Angola is a country in southwestern Africa bordering Namibia, Congo-Kinshasa, 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).
|National motto: Virtus Unita Fortior (Latin: Unity Provides Strength)|
| National anthem: Angola Avante!|
(Portuguese: Forward Angola!)
8° 50′ S, 13° 20′ E
|Government|| Multi-party democracy|
José Eduardo dos Santos
Fernando da Piedade
Dias dos Santos
|November 11 1975|
- Water (%)
1,246,700 km² (22nd)
- 2004 est.
- ? census
| GDP (PPP)|
- Per capita
| 2003 estimate|
|Currency|| Kwanza (|
| Time zone|
- Summer (DST)
| CET (UTC+1)|
not observed (UTC+1)
|Calling code|| |
|1 Estimate is based on regression; other PPP figures are extrapolated from the latest International Comparison Programme benchmark estimates.|
Table of contents
Origin and history of the name
Main article: History of Angola
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, Angola became independent in 1975. The Portuguese transferred power to the Marxist-inspired MPLA, which received support from the Soviet Union. Shortly after, a civil war broke out between MPLA, UNITA and FNLA. In 1976, the FNLA was defeated by a combination of MPLA and Cuban troops, leaving the Marxist MPLA and the western-backed UNITA to fight for power. MPLA later received more aid from People's Republic of China, including military aid, in return convincing Angola to join the Eastern Pact in 1982 for exclusive aid and recognition, also probably in expectance of military support. Angola became the only non-Asian country to join the briefly lived Eastern Pact.
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 22nd 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 mine fields, and the actions of guerrilla movements fighting for the independence of the northern enclave of Cabinda (Frente para a Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda).
Angola, like many sub-Saharan nations, is subject to periodic outbreaks of infectious diseases. As of early April 2005, Angola is in the midst of an outbreak of the Marburg virus which is rapidly becoming the worst outbreak of a hemmorhagic 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.
Main article: Politics of Angola
Currently, political power is concentrated in the Presidency. 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. 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 26-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
Main Article: Provinces of Angola
Angola is divided into 18 provinces:-
Main article: Geography of Angola
Main article: Economy of Angola
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. Notwithstanding the signing of a peace accord in November 1994, violence continues, millions of land mines remain, 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.
Main article: Demographics of Angola
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, mixed racial (European and African) people 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.
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 confounded 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.
Main article: Culture of Angola
- Much of the material in these articles comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.
- Library of Congress Portals on the World – Angola
- CIA – The World Factbook — Angola – CIA's Factbook on Angola
- AngolaPress – Angolan News Agency (In Portuguese, French and English)
- BBC – Country profile: Angola
- Angola Conflict Briefing
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