Angola (República de Angola/Republic of Angola) is a presidential republic and situated in southwestern Africa. It used to be a Portuguese colony (overseas province). It is washed to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and is bordered to the north and north-east by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa), to the southeast by Zambia and to the south by Namibia.
Angola’s capital is Luanda. The country is divided into 18 provinces, also including Cabinda, an exclave situated between the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa).
The country stretches along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean for more than 1,600 km from the mouth of the Zaire in the north to the Cunene in the south. Three of the most important cities of the country are located along the Atlantic coast: the capital Luanda and the cities of Benguela and Lobito.
Towards the north the coastline is characterized by gentle hills, but further south in the neighbourhood of the capital the coast is generally flat and uniform. Here are the estuaries of the rivers Cuanza and Bengo. In the area of Benguela the coast becomes narrower and the mountains almost reach the Atlantic Ocean. South of the city begins the area dominated by savannah. After the Serra da Neve begins the semi-desert area, which next to the city of Namibe and further south as far as the border with Namibia becomes a full desert landscape, being the northern part of the Namib desert.
The interior of the country is characterized by a range of high plains, which are covered with savannah, but the province of Cuanza-Norte is covered with tropical rain forest. The largest of the Angolan highlands is the Bié Plateau, a harsh plateau, which occupies a great part of the Angolan territory, reaching an altitude of 1,300 meters. To the west of the Bié plateau in the central part of the country there are mountain ranges like the Serra do Chilengue and the Serra do Humbe. Here the highest mountain – the Morro de Moco – reaches 2,620 meters.
Most of the country’s rivers originate in central Angola. From these mountains the Kwanza and the Cunene flow into the Atlantic. The Kwango flows north into the river Congo, whereas the Kwando and the Kubango – the Angolan name for the Okavango – is with 975 km the longest river of Angola. It reaches the marshes of the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana. In the central plateau region is Huambo (ex-Nova Lisboa) to be found. It is the capital of the province of the same name and the second most populous city of Angola. On the eastern side towards the interior of the continent the highlands gently draw down toward the basin of the Zambezi river. The landscape is here characterized by vast savannah.
The 30 years of civil war has resulted in one million deaths and four million displaced persons. The country is slowly trying to re-emerge from the experienced abyss. It is rich in minerals and agricultural resources. Now Angola’s economy is the fastest growing economy of Africa and one of the fastest of the world. It is based on oil – Angolan petroleum extraction is second after Nigeria on the African continent – diamonds, iron ore, natural gas, gold and salt. Agriculture has considerable prospectives with the growing of cotton, bananas, palm oil, sugar cane, coffee, tobacco, maize, sesame, castor, sisal and rubber.
There also good opportunities for breeding cattle, sheep and goats. Fisheries and the exploitation of timber are other fields of possible activities. Tourism is hardly developed, but the country has significant unspoilt landscapes. As soon as the necessary infrastructure like roads and hotels are available, Angola will become attractive for tourists. Significant natural points of interest like the Calandula waterfalls (Quedas do Duque de Bragança) on the river Lucala, a right-side tributary of the Cuanza, beautiful scenarios of the Bié plateau, the rocky area of Pungo Andongo and the Namib desert in the south-west corner of Angola are worth to be seen.
English text correction by Dietrich Köster.
- Area: 1,246,700 sq km: Arable Land 2,8%, Pastures 43,3%, Forests and Shrubland 18,4%, Uncultivated and Unproductive Land 35,5%
- Population: 15,900,000 (as of 2005): Black Africans 97% (Ovimbundu 37%, Kimbundu 25%, Bakongo 13%), Mestiços (mixed descendants of Europeans and Africans) 2%, Europeans 1%.
- State Capital: Luanda.
- Languages: The official language is Portuguese. National languages are: Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo, Uchokwe, Ukwanyama
- Religion: Roman Catholics 65%, Protestants 20%, Indigenous Beliefs 10%.
- Currency: Kwanza (AOA)
- Time Zone: UTC+1 hour.