Quedas do Ruacaná, Cunene
Barra do Dande, Bengo
Black Rocks at Pung-a-Ndongo, Malanje / Courtesy of JAIMAGENS
Sunset, Angola / Courtesy of JAIMAGENS
|Official Name||Republic of Angola|
|President||H.E. João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço|
|Vice-president||H.E. Bornito de Sousa Baltazar Diogo|
|National Day||11 of November (Day of Independence)|
|Administrative Divisions||18 Provinces|
|National Languages||Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongu, Tchokwe, Fiote, Kwanyama and Nhaneca.|
|Population||24.3 million inhabitants|
|Population Density||20 inhabitants per km2|
|GDP||$131 billion USD (2014)|
|Real GDP growth||4.3% (2014)|
|Main Exports||Oil, diamonds, wood, fish, coffee, sisal, etc.|
|Main Imports||Food, medicine, vehicles, machines, electric equipment, textiles, etc.|
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola, is the seventh largest country in Africa in terms of size with an area of 1,246,700 km2. The country is divided into 18 provinces. The northernmost province, Cabinda, constitutes an enclave separated from the rest of the country by the Democratic Republic of Congo. The main urban centers, besides the country’s capital, Luanda, are the cities of Lubango, Benguela, Huambo, Cabinda, Lobito, Namibe, Malanje and Soyo.
Angola is located in the Atlantic coast of Southern Africa, to the South of the Equator, and its territory is bordered by the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the North, by the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Zambia to the East, by the Republic of Namibia to the South, and by the Atlantic Ocean to the West. Its land border is 4.837 km long.
Angola has a 1,650 km long coastline and its 3 main ports are those of Luanda, Lobito and Namibe. The Port of Lobito is connected to the Benguela Railway, which links the Atlantic Coast of Angola to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to the Republic of the Zambia. Other ports include the Porto Amboim, the Port of Cabinda, and the Port of Soyo. Angola’s main and largest river is the Kwanza with more than 1.000 km. The Angolan currency is named after this river. Other important rivers are: Cubango, Longa, Cuito, Cunene, Queve, Cuango and the Cuando River.
Angola has two seasons: the rainy hot season that goes from October to April, and the dry season known as Cacimbo that goes from May to September. The highest average temperature is 27°C and the lowest 17°C.
Given its geographic location in the intertropical and subtropical zone of the southern hemisphere and its proximity to the sea, as well as its landscape, Angola is divided into two distinct climatic regions.
The Coastal Region with an annual average humidity of 30% and an average temperature above 23°C. The Interior Region is subdivided into the North Zone, with high rainfall and high temperatures; the Altitude Zone, which includes the central plateau regions with a dry climate and low temperatures; and the Southwest Zone, semiarid given its proximity to the Namibe Desert, subjected to large continental tropical air masses.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Angola has five types of natural regions, such as humid and dense forests like the Maiombe Forest; savannahs, normally related to woodlands as in the Lunda provinces; dry savannahs with trees or shrubs, around Luanda and the Baixa de Kassanje region as well as in some areas of the Lunda provinces.
There are also steppe zones along a strip that begins south of Sumbe city and finally the desert, which covers a narrow coastal strip in the southernmost part of the country.
A diverse wildlife is known to exist in various regions of Angola. In Maiombe Forest there are gorillas, chimpanzees, parrots and other types of animals. In the more humid zones of the north, center and east parts of the country there are bushbucks, blue duikers and elephants. In the drier regions, herds of springbok, gemsbok, gnus, impalas, cheetahs, buffalos, elephants, zebras and giraffes can also be found. The most common animals across the entire country are hyenas, roan antelopes, lions, leopards and hippopotamus.
However, poaching and the civil war had a negative impact in Angola’s fauna. However, thanks to the Operation Noah’s Ark, many animal species were brought in from other African countries and reintroduced into the Kissama National Park.
The provisional results of the population census released in September of 2014 estimate the population of Angola at 24.3 million, of which 62.3% live in urban centers. The Province of Luanda is the most populous with 6.5 million inhabitants, corresponding to 27% of the population of the country; and the Province of Bengo is the least populous one with only 274 thousand inhabitants, that is, 1% of the national population.
The majority of the Angolan population is of Bantu origin and composed of various ethnic groups, namely the Ovimbundos (37%), Ambundos (25%), Bakongos (13%), Tchokwes (8%), Mestizos (2%), Europeans (1%), and others. It can be said that the Angolan population of European origin is mainly from Portugal due to Angola’s past as a former Portuguese colony.
Angola’s main religion is Christianity, with most Angolans practicing Catholicism. A considerable number of the population follows Protestant denominations such as Baptist, Methodist and Congregational churches. There are also a small number of followers of Reformed and Lutheran churches.
Besides, there are also Adventist and Pentecostal churches, some of them with strong Brazilian influence. Furthermore, there are two religions with syncretic elements in their faith, namely the Kimbanguista and the Tocoista churches. Adherents to African traditional religions and Islam constitute a small minority.
BRIEF HISTORY OF ANGOLA
The territory of present day Angola has been inhabited since the prehistoric times as shown by evidence found in the regions of the Lunda provinces, Congo and in the Namibe Desert. However, well-organized people only started to settle in the territory thousands of years later, during protohistory. The first to arrive were the Bushmen. At the beginning of the sixth century, during the Bronze Age, a more advanced people and well skilled in iron smelting undertook one of the greatest migrations in history. They were the Bantu and came from the north, probably from the region that is modern-day Cameroon.
Upon their arrival in Angola, the Bantu found the Bushmen and other more primitive groups, and easily imposed on them their knowhow in iron smelting, ceramics and agriculture. The Bantu people spread themselves throughout the entire territory of Angola, giving origin to the ethnic groups that constitute the population of Angola. The social and political structures of some of these groups gave birth to the Congo Kingdom as well as other kingdoms in the 13th century.
This was the situation that Diogo Cão, a Portuguese navigator, found in 1482 when he led a fleet that reached the mouth of the Zaire River. Friendly relations were established between the Portuguese and the sovereigns of the Congo Kingdom, and both parties began trading. Relations were broken when Paulo Dias de Novais began the occupation and direct administration of coastal regions by establishing several strongholds. At the same time the slave trade started taking place due to the need of workforce in sugarcane plantations in Brazil.
The slave trade ended only in the late 18th century, at the time of the Berlin Conference. The division of Africa, as agreed by European powers at the Berlin Conference, forced Portugal to start a prolonged fight for occupation and administration of the entire territory of Angola. The end of the Portuguese monarchy in 1910 and the international situation at that time brought about new reforms in Portugal, and Angola became a Portuguese overseas province. However, Portugal was only able to draw a final border demarcation line as well as gain full control of the territory that makes modern-day Angola in 1921.
The situation in Angola at that time was apparently calm. In the mid-20th century, the raise of the first Angolan nationalist movements broke this tranquility. In the 50s, political organizations begin to take shape and in a coordinated way made their cries heard. These political organizations promoted diplomatic campaigns around the world in their fight for the independence of Angola.
However, the Portuguese colonial power did not yield to the demands of the nationalist forces, resulting in the start of direct armed conflicts known as the National Liberation Struggle, on February 4th, 1961. Three nationalist forces participated in this armed conflict, namely, the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola) and UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola). Following long years of fighting, Angola finally gained independence on November 11th, 1975.
The independence of Angola was not the beginning of peace but the start of a war between the three nationalist groups that fought against the Portuguese colonialism. After a nearly 30-year-long civil war, the guns fell silent and peace was finally consolidated on April 4th, 2002. Angola has been enjoying political and social stability ever since.
The national flag of the Republic of Angola was adopted in 1975, at the time of the proclamation of Independence.
The national flag has two colors split horizontally. The upper half is red representing the blood Angolans shed during the colonial oppression, the struggle for national liberation and the defense of the homeland. The lower half is black representing the African continent. In the center there is a cogwheel, symbol of international solidarity and progress. The cogwheel, the machete and the star are yellow, which represents the wealth of the country.
EMBLEM OF THE REPUBLIC
The emblem of Angola is formed by a half cogwheel, which represents industrial production and its workers. The second half of the circle is formed by corn, coffee and cotton leaves, which represent farmers and agricultural production. The open book represents education and culture, and the rising sun represents the New Country. The machete and the hoe symbolize work and the beginning of armed struggle for national liberation, whereas the star symbolizes international solidarity and progress. At the bottom of the emblem there is a golden banner with the inscription ‘Republic of Angola”.
“Angola Avante” (Onwards Angola)
The national anthem was adopted in 1975 after Angola gained its independence from Portugal.
O Fatherland, we shall never forget
The heroes of the Fourth of February.
O Fatherland, we salute your sons
Who died for our Independence.
We honor the past and our history
As by our work we build the New Man.
We honor the past and our history
As by our work we build the New Man.
Revolution through the power of the People!
A United Fatherland, Freedom,
One People, one Nation!
Let us raise our liberated voices
To the glory of the peoples of Africa.
Let’s march, Angolan fighters,
In solidarity with the oppressed peoples.
We shall fight proudly for Peace
Along with the progressive forces of the world.
We shall fight proudly for Peace
Along with the progressive forces of the world.
ANGOLA AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
In the international arena, Angola has been giving strong support to initiatives that promote peace and the resolution of regional disputes, choosing diplomatic means in the prevention of conflicts and the promotion of human rights. Angola is a member of several international organizations, such as:
• World Bank
• African Union
• World Trade Organization
• Gulf of Guinea Commission
• International Monetary Fund
• Organization of the United Nations
• Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
• Southern Africa Development Community
• Multilateral Investments Guarantee Agency
• African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States
• Economic Community of Central African States
• Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
• Organization of American states (Permanent observer)
The economic potential of Angola is high, diversified and has been receiving a lot of attention from the national and foreign business community. The Angolan subsoil is rich in natural resources, such as oil, natural gas, copper, phosphate, diamond, zinc, aluminum, gold, iron, silicon, uranium, quartz, potassium, granite, marble, and others.
Angola has vast fertile soils, and its climate ideal for growing a great variety of tropical and semitropical products. The many rivers that run through the country offer excellent opportunities for irrigation as well as huge hydropower potential. The country also has a fauna and flora rich in marine and wood resources.
Oil still represents the main source of revenue of the country, which makes the economy vulnerable to oil price shocks. Thus, aimed at diversifying the economy, as well as to protect it against oil price volatility, the Angolan government created in October of 2012 a sovereign fund (Sovereign Wealth Fund of Angola) with an initial allocation of $5 billion USD.
It is expected that in the coming years, Angola will become a country with an economy increasingly robust and rising, able to contribute to the sustainable development of the country and to the wellbeing of its people.
The cultural wealth of Angola is manifested in different areas. The highlight of Angolan craftsmanship is the variety of materials used when making wood statuettes, musical instruments, masks for ritual dances, richly decorated objects for common use, and oil and sand paintings.
Angolan ethnic groups have a wide variety of music and dances that they integrate naturally into their daily and social lives. Both the traditional music (such as Semba and Rebita) as well as the modern music (such as Kizomba, Kuduro and Zouk) have become well known internationally. Additionally, there are some musical instruments that are part of the Angolan cultural heritage and worth mentioning here, namely, the batuque, kissange and marimba.
Angolan literature, whose origin dates to the mid-19th century, is based on native tradition, and quickly set itself apart from other similar publications in the Portuguese language, and have even published overseas. Antonio Assis Junior’s O Segredo da Morta (The secret of the dead), the firs novel written by an Angolan, was published in 1935.
The 1950s, saw the appearance of writers such as Agostinho Neto, Viriato da Cruz and Antonio Jacinto, whose poems played an important role in shaping up the mind of many generations about the need for resistance to the colonial dominance and for national affirmation. In the following years, writers such as Oscar Ribas, Luandino Vieira, Arnaldo Santos, Uanhenga Xitu, and Mario Antonio among others, started to create a way of writing that expressed the Angolan’s ways of being, thinking and acting, and thus contributing to the diffusion and consolidation of its own identity.
In terms of gastronomy, each ethnic group of Angola has its own traditional cuisine, but the ingredients most commonly used are cassava, corn, yams, potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables, fish, shellfish and meat. Having been a former Portuguese colony, the influence of Portugal in Angolan gastronomy is quite visible. One of the most typical Angolan dishes is funge, a kind of porridge usually made from cassava or corn flour. Funge is generally served with kizaka (seasoned and cooked cassava leaves), palm oil beans, mwamba de galinha (chicken in a peanut, tomato and okra sauce), calulu (stew of dried and salted fish or meat cooked in palm oil with vegetables), and other ingredients.
Angolans are avid practitioners of sports. The most popular sport is soccer, followed by basketball, handball and roller hockey. The national soccer team participated for the first in a soccer world cup at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Through its participation in 18 editions of the FIBA African Championship (1980-2013), the Angolan men’s basketball team obtained the following results: gold (11), silver (2) and bronze (3). On the other hand, the women’s national team participated in 15 editions (1981-2013) with the following results: gold (2), silver (5). Both teams are champions of the 2013 African basketball championship. The biggest international sports events recently hosted by Angola are the African Cup of Nations in 2010 and the Championship of the Men’s Roller Hockey World Cup in 2013.
A friendly and hospitable people, an amazing variety of attractions, and a dynamic and charming culture make Angola a country worth visiting. As far as tourism is concerned, it can be said that Angola is like a rough diamond, with a huge potential still to be explored.
Angola has very diverse natural landscapes such as rivers, waterfalls, lakes, beaches, mountains, deserts, caves and grottos, ideal for many types of tourism and leisure. The country has six National Parks, four Partial Natural Reserves and two Natural Reserves where some endemic species such as the Giant Sable Antelope (fauna) and the Welwitschia Mirabilis (flora) can be found.