Angola

Info

Capital

Luanda

Population

18,565,269 (July 2013 est.)

Climate

Equatorial to tropical

Currency

95.54 AOA (kwanzas) = 1 USD (2012)

Important Cities

Jamba, Huambo, Caxito

Area

1,246,699 sq.km.

People

Nationality

Angolan

Major Peoples

Chokwe, Kongo, Luchazi, Lunda, Luvale, Songo, Yaka

Religion

African religion 47%, Catholic 38%, Protestant 15%

Literacy

70.1%

Principal Language

Ovimbundu, Bakongo, Kibundu

Official Language

Portuguese

Politics

Head Of State

Edouardo dos Santos

Type of Government

Republic

Date of Independence

November 11, 1975

Major Exports

Petroleum, Diamonds, Coffee, Sisal, Fish, Timber, Cotton

Precolonial History

Bantu peoples from the north brought metalworking, ceramic, and agricultural technology to the region in the early 6th century CE. Kingdoms rose from various ethnic groups, most notably the Kongo Kingdom in the 1300s. The first Europeans to reach Angola were Portuguese explorers, traders, and missionaries in the late 15th century. At the time, the country was ruled by Afonso, the king of the Kongo, whose capital became the modern city of M’banza-Kongo. However, the slave trade, colonization, and internal revolts soon hastened the kingdom’s decline. Angola served as a significant source of slaves, mainly for the Portuguese colony of Brazil, until the mid-19th century.

Postcolonial History

Increasing discontent over Portuguese rule led to the Angolan war for independence in 1961. Approximately 1.5 million people were lost and four million displaced in the quarter-century of fighting that followed. In 1975, a transitional government divided control of the country between three major nationalist groups, each aided by foreign powers. The MPLA was supported by USSR and Cuba, the FNLA by Zaire and Western powers, including the USA, while UNITA, led by Jonas Savimbi, was backed by South Africa. Later that year, Portugal proclaimed Angolan independence and transferred sovereignty to the Angolan people. Civil war continued as the MPLA declared the People’s Republic of Angola and established a government in the capital city of Luanda with the party’s leader, Agostinho Neto, as president. The FNLA and UNITA formed a united force under the military leadership of Jonas Savimbi, who attained an almost mystical reputation for evading assassination attempts and capture. However, UNITA’s insurgence ended when Savimbi was killed in a battle against MPLA government troops in 2002. Neto’s fellow MPLA member and presidential successor, José Eduardo dos Santos, drafted a new constitution in 2010, stipulating that ballots must be cast for parties rather than individual candidates. Dos Santos was re-elected in 2012.

Recommended Sources:

Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, “Angola” (http://www.content.eisa.org.za/old-page/angola).

Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/).