Southern Africa,

total: 1,246,700 sq km
land: 1,246,700 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Capital City;
Land boundaries:
Total: 5,369 km
border countries (3):
Democratic Republic of the Congo 2,646 km,
Republic of the Congo 231 km,
Namibia 1,427 km,
Zambia 1,065 km
Coastline:1,600 km
Total: 6969 km


semiarid in south and along coast to Luanda;
north has cool, dry season (May to October) and hot;
rainy season (November to April).
narrow coastal plain rises abruptly to vast interior plateau
mean elevation: 1,112 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Moca 2,620 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, diamonds, iron ore, phosphates, 
copper, feldspar, gold, bauxite, uranium.
Land use:
Agricultural land: 47.5%
      arable land 8.3%; permanent crops 0.5%; permanent pasture 91.23%
Forest: 46.5%
Other: 6% (2014 est.)
Irrigated land:
860 sq km (2014)
Population – distribution:
most people live in the western half of the country;
urban areas account for the highest concentrations of people, particularly Luanda.
Natural hazards:
locally heavy rainfall causes periodic flooding on the plateau;
Frequent droughts
641457486 - Copy

People and Society 

Angola has never been densely populated, and the export of at least five million slaves between 1500 and 1850 kept the population from growing at a greater rate. At the beginning of the 21st century, the country’s population density was well below the average for Southern Africa, with vast areas in the semidesert coastal strip and the eastern two-thirds of the country almost empty. During the civil war (1975–2002), it is estimated that warfare killed about a half million people; famine and disease, exacerbated by the conflict, are estimated to have killed an additional half million people as well. However, the population growth rate remained high during this time and later increased after the end of the war.

More than a decade after the end of Angola’s 27-year civil war, the country still faces a variety of socioeconomic problems, including poverty, high maternal and child mortality, and illiteracy. Despite the country’s rapid post-war economic growth based on oil production, more than 40 percent of Angolans live below the poverty line and unemployment is widespread, especially among the large young-adult population. Only about 70% of the population is literate, and the rate drops to around 60% for women. The youthful population – about 45% are under the age of 15 – is expected to continue growing rapidly with a fertility rate of more 5 children per woman and a low rate of contraceptive use. Fewer than half of women deliver their babies with the assistance of trained health care personnel, which contributes to Angola’s high maternal mortality rate. Of the estimated 550,000 Angolans who fled their homeland during its civil war, most have returned home since 2002. In 2012, the UN assessed that conditions in Angola had been stable for several years and invoked a cessation of refugee status for Angolans. Following the cessation clause, some of those still in exile returned home voluntarily through UN repatriation programs, and others integrated into host countries.

29,310,273 (July 2017 est)
Ethnic groups:
Ovimbundu 37%, Kimbundu 25%, Bakongo 13%, mestico (mixed European and native African) 2%, European 1%, other 22
Portuguese 71.2% (official), Umbundu 23%, Kikongo 8.2%, Kimbundu 7.8%, Chokwe 6.5%, Nhaneca 3.4%, Nganguela 3.1%, Fiote 2.4%, Kwanhama 2.3%, Muhumbi 2.1%, Luvale 1%, other 3.6%
Roman Catholic 41.1%, Protestant 38.1%, other 8.6%, none 12.3% (2014 est.)

Although Portuguese was Angola ‘s official language, the great majority of Angolans (more than 95 percent of the total population) used languages of the Bantu family. Angola ‘s remaining indigenous peoples fell into two disparate categories. A small number, all in southern Angola, spoke so-called Click languages (after a variety of sounds characteristic of them) and differed physically from local African populations. The second category consisted of mestigos, largely urban and living in western Angola. Bantu languages have been categorized by scholars into a number of sets of related tongues. Some of the languages in any set may be more or less mutually intelligible, especially in the areas where speakers of a dialect of one language have had sustained contact with speakers of a dialect of another language. Language alone does not define an ethnic group. On the one hand, a set of communities lacking mutually intelligible dialects may for one reason or another come to share a sense of identity in any given historical period. 
The largest ethnolinguistic category is the Ovimbundu, were located in west-central Angola, south of Mbundu-inhabited regions; Just north of Ovimbundu territory lived the Mbundu, the second largest ethnolinguistic category, whose language was Kimbundu; The Kikongo- speaking Bakongo made up an estimated 15 per- cent of the Angolan population; The Mayombe (also spelled Maiombe) of the mountain forests of Cabinda spoke a dialect of Kikongo but were not part of the ancient kingdom; The hyphenated category Lunda-Chokwe constituted an estimated 8 percent of the Angolan population; Nganguela (also spelled Ganguela) is a term, pejorative in con- notation, applied by the Ovimbundu to the peoples living east and southeast of them. 
There are about 1,000 religious communities, mostly Christian, in Angola. While reliable statistics are nonexistent, estimates have it that more than half of the population are Catholics, while about a quarter adhere to the Protestant churches introduced during the colonial period: the Congregationalists mainly among the Ovimbundu of the Central Highlands and the coastal region to its west, the Methodists concentrating on the Kimbunduspeaking strip from Luanda to Malanje, the Baptists almost exclusively among the Bakongo of the north-west (now present in Luanda as well) and dispersed Adventists, Reformed and Lutherans. In Luanda and region there subsists a nucleus of the “syncretic” Tocoists and in the north-west a sprinkling of Kimbanguism can be found, spreading from the Congo/Zaïre. Since independence, hundreds of Pentecostal and similar communities have sprung up in the cities, where by now about 50% of the population is living; several of these communities/churches are of Brazilian origin.


Almost three decades of civil war have taken a toll on Angola’s educational system. In the early 21st century, some four-fifths of all schools in the country were thought to be deserted or destroyed, and the vast majority of Angolan children were not able to attend classes. Since the end of the conflict in 2002, an effort has been made to construct more schools and increase the training and number of teachers in the country. 

Angola’s literacy rate is lower than that of most neighboring countries, despite dramatic improvement during the last quarter of the 20th century. At independence, less than one-fifth of the adult population was literate, but by 1990 the rate had more than doubled. In the early 21st century, about three-fifths of the population was literate

Education in Angola has four years of compulsory, free primary education which begins at age seven, and secondary education which begins at age eleven, lasting eight years. Basic adult literacy continues to be extremely low, but there are conflicting figures from government and other sources. It is difficult to assess literacy and education needs. Statistics available in 2001 from UNICEF estimated adult literacy to be 56 percent for males and 29 percent for women. On the other hand, the university system has been developing considerably over the last decade.

After the end of the Angolan Civil War in 2002, and with the oil price increases in the late 2000s, the Angolan Government was able to collect huge financial resources from taxes on oil and diamond extraction profits. This increase of the governmental budget plus the end of the armed conflict allowed a new opportunity to expand and improve Angola’s education system.

Immediately after independence, the colonial Universidade de Luanda has renamed Universidade de Angola, and in 1979 Universidade Agostinho Neto (UAN). In 1998 the Catholic Church founded, also in Luanda, the Universidade Católica de Angola (UCAN). Over the years, the UAN came to consist of about 40 faculties dispersed over most of the territory. In the wake of political liberalization, private universities began to spring up in the 2000s.

Some of these were linked to universities in Portugal — Universidade Lusíada, Universidade Lusófona and Universidade Jean Piaget — all of them in Luanda. Others were endogenous initiatives: Universidade Privada de Angola (Luanda and Lubango), Universidade Técnica de Angola (Luanda), Universidade Metodista (Luanda), Universidade Metropolitana (Luanda) and Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Relações Internacionais (Luanda). The creation of an Islamic university in Luanda was announced by Saudi Arabia. In 2009, the UAN split up: while it still exists under the same name in Luanda and Bengo province, the faculties in Benguela, Cabinda, Huambo, Lubango, Malanje, and Uíge, now constitute autonomous public universities.

In 2010, the Angolan government started building the Angolan Media Libraries Network, distributed throughout several provinces in the country to facilitate the people’s access to information and knowledge. Each site has a bibliographic archive, multimedia resources and computers with Internet access, as well as areas for reading, researching and socializing. The plan envisages the establishment of one media library in each Angolan province by 2017. The project also includes the implementation of several media libraries, in order to provide the several contents available in the fixed media libraries to the most isolated populations in the country. At this time, the mobile media libraries are already operating in the provinces of Luanda, Malanje, Uíge, Cabinda and Lunda South. As for REMA, the provinces of Luanda, Benguela, Lubango, and Soyo have currently working media libraries



Angola has diamonds, oil, gold, copper and a rich wildlife (dramatically impoverished during the civil war), forest and fossil fuels. Since independence, oil and diamonds have been the most important economic resource. Smallholder and plantation agriculture dramatically dropped in the Angolan Civil War but began to recover after 2002. The transformation industry of the late colonial period collapsed at independence, because of the exodus of most of the ethnic Portuguese population, but it has begun to re-emerge with updated technologies, partly because of an influx of new Portuguese entrepreneurs. Similar developments have taken place in the service sector.

Angola’s economy has in recent years moved on from the disarray caused by a quarter-century of Angolan civil war to become the fastest-growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest-growing in the world. Angola’s economy is overwhelmingly driven by its oil sector. Oil production and its supporting activities contribute about 50% of GDP, more than 70% of government revenue, and more than 90% of the country’s exports; Angola is an OPEC member and subject to its direction regarding oil production levels. Diamonds contribute an additional 5% to exports. Subsistence agriculture provides the main livelihood for most of the people, but half of the country’s food is still imported.
Increased oil production supported growth averaging more than 17% per year from 2004 to 2008. A postwar reconstruction boom and resettlement of displaced persons led to high rates of growth in construction and agriculture as well. Some of the country’s infrastructure is still damaged or undeveloped from the 27-year-long civil war. However, the government since 2005 has used billions of dollars in credit from China, Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and the EU to help rebuild Angola’s public infrastructure. Landmines left from the war still mar the countryside, and as a result, the national military, international partners, and private Angolan firms all continue to remove them.

The global recession that started in 2008 stalled Angola’s economic growth and many construction projects stopped because Luanda accrued billions in arrears to foreign construction companies when government revenue fell. Lower prices for oil and diamonds also resulted in GDP falling 0.7% in 2016. Angola formally abandoned its currency peg in 2009 but reinstituted it in April 2016 and maintains an overvalued exchange rate. In late 2016, Angola lost the last of its dollar-clearing international correspondent banking relationships, further exacerbating hard currency problems. Since 2013 the central bank has consistently spent down reserves to defend the kwanza, gradually allowing a 40% depreciation since late 2014. Consumer inflation declined from 325% in 2000 to less than 9% in 2014, before rising again to above 30% from 2015-2017.
Continued low oil prices, the depreciation of the kwanza, and slower than expected growth in non-oil GDP have reduced growth prospects, although several major international oil companies remain in Angola. Corruption, especially in the extractive sectors, is a major long-term challenge that poses an additional threat to the economy.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$192 billion (2017 est.)
$189.2 billion (2016 est.)
$190.5 billion (2015 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$124 billion (2017 est.)
GDP – real growth rate:
1.5% (2017 est.)
-0.7% (2016 est.)
3% (2015 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP):
$6,800 (2017 est.)
$6,900 (2016 est.)
$7,200 (2015 est.
Gross national saving:
3.1% of GDP (2017 est.)
3.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
-0.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 10.2%
industry: 61.4%
services: 28.4% (2011 est.)
Agriculture – products:
bananas, sugarcane, coffee, sisal, corn, cotton, cassava (manioc, tapioca), tobacco, vegetables, plantains; livestock; forest products; fish.
petroleum; diamonds, iron ore, phosphates, feldspar, bauxite, uranium, and gold; cement; basic metal products; fish processing; food processing, brewing, tobacco products, sugar; textiles; ship repair.
Population below poverty line:
40.5% (2008 est.)
revenues: $35.59 billion
expenditures: $44.64 billion (2017 est.)


Agriculture accounts for 12 percent of Angola’s $96.2 billion GDP in 2016 (IMF projection) and provides employment, both formal and informal, for more than two-thirds of Angolans, mostly at subsistence levels.  Prior to the 1975-2002 civil war, Angola was a major exporter of coffee, sisal, sugar cane, banana and cotton, and self-sufficient in all food crops except wheat. The civil war disrupted agricultural production and displaced millions of people.  Angola currently imports more than half of its food, with some estimates putting the figure as high as 90 percent.  Angola is the United States’ fifth largest market for poultry products in the world and the third largest market in Africa for all agricultural exports. 

Angola has the natural resources to become one of the leading agricultural countries in Africa, as its diverse and fertile ecology is suited for a variety of crops and livestock.  However, the country currently only cultivates approximately 10 percent of its 35 million hectares of arable land.  An estimated 90 percent of farms in Angola are small to medium in size and are used mainly for communal, subsistence farming.  The agricultural commodities produced include cassava, bananas, potatoes, maize, sweet potatoes, citrus, and pineapples.

The World Bank is currently developing a comprehensive agricultural sector development program for Angola anticipated being in place by the end of 2017 that would greatly expand their role beyond previous projects focused on smallholder agriculture land rehabilitation and irrigation.

While chicken and pinto beans remain major US agriculture exports to Angola, these sales declined significantly in 2016 due to the limited access to foreign exchange and increased food prices resulting from local currency devaluation and high inflation. Food imports are deemed a high priority of the Angolan government with some associated increases in foreign exchange allocations by the Central Bank. A limited number of food importers pre-selected by the Ministry of Commerce benefit from these allocations.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Angola produced about 25,000 tons of wheat grain per year, mainly in the southern Huambo province.  The civil war halted wheat production and destroyed flour milling capacity.

Faced with lost oil revenue, the Angola government is encouraging the development of wheat milling to replace relatively costly flour imports as part of its overall economic diversification plan. Angola currently imports about 500,000 tons of wheat flour per year from Turkey and the European Union, at a value of $177 million in 2015.  By replacing flour imports with wheat imports, Angola can reduce its dependence on foreign exchange as well as boost value-added local production.  The Angolan government and private companies plan to bolster the milling industry make the country a promising market for U.S. wheat exports. The U.S. Wheat Associates estimates that the United States could export up to $25 million in wheat annually to Angola.

Wheat milling projects underway in Angola include the Grandes Moagens de Angola project that will have the capacity to produce 1,200 tons of wheat flour per day, with the opening scheduled for mid-2017. Carangelo invested $250,000 to reopen a mill in Lobito with a capacity to produce 100 tons per day of wheat flour and 30 tons per day of wheat bran. Additional renovations to the mill are planned for 2018, at a cost of $6 million that could increase production to 500 tons per day of wheat flour and 150 tons per day of wheat bran. These expansions open strong opportunities for U.S. wheat exporters particularly once the import duty disadvantage of milling wheat flour in Angola is addressed.

Electricity access:
population without electricity: 15,000,000
electrification – total population: 30%
electrification – urban areas: 46%
electrification – rural areas: 18% (2013)
Electricity – production:
9.438 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – consumption:
8.338 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – exports:
0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity – imports:
0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity – installed generating capacity:
1.704 million kW (2015 est.)
Electricity – from fossil fuels:
45.2% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Electricity – from nuclear fuels:
0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Telephones – fixed lines:
total subscriptions: 304,493
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 2 (July 2016 est.)
Telephones – mobile cellular:
total: 13,001,124
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 44 (July 2016 est.)
Internet country code:
Internet users:
total: 2,622,403
percent of population: 13.0% (July 2016 est.)

Manufacturing and Industries 

Angola was the popular slave trade market for the Portuguese and Dutch during the colonial era. Portugal administration discovered oil reserves in Angola in 1955. Large-scale oil and coffee production helped the country in achieving sustainable economic growth. Angola also had industries for food processing, electrical products, construction material, chemical, vehicle assembly, and metallurgy. After attaining independence in 1975, the country entered into 26 long years of civil war that left Angola’s economy in a state of jeopardy. In the year 2000, the government initiated major economic reforms to restructure the industrial sector of the country. The IMF and World Bank also funded strategic reforms to strengthen the infrastructure and business environment in Angola.

The major Angola industry sectors are:

Oil: Angola is one of the biggest oil producers in Africa, second only to Nigeria. In 2007, the petroleum industry contributed for more than 60% of the country’s GDP. The country ranks 18th in terms of total oil exports (1.407 million bbl/day). Sonangol, a state-owned firm, governs the petroleum sectors. Foreign firms also have a joint venture on the basis of production sharing agreement. 

Diamond: Angola is sometimes referred to as the ‘land of conflicting diamonds’. The country has rich deposits of diamonds, one of the prime reasons for the 1975-2002 civil war. During this period, a large portion of diamonds produced was sold to the black market. After 2003, the diamond mining sector was regularized and opened for private investment as well. 

Agriculture: Angola’s climate is favorable for tropical and semi-tropical crops. This, coupled with the fertile land of the region allows the growth of several cash crops. Coffee, tobacco, sunflower, timber, and banana are the major crops of the country. Although the GDP share of the agriculture has decreased since 2003, it engages more than half of the population. 

Fishing: Angola has a developed fishing industry with considerable foreign investment. The fishing industry is completely liberalized and the government no longer regulates the pricing policy.

Angola is still recovering from the aftereffects of the civil war. With financial support from the UN, IMF and the World Bank, the Angola economy plans to diversify in terms of industry sectors.



Angola’s mineral industry was dominated by diamond and petroleum production. In 2011, Angola’s economy grew by 3.4%, but unlike that of recent years, this growth was not driven by increases in petroleum production. Nonetheless, petroleum accounted for 96.2% of exports and 79% of Government revenues. Diamond accounted for about 1.8% of exports, 6.7% of world diamond production by volume, and about 8% of world diamond production by value (Banco Nacional de Angola, 2012, p. 12, 15, 26; Kimberley Process Rough Diamond Statistics, 2012). Other mineral commodities produced in the country included cement, granite, marble, and salt. Angola had vast mineral resources available for prospecting and development. Undeveloped mineral resources included beryllium, clay, copper, gold, gypsum, iron ore, lead, lignite, manganese, mica, nickel, peat, phosphate rock, quartz, silver, tungsten, uranium, vanadium, wolfram, and zinc.

Since the discovery of Petroleum in 1955, Angola has been one of the largest exporters of petroleum in sub-Saharan Africa, and production has nearly tripled since independence. In January 2007 Angola became a member of OPEC. By 2010 production is expected to double the 2006 output level with development of deep-water offshore oil fields. Oil sales generated USD 1.71 billion in tax revenue in 2004 and now makes up 80% of the government’s budget, a 5% increase from 2003, and 45% of GDP. Chevron Corporation produces and receives. Total S.A., ExxonMobil, Eni, Petrobras and BP also operate in the country. Block Zero provides the majority of Angola’s crude oil production. The largest fields in Block Zero are Takula (Area A), Numbi (Area A), and Kokongo (Area B). Chevron operates in Block Zero with a 39.2% share. SONANGOL, the state oil company, Total, and Eni own the rest of the block. Chevron also operates Angola’s first producing deepwater section.

The National Diamond Enterprise of Angola, a parastatal company, is responsible for approving diamond concessions, and it also licenses buyers. In 1992–94 most Angolan diamonds on the market were mined and smuggled from regions controlled by UNITA. The Angolan government gained control of this area in mid-1994 and tried to halt the activities of thousands of illegal diamond prospectors. UNITA retook some diamond regions in the mid- to late 1990s and controlled them until early 2002, when UNITA’s leader, Jonas Savimbi, was killed. There are large reserves of iron ore in the southwestern part of the country, but they are of low grade. Other minerals—copper, manganese, gold, phosphates, uranium, feldspar, and platinum—are known to exist in commercial quantities in Angola, especially in the area of the escarpment.

China is the major destination of Angola Export. Angola is the third-largest trading partner of the United States in Sub-Saharan Africa, largely because of its petroleum exports. The U.S. imports 7% of its oil from Angola, about three times as much as it imported from Kuwait just prior to the Gulf War in 1991. The U.S. Government has invested USD $4 billion in Angola’s petroleum sector. Oil makes up over 90% of Angola’s exports.



Until 1975, Angola had developed some tourist tradition which was later canceled by the war. Few know the great tourist potential of this territory that remained closed to the world for decades. Tourism, like other wealth of the country, it is still just a “potential” factor, but certainly Angola offers many opportunities in this regard, thanks to its vast and extremely varied territory of the climatic point of view, agricultural and landscape, still unknown by the large audience of international tourism. Some South African entrepreneurs and Namibians are already exploring, with considerable success, this potential.

It may seem overly optimistic talk about tourism in a country that has just emerged from a civil war of 27 years duration, with its infrastructure destroyed, but that’s exactly what makes Angola a particularly interesting case also for this sector. In addition to the hard to reach areas within the country, are broad areas that already offer interesting possibilities for investments in the tourism sector. Of course, even if this is a tourism oriented to a niche market entrepreneur and less demanding in terms of comfort. The virgin territory is very suitable for eco-tourism, sustainable, respectful of the environment, especially in areas characterized by a more delicate environmental balance.

That may be the reason, the tourism industry in Angola is based on the country’s natural beauty, including its rivers, waterfalls and scenic coastline. Angola’s tourism industry is relatively new, as much of the country was destroyed during the post-colonial civil war which ended in 2002. Unlike most countries in the region, which generally give US, EU, and many other citizens a visa on arrival or require no visa at all, Angola has complicated and onerous Soviet-style visa requirements. This antiquated attitude to tourism places the country at a disadvantage in a competitive market for international tourism.

From nature at its most spectacular with springboks, lions, elephants and gorillas, to forgotten but beautiful buildings from the Portuguese colonization here. Angola boasts an expansive coastline of Atlantic Ocean beauty and a beautiful blend of grasslands, savannas, tropical forests and urban expanses inland. Angola is a country trying to make a name for itself on the global stage. It claims to be the fastest growing economy in the world, with various forms of mining exports supporting the claim and the tourist industry is attempting to grow in the same way.

Angola has the capacity to become a new frontier of the twenty-first century tourism. Taking all necessary precautions to travel in safety, including from the health point of view, the tourist discovers huge unexplored territories, which remained isolated from the world for many years and for the first time, open to foreigners.

Three examples of investment in the tourism sector: tropical beaches between Luanda and Benguela, with lovely panoramas and scope of contemporary tourist; Namibe the desert (which marks the beginning of the desert that gives the name to the neighboring country, Namibia), as beautiful as Namibia in terms of natural beauty and cultural interest; the mountains breathtaking Planalto Huila.

Banking and Finance

The banking system in Angola includes Accounts, credit cards & exchanging money. The Angolan banking system is the third largest in Sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria and South Africa. There are three state-owned banks and a total of 23 banks in Angola. Nearly half the Angolan financial system is linked to banking groups in Portugal.

The top five banks, based on compound growth rates, control over 80% of total banking assets, deposits and loans and are: Banco Angolano de Investimentos (BAI), Banco Espírito Santo Angola (BESA), Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA), Banco BIC Angola (BIC) , and Banco de Poupança e Crédito S.A.R.L. (BPC) .


  • Prehistory

    The ancestors of most present-day Angolans found their way to the region long before the first Portuguese arrived in the late fifteenth century. The development of indigenous states, such as the Kongo Kingdom, was well underway before then. The primary objective of the first Portuguese settlers in Angola and the motive behind most of their explorations was the establishment of a slave trade. Although several early Portuguese explorers recognized the economic and strategic advantages of establishing friendly relations with the leaders of the kingdoms in the Angolan interior, by the middle of the sixteenth century the slave trade had engendered an enmity between the Portuguese and the Africans that persisted until independence.

    The limited information that is available indicates that the original inhabitants of present-day Angola were hunters and gatherers. Their descendants, called Bushmen by the Europeans, still inhabit portions of southern Africa, and small numbers of them may still be found in southern Angola. These Khoisan speakers lost their predominance in southern Africa as a result of the southward expansion of Bantu-speaking peoples during the first millennium A.D.

    The Bantu speakers were a Negroid people, adept at farming, hunting, and gathering, who probably began their migrations from the rainforest near what is now the Nigeria-Cameroon border. The Bantu expansion was carried out by small groups that made a series of short relocation over time in response to economic or political conditions. Some historians believe that the Khoisan speakers were peacefully assimilated rather than conquered by the Bantu. Others contend that the Khoisan, because of their passive nature, simply vacated the area and moved south, away from the newcomers.

    In either case, the Bantu settled in Angola between 1300 and 1600, and some may have arrived even earlier. The Bantu formed a number of historically important kingdoms. The earliest and perhaps most important of these was the Kongo Kingdom, which arose between the mid1300s and the mid- the 1400s in an area overlapping the present-day border between Angola and Zaire. Other important kingdoms were Ndongo, located to the south of Kongo; Matamba, Kasanje, and Lunda, located east of Ndongo; Bie, Bailundu, and Ciyaka located on the plateau east of Benguela; and Kwanhama (also spelled Kwanyama), located near what is now the border between Angola and Namibia. Although they did not develop a strong central government, the Chokwe (also spelled Cokwe) established a significant cultural center in the northeast of present-day Angola.

    The precolonial kingdoms differed in the area and the number of subjects who owed allegiance, however nominal, to a central authority. The kings might not directly control more land or people than a local ruler, but they were generally acknowledged as paramount. Kings were offered tribute and were believed to possess substantial religious power and authority. A king ‘s actual secular power, however, was determined as much by his own personal abilities as by institutional arrangements.

  • Kongo Kingdom

    In the middle of the fifteenth century, the Kongo Kingdom was the most powerful of a series of states along Africa ‘s west coast known as the Middle Atlantic kingdoms. Kongo evolved in the late fourteenth century when a group of Bakongo moved south of the Congo River into northern Angola, conquering the people they found there and establishing Mbanza Kongo (now spelled Mbanza Congo), the capital of the kingdom. By the middle of the fifteenth century, the manikongo (Kongo king) ruled the lands of northern Angola and the north bank of the Congo River (present-day Congo and Zaire). Kongo was the first kingdom on the west coast of central Africa to come into contact with Europeans. The earliest such contact occurred in 1483 when the Portuguese explorer Diogo Cao reached the mouth of the Congo River.

    The ruler who came to power in 1506 took a Christian name, Afonso. He too admired European culture and science, and he called on Portugal for support in education, military matters, and the conversion of his subjects to Christianity. Many historians, in fact, maintain that Afonso behaved more like a ‘ ‘ Christian ” than most of his teachers. Afonso, therefore, soon came into conflict with Portuguese bent on exploiting Kongo society. The most insidious and lasting aspect of this exploitation was the slave trade. The assault on the capital (which had been renamed Sao Salvador) and its environs drove the king, Alvaro I, into exile. The Portuguese governor of Saotome, responding to pleas from Alvaro I, fought the invaders from 1571 through 1573, finally ousting them and occupying the area until the mid-1570s.

    In 1576, in effective control of the countryside and facing no organized Kongo opposition, the Portuguese founded the town of Luanda, in effect establishing the colony of Angola. Other African leaders, however, continued to resist the Portuguese, and the Europeans only managed to establish insecure footholds along the coast. Concerned that African attacks might impede the stream of slaves to Brazil and Portugal, in 1590 the crown assumed direct control of the colony.

    In 1622 the Portuguese governor of Angola launched an attack on Kongo. Although not entirely successful from the Portuguese point of view, the war had a number of lasting effects. First, the colony captured a large number of slaves, which demonstrated how rewarding slave raiding could be. Second, the Portuguese came out of the war convinced of the existence of silver and gold mines in Kongo, a belief that encouraged a series of conflicts between the colonists and the Kongo Kingdom for the next half-century. The war also created a xenophobia among the Bakongo of the interior, who drove away many Portuguese. Because the trading system depended largely on the Bakongo, commerce was greatly disrupted, with effects on the Angolan colony as great as those on the Kongo Kingdom.

    Adding to Kongo ‘s troubles in the early 1600s was a general dissatisfaction among the Bakongo with their rulers, some of whom were greedy and corrupt. Consequently, conflicts arose over succession to the throne, and more and more sections of the kingdom gained substantial degrees of autonomy and established local control over the trade that had so enriched the monarchy in earlier years.

  • Ndongo Kingdom

    Shortly after Cao made his initial contact with the Kongo Kingdom of northern Angola in 1483, he established links farther south with Ndongo an African state less advanced than Kongo that was made up of Kimbundu speaking people. Their ruler, who was tributary to the manikongo, was called the ngola a kiluanje. It was the first part of the tide, its pronunciation changed to ” Angola, ” by which the Portuguese referred to the entire area. Throughout most of the sixteenth century, Portugal ‘s relations with Ndongo were overshadowed by its dealings with Kongo. It was not until after the founding of Luanda in 1576 that Portugal ‘s exploration into the area of present-day Angola rivaled its trade and commerce in Kongo.

    Although officially ignored by Lisbon, the Angolan colony was the center of disputes, usually concerning the slave trade, between local Portuguese traders and the Mbundu people, who inhabited Ndongo. But by mid-century, the favorable attention the ngola received from Portuguese trade or missionary groups angered the manikongo, who in 1556 sent an army against the Ndongo Kingdom. The forces of the ngola defeated the Kongo army, encouraging him to declare his independence from Kongo and appeal to Portugal for military support. Lisbon routinely employed military force in dealing with the Ndongo Kingdom. This resulted in a major eastward migration of Mbundu people and the subsequent establishment of other kingdoms.

    Following the founding of Luanda, Paulo Dias carried out a series of bloody military campaigns that contributed to Ndongo resentment of Europeans. Dias founded several forts east of Luanda, but indicative of Portugal ‘s declining status as a world power he was unable to gain firm control of the land around them. The failure of the Portuguese to find mineral wealth changed their outlook on the Angolan colony. Slave-taking, which had been incidental to the quest for the mines, then became the major economic motivation for expansion and extension of Portuguese authority. In search of slaves, the Portuguese pushed farther into Ndongo country, establishing a fort a short distance from Mas-Sangano, east of Angola ‘s Atlantic coast. The consequent fighting with the Ndongo generated a stream of slaves who were shipped to the coast.

    The Defeat of Kongo and Ndongo

    The Portuguese imposed a peace treaty on the Bakongo. Its conditions, however, were so harsh that peace was never really achieved, and hostilities grew during the 1660s. The Portuguese victory over the Bakongo at the Battle of Mbwila (also spelled Ambuila) on October 29, 1665, marked the end of the Kongo Kingdom as a unified power.

    The Ndongo Kingdom suffered a fate similar to that of Kongo. Before the Dutch captured Luanda in 1641, the Portuguese attempted to control Ndongo by supporting a pliant king, and during the Dutch occupation, Ndongo remained loyal to Portugal (see The Dutch Interregnum, 1641-48, this ch.). But after the retaking of Luanda in 1648, the ngola judged that the Portuguese had not sufficiently rewarded the kingdom for its allegiance. In 1671 Ndongo intransigence prompted a Portuguese attack and siege on the capital of Pungu-a-Ndondong (present-day Pungo Andongo). The attackers killed the ngola, enslaved many of his followers, and built a fort on the site of the capital. Thus, the Ndongo Kingdom, which had enjoyed the only semi-independent status, now surrendered entirely to Portugal.

  • The Other Kingdoms

    Matamba and Kasanje Kingdoms

    As Portugal became preoccupied with the Ndongo Kingdom as a source of slaves, two inland Mbundu states Matamba and Kasanje prospered. Little is known of Matamba before the seventeenth century, but in 1621 Nzinga, the sister of the ngola a kiluanje, convinced the Portuguese to recognize Ndongo as an independent monarchy and to help the kingdom expel the Imbangala people from its territory. Unable to negotiate successfully with a series of Portuguese governors, however, she was eventually removed. Nzinga and many of her followers traveled east and forged alliances with several groups. She finally ascended to the throne of the Matamba Kingdom. A dynamic and wily ruler, Nzinga dominated Mbundu politics until she died in 1663. Although she dealt with the Europeans, in modern times Nzinga has been remembered by nationalists as an Angolan leader who never accepted Portuguese sovereignty.

    Lunda and Chokwe Kingdoms

    The Lunda Kingdom lay east, beyond Matamba and Kasanje. It developed in the seventeenth century, and its center was in present-day DRC ‘s western Shaba Region. The Lunda Kingdom expanded by absorbing the chiefs of neighboring groups in the empire, rather than by deposing them. The Lunda consolidated their state by adopting an orderly system of succession and by gaining control of the trade caravans that passed through their kingdom. Apparently entertaining similar ideas, the Lunda attacked Matamba and Kasanje in the 1760s.

    The Chokwe, who, according to oral accounts, migrated from either central Africa or the upper reaches of the Kasai River in present-day DRC, established themselves as trading intermediaries in eastern Angola in the middle of the nineteenth century. With guns that they obtained from the Ovimbundu, they attacked and destroyed the Lunda Kingdom in 1900. The Chokwe rapidly expanded their influence in the northeast and east, replacing the Lunda culture with their own language and customs.

    Ovimbundu and Kwanhama Kingdoms

    Between 1500 and 1700, the Ovimbundu peoples migrated from the north and east of Angola to the Benguela Plateau. They did not, however, consolidate their kingdoms, nor did their kings assert their sovereignty over the plateau until the eighteenth century, when some twenty- two kingdoms emerged. Thirteen of the kingdoms, including Bie, Bailundu, and Ciyaka, emerged as powerful entities, and the Ovimbundu acquired a reputation as the most successful traders of the Angolan interior. After the Portuguese conquered most of the Ovimbundu states in the late nineteenth century, the Portuguese colonial authorities directly or indirectly appointed Ovimbundu kings.

    The Kwanhama, belonging to the Bantu- speaking group, established a kingdom early in the nineteenth century in the vicinity of the border with present-day Namibia. Kwanhama kings welcomed trade with Europeans, especially with Portuguese and German gun dealers. Feared even by the Portuguese, the well-armed Kwanhama developed a reputation as fierce warriors. Their kingdom survived until 1915 when a large Portuguese army invaded and defeated them.

  • Slave Trade

    When Portugal rebelled against Spain in 1640, it hoped to establish good relations with the Dutch. Instead, the Dutch saw an opportunity to expand their own colonial holdings and captured Luanda and Benguela in 1641. The Portuguese were unable to dislodge the Dutch from their coastal beachhead. As the Dutch occupation cut off the supply of slaves to Brazil, that colony’s economy suffered. In response, Brazilian colonists raised money and organized forces to launch an expedition aimed at unseating the Dutch from Angola. According to some historians, after the retaking of Luanda, Angola became a defacto colony of Brazil, so driven was the South American colony ‘s sugar-growing economy by its need for slaves.

    Slave trading dominated the Portuguese economy in eighteenth-century Angola. Slaves were obtained by agents, called pombeiros, who roamed the interior, generally following established routes along rivers. They bought slaves, called pegas (pieces), from local chiefs in exchange for commodities such as cloth and wine. The pombeiros returned to Luanda or Benguela with chain gangs of several hundred captives, most of whom were malnourished and in poor condition from the arduous trip on foot. The Atlantic crossing in the overcrowded, unsanitary vessels lasted from five weeks to two months. Many captives died en route.

    During the sixteenth century and most of the seventeenth century, Luanda had been the main slave port of the Portuguese, but toward the end of the 1600s, they turned their attention to Benguela. Although the first efforts at inland expansion from Benguela failed, the Portuguese eventually penetrated the Ovimbundu kingdoms and subjected their people to the same treatment that had earlier befallen the Mbundu. By the end of the eighteenth century, Benguela rivaled Luanda as a slave port.

    From the late sixteenth century until 1836, when Portugal abolished slave trafficking, Angola may have been the source of as many as 2 million slaves for the New World. More than half of these went to Brazil, nearly a third to the Caribbean, and from 10 to 15 percent to the Rio de la Plata area on the southeastern coast of South America. Considering the number of slaves that actually arrived, and taking into account those who died crossing the Atlantic or during transport from the interior to the coast for shipping, the Angola area may have lost as many as 4 million people as a result of the slave trade.

    By the end of the eighteenth century, it became clear that Lisbon ‘s dream of establishing a trading monopoly in its colonies had not been achieved. Competition from foreign powers contributed significantly to Portugal ‘s inability to control the slave trade, either in Angola ‘s interior or on the coast. In 1784, for example, the French expelled a garrison that the Portuguese had established a year earlier in Cabinda. Portugal was also concerned about the northward expansion of Dutch settlers from the Cape of Good Hope area. Moreover, at this time the British, Dutch, and Brazilians, not the Portuguese, were contributing most of the capital and vessels used in the slave trade. Furthermore, many of the European goods arriving at Angolan ports were coming from nations other than Portugal.

    In 1858 slavery was legally abolished in Angola. Government slaves had already been freed in 1854, but the 1858 proclamation declared that all slaves should cease by 1878. The legislation was passed to compensate owners and to care for the freed people. But many of the colonists found ways to circumvent the decree so that the actual conditions of labor did not change significantly.

  • Colonial Portugal

    At the Berlin Conference of 1884, the participants established in principle the limits of Portugal ‘s claims to Angola, and in later years, treaties with the colonial powers that controlled the neighboring territories delineated Angola ‘s boundaries. But because other, more powerful European states of the nineteenth century had explored central Africa, they, not Portugal, determined Angola ‘s boundaries. The west coast territory of Portugal acquired included the left bank of the Congo River and the Cabinda enclave, an acquisition whose value to the state was demonstrated in later years by the discovery there of oil. Britain, however, forced Portugal to withdraw from Nyasaland (present-day Malawi) and Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe and Zambia).

    After the Berlin Conference, the Portuguese military was preoccupied with the subjugation of the African inhabitants of the hinterland, and by 1915 it secured the colony for Portugal. Before African resistance was broken, an intensive military action was necessary for several areas. One campaign took place in the southern region in response to a request from the Boer settlement near Humbe that was threatened by the Kwanhama. Sporadic campaigning included several serious reverses for the Portuguese. The Portuguese were able to bring the Kwanhama under control only with the assistance of field artillery and the establishment of a series of fortified garrisons. One of the most difficult Portuguese military campaigns was waged against the Dembos, a Kimbundu-speaking people who lived less than 150 kilometers northeast of Luanda. The Portuguese attacked the Dembos repeatedly over a period of three years before the Dembos were finally subdued in 1910. Because of difficult conditions, including the tropical climate, the Portuguese did not complete their occupation of Dembos land until 1917.

    Portugal and Belgium concluded several agreements between 1891 and 1927, establishing a complex border generally following natural frontiers. Cabinda ‘s boundaries with the French Congo and the Belgian Congo were delimited in 1886 and 1894, respectively, and by the end of the nineteenth century, Portugal had staked out most of its claims in Angola.

    As far as Europe was concerned, Angola was in the Portuguese sphere of influence, and its status was not subject to further deliberations. Considering its diminished stature in relation to other European powers, Portugal had done well to hold onto as much territory as it had. But the fact that Angola was recognized as a Portuguese possession did not mean that it was under Portuguese control. The work of conquest took the better part of twenty-five years, and in some remote areas even longer.

    In 1921 the colonial administration divided the civil service into European and African branches and assigned mestizos and the very few African assimilados to the latter, thereby limiting their chances of rising in the bureaucratic hierarchy. In 1929 statutes limited the bureaucratic level to which mestigos and assimilados could rise to that of the first clerk, established different pay scales for Europeans and non-Europeans in both public and private sectors, and restricted competition between them for jobs in the bureaucracy. Given this legal framework, the immigration of increasing numbers of Portuguese led to considerable disaffection among mestigos, who had hitherto tended to identify with whites rather than with Africans.

  • The Fight for Independence

    Antonio Salazar, who held the post of prime minister from 1932 until 1968, introduced a new act, which embodied in the Colonial Act of 1930. This act brought Angola’s economy into line with economic policies that the new regime was implementing at home. But Portugal ‘s application of strict financial controls over the colony also halted the drift toward political autonomy in Angola. The Salazar government ‘s settlement policies contributed to the spread of anti-colonial resentment, especially after 1945. These policies resulted in increased competition for employment and growing racial friction.

    Within the context of the burgeoning nationalist struggle, competition developed between the small, multiracial class of educated and semi-educated town inhabitants and the rural, uneducated black peasantry that formed the majority of Angola’s population. At the same time, black Angolans identified strongly with their pre-colonial ethnic and regional origins. By the 1950s, the influence of class and ethnicity had resulted in three major sources of Angolan nationalism. The first, the Mbundu, who inhabited Luanda and the surrounding regions, had a predominantly urban, elite leadership, while the Bakongo and Ovimbundu peoples had rural, peasant orientations. The major nationalist movements that emerged from these three groups the MPLA, the FNLA, and UNITA each claimed to represent the entire Angolan population. Before long, these movements became bitter rivals as the personal ambitions of their leaders, in addition to differences in political ideology and competition for foreign aid, added to their ethnic differences.

    Portugal ‘s assimilationist policy had produced a small group of educated Africans who considered themselves Portuguese. But as this group recognized that it was not fully respected by the Portuguese and as it became increasingly aware of its alienation from its traditional origins, some members began to articulate resentment, both of their own ambiguous social and cultural situations and of the plight of the non assimilated majority of Africans. From among their ranks emerged most of the first generation of liberation movement leaders.

    While most European powers were preparing to grant independence to their African colonies, the Salazar regime was seeking to reassert its grasp on its colonies, as witnessed by the effort it expended in the ill-fated colonato system. The earliest anti colonialist political group in Angola, founded about 1953, was the Party of the United Struggle of Africans of Angola (Partido da Luta Unida dos Africanos de Angola PLUA). In December 1956, the PLUA combined with other organizations in Luanda to form the MPLA, whose aim was to achieve independence for Angola by means of a united front of all African interests.

    The Angolan War of Independence (1961–1974) began as an uprising against the forced cotton cultivation, and it became a multi-faction struggle for the control of Portugal’s overseas province of Angola among three nationalist movements and a separatist movement. The war ended when a leftist military coup in Lisbon in April 1974 overthrew Portuguese Estado Novo regime, and the new regime immediately stopped all military action in the African colonies, declaring its intention to grant them independence without delay.

  • The Civil War

    The Angolan Civil War (Portuguese: Guerra civil angolana) was a major civil conflict in Angola, beginning in 1975 and continuing, with some interludes, until 2002. The war began immediately after Angola became independent from Portugal in November 1975. The civil war was essentially a power struggle between two former liberation movements, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). At the same time, the war served as a surrogate battleground for the Cold War and large-scale direct and indirect international involvement by opposing powers such as the Soviet Union, Cuba, South Africa and the United States was a major feature of the conflict.

    The MPLA and UNITA had different roots in the Angolan social fabric and mutually incompatible leaderships, despite their shared aim of ending colonial rule. A third movement, the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), having fought the MPLA alongside UNITA during the war for independence, played almost no role in the Civil War. Additionally, the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), an association of separatist militant groups, fought for the independence of the province of Cabinda from Angola.

    By 1986, Angola began to assume a more central role in the Cold War, with the Soviet Union, Cuba and other Eastern bloc nations enhancing support for the MPLA government, and American conservatives beginning to elevate their support for Savimbi’s UNITA. Savimbi developed close relations with influential American conservatives, who saw Savimbi as a key ally in the U.S. effort to oppose and rollback Soviet-backed, undemocratic governments around the world. The conflict quickly escalated, with both Washington and Moscow seeing it as a critical strategic conflict in the Cold War.

    The 27-year war can be divided roughly into three periods of major fighting – from 1975 to 1991, 1992 to 1994, and from 1998 to 2002 – broken up by fragile periods of peace. By the time the MPLA finally achieved victory in 2002, more than 500,000 people had died and over one million had been internally displaced. The war devastated Angola’s infrastructure, and severely damaged the nation’s public administration, economic enterprises, and religious institutions.

    The Angolan Civil War was notable due to the combination of Angola’s violent internal dynamics and massive foreign intervention. The war became a Cold War struggle, as both the Soviet Union and the United States, along with their respective allies, provided significant military assistance to parties in the conflict. Moreover, the Angolan conflict became closely intertwined with the Second Congo War in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as with the South African Border War.