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República de Angola
Flag of Angola Coat of arms of Angola
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: none
Anthem: Angola Avante!
( Portuguese: Forward Angola!)
Location of Angola
Capital Luanda
8°50′ S 13°20′ E
Largest city Luanda
Official language(s) Portuguese
Head of State
Head of Government
Multi-party democracy
José Eduardo dos Santos
Fernando da Piedade
Dias dos Santos
From Portugal
November 11, 1975
• Total

• Water (%)

1,246,700 km² ( 22nd)
481,354 mi²

• 2004 est.
• ? census

• Density

10,978,552 ( 71st)

8.6/km² ( 213)
• Total
• Per capita
2003 estimate
31,3641 ( 83)
2,319 ( 120)
HDI ( 2003) 0.445 ( 160th) – low
Currency Kwanza ( AOA)
Time zone
• Summer ( DST)
CET ( UTC+1)
not observed ( UTC+1)
Internet TLD .ao
Calling code +244
1 Estimate is based on regression; other PPP figures are extrapolated from the latest International Comparison Programme benchmark estimates.
This article is about the country. For the prison, see Louisiana State Penitentiary.
Angola is a country in southwestern Africa bordering Namibia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zambia, and with a west coast along the Atlantic Ocean. The exclave province Cabinda has a border with Congo-Brazzaville. A former Portuguese colony, it has considerable natural resources, among which oil and diamonds are the most relevant. The country is nominally a democracy and is formally named the Republic of Angola ( Portuguese: República de Angola, pron. IPA: /ʁɛ.'pu.βli.kɐ dɨ ɐ̃.'ɣɔ.lɐ/).

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Origin and history of the name
Administrative Divisions

Origin and history of the name - Contents

The name Angola is a Portuguese derivation of the Bantu word N’gola, being the title of the native rulers of the Quimbundos Kingdom in the 16th century, at the time of colonization by the Portuguese.

History - Contents

Shows Queen Nzinga in peace negotiations with the portuguese governor in Luanda, 1657.
Shows Queen Nzinga in peace negotiations with the portuguese governor in Luanda, 1657.
The earliest inhabitants of the area were Khoisan hunter-gatherers. They were largely replaced by Bantu tribes during Bantu migrations. In present-day Angola Portugal settled in 1483 at the river Congo, where the Kongo State, Ndongo and Lunda existed. The Kongo State stretched from modern Gabon in the north to the Kwanza River in the south. Portugal established in 1575 a Portuguese colony at Luanda based on the slave trade. The Portuguese gradually took control of the coastal strip throughout the 16th century by a series of treaties and wars. They formed the colony of Angola. The Dutch occupied Luanda from 1641-48, providing a boost for anti-Portuguese states.In 1648 Portugal retook Luanda and initiated a process of military conquest of the Kongo and Ndongo states that ended with Portuguese victory in 1671. Full Portuguese administrative control of the interior didn't occur until the beginning of the 20th century. In 1951 the colony was restyled as an overseas province, also called Portuguese West Africa. When Portugal refused a decolonization process three independence movements emerged:
  • the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola MPLA), with a base among Kimbundu and the mixed-race intelligentsia of Luanda, and links to communist parties in Portugal and the Eastern Bloc;
  • the National Liberation Front of Angola (Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola, FNLA), with an ethnic base in the Bakongo region of the north and links to the United States and the Mobutu regime in Zaire; and
  • the National Union for Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola, UNITA), led by Jonas Malheiro Savimbi with an ethnic and regional base in the Ovimbundu heartland in the center of the country.
After a 14 year independence guerrilla war, and the overthrow of fascist Portugal's government by a military coup, Angola's nationalist parties began to negotiate for independence in January 1975. Independence was to be declared in November 1975. Almost immediately, a civil war broke out between MPLA, UNITA and FNLA, exacerbated by foreign intervention. South African troops struck an alliance of convenience with UNITA and invaded Angola in August 1975 to ensure that there would be no interference (by a newly independent Angolan state) in Namibia, which was then under South African control (Hodges, 2001, 11). Cuban troops came to the support of the MPLA in October 1975, enabling them to control the capital, Luanda, and hold off the South African forces. The MPLA declared itself to be the de facto government of the country when independence was formally declared in November, with Agostinho Neto as the first President.In 1976, the FNLA was defeated by a combination of MPLA and Cuban troops, leaving the Marxist MPLA and UNITA (backed by the United States and South Africa) to fight for power.The conflict raged on, fuelled by the geopolitics of the Cold War and by the ability of both parties to access Angola's natural resources. The MPLA drew upon the revenues of off-shore oil resources, while UNITA accessed alluvial diamonds that were easily smuggled through the region's very porous borders (LeBillon, 1999).In 1991, the factions agreed to turn Angola into a multiparty state, but after the current president José Eduardo dos Santos of MPLA won UN supervised elections, UNITA claimed there was fraud and fighting broke out again.A 1994 peace accord (Lusaka protocol) between the government and UNITA provided for the integration of former UNITA insurgents into the government. A national unity government was installed in 1997, but serious fighting resumed in late 1998, rendering hundreds of thousands of people homeless. President José Eduardo dos Santos suspended the regular functioning of democratic instances due to the conflict.On February 22, 2002, Jonas Savimbi, the leader of UNITA, was shot dead and a cease-fire was reached by the two factions. UNITA gave up its armed wing and assumed the role of major opposition party. Although the political situation of the country seems to be normalizing, president dos Santos still hasn't allowed regular democratic processes to take place. Among Angola's major problems are a serious humanitarian crisis (a result of the prolonged war), the abundance of minefields, and the actions of guerrilla movements fighting for the independence of the northern exclave of Cabinda ( Frente para a Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda).Angola, like many sub-Saharan nations, is subject to periodic outbreaks of infectious diseases. In April 2005, Angola was in the midst of an outbreak of the Marburg virus which was rapidly becoming the worst outbreak of a haemorrhagic fever in recorded history, with over 237 deaths recorded out of 261 reported cases, and having spread to 7 out of the 18 provinces as of April 19, 2005.

Politics - Contents

The executive branch of the government is composed of the President, the Prime Minister (currently Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos) and Council of Ministers. Currently, political power is concentrated in the Presidency. The Council of Ministers, composed of all government ministers and vice ministers, meets regularly to discuss policy issues. Governors of the 18 provinces are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the president. The Constitutional Law of 1992 establishes the broad outlines of government structure and delineates the rights and duties of citizens. The legal system is based on Portuguese and customary law but is weak and fragmented, and courts operate in only 12 of more than 140 municipalities. A Supreme Court serves as the appellate tribunal; a Constitutional Court with powers of judicial review has never been constituted despite statutory authorization.The 27 year long civil war has ravaged the country's political and social institutions. The UN estimates of 1.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), while generally the accepted figure for war-affected people is 4 million. Daily conditions of life throughout the country and specifically Luanda (population approximately 4 million) mirror the collapse of administrative infrastructure as well as many social institutions. The ongoing grave economic situation largely prevents any government support for social institutions. Hospitals are without medicines or basic equipment, schools are without books, and public employees often lack the basic supplies for their day-to-day work.The president has announced the government's intention to hold elections in 2006. These elections would be the first since 1992 and would serve to elect both a new president and a new National Assembly.
  • List of political parties in Angola

Administrative Divisions - Contents

Map of Angola with the provinces numbered
Angola is divided into 18 provinces:-
  • 1 Bengo
  • 2 Benguela
  • 3 Bié
  • 4 Cabinda
  • 5 Cuando Cubango
  • 6 Cuanza Norte
  • 7 Cuanza Sul
  • 8 Cunene
  • 9 Huambo
  • 10 Huila
  • 11 Luanda
  • 12 Lunda Norte
  • 13 Lunda Sul
  • 14 Malanje
  • 15 Moxico
  • 16 Namibe
  • 17 Uige
  • 18 Zaire

Geography - Contents

Map of Angola
Map of Angola
Luanda, the Angolan capital
Luanda, the Angolan capital
Angola is bordered by Namibia to the south, Zambia to the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north-east, and the South Atlantic Ocean to the west. The exclave of Cabinda also borders the Republic of the Congo to the north. Angola's capital, Luanda, lies on the Atlantic coast in the north-west of the country.Angola is divided into an arid coastal strip stretching from Namibia to Luanda; a wet, interior highland; a dry savanna in the interior south and southeast; and rain forest in the north and in Cabinda. The Zambezi River and several tributaries of the Congo River have their sources in Angola.

Exclaves and enclaves
The exclave province of Cabinda borders with both the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The latter's only oceanic access, 60 kilometres (37 mi) in width, divides Angola from Cabinda. The population stands at around 300,000, two-thirds of which inhabit the surroundings in a generally stable state on Congolese and Zairian territory. The Angolan central government has yet to put a definitive end to the Cabindese secessionist movement.

Economy - Contents

Angola is an economy in disarray because of a quarter century of nearly continuous warfare. Despite its abundant natural resources, output per capita is among the world's lowest. Subsistence agriculture provides the main livelihood for 85% of the population. Oil production and the supporting activities are vital to the economy, contributing about 45% to GDP and 90% of exports. Control of the oil industry is consolidated in Sonangol Group, a conglomerate which is owned by the Angolan government. Notwithstanding the signing of a peace accord in November 1994, millions of land mines remain, rural violence is a possibility, and many farmers are reluctant to return to their fields. As a result, much of the country's food must still be imported. Despite the increase in the pace of civil warfare in late 1998, the economy grew by an estimated 4% in 1999. The government introduced new currency denominations in 1999, including a 1 and 5 kwanza note. Expanded oil production brightens prospects for 2000, but internal strife discourages investment outside of the petroleum sector. With the advent of peace in 2002 a strategic partnership with China is set in motion, so huge investments by Chinese companies are now in place, especially in the construction sector and more recently in the metallurgical sector.

Demographics - Contents

Angola has three main ethnic groups, each speaking a Bantu language: Ovimbundu 37%, Kimbundu 25%, and Bakongo 13%. Other groups include Chokwe (or Lunda), Ganguela, Nhaneca-Humbe, Ambo, Herero, and Xindunga. In addition, mestiços (Angolans of mixed European and African family origins) amount to about 2%, with a small (1%) population of whites, mainly ethnically Portuguese. Portuguese make up the largest non-Angolan population, with at least 30,000 (though many native-born Angolans can claim Portuguese nationality under Portuguese law). Portuguese is both the official and predominant language, spoken in the homes of about two-thirds of the population, and as a secondary language by many more.The great majority of the inhabitants are of Bantu stock with some admixture in the Congo district. In the south-east are various tribes of Bushmen. The best-known of the Bantu tribes are the Ba-Kongo (Ba-Fiot), who dwell chiefly in the north, and the Abunda (Mbunda, Ba-Bundo), who occupy the central part of the province, which takes its name from the Ngola tribe of Abunda. Another of these tribes, the Bangala, living on the west bank of the upper Kwango, must not be confused with the Bangala of the middle Congo. In the Abunda is a considerable strain of Portuguese blood. The Ba-Lunda inhabit the Lunda district. Along the upper Kunene and in other districts of the plateau are settlements of Boers, the Boer population being about 2000. In the coast towns the majority of the white inhabitants are Portuguese. The Mushi-Kongo and other divisions of the Ba-Kongo retain curious traces of the Christianity professed by them in the 16th and 17th centuries and possibly later. Crucifixes are used as potent fetish charms or as symbols of power passing down from chief to chief; whilst every native has a "Santu" or Christian name and is dubbed dom or dona. Fetishism is the prevailing religion throughout the province. The dwelling-places of the natives are usually small huts of the simplest construction, used chiefly as sleeping apartments; the day is spent in an open space in front of the hut protected from the sun by a roof of palm or other leaves. Despite all that, Catholicism remains the dominant religion, although recently an increasing number of churches are claiming more followers, particularly evangelicals.
  • List of Angolans

Culture - Contents

  • List of writers from Angola
  • Contemporary Dance Company of Angola [1]

Stamps - Contents

  • List of errors on Portuguese ex-Colonies stamps of Angola 1912
  • List of errors on Portuguese ex-Colonies stamps of Angola 1914
  • List of errors on Portuguese ex-Colonies stamps of Angola 1921
  • List of birds on stamps of Angola
  • List of people on stamps of Angola
  • List of bonsai on stamps
  • List of fish on stamps
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