Angola is over twice the size of France. It lies between 6° and 18°S in southern Africa with a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo on the north, by Zambia on the east, and by Namibia on the south.
There is a steep rise inland from a narrow coastal plain to an extensive interior plateau with an average height of between 600 m/2,000 ft and 1,200 m/4,000 ft. The highest areas of the plateau rise to over 2,400 m/8,000 ft. To the north and east of these higher areas the land slopes gradually towards the basins of the Congo and Zambesi rivers.
Over most of Angola the weather and climate are typical of a tropical plateau, with a single wet season at the time of high sun between October and March and a long dry season. The table for Huambo shows this very clearly. Here both daytime and, particularly, night-time temperatures are reduced by altitude to produce a pleasant variety of tropical climate.
Above 1,500 m/5,000 ft temperatures around the year are temperate rather than tropical and frost is not unknown. The dry season shortens by a month or two in the north of the country, as compared with Huambo, which has five virtually rainless months. Over most of the interior the mean annual rainfall is between 1,000 mm/40 in and 1,500 mm/60 in, being greater at higher levels.
The coastal region of Angola has a most unusual climate for the latitude. Temperature and rainfall are much reduced in a strip about fifty miles wide, as a direct consequence of the cold Benguela current, which flows from south to north along the shore. This current is responsible for the almost total absence of rain on the coast of Namibia to the south.
The same extreme dryness prevails in the southern coastal district of Angola as shown by the table for Namibe (Mossamedes). The coastal region is desert or semi-desert as far north as Luanda but there is a gradual increase of rainfall northwards until, in the far north, it is over 600 mm/24 in per year.
The coast experiences much low cloud and fog as a consequence of warm air moving over the cold ocean surface. Temperatures on the coast only rise to high levels when there is a pronounced offshore wind bringing heated air from the interior.
The almost constant daytime sea breezes keep the temperatures on the coast low for a tropical region. Sunshine amounts are rather low on the coast, averaging from four to six hours per day. They are much higher inland, ranging from four to five hours per day in the wet season to as much as nine to ten hours in the dry season.
Because of the reduced temperatures inland, and the dry cool nature of the coastal weather, Angola has a healthy and pleasant climate for a tropical country.
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