Angola is a country in south-central Africa bordering Namibia, the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, and Zambia, and with a west coast along the Atlantic Ocean. The exclave province Cabinda has a border with
Republic of the Congo. A former Portuguese colony, it has considerable natural resources, among which oil and diamonds are
the most relevant. The country is nominally a democracy and is formally named the Republic of Angola.
After 16 years of fighting, which
killed up to 300,000 people, a peace deal led to elections. But Unita rejected the outcome and resumed the war, in which hundreds
of thousands more were killed. Another peace accord was signed in 1994 and the UN sent in peacekeepers.
But the fighting steadily worsened
again and in 1999 the peacekeepers withdrew, leaving behind a country rich in natural resources but littered with landmines
and the ruins of war.
death of Unita leader Jonas Savimbi in a gunfight with government forces in February 2002 raised the prospect of peace and
the army and rebels signed a ceasefire in April to end the conflict.
Angola's motto is Virtus Unita
Fortior, meaning "unity provides strength"
The executive branch of the government
is composed of the President, the Prime Minister currently Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos and Council of Ministers. Currently,
political power is concentrated in the Presidency. The Council of Ministers, composed of all government ministers and vice
ministers, meets regularly to discuss policy issues. Governors of the 18 provinces are appointed by and serve at the pleasure
of the president. The Constitutional Law of 1992 establishes the broad outlines of government structure and delineates the
rights and duties of citizens. The legal system is based on Portuguese and customary law but is weak and fragmented, and courts
operate in only 12 of more than 140 municipalities. A Supreme Court serves as the appellate tribunal; a Constitutional Court
with powers of judicial review has never been constituted despite statutory authorization. Critics have drawn an ironic comparison
between Angola's current one-party rule and the authoritarian regime of António de Oliveira Salazar of Portugal, under whose
rule Angolans began their revolt for independence so many years ago.
The 27-year long Angolan Civil War
ravaged the country's political and social institutions. The UN estimates of 1.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs),
while generally the accepted figure for war-affected people is 4 million. Daily conditions of life throughout the country
and specifically Luanda (population approximately 4 million) mirror the collapse of administrative infrastructure as well
as many social institutions. The ongoing grave economic situation largely prevents any government support for social institutions.
Hospitals are without medicines or basic equipment, schools are without books, and public employees often lack the basic supplies
for their day-to-day work.
The current government has announced
the an intention to hold elections in 2006. These elections would be the first since 1992 and would serve to elect both a
new president and a new National Assembly.
Angola is divided into 18 provinces
(províncias) and 158 municipalities (municípios).
The provinces are:
Geography of Angola
Angola is bordered by Namibia to
the south, Zambia to the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north-east, and the South Atlantic Ocean to the
west. The exclave of Cabinda also borders the Republic of the Congo to the north. Angola's capital, Luanda, lies on the Atlantic
coast in the north-west of the country. Angola's average temperature on the coast is 60 degrees in the winter and 70 degrees
in the summer.
Economy of Angola
Angola's economy has undergone a
period of rapid transformation in recent years, moving from the disarray caused by a quarter century of war to being the fastest
growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. Growth is almost entirely driven by rising oil production which
surpassed 1.4 million barrels per day in late-2005. Control of the oil industry is consolidated in Sonangol Group, a conglomerate
which is owned by the Angolan government. The economy grew 18% in 2005; growth is expected to reach 26% in 2006 and stay above
10% for the rest of the decade. The security brought about by the 2002 peace settlement has led to the resettlement of 4 million
displaced persons, thus resulting in large-scale increases in agriculture production. With revenues booming from oil exports,
the government has started to implement ambitious development programs in building roads and other basic infrastructure for
Demographics of Angola
With the population of 14.5million
with the life expectancy up to 39 years for men and 42 years for women.
There are around 90 ethnic groups
in the country,but Angola has three main ethnic groups, each speaking a Bantu language: Ovimbundu 37%, Mbundu 25%, and Bakongo
13%. Other groups include Chokwe or Lunda, Ganguela, Nhaneca-Humbe, Ambo, Herero, and Xindunga. In addition, mestiços
(Angolans of mixed European and African family origins) amount to about 2%, with a small (1%) population of whites, mainly
ethnically Portuguese. Many Angolans of Portuguese descent left the country shortly after independence and during the subsequent
civil war. They still make up the largest non-African population, at around 30,000 inhabitants many native-born Angolans can
also claim Portuguese nationality under Portuguese law.
Portuguese is both the official and
predominant language, spoken in the homes of about two-thirds of the population. 40% of Angolans, including Afrikaners, speak
Afrikaans and Bantu languages [most spoken of these are Ovimbundu, Kimbundu, and Kikongo (all of these have many Portuguese-derived
words)] as their first languages. Many educated Angolans can speak English as second or third language.
Roman Catholicism remains the dominant
religion, although recently an increasing number of churches are claiming more followers, particularly evangelicals. Indigenous
religions, which include fetish charms and others objects, are still quite prominent in Angola.