil and customary law system. It was recently modified to accommodate a multi-party political system and increased use of free-market concepts and is again under revision in the National Assembly. The legal voting age for Angolans is 18.

Military and civilian courts exist, but the judicial system is precarious. There have been reports of prolonged detention without trial, unfair trials, and arbitrary executions.

The country is divided into 18 provinces, each with its own provincial government, but the governors are appointed by and under direct authority of the central government.

Angola has been ravaged by warfare since initiation of the struggle for independence from the Portuguese in 1961. An estimated 450,000 people have been killed; 100,000 maimed; and 3.7 million people were orphaned or forced from their homes since the wars began. The war has severely damaged the country's social institutions and infrastructure. The millions of dislocated people, orphaned children, and the lack of communications and transport between cities and the interior have all taken their toll. Daily conditions within the country, and in the capital city, Luanda, are difficult for most Angolans. Hospitals are without medicines or basic equipment; schools are without books; and public servants often lack the basic supplies for their day-today work.

An ally of the Socialist Block during the Cold War, Angola has increasingly drawn closer to Western nations, including the U.S. Angola's vast petroleum resources and its role as a regional power give it high importance.

The flag of Angola consists of two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and black with a centered yellow emblem consisting of a five-pointed star within half a cogwheel crossed by a machete

Arts, Science, Education

The arts and crafts market may not be as prolific in Angola as in some African countries, but there are beautiful artifacts. There is a trade in antique masks and fabrics. Ivory engraving is said to be the most intricate and detailed work found in Angola. Some craftsmen in Luanda market in woodcarvings for the expatriate community, and there are a few good painters as well, painting from traditional landscape and portrait to abstract art.

Angola is predominantly Roman Catholic (60%). Protestants (15%) and various indigenous beliefs that may also be nominally Christian (25%) fill out the pattern of religious affiliation. Catholic churches are found in most towns, and' their religious workers have played an important role in keeping education and food distribution programs going in the war-torn country.

The Portuguese brought the Catholic religion with them, and toward the end of the 19th century Protestant missionaries arrived from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Catholic and Protestant missionaries have played a significant role in Angola education. At the time of independence the leaders of Angola's three major liberation movements had been educated a Protestant missions. Literacy, less than 10% at independence, has increased, despite the onset of the civil war, and is estimated at 45% of the total population. Currently, only 40% of Angolan children attend school for the first three grades, after which attendance declines severely. Also, the quality of education is poor, and most of the children of parents with money are sent overseas to Portugal or other countries.

Commerce and Industry

The continuing civil war has devastated Angola's postindependence economy and has created wide-ranging humanitarian and social problems and diverted resources that otherwise might have been used for the maintenance and improvement of infrastructure. The war has caused serious disruptions in the transportation of people and goods, and in agricultural production.

Angola is resources-rich, with abundant offshore oil reserves, high-quality diamond deposits, numerous other minerals, rich agricultural lands, and many rivers, which serve as a source of water and power supply. Prior to independence Angola was a net food exporter, and one of the largest coffee and cotton producer in the world. Other main crops included bananas, sugarcane, sisal, corn, manioc, tobacco, forest products, fish, and livestock. Now Angola buys almost all of its food, as well as most consumer products. Coca-Cola invested $35 million in a bottling plant located 60 kilometers outside of Luanda. The plant opened in early 2000 and added a second production line in November 2000. Coca-Cola's investment is the largest single non-mineral investment in Angola's history.

The oil sector dominates the economy. Petroleum exports account for about 90% of total exports annually, and oil revenue makes up almost half of the country's Gross Domestic Product, which reached $5.6 billion in 1999. This strong reliance on a single commodity makes Angola very vulnerable to fluctuations in oil prices. Weak oil prices in 1998 and part of 1999, combined with increased arms purchases in response to an escalation of hostilities, led to a heavy external debt burden. Angola's external debt amounted to almost $10 billion at the end of 1999, and $4.4 billion of this amount was in arrears. Higher oil prices in late 1999 and 2000 and the intake of signing bonuses for new oil concessions helped to keep the debt from growing further.

Angola is the third largest trading partner of the U.S. in sub-Saharan Africa, mainly because of significant petroleum exports. Between 1997-99, Angolan crude oil accounted for about 5% of U.S. total imports of crude. The U.S. imported $2.4 billion of crude oil from Angola in 1999 and exported $252 million of goods to Angola, primarily machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, and food products.

After 1975, Angola's Soviet-influenced economy was highly centralized and state-dominated. The Government has very slowly introduced reforms and liberalizations since the early 1990s. The government enacted its most significant reforms to date in 1999, when it unified official and parallel market exchange rates and liberalized interest rates. In April 2000, the Government reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a Staff-Monitored Program (a precursor to receiving loans from the IMF and other concessionary lenders). Progress on economic reforms, such as privatization and improved accountability and transparency, continues-but at a slow pace.



A 2000 law requiring that all cars brought into the country be no more than 3 years of age has been informally relaxed for non-commercial users. The only safe means of traveling in the city is by automobile. As with all other types of infrastructure in Angola, roads have been poorly or infrequently maintained in the past 20 years. Potholes are typically deep and numerous. High-clearance, heavy duty suspension vehicles are recommended. Cars brought into Angola by nonresidents are considered in transit, and no taxes are levied. Only leaded fuel is available, and although the lines are long at peak hours, there is no widespread shortage of fuel. Fuel prices have risen considerably over the last year. Rental vehicles are available, but are very costly.

There are no vehicle inspections required for registration or licensing purposes. Vehicle traffic moves on the right as in the U.S. A valid U.S. driver's license is needed to apply for an Angolan driver's license, but recently the Angolan Government has been slow in issuing licenses despite charging a fee. Local third party insurance is available and required by law. Full coverage purchased locally is expensive and not reliable when paying for damages. Vehicle owners may wish to obtain hard-currency insurance from outside Angola.

There are repair facilities in the city for GM, Dodge, Jeep, Ford, Toyota, and Nissan vehicles. However, it is helpful to bring basic items such as air and oil filters, fan belts, spark plugs, etc., with you. A heavy-duty battery is required, and air conditioning is a must year round. The poor road conditions also cause suspension systems and tires to wear rapidly. Any vehicle shipped to Angola should have heavy-duty suspension, radial tires, and undercoating. Carburetors should be adjusted to low-octane leaded gas and catalytic converters removed, since locally available gasoline is of poor quality. Because of the extremely high rate of pilferage from the Luanda port, do not ship car radios, stereos, or other removable items with the vehicle. Shipping time for vehicles averages about 4 months with some time in port. It will take about a month to receive plates before the vehicle can be driven.


Local public transportation is limited and deemed unsafe. The public buses and collective taxis (mini-buses or "candongueiros") are not safe; no individual taxi service exists. Reliable railroad transportation is not available. Roads to the interior are not deemed safe for general travel. The best method of reaching other areas is by air. Air transport to major interior cities is available on the Angolan national airline TAAG; however, security conditions and equipment problems regularly interrupt service.


The following airlines provide service to/from Europe on a weekly or more frequent basis: Sabena (Belgium), Air France, TAP (Portugal), and TAAG (Angola). Air Namibia, Air Zimbabwe, Air Ethiopia, Air Gabon, and South African Airlines offer regional service.


Telephone and Telegraph

Angola's telephone system is poor. Local and international telephone connections can be difficult to make and can be extremely frustrating and expensive. Luanda's cellular telephone system is estimated to be 400% oversubscribed, and connections, particularly during business hours, are difficult to make. The telephone system is slowly being changed to digital but problems are still rampant.

Radio and TV

Luanda's local radio stations broadcast on AM, FM, and SW Programs concentrate on popular music and local news, with programs from 6 am until midnight daily. Shortwave broadcasts from Europe, North America, and Africa are the best source for international news and can be received without much difficulty.

Angolan television (TPA) transmits daily in color, with programming consisting of news, sports, cartoons, soap operas, cultural programs, and movies from the U.S., Europe, and Brazil. International programs are usually telecast in original languages with Portuguese subtitles. A multi-system 120/220v television, video, or stereo system is required; local television transmissions are in PAL-1.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Almost all publications in Angola are in Portuguese; a few French books are also available. The main local newspaper, the state-run Jornal de Angola, is published daily. Several independent newspapers (also in Portuguese) are published weekly or biweekly. English-language publications are difficult to obtain in Angola. It is advisable to receive magazines, newspapers, and books by pouch mail or subscribe to an internet service.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

The government-run hospitals are substandard by Western criteria and lack such basics as medicines, supplies, or trained staff, and are often without water, electricity, and sanitary facilities. There is one dental office.

Community Health

Because of the poor living and health conditions within the capital city's neighborhoods, disease, illness, and malnutrition are commonplace among the majority of Luanda's population. Warm weather and standing water from rains create a rampant breeding area for mosquitoes, and malaria is a common and dangerous threat to the population throughout Angola. Dust is also a continuous problem, and many people suffer from allergies and sinus trouble.

Recently a beautification project called Urbana 2000 was begun to try to beautify and clean up the city's image. Though Luanda's garbage collection system operates regularly, garbage and trash still ends up in the streets. Air pollution from dust, automobile exhaust, and burning garbage is heavy. City water is badly contaminated by raw sewage, human waste, and other toxic substances. Because of the poor living conditions, the average life expectancy for local citizens is only 45 years.

Preventive Measures

Luanda is afflicted with virtually every disease known to mankind. There are incidents of the following illnesses: hepatitis types A, B, C, measles, typhoid fever, polio, leprosy, amoebic infestations (whip-worm, roundworm, amebiasis, and giardia lambia), cholera, yellow fever; filaria, tetanus, meningitis, trypanosomisis, rabies, tuberculosis, syphilis, and varieties of AIDS. HIV and hepatitis ontaminate the local blood supply. HIV/AIDS precautions are strongly recommended. Malaria is a serious continuing health risk because of the warm climate and a lack of community programs to combat it. Luanda is normally dry and dusty for 9 months of the year; as a result. some individuals are troubled with sinus, allergy, and respiratory problems.

It is recommended that vaccinations. including yellow fever, typhoid, rabies; hepatitis A, B, C, and meningitis, be updated prior to coming.

Antimalarial precautions are a must, with Mefloquine Doxycycline being the prophylaxis of choice. It is recommended that malaria prophylaxis begin a week prior to arrival.

Drinking local tap water is very hazardous. Care must be taken when dining out, as food poisoning is common, although not necessarily in restaurants frequented by expatriates. All locally grown produce should be soaked in iodine or bleach solution before consuming, and care should be taken with the purchase and cooking of local meats and fish.

In sum, Angola, and Luanda in particular, is a place for the relatively healthy who are free of any major or continuing health problems.


Passage, Customs and Duties

A passport and visa, which must be obtained in advance, and an International Certificate of Vaccination, are required. Persons arriving without visas are subject to possible arrest and/or deportation. Travelers whose international immunization cards do not show inoculations against yellow fever and cholera may be subject to involuntary vacci-nations and/or heavy fines. Visitors remaining in Angola beyond their authorized visa duration are subject to fines and possible arrest. Current information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of Angola at 1615 M Street, N.W., Suite 900, Washington, D.C. 20036, tel. (202) 785-1156, fax (202) 785-1258.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with and obtain updated information on travel and security from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Luanda located at the Casa Inglesa Complex, Rua Major Kanhangula No. 132/135, tel. 244-2-396-727; fax 244-2-390-515. The Embassy is located on Rua Houari Boumedienne in the Miramar area of Luanda, P.O. Box 6468, tel. 244-2-447-028/(445-481)/(446-224); (24-hour duty officer tel. 244-9-501-343); fax 244-2-446-924. The Consulate may be contacted by e-mail at [email protected].


Quarantine is not required for pets brought to Angola. Dogs and cats must have rabies shots within 6 months, but not less than 30 days prior to arrival. Heartworm medication is also advised. Limited pet food is available locally, and what is available is very expensive. The mange parasite is prevalent in Angola; infection may occur if a pet comes in contact with infected animals. There are several private practice veterinarians in Luanda. No kennel facilities are available.

Firearms and Ammunition

The Government of Angola prohibits the importation of any type of personal firearms or ammunition.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

Angola's currency is the kwanza. The exchange rate is market-deter-mined. US. paper currency (no coins) is widely accepted in Angola. Angolan kwanzas are not convertible outside of Angola. U.S. dollars can be converted to local currency at exchange houses authorized by the Angolan government. Rapid fluctuations in the value of the Angolan Kwanza and shortages of U.S. dollars are widespread. Currency conversions on the parallel market are illegal, and participants are subject to arrest. In general, only the newer series 100 (US) dollar bills are accepted due to widespread counterfeiting of the older style.

Banking practices are unreliable. It is advisable to use your stateside bank, with direct deposit for all payroll or voucher transactions. Traveler checks are not generally accepted outside the Mission. Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and by a few businesses that cater to the expatriate communities. Otherwise, credit cards are not accepted.

Angola uses the metric system of weights and measures.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Feb. 4 Commencement of the Armed Struggle

Feb/Mar. Carnival*

Mar. 8 Women's Day

Mar. 27 Victory Day

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Apr. 14 Youth Day

May 1 Labor Day

June 1 Children's Day

Aug. 1 Armed Forces Day

Sept. 17 Heroes' Day

Nov. 2 Remembrance Day

Nov. 11 Independence Day

Dec. 1 Pioneer's Day

Dec. 10 Worker's Party Foundation Day

Dec. 25 Christmas

Dec. 25 Family Day



The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Web Sites

Angolan Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Angola's Official Web Site

Angola Business and Economics Angola Press UNITA's Homepage

Radio Ecclksia-Catholic Emissary in Angola Lusofone Web Site-gossip (chat room), information, and other links.


Abbot, Peter. et al. Modern African Wars: Angola and Mozambique 1961-1974. Men-At-Arms Series, 1994.

Angola Unravels: The Rise and Fall of the Lusaka Peace Process. Mass market paperback, 1999.

Antsee, Margaret. Orphan of the Cold War.

Ayo, Yvonne. Eyewitness Africa. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1995.

Bender, Gerald 1. Angola Under the Portuguese. University of California Press: Berkley, 1980.

Birmingham, David. Frontline Nationalism in Angola and Mozambique. 1993.

Birmingham, David. Portugal and Africa. 1999.

Bredin, Miles, and Harriet Logan (photographer). Blood on the Tracks: A Rail Journey from Angola to Mozambique. 1995.

Britten, Victoria. The Death of Dignity: Angola's Civil War 1998.

Bowdich. Account of the Discoveries of the Portuguese in the Interior of Angola and Mozambique. 1974.

Ciment, James. Angola and Mozambique: Post Colonial Wars in Southern Africa (Conflict and Crisis in the Post-Cold War World). 1997.

Collelo, Thomas, ed. Angola: A Country Study. Third edition. Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1990.

Crocker, Chester. High Noon in Southern Africa.

Hare, Paul J. Angola's Last Best Chance for Peace: An Insider's Account of the Peace Process, U.S. Institute of Peace Press: Washington, D.C., 1998.

Henderson, Lawrence. Angola: Five Centuries of Conflict.

Hothschild, Adam. King Leopold's Ghost.

Jolicoeur, Suzanne. The Arc of Socialist Revolutions: Angola to Afghanistan. 1982.

Kapuscinski, Ryszaro. Another Day of Life.

Kelly, Robert C., et al. Angola Country Review 1999/2000. 1999.

Laure, Jason. Angola (Enchantment of the World). Library series, 1990.

Maier, Karl, and Serif Lies. Angola Promises (paperback): London, 1996.

Marcum, John. The Angolan Revolution.

Matloff, Judith. Fragments of a Forgotten War. 1997.

Minter, William. Apartheid's Contras: An Inquiry into the Roots of War in Angola and Mozambique. 1994. Okuma, Thomas. Angola in Ferment. 1974.

Sean Sheehan, Angola: Cultures of the World. 18 Marshall Cavendish Corporation. 1999.

Somerville, Keith. Angola: Politics, Economics, and Society (Marxist Regimes Series). 1986.

Spikes, Daniel. Angola and the Politics of Intervention.

Tvedten, Inge, et al. Angola: Struggle for Peace and Reconstruction (Nations of the Modern World. Africa). 1997.

Van der Winden, Bob, ed. A Family of the Musseque. Oxford, England: World View Publishing, 1996.

Warner, Rachel. Refugees. Hove, England: Wayland Ltd., 1996.

Watson, James. No Surrender: A Story of Angola. London: Lions Tracks, 1992.

Wilson, T. Ernest. Angola Beloved. 1998.

Wright, George. The Destruction of a Nation: United States Policy Toward Angola Since 1945. 1997.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Angola." Cities of the World. . 12 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Angola." Cities of the World. . (July 12, 2018).

"Angola." Cities of the World. . Retrieved July 12, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Republic of Angola
República de Angola



Angola is located in southern Africa, and borders the South Atlantic Ocean, Namibia, Zambia, and both Congosthe Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of the Congo. Angola has a total area of 1,246,700 square kilometers (481,351 square miles). It has a coastline of 1,610 kilometers (1,000 miles) on the South Atlantic Ocean. Comparatively, the area is slightly less than twice the size of Texas. The capital of Angola, Luanda, is located on the north-central coastline. The highest point in Angola is Morro de Moco at 2,620 meters (8,596 feet). Angola also includes the exclave of Cabinda (an exclave is an area of land that is part of another country but separated physically from that country). A province of Angola, Cabinda's size is roughly 7,300 square kilometers (2,800 square miles), and it lies south of the Republic of Congo on the Atlantic coast.


The population of Angola was estimated by the CIA to be a little over 10 million in July 2000, although the World Bank put the figure at 12.4 million for 1999. These organizations also believe that the annual population growth rate decreased from 3.2 percent in 1995 to 2.9 percent in 1999. The growth rate for the year 2000 was estimated at 2.15 percent. In 2000 the birth rate stood at 46.89 births per 1,000, while the death rate was 25.01 per 1,000.

The population of Angola is very young. Only 3 percent of the population is over 65 years of age. About 54 percent of the population is between 15-64 years old, and 43 percent is below the age of 15. The life expectancy at birth for women is about 39 years and about 37 years for men.

The population density in 1995 was 8.8 people per square kilometer (18.1 people per square mile). The urban population has increased slowly but steadily from 31 percent in 1995 to 33.6 percent in 1999. The illiteracy rate in Angola is very high; only 42 percent of people over the age of 15 can read and write. There is a significantly higher number of men who are literate than women (56 percent versus 28 percent).


Angola's economy is in disarray due to the near-continuous warfare that has been ongoing in the country since independence in 1975. The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) have struggled for control of Angola and its abundance of natural resources since Portugal relinquished its control of the nation in 1975. Although the MPLA has managed to stay in power for most of Angola's history, the effort it expends in fighting UNITA and other hostile forces prevents it from developing Angola's economy. The government is likewise hindered by the fact that UNITA controls much of Angola, including its valuable diamond mines, the profits of which go towards UNITA's military efforts rather than the development of a stable economy. The result is that Angola is among those nations with the lowest output per capita in the world. GDP per capita in 1999 was estimated by the CIA World Factbook at US$1030, figured according to purchasing power parity .

The dominant force shaping Angola's economy today is oil and oil-related activities. These are essential to the economy of the country and contribute about 45 percent to GDP and 90 percent of exports. Thanks to oil production, the economy grew by 4 percent from 1998 to 1999. U.S. oil companies have invested heavily in Angola's oil production. In 1997, the United States bought 70-80 percent of all Angola's oil. In 2000, 7 percent of all U.S. petroleum came from Angola. This is expected to rise to 10 percent within 8 years. Unfortunately, the continual warfare has stifled investment in all other sectors. Diamonds are an important export product, but UNITA's control of this valuable resource limits its positive impact on the nation's economy.

Subsistence agriculture provides the main livelihood for 85 percent of the population, but larger-scale farming is difficult in Angola's landmine-ridden countryside. These mines remain throughout the country and hamper any development of the agricultural sector, even though the country itself is fertile. As a result, much of Angola's food must be imported. Coffee is one product that could be a large export opportunity, but the presence of so many minefields makes this development problematic.

Angola is severely indebted. The burden of debt on each Angolan is 3 times higher than the average for Africa. In 1999 the total outstanding debt was US$10.5 billion, more than two-thirds of which was owed to private creditors. In 1995 international donors (the World Bank, the European Union, and the United Nations' specialized agencies are the leading multilateral donors) pledged over US$1.0 billion in assistance to Angola. However, these funds have been held back because of the stalemated peace process between the MPLA and UNITA.


MPLA and UNITA began by fighting a common enemyPortugalfor Angola's independence in 1961. They formed a coalition government along with the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FLNA) following Portugal's decision to grant Angola independence on 11 November 1975, but the differences between the groups resulted in the coalition's disintegration before independence was achieved. The failure of the coalition government set the stage for a civil war that continued to plague the nation into the 21st century. UNITA, backed by the United States and South Africa, fought MPLA, backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba in a Cold-War showdown. However, the MPLA forces gained the victory when they overpowered major UNITA strongholds, and earned recognition from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) as the official government of Angola in 1976.

However, MPLA's hold on the government was far from secure. UNITA continued operating from southern Angola and from Namibia to topple MPLA; both South Africa and Cuba remained involved in Angola's war-battered landscape as military presences. With so many countries and factions involved in the war, a peace agreement seemed impossible until the thawing of the Cold War in 1988 resulted in the withdrawal of South African and Cuban troops from Angola. The first free elections in 1992 gave a narrow victory to the MPLA (which then became the Government of the Republic of Angola, GRA), but UNITA alleged voter fraud and did not accept the results. Fighting broke out once more and UNITA gained control of 75 percent of the country. However, the international community condemned UNITA's failure to honor the election results and recognized the MPLA government as the legitimate power. The 1994 Lusaka Protocol attempted to broker a peace agreement between UNITA and MPLA, but not even the 6,000 peacekeeping troops installed in Angola by the United Nations in 1995 could stop continued fighting. By 1999 the United Nations withdrew its peacekeeping force and acknowledged the failure of the Lusaka Protocol.

The governmental structure of Angola is considered to be in transition pending the settlement of the civil war. In the country's first elections following independence, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, the head of the MPLA, was elected under a one-party system. The 1992 elections were designed to elect the president by popular vote and the 220-seat National Assembly by proportional vote, with both president and legislators to serve 4-year terms. UNITA, led by presidential candidate Jonas Savimbi, contested the 1992 elections after winning 40.1 percent of the vote. Since that time the official government has been led by the MPLA with no new elections.


Due to the extensive warfare, most of Angola's infrastructure has been destroyed. Millions of land mines were laid, and efforts to remove them have so far made little progress. Not only do these vast numbers of mines hamper the building of an infrastructure of extensive road networks, but they continue to maim and kill civilians. There are 19,156 kilometers (11,903.5 miles) of paved roads and a total of 2,952 kilometers (1,834.4 miles) of rail tracks. There are 32 airports with paved runways and 217 with unpaved runways. However, the condition of these airfields varies, and mines are a problem here as well.

Transportation in general is a problem in Angola. Perhaps no sector has suffered more than transportation from the war. Roads, railways, and bridges have been severely damaged. Ports are run-down and antiquated. More than 60 percent of the paved road network needs repair. The estimation of the Angolan government is that it will take 10-15 years to restore the road network to the status prior to the war. However, this presumes an end to the fighting, without which the road infrastructure will take considerably longer to recreate. The road, railway, and bridge networks are essential for the other economic sectors to grow. They will link the main cities in the country and get the products from one end of the country to the next.

The continued political violence and fighting is the reason for the lack of external investment in Angola. However, when stability returns, the lack of an infrastructure

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Angola 11 54 14 N/A 1 N/A 0.8 0.00 10
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
South Africa 32 317 125 N/A 56 3.5 47.4 33.36 1,820
Dem. Rep. of Congo 3 375 135 N/A 0 N/A N/A 0.00 1
a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999and are per 1,000 people.
b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE : World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

will be a major factor hindering economic development. Building an infrastructure is essential for the country's further development of other economic areas such as agricultural products, of which Angola used to be a net exporter.

There are about 60,000 telephone main lines in use (1995). The telephone system is limited mostly to government and business use. Radio telephones are used extensively by the military. There are 2 Internet service providers in the country (1999), but the level of personal computer ownership is very low (0.8 per 1,000 in 1998). There are also very few televisions in Angola, with only 14 sets per 1,000 people in 1998.


Angola's total labor force for 1997 was estimated at 5 million, with 85 percent of the workforce engaged in agriculture, and industry and services with 15 percent. Despite the large segment of the population in agriculture, it contributed only 13 percent to GDP in 1998. Industry contributed 53 percent, and services provided 34 percent of GDP in the same year, according to the CIA World Factbook.

The most important industries are petroleum, diamonds, fish, and fish processing. Other significant industries are iron ore, phosphates, feldspar, bauxite, uranium, gold, cement, basic metal products, food processing, brewing, tobacco products, and sugar textiles.

Agricultural products include bananas, sugarcane, coffee, sisal, corn, cotton, manioc, tobacco, vegetables, plaintains, livestock, forest products, and fish. The most important of these agricultural products for export are coffee, sisal, timber, and cotton. However, agricultural production in Angola has been severely reduced by the civil war. The majority of agriculture is now subsistence farming . The industrial sector has likewise been reduced, with oil as the sector's only growing industry. This is important for the economic development of Angola, but is not enough to create sustainable development, and leaves Angola's economy vulnerable to fluctuating oil prices.


Agricultural production is the sector that contributes the least to Angola's economy, a mere 13 percent of the GDP. Prior to the civil war in 1975 Angola was self-sufficient in food production and was a major exporter of agricultural products. The two most important products for export prior to the war were coffee and sisal. Angola was the second-largest producer of coffee in Africa and the fourth-largest in the world in 1974. Today only 3 percent of all arable land is being cultivated. There are two crucial reasons for this. First, large numbers of refugees have fled the country due to constant fighting, leaving the land uncultivated. Secondly, the vast amounts of anti-personnel mines that have been buried throughout the countryside make it difficult to cultivate the land again. This is unfortunate because Angola has the potential to grow a huge range of both semi-tropical and tropical crops. With continued fighting, Angola cannot fulfill its promise as a major agricultural producer.


There have been attempts at coffee production during the conflict, but continued fighting has made the sector's recovery impossible. There are several advantages to focusing on coffee production in Angola. First, it is an area where Angola can compete in the global market, hence supplementing oil as a major income generator. Second, Angolans have a lot of experience in the production of coffee. Third, the fertile land is well disposed to the cultivation of coffee. Today, the coffee industry is moribund. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates Angola's total coffee production for 2001 will be 65,000 bags of coffee (each weighing 60 kilograms). This is up slightly from 55,000 bags for the previous year. In contrast, Mexico was expected to produce 5.8 million bags, and Kenya's production was estimated at 1.1 million for 2001. Angola is not even on the list of the top 35 suppliers of coffee to the United States.


The fishing industry in Angola prior to the war was very important, and annual catches were about 600,000 tons. This shrank to only 35,000 tons during the war, but began to rise from 1993, when the catch was 122,000 tons, and this trend has continued. Angola has been building up its fishing fleet with the support of Spain, Italy, Portugal, and the Arab Bank for African Economic Development (BADEA). The World Bank helped the Angolan government set up the Angolan Support Fund for Fisheries Development. Angola has a long coastline which is especially rich with sardines, tuna, and mackerel. There is great potential for continued expansion in this sector.


Industry is the most important sector in Angola's economy, accounting for 53 percent of the GDP. The 3 important industrial sectors are mineral resources, energy, and manufacturing, the former two being by far the most significant. All of these were severely affected by the war, but since 1994 have increased significantly.


Angola has vast deposits of a large variety of mineral resources including diamonds, gold, iron ore, phosphates, copper, lead, and zinc. However, the most important mineral with respect to export is diamonds. Prior to 1975 Angola was the fourth-largest diamond producer in the world, but this dropped during the war because of large-scale theft, smuggling, and transportation problems. UNITA controls the majority of the diamond-producing land, which has added to the government's problems in controlling the diamond trade. In 1992 Angola exported diamonds worth $250 million. While diamond exports are increasing, they have not reached pre-war levels. With a stable peace agreement there should be no obstacles keeping Angola from reaching and exceeding former export levels.

Apart from diamonds, Angola's resources are vast, but largely untapped. The Angolan government's efforts to promote private investment led it to abolish the previously state-held monopoly of mineral rights. (This began on a small scale in 1986 in relation to diamonds). Mining ventures can consequently be privately held. However, the continued conflict makes it difficult to attract private investment, and these resources remain untapped.


Angola is a regional player in energy production. Angola co-ordinates the energy policy for the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC), and its energy secretariat is based in Luanda. Energy production is essential for Angola, with 90 percent of the country's total exports coming from oil. In 2000 oil contributed 45 percent to the GDP of the country. Energy is the only sector that expanded throughout the 1980s, during the war. The oil industry is run by the Angolan state oil firm Sonangol, in conjunction with foreign oil companies. Angola is the second-largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa and provides 7 percent of all U.S. oil imports. The United States is the main purchaser of Angolan oil, buying some 70-80 percent of all oil exports.

New oil reserves are being discovered regularly, and faster than the country's reserves can be depleted. Foreign companies have not been deterred from investing in Angola's oil industry irrespective of the warfare. The oil industry is viewed as an attractive investment opportunity that offers the oil companies favorable geological conditions, low operating costs, and co-operation from the Angolan government. The total foreign investment in oil production in the 1980-86 period was US$2.7 billion. The investment level in the next 3 years was US$2 billion, with US$4 billion invested between 1993 and 1997.

Hydroelectric power has been a priority of the Angolan government. In 2000 75.03 percent of the electricity produced was hydro-generated. Several large rivers flow through the country and give an enormous potential for hydroelectricity. The current generating capacity exceeds demand locally and output is increasing. This makes Angola a potential regional exporter of hydroelectric energy. However the power supply has been irregular, partially due to sabotage by the warring factions, and a deteriorating infrastructure due to poor maintenance and lack of investment. However, the potential for regional export is vast when stability returns, even though Angola exported no electricity as of 1998.


Angola had about 4,000 manufacturing enterprises before the civil war, which employed 200,000 people. However, this was significantly reduced by the onset of the war. The only products that are manufactured and exported from Angola today are cement and refined petroleum products. There is potential for establishing the pre-war levels of production, but this will require stability and outside investment. It would also necessitate the creation of an infrastructure. Hence, investment in oil and diamonds will for a long time be more interesting to outside investors than Angola's manufacturing sector.


Services in Angola are not very developed, again a direct consequence of the war. The government has begun to encourage investment in tourism. However, with the continued strife and breached peace agreements it is doubtful whether such projects will take place. Foreign investors will shy away from investing in tourism in such a volatile society. Not only will it take substantial time before there will be investors in tourism, but the entire infrastructure to support such an expansion is at present lacking. The willingness of tourists to go to such an area is also in doubt. Financial and human services are in a similar state of disarray.


In 1999 Angola exported a total of US$5 billion worth of goods and services and imported US$3 billion worth. Due to Angola's colonial past, its primary trading partner has historically been Portugal. Today, Portugal is still a primary trading partner from which 20 percent of Angola's commodities are imported. The United States and South Africa are other major sources of imports for Angola, providing 17 percent and 10 percent, respectively. However, the United States is the major source of Angolan exports with 63 percent of all exports; 9 percent of exports going to the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg), and China, Chile, and France are also important sources of exports.


In 1990 the Angolan government changed the currency from the kwanza to the nova kwanza. This was done to reduce the money supply and force prices down in the informal sector , which operated parallel to the more regulated conventional market. This measure was taken to satisfy requirements of the World Bank, the IMF, and other financial institutions as part of the reforms that these institutions see as essential to higher growth and poverty reduction in Angola. A devaluation followed in which the official value of the kwanza was cut in half. In order to control the foreign exchange in circulation, 4 different exchange rates were applied in the banking system. Privatization was also introduced gradually because of pressure from international financial institutions. This liberalization process was stopped in 1992 due to resumption of the war.

Angola's financial woes heightened in 1994 and the government renewed its reform efforts. Since 1993 there has been a 25 percent decline in real GDP . In 1994 the government's budget deficit was US$872 million. The central bank attempted to address these deficits by increasing the money supply, but this raised inflation to 1,838 percent in Luanda in 1993, in 1995 inflation had reached 3,700 percent. In 1994 another adjustment program was attempted. However, this was made more difficult by the development of a robust informal sector with

Exchange rates: Angola
kwanza per US$1
Jan 2001 17,910,800
2000 10,041,000
1999 2,790,706
1998 392,824
1997 229,040
1996 128,029
Note: In December 1999 the kwanza was revalued with six zeroes dropped off the old value.
SOURCE : CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

its own credits and expenditures which were outside the control of the Ministry of Finance. In 1994 as much as 60 percent of the income of the state was outside treasury accounts.

There has yet to be any economic stabilization in Angola. There are 2 reasons why it might continue to be difficult to obtain even with a peace process. First, military expenditures will remain high because of the previous history of broken peace processes, in addition to the involvement of other countries in the conflict. Second, strong adjustment policies may antagonize the population, because they may want to see change come about quicker than is practically feasible.

The nova kwanza has dropped in value against the U.S. dollar for several years. In 1995, the official rate was Kzr2,750 to the dollar, and by January 2000, the rate had risen to Kzr577,304 to the US$1.


The vast majority of Angolans live in poverty, while the political elites are very wealthy. Access to goods for the poor and the rich is very different. For years there has been a shortage of consumer goods , and the government sought to obtain fair distribution via lojas do povo (people's stores). However, only about 15 basic commodities were available, and in practice the shelves were often empty. The elites on the other hand had access to lojas de responsaveis (stores for high-ranking people) and lojas francas (free shops) where they could buy goods with foreign currency only. Economic policies were faltering and this made it more difficult for people to make ends meet both in rural and urban areas. Therefore, a parallel economy grew rapidly after independence.

An estimated three-quarters of economically active people have been involved in the informal economy. There are 2 main elements of the informal economy: rural, subsistence agricultural production (which occupies 85 percent of the population) and the urban parallel market, a system of exchange outside regulated channels. However, due to the lack of infrastructure and war conditions, there has been little integration of these two aspects

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Angola N/A 698 655 667 527
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
South Africa 4,574 4,620 4,229 4,113 3,918
Dem. Rep. of Congo 392 313 293 247 127
SOURCE : United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

of the informal sector. Therefore, the urban markets tend to rely on imports.


The working conditions in Angola are tightly connected with the war and the development of dual economies. Wages were nominal after the war began and therefore could not serve to ensure access to consumer goods. There is also vast unemployment, which affects more than half of the population. In addition, 25 percent of the population depended upon humanitarian aid for survival in 1996.

Most Angolans are active in the informal sector. This mainly consists of subsistence farming and urban markets. Since this economy is informal there are no laws to protect the workers or unions. The effect of the war has resulted in 1.5 million internal refugees. Workers in the mines in UNITA-held territories extract diamonds to sell in support of their cause.


1575. Portuguese settlement established at Luanda.

17TH CENTURY. Portugal controls the slave trade from its base in Angola, though the Dutch, French, and British began to establish a presence on the African continent.

1836. The export of slaves is banned.

1850s. Angola's exports are dominated by ivory, wax, and rubber.

1912. Alluvial diamond mining becomes an important industry in northeast Angola.

1930. With the Colonial Act of 1930, Portugal modernizes Angola's economy and binds it to that of Portugal by a system of protective tariffs .

1956. The Popular Liberation Movement of Angola (MPLA) is founded. It is supported by the Soviet Union.

1957. The National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) is founded. It is supported by the United States.

1961. A major revolt against Portuguese rule erupts in northern Angola, followed by a long guerrilla war.

1966. Political leader Jonas Savimbi breaks from the FNLA and sets up the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). UNITA, FNLA, and MPLA all fight a guerrilla war against Portuguese forces.

1975. Portugal releases its claim to Angola, and independence is declared. A government is established, consisting of the 3 nationalist groups and a Portuguese representative. However, this government collapses and civil war ensues. Over the next 25 years the MPLA acts as official government, and the coalition of UNITA/FNLA has been in rebellion. The MPLA is backed by the U.S.S.R. and Cuba, while UNITA and the FNLA are backed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. The civil war claims a total of 500,000 lives by 2000.

1981. An undeclared war with South Africa begins. Its origins lie in the refusal of South Africa to grant independence to Namibia and South Africa's struggle against the nationalist groups in Namibia fighting against South African rule.

1989. The United Nations monitors the withdrawal of Cuban troops.

1991. The government and UNITA conclude a peace agreement.

1992. The Forcas Armadas Populares de Libertacao de Angola (FAPLA) and UNITA forces are disbanded and a new national army established. Elections are held, and the MPLA wins a narrow majority. Refusing to accept the results of the elections, UNITA forces resume fighting.

1993. The UN sponsors peace talks amidst continued fighting.

1999. It is estimated that there are 1.5 million refugees inside Angola displaced by the civil war.


The future of Angola's economy depends entirely upon a cessation of hostilities and the creation of a stable and secure environment. If this does not happen, Angola will continue to have a low GDP regardless of the vast resources it possesses. However, due to the destruction of the infrastructure and the immense problem with land mines, there will be huge problems to overcome even if the war is ended. Infrastructure is necessary for expansion of the mining industry and agricultural production. The removal of mine fields will take huge resources. Both of these objectives will take a long time to achieve and have a high cost. Therefore, even with the creation of a stable and secure society it will take a long time before Angola can begin to tap its vast resources. An additional problem is that Angola is one of the most indebted countries in the world. Unless there is a substantial debt reduction the possibilities of rebuilding Angola's economy are slim, irrespective of cessation of hostilities.


Angola has no territories or colonies.


"Angola History." <>. Accessed January 2001.

"Angola." Jubilee 2000: Profile: Angola. <>. Accessed January 2001.

"Countries: Angola." The World Bank Group. <>. Accessed January 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Angola. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Embassy of the Republic of Angola. "Business & Economics." Angola. <>. Accessed January 2001.

Hodges, Tony. "Looking to Angola's Future: Rebuilding the Economy." Africa Insight. Vol. 23, No. 3, 1993.

James, W. Martin. A Political History of the Civil War in Angola, 1974-1990. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1992.

Moura Roque, Fatima. "Economic Transformation in Angola." South African Journal of Economics. Vol. 62, No. 2, June 1994.

Tvedten, Inge. Angola's Struggle for Peace and Reconciliation .Oxford, England: Westview Press, 1997.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <>. Accessed July 2001.

Eirin Mobekk




The currency of Angola is the nova kwanza (Kzr). One Kzr equals 100 centimos. Notes are in denominations of Kzr5, 10, 50, and 100. Coins are in denominations of Kzr1, 2, 5, and 100, as well as 10, 20, and 50 centimos.


Crude oil, diamonds, refined petroleum products, gas, coffee, sisal, fish and fish products, timber, cotton.


Machinery and electrical equipment, vehicles and spare parts, medicines, food, textiles, military goods.


US$11.6 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$5 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$3 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Angola." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . 12 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Angola." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . (July 12, 2018).

"Angola." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . Retrieved July 12, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Angola
Region: Africa
Population: 10,145,267
Language(s): Portuguese, Bantu, Kikongo, Kimbundo, Umbundo, Chokwe, Mbunda, Oxikuanyama
Literacy Rate: 56%
Academic Year: January-November
Compulsory Schooling: 8 years
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 989,443
  Secondary: 218,987
  Higher: 6,331
Teachers: Higher: 787

History & Background

Angola is located in southwestern Africa, bordered by the South Atlantic Coast to the west, Namibia to the south, Zambia to the east, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the north and northeast. The Cabinda Province is separated from the rest of Angola by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Angola boasts 1,600 km of coastline with four major ports and rich natural resources. It is potentially one of Africa's richest countries with impressive oil reserves and gem-quality diamond deposits.

Recorded history of the people of Angola dates back to 6000 B.C., with indications that the Khoi and San peoples populated the area as far back as 25,000 B.C. The Bantu arrived from the north from 800 A.D., but their main influx occurred during the fourteenth century, preceding the arrival of the first Portuguese in 1483. The Bantu established kingdoms and absorbed much of the Khoisan-speaking population, and by the fifteenth century, native Africans numbered close to four million in Angola. The major kingdoms were the Kongo, Loango, Mbundo, with smaller kingdoms such as the Lunda and Ovimbundu. The leader of the most important Kongo kingdom, mani-kongo or King Nzinga Nkuwu, converted to Christianity during early Portuguese contact, and his successor, King Afonso, was also a Christian. Early relationships were mutually beneficial for the Kongo king and the Portuguese, who were also ruled by a monarchy and had a similar social structure from nobility to slaves.

Colonial Rule: The Portuguese colonial period in Angola lasted almost five hundred years, but the Portuguese population itself was quite small for most of the period. In 1845 there were only two thousand Portuguese living in Angola, increasing to forty thousand by 1940. The last twenty years of colonial rule, from 1955-1975, saw the major influx of Portuguese who totaled 340,000 at independence in November 1975. Despite their relatively small numbers, the Portuguese had a tremendous effect on native Angolans and their education. For four hundred years, the Portuguese were heavily involved in the slave trade, and perhaps eight million Angolans were lost to slavery. Economically, the Portuguese developed Angola within separate colonial sectors far removed from most of Angolan society. Initially through slave trade and later through production and exportation of rubber, diamonds, coffee and then oil, the Portuguese developed an economy that used natural resources of the country but did little to include Angolans other than through forced labor even after slavery was abolished in 1878.

Socially the Portuguese also had a great impact on the native population. They reorganized villages and established transportation routes that facilitated exportation while at the same time dividing native groups. Colonial rule allowed and at times encouraged interracial marriage, but there was a distinct separation of population groups according to racial background. Mestiços of mixed European and African ancestry were allowed access to more education and other opportunities than indígenas Africans, but in the last fifty years of colonial rule, official policies were strictly racially divided and even mestiços were denied access to or greatly restricted from holding jobs in the public and private sectors. Despite official statements to the contrary, education of the native Africans from the beginning of colonization was discouraged.

Officially Portuguese colonization valued education within its civilizing mission, but little was accomplished, especially outside of urban centers. Natives who were educated were considered assimilados or assimilated into the Portuguese culture and values, and during the later years of colonial rule, the brightest were often sent to Portugal for secondary and/or higher education. Many of these, however, were exposed to "progressive" ideas in Europe and were prevented from returning to Africa for fear of political unrest. The most accurate census figures from 1950 estimated that there were fewer than thirty-one thousand assimilados in the entire Angolan population of four million.

Although Portuguese was the language of instruction from the first primary school established by the Jesuits in 1605, in 1921 the Portuguese forbade by decree the use of African languages in the schools. In 1940, the Portuguese ruler Salazar signed the Missionary Accord with the Vatican that made the Roman Catholic missions and their schools the official representatives of the state in Africa. Most students in the early mission schools came from traditional African ruling families, thus creating a small but important educated elite in the country. But until the 1960s, the Catholic missions had limited financial backing, and education declined in Angola. In addition, the Portuguese created the Department of Native Affairs, and they officially separated state-run education of the assimilados and the Portuguese from that of rural native Africans, run by Catholic missionaries and called ensino de adaptação (adaptation school). A great majority of Africans remained uneducated even after the 1960s when a new emphasis was placed on education by the colonial rulers. During the 1960s many new schools were established, but by some estimates, just slightly more than 2 percent of the Angolan school-age children were admitted. Other figures state that enrollment in primary school rose from 6.3 percent in 1960 to 32 percent in 1970, and secondary-school enrollment rose from 0.6 percent in 1960 to 4.3 percent in 1970, but these figures include both state- and missionary-run schools.

Those students who were in schools followed an educational system similar to that in Portugal with a preprimary year stressing language, and then four years of primary school of two two-year cycles. Secondary school consisted of a two-year cycle and a final three-year cycle. Most students who began schooling, however, did not complete even the primary school cycles. Adaptation schools run by the missionaries had especially high dropout rates, with 1967-1970 figures showing 95.6 percent of the students not continuing. One of the significant reasons for this was that the majority of teachers at all primary schools had very few qualifications. Secondary schools had many Portuguese teachers, but they, too, had limited success in part because they needed to spend the first years teaching material from the primary level.

As part of the Portuguese university system, the University of General Studies was established in Angola in 1962. English and medical studies took place in Luanda, educational studies were given in Sá da Bandeira, and agronomy and veterinary medicine were at Nova Lisboa. Within ten years, close to three thousand students attended the university, but only a very small percentage of these students were African.

Independence: The first national movement against colonial power took place in 1961; Portugal sent in thousands of army troops and tens of thousands of native Angolans were killed. Many nationalists fled to surrounding countries and in time organized into three main guerilla groups: the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Although each group fought Portuguese colonial rule, they also fought each other and were already close to civil war by November 1975 when Portugal granted independence to the colony. The MPLA, backed by Cuba and the Soviet Union, gained control of Angola after independence. Civil war ensued and eventually the FNLA, supported by China and the United States, dissolved, leaving UNITA with support from South Africa as the primary opposition to the ruling MPLA. Cuba sent in troops in 1975 in response to South African troops crossing the border at Namibia, and over the next fifteen years hundreds of thousands of Angolans lost their lives to civil war. In 1986 the United States backed UNITA against the Marxist MPLA governing party, but in 1991 it was influential in negotiating an eventual peace agreement between UNITA and the MPLA, and Cuba withdrew its troops.

This brief period of peace was shattered in September 1992 when UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi refused to accept MPLA leader José Eduardo dos Santos as president of Angola following elections. Armed conflict resumed, and in May 1993 the United States officially recognized the dos Santos government, removing all support of UNITA. A new peace agreement was signed between dos Santos and Savimbi on November 20, 1994, but sporadic fighting continued until a new national unity government was installed in April 1997. However, in late 1998, UNITA refused to give up territory and resumed fighting against the government. Civil war continued into the new millennium. By March 2001, dos Santos' government had control over most of the country, but fighting continued and civilian lives continued to be lost, notably from the estimated seven million landmines scattered across the countryside.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Angola's 1975 Constitution, revised in 1976 and 1980, guarantees access to education for all. It prohibits discrimination based on color, race, ethnic identity, sex, place of birth, religion, level of education, and economic and social status. It also outlines social goals of combating illiteracy, developing education and a national culture, and respecting all religions while maintaining a clear separation of church and state. National defense requires mandatory military service of men and women over the age of eighteen, which has significant effects on enrollment in higher education.

By all accounts, literacy in Angola was only 10-15 percent at the time of independence. The government initiated a literacy drive in November 1976, giving priority to rural Africans who had been virtually ignored under colonial rule. The National Literacy Commission under the Minister of Education was created to administer the literacy campaign.

The civil war that ensued after independence destroyed much of the country's infrastructure, including the educational system. Most Portuguese instructors left the country, many buildings were destroyed or badly damaged, and instructional materials were scarce. The shortage of qualified teachers was especially pronounced: of the twenty-five thousand primary school teachers in Angola, only two thousand were considered even minimally qualified. At the secondary level, there were only six hundred teachers. To improve these conditions, the First Party Congress in 1977 resolved to institute an eight-year compulsory system of free, basic education for children between the ages of seven and fifteen. Other important educational goals in the early years of independence included, in order of importance, primary education, secondary education, and intermediate and university education.

Educational SystemOverview

Marxism-Leninism was declared the basis of Angola's new educational system by the ruling MPLA, but a respect for traditional African values was also retained. Four years of compulsory, free primary education began at age seven, and secondary education began at age eleven, lasting eight years. Missionary schools were nationalized and private or religious organizations were not allowed to conduct schools.

Considerable efforts were made by the government in the first five years of independence to improve the accessibility of education, especially for primary-school aged children. There were fewer than 500,000 students in Angola in 1974, but by 1980 at least 1.6 million children were studying. Enrollment of the relevant age group was up to 80 percent in 1980, but by 1984, it had fallen to 49 percent due to austerity measures and population increases. Government statistics from 1990 show 1,180,008 students enrolled at the primary level, but only 148,137 at the middle and secondary level, with no indication as to the percentage of relevant age group. President dos Santos stated that by January 2000 school equipment had been acquired to meet 42 percent of the country's needs, demonstrating that 1,040,000 children between the ages of six and fourteen were without a school. However, the Ministry of Justice estimates that only about 5 percent of children have had their births registered. Unregistered children do not legally exist and therefore cannot enroll in schools.

Since 1980, education funding has been low, and all areas of education are in dire need of facilities, materials, and teachers. In 1994, for example, 4.4 percent of public expenditure was allocated for education. Civil war has consumed most of the country's financial gains. Of the US$2 billion the government earned in oil and diamond revenues in 1996, US$1.5 billion was spent on arms and military equipment.

During the early 1990s, Angola began gradually moving to a free-market economy, pursuing a policy of liberalization and privatization in industrial economic sectors. The effects could be seen within the educational system as well. Sixteen years after independence, major changes were made in Angola's educational system with Law N.18 that institutionalized private teaching in 1991. In 2001, the Ministry of Education announced that it would require a "symbolic payment" for public education,changing the free education policy that had been in effect since independence.

Basic adult literacy continues to be extremely low, but there are conflicting figures from government and other sources. No reliable census has been taken since 1970 which makes it difficult to assess not only literacy but also other educational needs. Statistics available in 2001 from UNICEF estimate the total population of Angola to be 12.5 million and adult literacy to be 56 percent for males and 29 percent for women. It is unlikely that these figures include population in UNITA-claimed territory. During the mid-1980s, Savimbi established a state-within-a-state with its own educational system that closely resembled that of Portugal. UNITA territory was much smaller but still in existence in 2001.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Of the estimated 2.5 million Angolan children of preschool age, fewer than twenty thousand attend preschools or day care centers. Preschools were established in 1977 and the government considers them important to compensate for home environments not conducive to early learning. Primary education is made up of three levels; the first is theoretically compulsory and lasts four years. The second and third levels last two years each. There continues to be a severe shortage of schools for Angolan youth, and the government estimates that 60 percent of the school facilities have been destroyed or are in disrepair. Most primary school students can only receive three hours of instruction a day because the schools operate two or three shifts daily. Lack of qualified teachers continues to be an acute problem, as well as high dropout rates, low attendance rates, and promotion rates below 50 percent. Instructional materials, equipment, and even desks and chairs are limited in many areas. Most schooling is only available in provincial capitals because rural areas have been especially hard hit by intense fighting. But even in the nation's capital, Luanda, schools cannot keep up with demand. On February 7, 2001, the start of the new school year in Angola, 45,000 students were to enroll in Luandan schools. The city could only accept 5,000 of them. As many as 100,000 students (primary and secondary) study at private schools in Luanda, but the cost is crippling for most residents.

Secondary Education

For those students who complete the third level of primary education (eighth grade), two alternatives of secondary education are available. Students may follow a three-year course required to enter universities, or they may follow a four-year technical education course. Technical education includes either teacher training for primary teachers or specialized education in areas including business, health, agriculture, fisheries, and mechanics. Secondary education enrollment increased from 105,000 students in 1977 to 151,759 in 1984, but accurate figures for later years have not been available. In 1990, 3.3 percent of boys and 1.7 percent of girls in Luanda were enrolled in secondary education. The percentages in rural areas of the country were estimated to be 0.4 percent for boys and 0.2 percent for girls.

Higher Education

Universidade de Agostinho Neto was established in 1976 in Luanda with affiliated institutions in Huambo (formerly Nova Lisboa) and Lubango (formerly Sá da Bandeira). University enrollment has varied from three thousand to over seven thousand. There are departments of law, education, medicine, economics, science, and civil engineering in Luanda; economics, educational science and law in Lubango; and agronomy, medicine, economics and law in Huambo. Schools have been destroyed in Lubango and Huambo, and those in Luanda have been prone to closure for political reasons and teacher shortages. There is also a severe shortage of laboratory equipment in medical and science schools, affecting teaching and research.

In 1992, the Council of Ministers declared Decree 38-A, extending rights to the Catholic Church to administer a non-profit university. Angola was "open to fruitful co-operation initiatives that safeguard the full autonomy and identity of the State and the peoples" and therefore authorized The Episcopal Conference of Angola and São Tomé to create Universidade Católica de Angola. It further acknowledged the university as a corporate public service entity with statutory, scientific, pedagogic, patrimonial, administrative, financial, and disciplinary autonomy. The Catholic University of Angola opened on February 22, 1999 in Luanda with initial funding from Citizens Energy in the United States, Energy Africa, SAGA Petroleum, and Mobil. Initial enrollment was 320 students. The university offers five-year courses in law, economics, management, and computer science. A state-of-the-art computer and Internet center offers computer training for faculty and students with plans for distance learning.

Finally, there are plans underway for the Universidade Nova de Angola with funding from the Eduardo dos Santos Foundation. This new university will emphasize high-tech training and education and will complement coursework at the Universidade de Agostinho Neto. Correspondence courses and distance learning will make courses available to more students in the country. At its foundation is a network of Brazilian universities that will assist in planning, developing curriculum, and continuing student exchanges already in progress.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Ministry of Education has control over primary and secondary education. It shares responsibility for vocational education with numerous other ministries. The Adult Education Department of the Ministry of Education administers national literacy programs. Accurate financial budgets concerning education expenses are not available; however, from 1980-1994, education was allotted less than 5 percent of public expenditure of the annual budget. Many educational improvement projects, particularly those targeting primary school needs, have been financed through international humanitarian aid.

UNICEF's US$18,848,700 appeal for Angola for 2001 included US$2,464,000 allocated for education. The bulk of the appeal, over $US10 million, was for health and nutrition.

Nonformal Education

Nonformal education is greatly needed in Angola, and it is one area where substantial innovation is occurring. As in all other areas of education, nonformal education lacks financial backing and sufficient teachers, materials, and facilities, but it has continued because of humanitarian aid such as that given by UNICEF and national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Among important efforts in rural areas have been education projects such as landmine awareness and vocational training for war-injured and landmine victims in tailoring, metalwork, carpentry, and business administration. Urban and rural education projects include literacy education as well as vocational training for targeted populations such as child soldiers (5,000 soldiers in 1997, half of which were demobilized in 1996), street children in Luanda (estimated at 5,000 in 1996), amputees (70,000 in 1996), and internally displaced persons (3.8 million estimated in 2001) who have fled their home areas due to fighting.

The Ministry of Education employs distance learning in two remote education projects to reach students in seven of Angola's eighteen provinces. The initial project in banking served 221 students. Plans have begun to launch a television education network that eventually could be used nationwide. The Adult Education Department initiated a new literacy program in 1999 that hopes to eradicate illiteracy in the country by 2007. Greater effort will be directed to the countryside and particularly to women who have had limited access to education. The literacy program also teaches adults in local vernaculars. Angola has six national languages: Kikongo, Kimbundo, Umbundo, Chokwe, Mbunda and Oxikuanyama. Although Portuguese is the official language and that of instruction, only 27 percent of adult men and 10 percent of women speak the language, greatly limiting their educational and occupational opportunities.

Teaching Profession

A shortage of qualified teachers has always limited the educational system in Angola, even during colonial days. When the Portuguese left in 1975, other teachers arrived, notably from the Soviet Union and Cuba, but language differences hampered their success. Most native Angolan teachers (75 percent) are only minimally qualified to teach at the primary level having completed only four to six years of school themselves.

Much has been attempted to improve teacher training since independence; however, the teaching profession is in such shambles that it is difficult to retain even poor teachers. Teaching conditions are very difficult, and especially outside of Luanda, it is not uncommon to see many students crammed into a small classroom without books, desks, or even chairs. The government reports an average of thirty-six students per teacher, but tremendous variation exists among provinces, and there are reports of as few as thirty to as many as one hundred primary school students per teacher and classroom in some areas. One of the most challenging aspects of the teaching profession is that teachers are often not paid for up to six months at a time. Not surprisingly, teacher absenteeism is high. Some teachers charge fees directly to families, but few can pay.

A few promising teacher-training programs have been developed by international humanitarian organizations with plans to expand across the country. Future Teachers in central Angola requires one and one-half years of training, a one-year internship, and a commitment to teach in a rural school. The teacher college has 30 networked computers with CD instructional material, especially important because printed material is difficult to obtain.


The government of Angola has outlined excellent priorities in its efforts to improve the country's extremely poor educational system. But unless armed combat comes to a complete halt, little can be done to improve conditions nationwide. At the very minimum, financial resources must be committed to rehabilitation and construction of schools, acquiring instructional materials and equipment, and in greatly increasing teacher training and pay. Without tremendously improving literacy, Angola can never develop much beyond the limits of a separate, educated, elite class. However, even more pressing concerns than education compete for government funding. In a nation where half of the population is under 15 years of age and where only one in four children makes it to his or her fifth birthday, basic health and safety of the nation's youth must be improved before education can be given the priority it deserves.


The Embassy of the Republic of Angola, Washington, D.C. O Pensador. Angolan Mission to the United Nations, March 2001. Available from

The International Rescue Committee. Recovering From Thirty Years of War: Refugee Women and Children in Angola. Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, December 1996. Available from

Tvedten, Inge. Angola: Struggle for Peace and Reconstruction. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997.

United Nations. Relief Web. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 201. Available from

United States Committee for Refugees. Country Report: Angola. Worldwide Refugee Information, 2000. Available from

United States Library of Congress. Angola: A Country Study. Federal Research Division, February 1989. Available from

Michèle Moragné e Silva

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Angola." World Education Encyclopedia. . 12 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Angola." World Education Encyclopedia. . (July 12, 2018).

"Angola." World Education Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 12, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.





POPULATION: 11 million

LANGUAGE: Portuguese; Ovimbundu; Mbundu, Kongo; Chokwe; other Bantu languages

RELIGION: Christianity (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism); indigenous religious beliefs


In 1482 the Portuguese established forts and missions along the west coast of the Republic of Angola. King Alphonso of the Kongo converted to Christianity and established friendly relations with Portugal. In 1575, the Portuguese sent convicted criminals to Angola, where they founded a settlement at Luanda, the present-day capital of Angola.

In 1483, slave trading began and continued for almost 400 years, even though there were many attempts to ban it. The Portuguese formally abolished slavery in 1875, but it was not until 1911 that the slave trade really ended.

In 1900 the Portuguese settlers began cacao and palm oil plantations. Diamond mining began in 1912. In 1951 the Portuguese made Angola an overseas territory and an integral part of Portugal. A year later, the first colonatos (planned settlements) were settled by Portuguese immigrants. The Portuguese had a policy known as assimilado. This policy permitted only culturally assimilated Angolans (those who had adopted European ways) to enjoy the privileges of Portuguese citizenship. As of 1960, only about 80,000 of 4.5 million people in Angola qualified as citizens.

Many in Angola were not happy with the Portuguese control of their country. These Angolans organized resistance movements. After years of struggle, Angola gained its independence from Portugal on November 11, 1975. With independence came conflict between different factions of society. There has been constant civil unrest in Angola since 1975, and hundreds have lost their lives in the conflict. In 1995, the United Nations sent peacekeepers to monitor an agreement among rival leaders to try to end twenty years of fighting.

The largest ethnic group is the Ovimbundu, comprising 37 percent of the population. The Mbundu are second at 22 percent. These two groups adapted well to European ways introduced by the Portuguese, and are successful traders. The third largest group is the Bakongo at 13 percent, followed by the Luimbe-Nganguela and the Nyaneka-Humbe at a little over 5 percent each. Scattered in the arid (hot and dry) southern third of Angola are seminomadic peoples (people who move often during part of the year, transporting their households with them). Until around 1900, these people hunted and gathered, but now they herd animals and grow food crops.


The population of Angola is estimated to be more than 11 million people; it is projected to reach over 20 million people by the year 2015.

Angola is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Zambia to the east, and Namibia to the south. To the west lies the Atlantic Ocean. The total area is 481,354 square miles (1,246,700 square kilometers). The capital is Luanda.

The Bié Plateau lies in the center of the country. This plateau is the source of several major rivers, including the Cunene River, flowing to the south and west; the Kuanza River, flowing northwest to the Atlantic; the Kwango River, flowing northward; and the Zambezi River, flowing to the east.

The tallest mountains (serra) are found in the region of the Bié Plateau. In the southwest, in the mountain range known as Serra Xilengue, Mt. Moco rises to 8,594 feet (2,578 meters).


Portuguese is the official language, although 95 percent of Angolans speak Ovimbundu, Mbundu, Kongo, Chokwe, and other languages. Portuguese remains important because it is the language of government, national media, and international relations. Since Angola became independent in 1975, African languages have been taught in school.


The first president of Angola, Antonio Agostinho Neto, is a national hero. His birthday, September 17, is celebrated as National Hero's Day. He belonged to a group responsible for shaping Angola when it became independent from Portugal. His group's battle cry in the early 1950s was "Let us discover Angola." The group also coined the term angolidade (Angolinity), to describe national identity.


About 90 percent of Angolans are Christian, with Catholics representing 70 percent, and Protestants, 20 percent. Traditional religion is practiced by about 10 percent of Angolans.


Public holidays include Inicio de Luta Armada (Commencement of Armed Struggle Day) on February 4; Victory Day on March 27; Youth Day on April 14; Armed Forces Day on August 1; National Hero's Day (anniversary of the birth of Antonio Agostinho Neto, first Angolan president) on September 17; Independence Day on November 11; Pioneers' Day on December 1; and Foundation of the MPLA Workers' Party Day on December 10.

On Christmas and New Year's Day, friends assume godmother (madrinha) and godfather (padrinho) relationships. They take turns giving gifts to each other; one offers the other a gift on Christmas and the other returns the gesture on New Year's Day. In the capital, young people are likely to spend New Year's Eve with their families until midnight, just long enough to taste some champagne. Then they head for the discos with friends until early morning. Angolans celebrate carnival (Mardi Gras) on the Tuesday preceding the Christian holiday of Ash Wednesday, which begins the period of Lent leading up to Easter.


Many of the rites of passage are marked by Christian ceremonies. Birth, baptism, marriage, and funeral ceremonies are all celebrated by church rites. To celebrate a birth, people drink champagne and give gifts. To mark a death, friends and relatives join the family of the person who has died for a meal after the burial ceremony. A widow often wears black for a month, and stays inside for a week after the funeral.


The most common greeting is the Portuguese Ola (OH-lah, Hello), followed by Como esta? (ko-mo ess-TAH) or Como vai? (ko-mo VA-ee), both of which translate to "How are you?" Depending on the time of the day, one might hear Bom dia (bone JEE-ah, Good morning), Boa tarde (bow-ah TAR-day, Good afternoon), or Boa noite (bow-ah NWAH-tay, Good night). Shaking hands is common. A kiss on each cheek is becoming an accepted greeting among friends in urban life, although older people prefer to shake hands. Pointing is considered rude.

Dating rules depend on the family. Young people usually choose their own spouses. Dating in the cities is common and usually involves going out to a movie, eating in a restaurant, or attending parties. When a couple becomes engaged to be married, a ring is offered by the young man. The two families then meet to discuss matters such as bride price. Bride price, which is paid to the father of the bride, may involve gifts of clothing, perfume, and jewelry. The custom of payment of bride price is more common in the rural areas, where traditional practices are more common in all aspects of life. In towns and cities, social customs have changed more rapidly to reflect Western ways.


Living conditions have worsened as a result of the civil war that has been going on since 1975. Health care and medical facilities have gotten worse, especially in those parts of the country where neither the government nor the rebels are in control.

The civil unrest has forced people to leave their homes to search for safe places to live. Millions of these refugees cannot find adequate food, water, and sanitary services. They are at risk of infectious and parasitic diseases and starvation. Land mines are buried all over Angola, and as many as 50,000 peopleincluding women and children have lost arms or legs in land-mine explosions. There are not enough doctors to care for the population. It is estimated that there is only one doctor per 10,000 people, a low ratio even for Africa. Private medical facilities exist, providing a higher standard of medical care. But the refugees who are in the greatest need of food, water, and medical care cannot afford to go to private hospitals or clinics.

Houses are typically made out of local materials, with mud or cinderblock walls and thatched or galvanized iron roofs. In Luanda, where space is limited, apartment living is becoming more common. Electricity in Luanda is fairly dependable. However, water is irregular in some zones, and families who can afford it install their own reserve water tanks.


In rural Angola, women till the fields, gather wood and water, and do domestic chores. Polygyny (when a husband has more than one wife) is practiced in both rural and urban areas, but men must have enough wealth to support more than one wife. Co-wives live separately from each other in their own houses. Abortion is legal only to save a woman's life.

In Angolan villages, women typically raise between six and twelve children. However, women's rights groups such as the Organization of Angolan Women are helping to establish literacy programs and health units.

In larger towns, women have fewer children and compete for male-dominated jobs. Women drive cars, study at universities, vote, occupy non-combat positions in the army, and serve as traffic policewomen. As of the late 1990s, five women ministers held government cabinet posts in such areas as oil, fisheries, and culture. Five women were Public Ministry magistrates, and there were three women judges. One woman headed a political party and was a candidate in the 1992 elections.

In traditional families, extended kin relationships are common. Ovimbundu children inherit from both their mother and their father. In most other ethnic groups boys inherit from their mother's brother. In the Mbundu ethnic group, a daughter joins her husband in his village, and a son joins his uncle's (mother's brother's) village.


In the towns and cities, Western-style clothing is common, though some people still wear traditional clothing. The villages remain more traditional, where women wear panos, African wraparound batik garments. Dressing up for parties and special occasions in the cities almost certainly means wearing Western-style outfits. Angolan youth prefer casual jeans and T-shirts, except for special occasions. There are a few groups, such as the Mukubao in the southern Angolan province of Kuando Kubango, who do not wear any clothing.


Whenever possible, Angolans eat three meals a day. A breakfast consists of bread, eggs, and tea or coffee. Sometimes mothers may prepare a special breakfast treat of sweet rice (arroz doce).

The staple foods include cassava (a plant with an edible root), corn, millet (a small-seeded grain), sorghum (a grassy plant that yields a grain used alone or to make syrup), beans, sweet potatoes, rice, wheat, and bananas. Typical midday meals consist of a ball of manioc dough (cassava flour mixed with boiling water), with fish, chicken, or meat. People in the north and in the capital enjoy pounded cassava leaves (kisaka). Specialty dishes include mwamba de galinha, a palm-nut paste sauce in which chicken, spices, and peanut butter are cooked, creating a delightful aroma. A recipe adapted for Western cooks follows. Angolans make use of their abundant fresh and saltwater fish. One dish, calulu, combines fresh and dried fish. A favorite dish among Angolans is cabidela, chicken's blood eaten with rice and cassava dough.


When Angola was a colony of Portugal, all schools were operated by the Catholic Church. High schools were for a small number of students from elite (wealthy and powerful) families. Only a few of those who attended high school actually completed their studies and graduated. Education at the primary level was of low quality, and only about 10 percent of the population could read and write when Angola won independence from Portugal in 1975.

Since then, the civil war has made improving the education system difficult, but the government has worked to improve the literacy rate. By the late 1990s, 42 percent of Angolans could read and write, but males still have far greater educational opportunity. Overall, 56 percent of males are literate, compared with only 28 percent of females. About three times as many men as women continue their studies beyond the tenth grade. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) was providing funding in the late 1990s to support education for poor and rural children. It is difficult for Angolan schools to operate in a society that is constantly at war, and where there are not enough funds or teachers to meet the students' needs. Private schooling exists but is costly.

The Agostinho Neto University, the public university in Luanda, has three campuses but has been devastated by poor economic conditions resulting from the war. Many students decide to go to college outside Angola. Many go to Cuba or Russia. Some even travel to study in the United States.


Percussion, wind, and string instruments are found throughout Angola. Maracas (saxi) are made by drilling a few small holes in dried gourds and placing dried seeds or glass beads inside. The box lute (chilhumba) is played during long journeys by nomads in southern Angola. Musical performances often include dancing. Members of the Luimbe-Ngangela ethnic group in eastern Angola wear masks when they dance.


Mwamba de Galinha
(Chicken Mwamba)


  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter (natural style works best); in Angola, palm hash, made from palm oil, would be used
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 to 10 chicken breasts (may use skinless and boneless if preferred; other chicken parts, such as drumsticks, wings, and thighs, may also be substituted)


  1. Prepare marinade. Combine all ingredients except chicken in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Place chicken in a single layer in a casserole dish. Pour marinade over chicken, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
  3. Remove chicken from marinade. Pour off the marinade and save it. Pat the chicken dry.
  4. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time, and brown on all sides. Return the browned pieces to the casserole.
  5. Pour the marinade from step 3 over the chicken, cover with a lid or foil, and bake at 350°f for 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve with rice.

Traditional music has strongly influenced popular music. Young people prefer to dance, holding each other close, to kizumba, a style of upbeat rhythmic music. The discos play imports such as the samba from Brazil, and popular music from the United States and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Storytelling is an important foundation of Angolan literature. It is generally agreed that written literature began in 1850 with a book of verse by José de Silva Maia Ferreira. Since 1945 the liberation struggle has developed strong links between literature and political activism. Many MPLA (Worker's Party) leaders and members, including Agostinho Neto, took part in this movement. From 1975 until the early 1990s, Angolan writers had to be affiliated with some kind of governmental organization in order to be published.

Angola's cultural heritage also is tied to the Portuguese language. Angola shares its past as a Portuguese colony with four other African countriesMozambique, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tomé and Principe, and Cape Verde.


Angola is recovering from a severe reduction in its work force, which began in 1975 with the abrupt departure of more than 90 percent of the white settlers. Many of the 300,000 departing Portuguese took their skills with them, and deliberately destroyed factories, plantations, roads, and transportation systems. The prolonged civil war chased away skilled Angolans and foreign money. Angolans currently are undertaking a national recovery program to rebuild and diversify their economy and to retrain their people.


Soccer is the most popular participant and spectator sport, played by both girls and boys. The "Citadel" in Luanda is one of Africa's largest stadiums.

In the 1990s, basketball gained popularity in Angola after the Angolan men's national basketball team won three consecutive All-African championships. Backboards and baskets are now seen on street corners in most villages, towns, and cities. Handball, volleyball, and track and field round out the most popular sports.

Chess is a popular pursuit in Angola. The country has nearly a dozen international chess masters. Children enjoy a traditional game, ware, which is a mancala game. Mancala games, played in many variations throughout Africa, involve two players who move stones around a playing surface. The surface may be a board with carved indentations or a patch of ground with indentations dug out of the soil.



  • Playing board with two rows of six small pits or indentations. (An empty styrofoam egg carton works well.)
  • 48 seeds, small shells, or pebbles
  • Players face each other with the board between them.


  1. Distribute 48 seeds, small shells, or pebbles by placing them randomly into each receptable on the playing board.
  2. Players decide who will take the first turn. The first player picks up all the seeds from one receptacle on his side of the board and distributes them ("sows"), one at a time, in a counterclockwise direction, into the receptacles. If the last seed falls into an empty receptacle, his turn is over. If the last seed falls into a receptacle occupied by one or three seeds, he captures those seeds. If the last seed falls into a receptacle that contains an even number of seeds, he must continue playing by lifting out all the pebbles and sowing them.
  3. He continues in this way until he "captures" an odd number of seeds or sows a seed into an empty receptacle.
  4. The other player now repeats this procedure. For their second turns, the players must begin by emptying the receptacle immediately to the right of the one used for the previous turn. If there are only two seeds left on the board, the first player to have them both on his side of the board may claim them.
  5. When all the seeds have been captured and none remains on the board, the player who has won the most seeds subtracts his opponent's winnings from his own.
  6. The winner records the difference between his/her winnings and his/her opponent's, and another round is played.
  7. The game continues until one player reaches a total of sixty.


The advent of the satellite dish has made television an increasingly popular form of entertainment in Luanda and other urban centers. The dishes are status symbols and allow Angolans to increase their options from the one government-run station to an array of channels from all over the world. Angolans connect with the world's popular culture by watching Brazilian shows (in Portuguese), MTV, and American movies with Portuguese subtitles. Residents in apartment buildings lower their costs by sharing the same satellite dish. While movie theatres remain popular, video rental stores are growing in popularity in Luanda, and videos are part of an urban trend toward home entertainment.


Luanda's three museums, including the Museum of Anthropology, contain a fine collection of African art and handicrafts. Noncommercial masks and sculptures vary according to ethnic group. They symbolize rites of passage or changes in seasons, and play important roles in cultural rituals. Artisans work with wood, bronze, ivory, malachite, and ceramics.

In the 1980s, the Ministry of Culture stifled art by controlling all art production and marketing. Recent deregulation (the removal of government restrictions) has made handicraft production a blossoming cottage industry (small business often operated from the home). Stylized masks, statuettes, and trinkets ("airport art") now flood the popular Futungo tourist market on the outskirts of Luanda. This art may not reflect the deep cultural beliefs of the people, but it provides work and a source of income for people with artistic skills. Shoppers at the Futungo market are treated to musicians playing traditional instruments such as marimbas (xylophones), xingufos (big antelope horns), and drums, giving the feeling of a village festival.


An underdeveloped economy resulting from thirty years of civil war is the cause of much social upheaval. The refugee squatter settlements on Luanda's outskirts have created new urban problems and changed family structure. Despite the significant income from the sale of oil products to foreign countries, political instability has slowed economic growth in Angola. Jobs that pay adequate salaries require a diploma from a foreign university and are hard to find without special connections. Low salaries discourage Angolans with technical skills from staying in their country.

Drug addiction is not widespread, though cigarette smoking is. No age limit exists on the purchase or consumption of alcohol, but social mores (customs or values) discourage alcohol abuse. Burglary and petty thievery, however, are common. Minor crimes are often punishable on the streets. For example, thieves in the public market are immediately identified by a shout of ladron! (thief!) and are then chased and punished on the spot if caught.


Africa on File. New York: Facts on File, 1995.

Africa South of the Sahara. London, Eng.: Europa Publishers, 1997.

Broadhead, Susan H. Historical Dictionary of Angola. Metuchen, N.J., and London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1992.

Sommerville, Keith. Angola: Politics, Economics, and Society. Marxist Regimes Series. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1986.


Internet Africa Ltd. Angola. [Online] Available, 1998.

Republic of Angola. [Online] Available, 1998.

World Travel Guide. [Online] Available, 1998.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Angolans." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . 12 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Angolans." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . (July 12, 2018).

"Angolans." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved July 12, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.


Angola (ăng-gō´lə), officially Republic of Angola (2005 est. pop. 11,191,000), including the exclave of Cabinda, 481,351 sq mi (1,246,700 sq km), SW Africa. Angola is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, by Congo (Kinshasa) on the north and northeast, by Zambia on the east, and by Namibia on the south. Luanda is the capital, largest city, and chief port.

Land and People

The Bié Plateau, which forms the central region of the territory, has an average altitude of 6,000 ft (1,830 m). Rising abruptly from the coastal lowland, the plateau slopes gently eastward toward the Congo and Zambezi basins and forms one of Africa's major watersheds. The uneven topography of the plateau has resulted in the formation of numerous rapids and waterfalls, which are used for the production of hydroelectric power. The territory's principal rivers are the Cuanza and the Cunene. Rainfall in the south and along the coast north to Luanda is generally low. In northern Angola it is usually dry and cool from May to October and wet and hot from November to April. The characteristic landscape is savanna woodlands and grasslands. The northeast, however, has densely forested valleys that yield hardwoods, and palm trees are cultivated along a narrow coastal strip.

In addition to Luanda, other important cities are Huambo, Lobito, Benguela, and Namibe. The overwhelming majority of Angola's population is of African descent, and most of the people speak Bantu and other African languages. The official language, however, is Portuguese, though French is the predominate European language in Cabinda. The Ovimbundu, Kimbundu, and Bakongo are the largest ethnic groups. After Angola secured its independence from Portugal, many Europeans left the country. Traditional indigenous religions prevail, but there is a large Roman Catholic minority and a smaller Protestant minority.


Angola's rich agricultural sector was formerly the mainstay of the economy and currently provides employment for the majority of the people. Food must be imported in large quantities, however, because of the disruption caused by the country's protracted civil war. All areas of production suffered during the fighting that began in 1975. Coffee and sugarcane are the most important cash crops. Sisal, corn, cotton, manioc, tobacco, and bananas are raised, and fishing is also important. Livestock, notably cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, is raised in much of the savanna region.

Angola has substantial mineral resources and hydroelectric power. Most large-scale industries are nationalized. Oil, chiefly from reserves offshore, is the most lucrative product, providing about 50% of the country's GDP and 90% of its exports. Oil revenues have not done much to improve the economy at large or the everyday lives of Angolans, especially in the interior, because huge sums have been spent on the armed forces and lost due to government corruption; unaccounted losses to government funds were estimated at $32 billion in 2011. Diamond mining is also a principal industry; for many years in the late 20th cent. revenue from the mines supported UNITA rebels (see under Postcolonial History). Natural gas is produced, and Angola has deposits of iron ore, phosphates, copper, feldspar, gold, bauxite, and uranium. Industries include metals processing, meat and fish processing, brewing, and the manufacture of cement, tobacco products, and textiles.

The Benguela railroad, which carries metals from the mines of Congo (Kinshasa) and the Zambian Copperbelt, was an important source of revenue, but much of the line fell into disrepair during the civil war. Angola's road network and communications system have also been affected by civil strife. In 2005, the government began using a line of credit from China to help rebuild the country's infrastructure; rail lines began resuming service in 2010. Luanda and Lobito are Angola's main shipping ports. The country's main trading partners are the United States, China, South Korea, Portugal, and France. Angola is a member of the Southern African Development Community.


Angola is governed under the constitution of 2010. The executive branch is headed by the president; the leader of the party or coalition that receives the most votes in the National Assembly elections is elected to the office. The president, who serves as both head of state and head of government, may serve two five-year terms. The unicameral National Assembly has 220 members who are elected by proportional vote on a national (130) or provincial (90) basis for four-year terms. Adminstratively, the country is divided into 18 provinces.


History until Independence

The first inhabitants of the area that is now Angola are thought to have been members of the hunter-gatherer Khoisan group. Bantu-speaking peoples from West Africa arrived in the region in the 13th cent., partially displacing the Khoisan and establishing a number of powerful kingdoms. The Portuguese first explored coastal Angola in the late 15th cent., and except for a short occupation (1641–48) by the Dutch, it was under Portugal's control until they left the country late in the 20th cent.

Although they failed to discover the gold and other precious metals they were seeking, the Portuguese found in Angola an excellent source of slaves for their colony in Brazil. Portuguese colonization of Angola began in 1575, when a permanent base was established at Luanda. By this time the Mbundu kingdom had established itself in central Angola. After several attempts at subjugation, Portuguese troops finally broke the back of the kingdom in 1902, when the Bié Plateau was captured. Construction of the Benguela railroad followed, and white settlers arrived in the Angolan highlands.

The modern development of Angola began only after World War II. In 1951 the colony was designated an overseas province, and Portugal initiated plans to develop industries and hydroelectric power. Although the Portuguese professed the aim of a multiracial society of equals in Angola, most Africans still suffered repression. Inspired by nationalist movements elsewhere, the native Angolans rose in revolt in 1961. When the uprising was quelled by the Portuguese army, many fled to Congo (Kinshasa) and other neighboring countries.

In 1962 a group of refugees in the Congo, led by Holden Roberto, organized the Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA). It maintained supply and training bases in the Congo, waged guerrilla warfare in Angola, and, while developing contacts with both Western and Communist nations, obtained its chief support from the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Angola's liberation movement comprised two other guerrilla groups as well. The Marxist-influenced Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA), founded in 1956, had its headquarters in Zambia and was most active among educated Angolan Africans and mestiços living abroad. The MPLA led the struggle for Angolan independence. The third rival group was the União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA), which was established in 1966 under the leadership of Jonas Savimbi. As a result of the guerrilla warfare, Portugal was forced to keep more than 50,000 troops in Angola by the early 1970s.

In 1972 the heads of the FNLA and MPLA assumed joint leadership of a newly formed Supreme Council for the Liberation of Angola, but their military forces did not merge. That same year the Portuguese national assembly changed Angola's status from an overseas province to an "autonomous state" with authority over internal affairs; Portugal was to retain responsibility for defense and foreign relations. Elections were held for a legislative assembly in 1973.

In Apr., 1974, the Portuguese government was overthrown in a military uprising. In May of that year the new government proclaimed a truce with the guerrillas in an effort to promote peace talks. Later in the year Portugal seemed intent on granting Angola independence; however, the situation was complicated by the large number of Portuguese and other Europeans (estimated at 500,000) resident there, by continued conflict among the African liberation movements, and by the desire of some Cabindans for their oil-rich region to become independent as a separate.

Postcolonial History

Portugal granted Angola independence in 1975 and the MPLA assumed control of the government in Luanda; Agostinho Neto became president. The FNLA and UNITA, however, proclaimed a coaliton government in Nova Lisboa (now Huambo), but by early 1976 the MPLA had gained control of the whole country. Most of the European population fled the political and economic upheaval that followed independence, taking their investments and technical expertise with them. When Neto died in 1979, José Eduardo dos Santos succeeded him as president. In the 1970s and 80s the MPLA government received large amounts of aid from Cuba and the Soviet Union, while the United States supported first the FNLA and then UNITA. In Cabinda, independence forces that had fought against the Portuguese now fought against the Angolan government. Although the FNLA faded in importance, UNITA obtained the support of South Africa, which was mounting its own campaigns against the Southwest Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), a Namibian liberation group based in Angola.

In the late 1980s the United States provided military aid to UNITA and demanded the withdrawal of Cuban troops and an end to Soviet assistance. As a result of negotiations among Angola, South Africa, Cuba, and the United States, the withdrawal of Cuban troops began in 1989. Also in the late 1980s, Marxist Angola implemented programs of privatization under President dos Santos. A cease-fire between the ruling MPLA and UNITA was reached in 1991, and the government agreed to make Angola a multiparty state. However, when dos Santos won UN-supervised elections held in Sept., 1992, UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi charged fraud and refused to accept the results. In Nov., 1992, bitter fighting broke out between rebel UNITA troops and government forces, destroying many cities and much of the country's infrastructure. Despite initial victories that gave UNITA control of some two thirds of Angola, the MPLA eventually gained the upper hand in the renewed warfare.

In Nov., 1994, with UNITA on the verge of defeat, dos Santos and Savimbi signed the Lusaka protocol, a new agreement on ending the conflict. The two sides committed to the integration of several thousand UNITA troops into the government armed forces as well as the demobilization of thousands more from both sides. UN peacekeeping troops began arriving in June, 1995, to supervise the process. Troop integration, however, was suspended in 1996, and UNITA's demobilization efforts lagged. A new government of national unity was formed in 1997, including several UNITA deputies; Savimbi had declined a vice presidency in 1996.

With renewed fighting in 1998, Angola's ruling MPLA put the country's coalition government on hold, saying that UNITA had failed to meet its peace-treaty obligations. It suspended all UNITA representatives from parliament and declared that it would no longer deal with Savimbi, instead recognizing a splinter group, UNITA Renovada. In 1999 the United Nations voted to pull out all remaining troops stationed in the country, while continuing humanitarian relief work with over a million refugees.

UNITA was able to finance its activities, including an estimated 30,000 troops stationed in neighboring Zambia and Congo (Kinshasa), with some $500 million a year in diamond revenues from mines it controlled in the country's northeast. Fighting continued, with Angola's army inflicting several defeats on UNITA beginning in late 1999, weakening UNITA's still sizable forces. International restrictions (2001) on sales of diamonds not certfied as coming from legitimate sources also hurt UNITA, and the death of Savimbi in battle in 2002 was a severe blow to the rebels, who subsequently signed a cease-fire agreement and demobilized. UNITA subsequently reconstituted itself as a political party. Also in 2002 Angolan government forces gained the upper hand against Cabindan separatists; a peace agreement for the province was signed in 2006. As many as one million people died in the Angolan civil war, and the country's infrastructure was slow to recover from the effects of the fighting.

Parliamentary elections scheduled for 2007 were postponed late in 2006 until mid-2008, and the presidential election was then set for 2009. In Mar., 2007, there was an apparent attack on the leader of UNITA, Isaias Samakuva; UNITA accused the government of trying to assassinate him. When the parliamentary elections were finally held in Sept., 2008, they were marred by procedural irregulaties and difficulties but were otherwise generally transparent, and the MPLA won a landslide victory, with more than 80% of the vote.

In 2009 the presidential election (scheduled for Sept., 2009) was again postponed; a new constitution approved by the National Assembly in Jan., 2010, abolished direct election for the president. In the legislative elections of Aug., 2012, the MPLA won 72% of the vote, which thus resulted in the election of dos Santos as president. UNITA and other opposition parties unsuccessfully challenged the result in the courts.


See B. Davidson, In the Eye of the Storm (1972); G. J. Bender, Angola Under the Portuguese (1978); P. M. Martin, Historical Dictionary of Angola (1980); K. Akpau et al., Alvor and Beyond: Political Trends and Legal Issues in Angola (1988); J. C. Miller, Angola: A Way of Death (1988).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Angola." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 12 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Angola." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (July 12, 2018).

"Angola." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 12, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Official name : Republic of Angola

Area: 1,246,700 square kilometers (481,226 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Moco (Morro de Moco) (2,620 meters/8,596 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern

Time zone: 1 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 1,758 kilometers (1,092 miles) from southeast to northwest; 1,491 kilometers (926 miles) from northeast to southwest; the Cabinda Province extends 166 kilometers (103 miles) north-northeast to south-southwest and 62 kilometers (39 miles) east-southeast to west-northwest

Land boundaries: Total land boundaries 5,198 kilometers (4,812 miles); Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2,511 kilometers (1,557 miles), of which 220 kilometers (85 miles) is the boundary of the discontiguous Cabinda Province; Republic of the Congo, 201 kilometers (77.5 miles); Namibia, 1,376 kilometers (531 miles); and Zambia, 1,110 kilometers (428.5 miles)

Coastline: 1,600 kilometers (992 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


Angola is located on the west coast of the African continent, south of the equator. Angola is south and southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DROC), northwest of Zambia, north of Namibia, and east of the Atlantic Ocean. Cabinda Province is separated from the rest of Angola by the DROC and is completely surrounded by that country and the Republic of the Congo. With a total land area of 1,246,700 square kilometers (481,226 square miles), including the exclave (area separate from the main part of a country) of Cabinda, Angola is slightly less than twice the size of Texas. Angola is divided into eighteen provinces.


Angola has no territories or dependencies.


Angola's temperatures and climates vary from region to region. The north has a wet, tropical (supports plant growth year round) climate; the east has a moderate tropical climate; and the southern central strip near the border with Namibia has hot, dry desert conditions. There are two seasons in Angola: a dry, cool winter and a hot, rainy summer. The average temperature is about 20°C (68°F); however, temperatures are warmer along the coast and cooler on the central plateau. The annual average rainfall is 5 centimeters (2 inches) near the southern coast (Namibe); 34 centimeters (13 inches) at the northern coast (Luanda); and as high as 150 centimeters (59 inches) in the northeast. Regions of Angola do suffer from occasional drought.


Most of Angola is covered with broad table-lands (broad areas that are higher in elevation than their surroundings) that are greater than 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) high. Angola also has high plateaus in the central and southern regions as high as 2,400 meters (7,920 feet). There are many rivers in Angola, but only a few of them are navigable (suitable for boating). The Cabinda region, which lies between DROC and Republic of the Congo just north of the Angolan mainland, is also a part of Angola. The wet regions of the north and northwest, including Cabinda, are covered with thick forests, while the drier areas in the center of the country support sparse savanna-like grassy vegetation. Land abuse, such as desertification (land losing its ability to support plant life), forest loss, and water impurity are significant environmental problems.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

Angola's western coast borders on the Atlantic Ocean. The waters off the coast support a fishing industry that contributes to export income.

Coastal Features

The Atlantic coastland is an arid (almost no annual rainfall) strip that is well irrigated by the western-flowing rivers. The coastal lowlands vary in width from approximately 25 kilometers (15 miles) to more than 150 kilometers (93 miles).


There are no major lakes within Angola.


Most rivers originate in central Angola. Several rivers flow toward the Atlantic coast and provide both hydroelectric power and irrigation for the normally dry coastal strip. Only two rivers are navigable by any but the very smallest boats.

The Cuanza (Kuanza or Kwanza) River, located in the central portion of the country, is the longest river at 966 kilometers (600 miles), but only 200 kilometers (126 miles) of its length is navigable. The Cuanza drains into the Atlantic Ocean. The Cuango (Kwango) River, located in the northern region, is a fairly navigable waterway that drains into the Congo River system. The Cuando (Kwando) and Cubango Rivers both drain southeast to the Okavango (Cubango) Swamp.

The southernmost rivers in Angola, which flow to the Atlantic, are seasonal and thus are completely dry during much of the year.


The southern desert-steppe is sandy and dry and has sparse vegetation, except along the major rivers. Inconsistent precipitation keeps the far south somewhat dry. The area is marked by sand dunes, which give way to dry scrub (low shrubby plants) in the central portions.


The coastal grasslands are well irrigated because of the drainage of the rivers from the higher central plateaus. Elephant grass and scrubby forest cover the surface of the sandy floodplains. Meadows and pastures constitute about 23 percent of the total land area.

The Mayombé Hills in northeast Cabinda were once covered by rain forest. As of 2002, much of the rain forest trees had been cut down.


The highest peak in Angola is Mount Moco (Morro de Moco) with an elevation of 2,620 meters (8,596 feet). It is located just northwest of Huambo.

Other major peaks rising from the coastal lowlands are Mount Mejo (Morro de Mejo) at 2,583 meters (8,474 feet) in the Benguela region and Mount Vavéle (Morro de Vavéle) at 2,479 meters (8,133 feet) in Kuanza Sul. Running through the center of the country (and into Zambia) is the Lunda Divide, a set of low ridges marking the divisions between west-and east-flowing rivers.


There are no significant caves or canyons in Angola.


The Bié Plateau, also known as the Great Central Plateau, covers most of Angola. Precipitation at the highest points in the central plateau permits the growth of deciduous forest (trees that lose their leaves), although much of the forest has been cut down for timber and fuel. The climate and soils of these central plateaus support a variety of vegetation. Most of the eastern half of Angola is a relatively flat and open plateau characterized by sandy soils.


The country has six dams, but as of 2002, only three were functioning. The Cambembe Dam on the Cuanza River provides power to Luanda.



Black, Richard. Angola. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1992.

Broadhead, Susan H. Historical Dictionary of Angola. 2nd ed. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1992.

Cushman, Mary Floyd. Missionary Doctor, The Story of Twenty Years in Africa. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1944.

Laurè, J. Angola. Chicago: Children's Press, 1990.

U.S. Department of State. Angola, 1996 Post Report. Washington, DC: The Department of State, 1996.

Web Sites

Welcome to the Republic of Angola. (accessed June 17, 2003).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Angola." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . 12 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Angola." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . (July 12, 2018).

"Angola." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . Retrieved July 12, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Angola
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 10,145,267
Language(s): Portuguese, Bantu, Kikongo, Kimbundo, Umbundo, Chokwe, Mbunda, Oxikuanyama
Literacy rate: 56%

Angola was the location of the world's perhaps most prolonged and severe civil war in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Upon independence from Portugal in November 1975, the country was plunged into civil war with the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) fighting a rebel movement, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), for control of the country. Democratic elections were held in 1991, but UNITA disputed the result. Despite a peace accord in 1994, civil war raged until the death of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi in February 2002, when prospects for peace seemed the best since Angolan independence. In the first 16 years of the civil war it was estimated that 300,000 people had been killed out of a total population of 12 million.

Angola possesses significant petroleum resources, in some years supplying 5 percent of the U.S. international supply, and is the location of significant diamond deposits, although the national economy remains one of the worst performers in the world and the living standards of the Angolan people is one of the lowest. Throughout the civil war both sides distrusted the media and neither side was prepared for media coverage of their activities, a situation that made journalism in Angola one of the most hazardous occupations in the world. The ascendancy of the MPLA as the governing party has not made the situation for journalists any more secure; the government feels even freer to stifle independent opinion and restrain any free press.

The press, television and radio were nationalized in 1976 and thus the government dominates the media. The government controls the only news agency (ANGOP), the only daily paper (Jornal de Angola, with a circulation estimated at 40,000 but a readership of probably more than 100,000), the national television network (Televisao Popular de Angola) and the national radio station (Radio National de Angola). The national radio broadcasts in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish as well as nine local indigenous African languages. There is an independent press, namely Folha 8, a Luanda-based weekly, andActual and Agora two other independent weeklies. WT Mundovideo is a local television broadcaster in Luanda, and Radio Morena and Radio Lac Luanda are independent radio stations in Benguela and Luanda, respectively. Luanda-Antena is an independent commercial radio station. Radio Ecclesia is a Roman Catholic FM station generally agreed to be the most vociferous critic of the government and it has been the target of much state-sponsored criticism and pressure to modify coverage. It has suspended daily broadcasts on occasion as a protest against government pressure and hate campaigns. Both government and private sector advertising is discouraged in independent newspapers, and hence, financial viability of the independent media is always in question.

The constitution of the Republic of Angola specifically codifies freedom of expression and of the press, but often this is not respected. During the civil war a number of journalists were killed or imprisoned and this has continued into the twenty-first century. Journalists from the government news agency and from Folha 8, and Agora, as well as BBC, Voice of America and Portuguese television correspondents have been singled out for attack, threats and harassment. One figure stands out in this regard, Rafael Marques, a local freelance journalist and human rights activist, who repeatedly has been detained and interrogated for articles he has written and jailed for defamation of the president. As a result, the combination of government censorship and fear of government reprisals has meant most journalists practice self-censorship. A new draft media law was introduced in 2000 but was withdrawn later that year after much criticism.

There is a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an Angolan media Women's Association and a Union of Angola Journalists (UAJ), the latter formed primarily of government-employed journalists and with little credibility outside Angola. However, UAJ is leading the way in providing education and training for journalists and in providing the first school of journalism in the country's advanced education system. Foreign news agencies cover Angola from Johannesburg (Reuters and AP), while the BBC and Portuguese media have a greater presence in Angola owing to their former colonial role in the region. While their entry into the country is not restricted, some restrictions have been placed on their movement inside the countryostensibly for their safetyand on rebroadcast of transmissions.

Angola faces an uncertain future. In practice the civil war ended with the death of Jonas Savimbi, but media freedom has not followed. A 25-year legacy of distrust and disrespect is not easily removed. At the same time, Angola remains one of the world's poorest nations with poorly developed infrastructure, including Internet communications, and a desperately poor people. The prospect of greater wealth arising from petroleum and diamonds is present, but much will have to change in the form of removal of corruption, economic mismanagement and political power arising from resource control. These are explosive issues the media must confront in order to fulfill a role in national developmentand it can expect much opposition.


"Angola." BBC News Country Profile. Available from

"Crackdown on Angola's Independent Media Condemned." Human Rights Watch, 2000. Available from

"Media Outlets in Angola." Available from

"Media Situation deteriorates in Angola" Digital Freedom Network. Available from

U.S Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2001. Available from

Richard W. Benfield

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Angola." World Press Encyclopedia. . 12 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Angola." World Press Encyclopedia. . (July 12, 2018).

"Angola." World Press Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 12, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.




1,246,700sq km (481,351sq mi)



capital (population):

Luanda (2,080,000)


Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Ovimbundu 37%, Mbundu 22%, Kongo 13%, Luimbe-Nganguela 5%, Nyaneka-Humbe 5%, Chokwe, Luvale, Luchazi


Portuguese (official)


Christianity (Roman Catholic 69%, Protestant 20%), traditional beliefs 10%


Kwanza = 100 lwe

Republic in sw Africa. Angola is more than twice the size of France. Most of the country, besides a narrow coastal plain in the w, is part of a huge plateau which makes up the interior of s Africa. In the ne, several rivers flow n into the River Congo. In the s some rivers, including the Cubango (or Okavango) and the Cuanda, flow se into the interior of Africa.


Angola has a tropical climate with temperatures of more than 20°C (68°F) throughout the year, though the higher areas are cooler. Rainfall is minimal along the coast s of Luanda, but increases to the n and e. The rainy season is between November and April.


Grassland covers much of Angola. The coastal plain has little vegetation and the s coast is a desert region that merges into the bleak Namib Desert. Some rainforest grows in n Angola towards Congo.

History and Politics

Bantu-speaking people from the n settled in Angola c.2000 years ago. In the later part of the 15th century, Portuguese navigators, seeking a route to Asia round Africa, explored the coast and, in the early 1600s, the Portuguese set up supply bases. Angola became important as a source of slaves for the Portuguese colony of Brazil. After the decline of the slave trade, Portuguese settlers began to develop the land, and the Portuguese population increased dramatically in the early 20th century. In the 1950s, nationalists began to demand independence. In 1956 the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was founded, drawing support from the Mbundu tribe and mestizos (people of African and European descent). The MPLA led a revolt in Luanda in 1961, but it was put down by Portuguese troops. Other opposition movements developed among different ethnic groups. In the n, the Kongo set up the FNLA (Front for the Liberation of Angola), and in 1966 southern peoples, including many of the Ovimbundu, formed the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Portugal granted independence in 1975, but a power struggle developed among rival nationalist forces. The MPLA formed a government, but UNITA troops (supported by South Africa) launched a civil war. After 16 years of war, a treaty was signed (1991) and multiparty elections were held in 1992.

The MPLA, which renounced its Marxist ideology, won a resounding victory, but civil strife resumed as UNITA refused to accept the result. In 1994, the Lusaka Protocol provided for the formation of a government of national unity, composed of both UNITA and MPLA leaders. In April 1997, the new government took office. Dos Santos remained president, but UNITA leader, Jonas Savimbi, rejected the vice presidency. UNITA retained control of c.50% of Angola. Fighting continued between government and UNITA forces. In September 1997, the UN imposed sanctions on UNITA for failing to comply with the 1994 agreement. In 1999 civil war resumed, and UN peacekeeping forces withdrew. In 2002, government forces killed Savimbi and UNITA agreed to a ceasefire.


Angola is a poor developing country (2000 GDP per capita US$1000). More than 70% of the workforce is engaged in subsistence agriculture. The main food crops are cassava and maize, and coffee is exported. Angola has large oil reserves near Luanda and in the Cabinda enclave (separated by a strip of land belonging to Congo). Oil is the leading export. Angola is a major diamond producer, and the unregulated trade in diamonds fuels the civil war. It also has reserves of copper, manganese, and phosphates. Angola has a growing manufacturing sector, much of it based on hydroelectric power.

Political map

Physical map


Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Angola." World Encyclopedia. . 12 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Angola." World Encyclopedia. . (July 12, 2018).

"Angola." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 12, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Culture Name



Identification. The word "Angola" derives from the title used by the rulers of the Ndongo state. The title ngola was first mentioned in Portuguese writings in the sixteenth century. A Portuguese colony founded on the coast in 1575 also came to be known as Angola. At the end of the nineteenth century, the name was given to a much larger territory that was envisaged to come under Portuguese influence. These plans materialized slowly; not until the beginning of the twentieth century did Portuguese colonialism reach the borders of present-day Angola. In 1975, this area became an independent country under the name República Popular de Angola (People's Republic of Angola). Later the "Popular" was dropped.

Angola may not classify as either a country or a culture. Since 1961, war has destroyed cultural institutions, forced people to flee, and divided the territory between the belligerent. Thus one cannot speak of a single national culture. It is difficult to obtain reliable information because the war precludes research in many areas.

Location and Geography. Angola is a country of 482,625 square miles (approximately 1.25 million square kilometers) in western Africa, south of the Equator. There are great variations in climate and geography, including rain forests in the north, drier coastal lands, the fertile central highlands, sandy soils in the east, and desert zones in the Kunene (Cuene) and Kuando Kubango provinces. Apart from large rivers such as the Zaire, Kwanza (Cuanza), Kunene, Kubango (Cubango), Zambezi, and Kuando, there are many smaller rivers, some of which are not perennial. The climate is characterized by a rainy season and a dry season whose timing and intensity differ in the various regions. Angola borders Namibia to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Zambia to the east, and the Republic of Congo to the north. The oil-rich enclave of Cabinda lies north of the Zaire river.

Demography. Because of the ongoing war, it is difficult to obtain reliable population figures. Also, the numbers fluctuate as people attempt to flee when the fighting is intense and return when the fighting has calmed down. It is estimated that in May 2000, 350,700 Angolans lived outside the country and another 2.5 million to 4 million were displaced within the national borders. About a million residents have died because of the war. Nonetheless the population has increased considerably. In 1973 there were 5.6 million residents; by 1992 that number had risen to 12.7 million. Despite a high annual growth rate, in the beginning of 2000 the population was estimated at 12.6 million. Since a census has not been held since 1970, the figures are difficult to evaluate. Angola has a young population, over 45 percent of which is below fifteen years of age. The population density varies greatly by region. Over the years, the urban population has grown strongly and more than half the people now live in towns. The capital, Luanda, has drawn in many immigrantsa quarter of all residents now live there.

Linguistic Affiliation. The official language is Portuguese. Many Angolans are bilingual, speaking Portuguese and one or several African languages. In nearly all cases this is a Bantu language; those speaking a Khoisan language number less than 6,000. Six of the Bantu languages were selected as national languages: Chokwe, Kikongo, Kimbundo, Mbunda, Oxikuanyama, and Umbundu. Many people are able to understand one or more of the national languages, but some forty languages are spoken.

Symbolism. The political culture is highly militarized, and in both the National Union for the Total Liberation of Angola (UNITA) and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) many symbols stem from the military tradition. Parades, uniforms, and flags are prominent during many political meetings. The national flag is red and black with a yellow machete, a star, and a cogwheel segment. UNITA is symbolized by a crowing cockerel.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Present-day Angola is a construct designed by European politicians at the Conference of Berlin in 1885. Before that time, the area was inhabited by people with different political traditions, ranging from decentralized mobile groups to autocratic kingdoms. The Kongo, Ndongo, and Ovimbundu kingdoms had early contact with the Portuguese, who in the sixteenth century created colonies on the coast. Wars fought against the immigrant Portuguese, such as that waged by Queen Njinga of the Ndongo kingdom, often have been interpreted in a nationalistic framework. For centuries the communities in this area were affected by the Atlantic slave trade. Portuguese, mestiço, (person of mixed descent) and African merchants and middle men sold millions of slaves who were transported to the Americas on Dutch and Portuguese vessels. Although the slave trade was stopped in the 1880s, internal slavery continued into the twentieth century. After the Conference of Berlin, Portuguese colonialism took on a very different character. Through a slow and halting process that met with much local resistance, the Portuguese attempted to expand their control over the interior of the country and enforce a colonial system with taxation and forced labor. After the installation of autocratic rule in Portugal, repression in the colonies became even worse than in the past. The legacy of the colonial divide-and-rule tactics is still felt.

The war for liberation started in 1961 with rebellions in Luanda and the northern region. The anticolonial war ended after Portuguese soldiers, tired of war in the colonial territories, staged a coup in Portugal in 1974. On 11 November 1975, Angola became an independent country. Before that date, fighting had broken out between the three major nationalist parties: the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), MPLA, and UNITA. After independence, UNITA received support from South African troops and was later backed by the United States, while the MPLA came to depend largely on Russian and Cuban aid. This division runs through the country's recent history. With Angola's involvement in the war in the Congo and with that war spilling into Namibia and Zambia, the war has taken on international dimensions.

National Identity. There is no single national identity. The country is divided along many lines: Ethnic, religious, regional, racial, and other factors interact in the conflict. However, the notion of being Angolan is strong. The Portuguese language sets Angola apart from its neighboring countries and has created long-standing ties not only with Portugal but also with Brazil, Mozambique, and other Portuguese-speaking countries.

Ethnic Relations. The civil war is often explained in ethnic terms, with the FNLA considered a Kongo party, the MPLA predominantly Mbundu, and UNITA dependent on Ovimbundu support. The stress on ethnicity is growing in intensity, and ethnic differences have become more important. However, many other factors play a role, and ethnicity is only one aspect of identity for Angolan people. Differences between rural and urban populations, regions, religions, and races are some of the criteria on which people classify themselves or are classified by others. The importance of clan as a factor in the construction of identity is disappearing rapidly. Although the small Khoisan-speaking minority is not discriminated against by law, its position is extremely difficult and these people are marginalized in many respects. The closely interlinked political, military and economic elites may be seen as a distinct cultural group. The elites have a number of common characteristics but remain strongly divided and have profoundly different histories. Thus during the colonial era a northern Baptist network came into existence that consisted mainly of Kongo traders with strong ties to French-speaking Zaire. Methodists and Catholics from the central region formed the core of the MPLA and include a relatively high number of mestiços and whites, who now make up 2 percent of the population. In the southern elite, Congregationalists from the central plateau are important. This southern elite became prominent in the UNITA leadership.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Angola is relatively urbanized because in the 1980s many people sought refuge in the safer urban areas. The musseques, informal settlements around Luanda that are home to nearly a quarter of the population stand in sharp contrast to the modern city center. For people in the countryside, living conditions are very different, although rectangular houses with corrugated iron roofs and zinc are replacing the traditional round wattle-and-daub (straw and mud) houses. Some urban areas are overcrowded, while other regions are almost uninhabited. As it is often dangerous to travel by road or railway, transportation and mobility are a problem. In the 1980s cheap airfares even led to regional trading networks based on transport by air.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Over half of the population is unemployed, and it is estimated that 70 percent of the people live below the poverty line. Hunger is a threat in many areas. As the usual economic activities are impossible in many regions, local food habits are hardly distinguishable. Coastal people include much seafood in their diet, herders in the southwest rely mostly on dairy products and meat, and farmers eat maize, sorghum, cassava and other agricultural crops. Especially in urban areas but also in the drier rural areas, gathering water and firewood is often time-consuming. Salt is a highly prized product in many areas.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Many traditional ceremonies and celebrations have disappeared or are held infrequently. If circumstances allow, at a party or ceremony, grilled chicken, soft drinks, and bottled beer are served and consumed in liberal amounts. As these items are costly, most people can only afford local beverages such as maize beer and palm wine.

Basic Economy. The farming sector has been neglected by the government. The war has made agriculture impossible in many areas, and transport is often a dangerous undertaking. Although 70 percent of the people engage in agriculture to sustain themselves, over 50 percent of the food supply has to be imported. Farmers plant gardens in which subsistence crops are grown.

Land Tenure and Property. Access to land is difficult. There is not a land shortage, but not all arable land is under cultivation. This problem is caused by the fact that war prevents farmers from going to their fields and often forces people to flee before the harvest. In times of relative calm, land mines render traveling to and working on the land dangerous. Both the MPLA and UNITA have restricted the freedom of movement of the population and imposed rules to curb mobility in specific areas or during certain parts of the day.

Commercial Activities. Small retail trade is very important in people's survival strategies. Women are especially important in selling food and firewood, and men predominate in trade in arms, diamonds, and spare parts. Most of the people who work in the transport and building sectors are men. Local commercial activities are largely situated in the extensive candonga system, the name for the second economy. The new kwanza, the national currency, is subject to high inflation rates. As the war often makes transport impossible, crafts and repair have become increasingly important again.

Major Industries. Angola is a potentially rich country. Petroleum in the Cabinda enclave; diamonds in Lunda; and iron, phosphates, copper, gold, bauxite, and uranium in the other provinces are some of the natural resources. In comparison with other sub-Saharan countries, Angola is industrialized to a considerable degree and has a relatively high income per capita. Oil (90 percent of exports) is especially important. Most of these resources are used to finance the military, however, as Angola has a war economy. Only those who have a stake in the war benefit from this system; for most people it means hunger. UNTA (National Union of Angolan Workers), for a long time the only effective labor organization, has been important in the redirection of the economy but rarely manages to represent workers' interests adequately and is strongly connected with the government party. A rival labor organization was established in 1996.

Trade. Seventy percent of exports go to the United States, mainly crude oil, diamonds, and other natural resources. Some commercial agricultural products, such as sisal, coffee, and cotton, are sold. The fishing industry also is important. Imports come from Portugal, Brazil, the United States and the European countries and consist mainly of war equipment (50 percent) and food (20 percent). The international drug trade is growing in volume, and UNITA depends largely on the illegal diamond and arms trade.

Division of Labor. Most residents take every opportunity to make ends meet, and many historical divisions of labor have been overturned. Thus, women may clear strips of land to prepare the soil for agriculture, while men may collect and sell firewood. Generally, women are important in farming and the local food trade, while cattle herders and wage laborers are usually men.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. The country is divided along many lines. Before twentieth-century colonialism, the rich trading families formed a local elite that looked down on the gentio ("pagans" or "crowd"). During the colonial era, an extremely hierarchical society was created in which Portuguese rulers gave some advantages to African assimilados (assimilated people) over the great majority of indigenas (indigenous people). Although the number of assimilados was never high, they were sharply divided, mainly on regional and religious lines. These divisions are reflected in the founding of political parties and are used for propaganda purposes. Thus, UNITA has tried to denounce the MPLA as 'foreign' because of the continuing importance of whites and mestiços in the party. The UNITA leadership is often regarded as populist and opportunistic, and the northern FNLA leadership as capitalist and conservative. However, the various elites have a number of common characteristics, such as regarding wealth and expenditure as the most important indicator of class.

Symbols of Social Stratification. The display of wealth is the most important way to show a superior position in society. This display may take the form of individual material possessions such as cars, yachts, and clothing. It also is manifested in the activities people undertake: Flashy rich youths go to Luanda's expensive discos and nightclubs. Material wealth also may be expressed by acting as a patron, for example, by holding lavish parties for large groups of people and distributing gifts.

Political Life

Government. Angola is a presidential republic. Until the 1990s, the MPLA monopolized the central state, and, despite the existence of government institutions, presidential powers were extensive. The MPLA leader, Agostinho Neto, was president until his death in September 1979, after which Eduardo dos Santos took over. Since independence, the power center has been rivaled by Jonas Savimbi, the leader of UNITA. The formal government changed in 1992 from a socialist, one-party system to a multiparty, free market system. Many parties have been founded since then, apart from the MPLA and UNITA, but only the revived FNLA continues to have an impact. In April 1997, UNITA joined the government, but it was suspended in August 1998 for failing to observe the peace agreements signed in Lusaka. The parties began fighting again, and the government won considerable terrain from UNITA. UNITA has become internationally isolated, and the whereabouts of Savimbi is unclear, although UNITA continues to buy weapons through the illegal diamond trade. A number of UNITA defectors, including some in leadership functions, have formed a group called UNITA-renovada and are calling for adherence to the Lusaka protocols. The government announced elections for late 2001, but there is no guarantee that they will be held, or will be free and fair.

Leadership and Political Officials. Both in UNITA-held and government areas, political rallies are an important aspect of the political culture. These meetings usually include songs, dances, speeches, and parades. Often they show conflicting tendencies: Although they are used by politicians to bolster their position, many people criticize their leaders during these gatherings. For people from Luanda and the surrounding area, the yearly carnival in Luanda has become a political arena. For a long time, the MPLA government regarded the continuing importance of traditional leaders in local political life with suspicion, while in UNITA the role of chiefs in political life was more widely accepted. Many nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and aid organizations rely on traditional leaders for information and channel aid through them.

Social Problems and Control. Administrative and political life is corrupt, and the bureaucracy often borders on the absurd. "Disappearance" has been the fate of many people suspected of political opposition. The armies have been accused of misbehavior, extrajudicial executions, forced enlistment, and child soldiering. The government has acted against freedom of expression and an independent press, while the Ninjas, a special police force, spread terror among the population. In UNITA areas, reports have confirmed extreme human rights abuses, such as torture, kangaroo courts, and unlawful executions. Civilians regard politics with extreme suspicion, and the continuation of the war is widely regarded as resulting from greed for power among the political leaders. It is remarkable how many people find the courage and creativity to continue living in a context of extreme violence and poverty. Nonetheless, some people do not manage: alcoholism and theft are increasing. Witchcraft is perceived by a great number of people as a problem that is not adequately addressed by politicians, the police, and the judiciary.

Military Activity. Political life is centered on the military. After independence, UNITA held the southeast and continued to hold a sway over the central highlands and Lunda Norte. Despite the ongoing war, there have been intervals of negotiation and peace. Between May 1991 and October 1992 a cease-fire was respected by both parties. After UNITA refused to accept the results of the elections held in September 1992, intense fighting broke out again. It is estimated that in the town Huambo alone, 300,000 people died during this phase of the war. In 1994 the Lusaka Protocol was signed by both parties, and in April 1997 a government of national unity and reconciliation was installed that included representatives of UNITA and MPLA. However fighting began again in 1998. Control over the diamond areas in Lunda Norte became an important war aim. The forces of the MPLA have pushed UNITA out of its former capital, Jamba, in the southeast, but fighting along the Zambian and Namibian borders has remained intense. The same situation exists in the Central Highlands, where UNITA is conducting a guerrilla war. In Cabinda, various factions of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) have fought for secession for a long time.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

There have been attempts to implement long-term social welfare programs. In 2000, the UNDP (UN Development Program) initiated projects focusing on poverty eradication and good governance. Renewed accords with the International Monetary Fund aimed at decreasing the large national debt and reducing the inflation rate. Most of these programs focus on emergency relief. Apart from a host of NGOs, international aid organizations such as the World Food Programme, World Health Organization, UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees), UNICEF and other UN-related donors are active. With the exacerbating fighting, many people cannot be reached by these organizations, and occasionally the organizations have pulled out all their personnel as the security situation has become problematic. The rural population is hard to reach.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

A wide range of NGOs have been active. Apart from large international emergency relief organizations, such as the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, and CARE, a host of smaller NGOs have organized campaigns around varying issues, with varying degrees of success.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. The war is primarily a male affair, and few women go off to fight. Many young men have died in the war. As a consequence, a growing number of households are headed by women, and polygamy has not decreased as it has in most other African countries. The fact that the majority of the urban population is male, while women make up the larger part of the rural population, has strengthened these trends. As women are important in agriculture and the regional food trade, they run a higher risk of being hit by land mines than do civilian men. Some 80 percent of land mine victims are women and children. Rape and violence against women continue to rank as important social problems.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Despite the MPLA's advocacy of gender equality, there are clear discrepancies between the status of women and men. The literacy rate for men is 56 percent, while only 28 percent of women were literate in 1998. Few women are in top positions in political, economic, and military affairs. Often women are paid less than men for the same jobs. The largest women's organization, the Angolan Women's Association (OMA), is strongly tied to the MPLA party. Many smaller women's organizations have been formed, often along professional lines.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Marriage and cohabitation take many forms. Some couples are wed in church or by the state, others have their wedding blessed by their parents, and others do not formalize their cohabitation with a ceremony. In most cultures a couple find a home of their own or live with their husband's parents. In some areas there is a high divorce rate that not only is due to the war but also conforms to older patterns of marriage and separation. Many spouses live apart for considerable periods of time; often the economic situation is so desperate that they have to look for means of subsistence on their own. Women often are widowed and as there are more women than men of marriageable age, there is a relatively high number of polygamous households. The age gap between spouses is growing, especially in rural areas.

Domestic Unit. Many households have been disrupted by the war; a considerable number of people have seen relatives die, and communities have been destroyed by the ongoing fighting. People may have relatives in different fighting camps and often live very far from each other, and many Angolans are looking for lost relatives. Especially in rural areas, the extended family remains important: An income may be shared with one or more unemployed relatives; immigrants look for housing, land, and basic assistance from their relatives; and several generations and nuclear families may form a single household. In towns, the importance of the extended family is diminishing.

Inheritance. In most Angolan societies, inheritance is patrilineal, with children inheriting from the father. In quite a few communities among the Umbundu, Ngangela, and Ambo, property traditionally was passed to the children of the deceased's wife's brother. This matrilineal system has decreased in importance under the influence of colonialism and the war.

Kin Groups. Kinship terminology in many communities is difficult to translate. The children of uncles and aunts may be addressed with the same term used for brothers and sisters. However, there is a sharp distinction between senior and junior "brothers" and "sisters" and uncles and aunts may be differentiated in the maternal and paternal lines. In some cultures a village consists of matrilineal kin and their dependents. As many communities have been torn apart by the war, these structures have often disappeared.


Infant Care. Young children are most likely to be taken care of by the mother and may be strapped into a cloth on her back while she engages in household chores, agricultural work, or selling at the local market. Other relatives may be equally important in a child's upbringing. Thus, children may stay with their grandparents for considerable periods of time and, especially when they are older, spend a great deal of time with the father or mother's brother's family.

Child Rearing and Education. Many children are unable to attend school because of the war, but there has been growth in the literacy rate. In 1970, 12 percent of the population was literate, while the literacy rate currently is approaching 50 percent. The majority of these people are young, reflecting government efforts to develop free educational facilities for all children. There is a lack of educational materials, qualified teachers, and school buildings. In some cultures children are initiated. Sometimes these puberty rites concern only boys, but in groups such as the Nyanyeka, girls are also initiated. In most communities, the rites have shortened considerably or disappeared. Poverty and the war have caused the number of street children and orphans to grow.

Higher Education. There are two universities. The older university, named after the country's first president, is in Luanda, with branches in Huambo and Lubango. As a result of the war, the Huambo branch has been closed down repeatedly, and the university is poorly equipped, badly housed, and overcrowded. A Catholic university opened in 1999 in Luanda.


In general, dress codes are not strict. In some areas, women are supposed to wear long-hemmed skirts, but this rule is not strictly applied. In many communities, people do not look each other in the eye while speaking. Younger people are expected to address elders politely. The ability to speak well is a highly admired trait, in both men and women. In some communities, men do not eat with women and children.


Religious Beliefs. Especially in the coastal regions, Christianity dates back a long time. A Christian church was established in the Kongo region by the end of the fifteenth century. It is unclear how many residents are Christian; the Roman Catholic Church figures range from 38 percent to 68 percent. Another 15 to 20 percent belong to Protestant denominations, such as Methodist, Baptist, and African churches. For many people there is no contradiction between Christian faith and aspects of African religions. Thus, religious specialists such as diviners and healers hold an important position in society. The government, with its socialist outlook, has been in frequent conflict with religious leaders. Because the Roman Catholic Church has great influence and was associated with Portuguese colonialism, relations with that faith have been especially tense. Since the move toward a more liberal political system, relations with the established churches have eased considerably, although troubling incidents continue to occur. An unknown number of residents do not profess any religion.

Religious Practitioners. Traditional healers and diviners have been disregarded by the socialist government. Although the role of these religious practitioners in the community often increased during the war, the MPLA refused to recognize their function, and at times they were hindered in the execution of their profession. In UNITA areas, the function of healers and diviners has been acknowledged to a far greater extent. There are widespread accusations, however, that UNITA has used healers and diviners to intimidate civilians under their control.

Rituals and Holy Places. Because of the war, many religious practices have been discontinued and cultural institutions are no longer in use. Amid the chaos of the war, many formerly meaningful places and activities have lost their function. Under the influence of the churches, a number of traditional African religious practices have disappeared. In the war context, people attempt to find new ways to address the critical situation. Thus, malign spirits are exorcised in newly established independent churches, children wear amulets to prevent being forced into the army during round-ups, and soldiers strictly follow all the rules given them to make a magic potion against bullets.

Death and the Afterlife. In many Angolan societies, a funeral is an extremely important event; mourning rituals often are regarded as essential for the peace of the deceased's soul. Because of the war, there is often no opportunity to carry out the appropriate rituals for the dead. Although people have sought alternative forms of mourning, war victims sometimes are left unburied. Apart from the personal trauma this may involve, many people fear that restless spirits will further disrupt social life.

Medicine and Health Care

Despite government efforts to extend basic health care services, most people do not have access to medical assistance. Many hospitals face an extreme lack of personnel and do not have the most basic equipment. Only a tiny minority of the population can afford good medical care. For the majority of people, life expectancy is below fifty years. Poverty-related diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, and measles are a problem in overcrowded urban areas and refugee camps. Many deaths are a direct consequence of malnutrition and undernourishment. The number of people with AIDS is increasing; malaria is common in some areas, especially during the rainy season. One in three children dies before reaching his or her fifth birthday. Angola is one of the few countries where maternal mortality is increasing. A number of health problems are a direct consequence of the war. Over 10 million land mines have resulted in the highest number of amputees in the world, mental illnesses are often related to war trauma, and many children and elderly people have been left without support. With basic health care in disarray, many people seek help from traditional healers. These medical-religious specialists often deal with psychological problems, and many have extensive knowledge of herbal remedies.

Secular Celebrations

On 11 November 1975 Angola became an independent country. This day is celebrated every year. Apart from Christian holidays, a wide range of occasions are commemorated, such as the founding of the MPLA, the beginning of the armed struggle, and the anniversary of Neto.

The Arts and Humanities

Literature. Angola has an outstanding literary tradition. An important genre has been political poetry, of which the former president Agostinho Neto was a significant representative. The arts, relatively free from censorship, have been an important way to express criticism of the political system. Oral literature is important in many communities, including mermaids in Luandan lore, Ovimbundu trickster tales, and sand graphs and their explication in the east.

The press has been largely controlled by the MPLA and UNITA. Journalists who express alternative views have been curbed in the exercise of their profession: Murder, censorship, and accusations of defamation have been used to suppress an independent press. Radio constitutes an important source of information, but has been dominated by belligerent parties for a long time; although, a Catholic radio station, Rádio Ecclésia, has been established.

Graphic Arts. Crafts such as wood carving and pottery are sold in neighboring countries. Luanda has a number of museums, including the Museum of Anthropology.

Performance Arts. Angolan music, with its ties to Brazil, has received international attention. The most popular spectator sports are soccer and basketball.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Academics face many problems, and the state university is short on staff and teaching materials. As a result of the war, Angola is severely underrepresented in research: Many themes cannot be addressed, many sources have been destroyed, and many areas cannot be reached by researchers. There are well-stocked libraries in Luanda as well as a national archive.


Birmingham, David. Frontline Nationalism in Angola and Mozambique, 1992.

Bridgland, Fred. Jonas Savimbi: A Key to Africa, 1987.

Davidson, Basil. In the Eye of the Storm: Angola's People, 1972.

Hare, Paul. Angola's Last Best Chance for Peace: An Insider's Account of the Peace Process, 1998.

Hart, Keith, and Joanna Lewis, eds. Why Angola Matters, 1995.

Heywood, Linda. Contested Power in Angola, 1840s to the Present, 2000.

Kapuscinski, Ryszard. Another Day of Life, 1988.

Maier, Karl. Angola: Promises and Lies, 1996.

Marcum, John A. The Angolan Revolution, Vols. I and II, 1969, 1978.

Miller, Joseph C. Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 17301830, 1988.

Neto, Agostinho. Sacred Hope, 1974.

Pepetela. Yaka, 1996.

Wheeler, Douglas L., and René Pélissier. Angola, 1971.

Wolfers, Michael, and Jane Bergerol. Angola in the Frontline, 1983.

Web Sites

Angola Reference Centre.

Inge Brinkman

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Angola." Countries and Their Cultures. . 12 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Angola." Countries and Their Cultures. . (July 12, 2018).

"Angola." Countries and Their Cultures. . Retrieved July 12, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.


Angolabeguiler, compiler, Delilah, filer, Isla, miler, reviler, smiler, styler, tiler, Tyler •idler •stifler, trifler •recycler • Kreisler • profiler •stockpiler • freestyler • Rottweiler •ayatollah, choler, collar, corolla, dollar, dolour (US dolor), Hezbollah, holler, scholar, squalor, wallah, Waller, white-collar •cobbler, gobbler •Doppler, poplar •ostler •brawler, caller, crawler, drawler, faller, forestaller, hauler, installer, mauler, Paula, stonewaller, trawler •warbler • dawdler • footballer •reed-warbler •fowler, growler, howler, prowler, scowler •Angola, barbola, bipolar, bowler, bronchiolar, canola, carambola, circumpolar, coaler, Coca-Cola, cola, comptroller, consoler, controller, Ebola, eidola, extoller, Finola, Gorgonzola, granola, Hispaniola, kola, Lola, lunisolar, mandola, molar, multipolar, Ndola, patroller, payola, pianola, polar, roller, Savonarola, scagliola, scroller, sola, solar, stroller, tombola, Tortola, troller, Vignola, viola, Zola •ogler •teetotaller (US teetotaler) •potholer • steamroller • logroller •roadroller •boiler, broiler, Euler, oiler, spoiler, toiler •potboiler

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Angola." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . 12 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Angola." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . (July 12, 2018).

"Angola." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved July 12, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.