Angola country profile

  • Published
Map of Angola

One of Africa's major oil producers, Angola is striving to tackle the physical, social and political legacy of a 27-year civil war that ravaged the country after independence.

Following the withdrawal of the Portuguese colonial masters in 1975, the rival former independence movements competed for power until 2002.

Much of Angola's oil wealth lies in Cabinda province, where a decades-long separatist conflict simmers.

The government has sent thousands of troops to subdue the rebellion in the enclave, which has no border with the rest of Angola. Human rights groups have alleged abuses against civilians.


The Republic of Angola

Capital: Luanda

  • Population 29 million

  • Area 1.25m sq km (481,354 sq miles)

  • Major languages Portuguese (official), Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo

  • Major religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy 58 years (men), 64 years (women)

  • Currency kwanza

Getty Images


President: Joao Lourenco

Image source, Getty Images

Joao Lourenco became the country's first new president in 38 years in September 2017.

He was the chosen candidate of his predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who did not run in the general election but who was still expected to retain a strong influence over the running of the country.

However, Mr Lourenco surprised many by firing several security chiefs close to his predecessor as well as the leaders of state-run companies, including Isabel dos Santos, who was removed from the helm of Sonangol.

Mr Lourenco is a retired general who first fought in the independence struggle against Portugal, and later against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) during the civil war.


Image source, Getty Images

Social media appeared to be under threat at the end of 2015 when President dos Santos called for their stricter regulation, at a time when the government was cracking down on political dissident and activism.

For many urban Angolans, the internet has become the primary medium for expression of political anger because of the dangers of protesting on the streets.

The state controls all media with nationwide reach, including radio, the most influential medium outside the capital.


Some key dates in Angola's history:

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Angolan civil war involved forces from Cuba, pictured, as well as from South Africa

1300s - Kongo kingdom consolidates in the north.

1483 - Portuguese arrive.

17th and 18th centuries - Angola becomes a major Portuguese trading arena for slaves. Between 1580 and 1680 a million plus are shipped to Brazil.

1885-1930 - Portugal consolidates colonial control over Angola, local resistance persists.

1950s-1961 - Nationalist movement develops, guerrilla war begins.

1974 - Revolution in Portugal, colonial empire collapses.

1975 - Portuguese withdraw from Angola without formally handing power to any movement. MPLA is in control of Luanda and declares itself government of independent Angola. Unita and FNLA set up a rival government in Huambo.

Civil war begins, dragging on until 2002.

1979 - Jose Eduardo dos Santos becomes country's leader. He steps down 38 years later.

1987 - South African forces enter southeast Angola to thwart MPLA and Cuban offensive against Unita. They withdrew the next year.

1991 - Government, Unita sign peace accord in Lisbon.

1992 - Disputed elections. Fighting flares again.

1998 - Luanda launches offensive against Unita - thousands killed in next four years of fighting.

2002 - Unita leader Jonas Savimbi is killed in battle and a formal ceasefire is signed.

2018 - Joao Lourenco becomes president.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The civil war came to an end following the killing of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi

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