Prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century, Angola was inhabited by San- and Bantu-speaking societies. As in other African countries on the western coast, the arrival of the Portuguese meant the introduction of the slave trade to the region. Until its abolition, in 1836, 2 million to 4 million people were sent to countries across the Atlantic, primarily Brazil, as slaves. By the end of the 19th century, Angola had become an official colony of Portugal, and a massive forced-labor economy developed within the region. Railroads, mines, and plantations were all created through the efforts of forced laborers.
A number of independence movements emerged in the country during the middle of the 20th century, including the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The resistance against the
Portuguese within Angola came to a head after a 1974 coup d’état in Portugal, and on November 11, 1975, Angola gained its independence from Portugal.
Unfortunately, independence did not bring peace to the country. Civil war broke out between the MPLA, backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba, and the UNITA and FNLA, backed by the United States and South Africa. Although cease-fire agreements were reached in the early 1990s, waves of civil war have continued to plague the country. The current president of Angola is José Eduardo dos Santos, who is also the president of the MPLA.
The Top 5: Local Advice
1. Located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Angola is mostly desert and savanna. The capital, Luanda, is also the country’s largest city and is located on its western coast.
2. The currency of Angola is the Angolan kwanza. There are 100 lwei in every kwanza, and the symbol of the kwanza is Kz.
3. The national daily newspaper of Angola is the Jornal de Angola
. A number of newspapers are also published in Luanda, including Angolense
and Semanario Angolense.
4. The official language of Angola is Portuguese. Other common languages are Kikongo, Umbundu, and Kimbundu.
5. There is currently no ban on public smoking in Angola. Pay attention, though: many privately owned restaurants and businesses have created specific non-smoking areas to honor their patrons’ preferences.