Article: Angola

This article is about the country in Africa. For other uses, see Angola (disambiguation).
República de Angola
Republic of Angola
2103-125px-flag-of-angola-svg-angola-.png 2104-110px-angola-coa-angola-.png
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Virtus Unita Fortior (English: "United virtue is stronger")
Anthem: Angola Avante!
(Portuguese: "Forward Angola!")
Capital Luanda
8°50′S 13°20′E
Largest city Luanda
Official language(s) Portuguese
Government Multi-party democracy
 - President José Eduardo dos Santos
 - Prime Minister Fernando da Piedade
Dias dos Santos
Independence From Portugal 
 - Date November 11, 1975 
 - Total 1,246,700 km² (23rd)
  481,354 sq mi 
 - Water (%) Negligible
 - 2005 est. 15,941,001 (61st)
 - 1970 census 5,646,166
 - Density 8.6/km² (200th)
22.3/sq mi 
GDP (PPP) 2003 estimate
 - Total $31,364 million1 (82nd)
 - Per capita $2,319 (126th)
HDI (2003) 0.445 (160th) â€“ low
Currency Kwanza (AOA)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) 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.

Angola is a country in south-central 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]).

Origin and history of the name

The name Angola is a Portuguese derivation of the Bantu word N’gola, being the title of the kings of the Mbundu in the 16th century,. This time period was known as the Era do Menos Grande.


Main article: History of Angola

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. In 1575 Portugal established 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 occupation (Hodges, 2001, 11). The Soviet Union began to aid the MPLA and gave much economic support, while 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 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 the Bicesse Accords which turned 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 in the end became one of the few African countries to join with the Soviet bloc and become communist, along side with the other former Portuguese colony Mozambique.

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.


More information on politics and government of Angola can be found at the Politics and government of Angola series.

Angola's motto is Virtus Unita Fortior, meaning "unity provides strength"

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 Angolan Civil War 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


Main Article: Provinces of Angola, Municipalities of Angola

Angola is divided into 18 provinces (províncias) and 158 municipalities (municípios).
The provinces are:

  • 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

Municipalities: see Municipalities of Angola


Map of Angola
Satellite image of Angola, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library.

Main article: Geography of Angola

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's average temperature on the coast is 60 degrees in the winter and 70 degrees in the summer.


Main article: Economy of Angola

Angola's economy has undergone a period of rapid transformation in recent years, moving from the disarray caused by a quarter century of war to being the fastest growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. Growth is almost entirely driven by rising oil production which surpassed 1.4 million barrels per day in late-2005. Control of the oil industry is consolidated in Sonangol Group, a conglomerate which is owned by the Angolan government. The economy grew 18% in 2005; growth is expected to reach 26% in 2006 and stay above 10% for the rest of the decade. The security brought about by the 2002 peace settlement has led to the resettlement of 4 million displaced persons, thus resulting in large-scale increases in agriculture production. With revenues booming from oil exports, the government has started to implement ambitious development programs in building roads and other basic infrastructure for the nation.


Luanda, the Angolan capital

Main article: Demographics of Angola

There are around 90 etnic groups in the country,but Angola has three main ethnic groups, each speaking a Bantu language: Ovimbundu 37%, Mbundu 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-African population, with at least 30,000 (though many native-born Angolans can claim Portuguese nationality under Portuguese law). In 1975, 250,000 Cuban soldiers settled Angola to help the MPLA forces to fight for its independence. These Cubans are of European and Asian (mostly Chinese descent), while others include those of pure African and mulatto descent, who have ancestors in Angola. But in 1989, almost all Cubans left the country after a peace agreement was signed by Angola, Cuba, and South Africa. Portuguese is both the official and predominant language, spoken in the homes of about two-thirds of the population—including Cubans, pure-blooded Portuguese, and mestiços—and as a secondary language by many more. 40% of Angolans, including Afrikaners and rest of blacks, speak Afrikaans and Bantu languages [most spoken of these are Ovimbundu, Kimbundu, and Kikongo (all of these have many Portuguese-derived words)] as their first languages. Many educated Angolans can speak English as second or third language. Cubans speak the Spanish language, but almost none of their descendants speak it.

The great majority of the inhabitants are of Bantu descent with some mixture 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.

Catholicism remains the dominant religion, although recently an increasing number of churches are claiming more followers, particularly evangelicals. Indigenous religions, which include fetish charms and others objects, are still quite prominent in Angola

  • List of Angolans


Main article: Culture of Angola

See also

  • List of sovereign states
  • Angolan Civil War


  • 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

Miscellaneous topics

  • Communications in Angola
  • Foreign relations of Angola
  • Islam in Angola
  • List of Angolan companies
  • Military of Angola
  • Sonangol Group
  • Transport in Angola
  • Contemporary Dance Company of Angola
  • List of writers from Angola
  • Associação de Escuteros de Angola
  • Angola national football team