30,355,880 (July 2018 est.)
Tropical to Semiarid
172 AOA (kwanzas) = 1 USD (2017)
Huambo, Lobita, Lubango
African religion 47%, Catholic 38%, Protestant 15%
TYPE OF GOVERNMENT
DATE OF INDEPENDENCE
November 11, 1975
Petroleum, Diamonds, Coffee, Sisal, Fish, Timber, Cotton
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.
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.