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ANGOLA

Angolan Consulate / Embassy
2017 Holidays and Closures:

  • January 1: New Years
  • February 4: Liberation Movement Day
  • March 8: International Womans Day
  • April 4: Peace Day
  • April 14: Good Friday
  • April 16: Easter
  • May 1: International Labour Day
  • September 17: National Heros Day
  • November 2: Memorial Day
  • November 11: Independence Day
  • December 25:  Christmas Day

 

U.S. Embassy in Angola:

Rua Houari Boumedienne #32
Luanda, Angola C.P. 6468
Tel: 222641000 / Fax: +244-222-64-1000
Email: PASInboxluanda@state.gov

 

Angola Embassy in U.S.:

2100-2108 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: 202.785.1156 / Fax: 202.822.9049
Website: http://www.angola.org/

Angola at a Glance

History of Angola

In 1482, when the Portuguese first landed in what is now northern Angola, they encountered the Kingdom of the Congo, which stretched from modern Gabon in the north to the Kwanza River in the south. Mbanza Congo, the capital, had a population of 50,000 people. South of this kingdom were various important states, of which the Kingdom of Ndongo, ruled by the ngola (king), was most significant. Modern Angola derives its name from the king of Ndongo. The Portuguese gradually took control of the coastal strip throughout the 16th century by a series of treaties and wars. The Dutch occupied Luanda from 1641-48, providing a boost for anti-Portuguese states. In 1648, Brazilian-based Portuguese forces re-took Luanda and initiated a process of military conquest of the Congo and Ndongo states that ended with Portuguese victory in 1671. Full Portuguese administrative control of the interior did not occur until the beginning of the 20th century.

Portugal’s primary interest in Angola quickly turned to slavery. The slaving system began early in the 16th century with the purchase from African chiefs of people to work on sugar plantations in São Tomé, Principé, and Brazil. Many scholars agree that by the 19th century, Angola was the largest source of slaves not only for Brazil, but also for the Americas, including the United States. By the end of the 19th century, a massive forced labor system had replaced formal slavery and would continue until outlawed in 1961. It was this forced labor that provided the basis for development of a plantation economy and, by the mid-20th century, a major mining sector. Forced labor combined with British financing to construct three railroads from the coast to the interior, the most important of which was the transcontinental Benguela railroad that linked the port of Lobito with the copper zones of the Belgian Congo and what is now Zambia.

Colonial economic development did not translate into social development for native Angolans. The Portuguese regime encouraged white immigration, especially after 1950, which intensified racial antagonisms. As decolonization progressed elsewhere in Africa, Portugal, under the Salazar and Caetano dictatorships, rejected independence and treated its African colonies as overseas provinces. Consequently, three independence movements emerged: the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) led by Agostinho Neto, with a base among Kimbundu and the mixed-race intelligentsia of Luanda, and links to communist parties in Portugal and the East Bloc; the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), led by Holden Roberto with an ethnic base in the Bakongo region of the north and links to the United States and the Mobutu regime in Kinshasa; and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas Malheiro Savimbi with an ethnic and regional base in the Ovimbundu heartland in the center of the country and links to the People’s Republic of China and apartheid South Africa.

From the early 1960s, elements of these movements fought against the Portuguese. A 1974 coup d’etat in Portugal established a military government that promptly ceased the war and agreed, in the Alvor Accords, to hand over power to a coalition of the three movements. The ideological differences between the three movements eventually led to armed conflict, with FNLA and UNITA forces, encouraged by their respective international supporters, attempting to wrest control of Luanda from the MPLA. The intervention of troops from South Africa on behalf of UNITA and Zaire on behalf of the FNLA in September and October 1975 and the MPLA’s importation of Cuban troops in November effectively internationalized the conflict. Retaining control of Luanda, the coastal strip, and increasingly lucrative oil fields in Cabinda, the MPLA declared independence on November 11, 1975, the day the Portuguese abandoned the capital. UNITA and the FNLA formed a rival coalition government based in the interior city of Huambo. Agostinho Neto became the first president of the MPLA government that was recognized by the United Nations in 1976. Upon Neto’s death from cancer in 1979, then-Planning Minister José Eduardo dos Santos ascended to the presidency.

The FNLA’s military failures led to its increasing marginalization, internal divisions, and abandonment by international supporters. An internationalized conventional civil war between UNITA and the MPLA continued until 1989. For much of this time, UNITA controlled vast swaths of the interior and was backed by U.S. resources and South African troops. Similarly, tens of thousands of Cuban troops remained in support of the MPLA, often fighting South Africans on the front lines. A U.S.-brokered agreement resulted in withdrawal of foreign troops in 1989 and led to the Bicesse Accord in 1991, which spelled out an electoral process for a democratic Angola under the supervision of the United Nations. When UNITA’s Jonas Savimbi failed to win the first round of the presidential election in 1992 (he won 40% to dos Santos’s 49%, which meant a runoff), he called the election fraudulent and returned to war. Another peace accord, known as the Lusaka Protocol, was brokered in Lusaka, Zambia, and signed in 1994. This agreement, too, collapsed into renewed conflict. The UN Security Council voted on August 28, 1997 to impose sanctions on UNITA. The Angolan military launched a massive offensive in 1999, which destroyed UNITA’s conventional capacity and recaptured all major cities previously held by Savimbi’s forces. Savimbi then declared a return to guerrilla tactics, which continued until his death in combat in February 2002.

On April 4, 2002, the Angolan Government and UNITA signed the Luena Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which formalized the de facto cease-fire that prevailed following Savimbi’s death. In accordance with the MOU, UNITA recommitted to the peace framework in the 1994 Lusaka Protocol, returned all remaining territory to Angolan Government control, quartered all military personnel in predetermined locations, and relinquished all arms. In August 2002, UNITA demobilized all military personnel. UN Security Council sanctions on UNITA were lifted on December 9, 2002. UNITA and the MPLA held their first post-war party congresses in 2003. The UNITA Congress saw the democratic transfer of power from interim leader General Paulo Lukumba “Gato” to former UNITA representative in Paris Isaias Henriqué Samakuva, while the MPLA Congress reaffirmed President dos Santos’ leadership of party structures. Samakuva was reelected to a second 4-year term as UNITA party president at a UNITA party congress in July 2007.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Peace and Reconciliation in Cabinda on August 1, 2006, was intended as a step toward ending conflict in Cabinda and in bringing about greater representation for the people of Cabinda. It followed a successful counterinsurgency campaign by the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), who still maintain a strong troop presence there. The MOU rejects the notion of Cabindan independence, calls for the demobilization and reintegration of former Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) fighters into various governmental positions, and creates a special political and economic status for the province of Cabinda. Many FLEC military combatants have now been integrated into the Angolan Armed Forces and National Police, including into some command positions. In addition, Cabindans will be given designated numbers of vice ministerial and other positions in the Angolan Government. Some FLEC members, who did not sign onto the peace memorandum, continue their independence efforts through public outreach and infrequent low-level attacks against FAA convoys and outposts and occasional attacks on civilians.

People of Angola

Approximate Population: 20,172,332
Nationality: Angolan
Ethnic groups: Ovimbundu 37% / Kimbundu 25% / Bakongo 13% / mestico (mixed European and native African) / 2%, European 1% / other 22%
Languages: Portuguese 71.2% (official) / Umbundu 23% / Kikongo 8.2% / Kimbundu 7.8% / Chokwe 6.5% / Nhaneca 3.4% / Nganguela 3.1% / Fiote 2.4% / Kwanhama 2.3% / Muhumbi 2.1% / Luvale 1% / other 3.6%
Religions: Roman Catholic 41.1% / Protestant 38.1% / other 8.6% / none 12.3% (2014 est.)
Major Cities Approximate Population: Luanda (capital) 5.506 million / Huambo 1.269 million
Demographic profile: More than a decade after the end of Angola’s 27-year civil war, the country still faces a variety of socioeconomic problems, including poverty, high maternal and child mortality, and illiteracy. Despite the country’s rapid post-war economic growth based on oil production, more than 40 percent of Angolans live below the poverty line and unemployment is widespread, especially among the large young-adult population. Only about 70% of the population is literate, and the rate drops to around 60% for women. The youthful population – about 45% are under the age of 15 – is expected to continue growing rapidly with a fertility rate of more 5 children per woman and a low rate of contraceptive use. Fewer than half of women deliver their babies with the assistance of trained health care personnel, which contributes to Angola’s high maternal mortality rate.
Of the estimated 550,000 Angolans who fled their homeland during its civil war, most have returned home since 2002. In 2012, the UN assessed that conditions in Angola had been stable for several years and invoked a cessation of refugee status for Angolans. Following the cessation clause, some of those still in exile returned home voluntarily through UN repatriation programs, and others integrated into host countries. As of August 2014, about 73,000 Angolans were still living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Namibia, the Republic of the Congo, and other countries.

Economy of Angola

Angola’s economy is overwhelmingly driven by its oil sector. Oil production and its supporting activities contribute about 50% of GDP, more than 70% of government revenue, and more than 90% of the country’s exports. Diamonds contribute an additional 5% to exports. Subsistence agriculture provides the main livelihood for most of the people, but half of the country’s food is still imported. Increased oil production supported growth averaging more than 17% per year from 2004 to 2008. A postwar reconstruction boom and resettlement of displaced persons has led to high rates of growth in construction and agriculture as well. Some of the country’s infrastructure is still damaged or undeveloped from the 27-year-long civil war. However, the government since 2005 has used billions of dollars in credit lines from China, Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and the EU to help rebuild Angola’s public infrastructure. Land mines left from the war still mar the countryside, and as a result, the national military, international partners, and private Angolan firms all continue to remove them. The global recession that started in 2008 stalled economic growth. In particular, lower prices for oil and diamonds during the global recession slowed GDP growth to 2.4% in 2009, and many construction projects stopped because Luanda accrued $9 billion in arrears to foreign construction companies when government revenue fell in 2008 and 2009. Angola formally abandoned its currency peg in 2009, and in November 2009 signed onto an IMF Stand-By Arrangement loan of $1.4 billion to rebuild international reserves. Consumer inflation declined from 325% in 2000 to less than 9% in 2014. Falling oil prices and slower than expected growth in non-oil GDP have reduced growth prospects for 2015. Angola has responded by reducing government subsidies and by proposing import quotas and a more restrictive licensing regime.

Geography of Angola

Location: Southern Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Namibia and Democratic Republic of the Congo
Geographic coordinates: 12 30 S, 18 30 E
Area: total: 1,246,700 sq km / land: 1,246,700 sq km / water: 0 sq km
Border Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo (2,646 km), Republic of the Congo (231 km), Namibia (1,427 km), Zambia (1,065 km)
Coastline: 1,600 km
Climate: semiarid in south and along coast to Luanda; north has cool, dry season (May to October) and hot, rainy season (November to April)
Elevation: mean elevation: 1,112 m / lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m / highest point: Moca 2,620 m
Natural resources: petroleum, diamonds, iron ore, phosphates, copper, feldspar, gold, bauxite, uranium
Land use: agricultural land: 47.3% / forest: 46.8% / other: 5.9%
Natural hazards: locally heavy rainfall causes periodic flooding on the plateau

Angolan Government

Angola changed from a one-party Marxist-Leninist system ruled by the MPLA to a nominal multiparty democracy following the 1992 elections, in which President dos Santos won the first-round election with 49% of the vote to Jonas Savimbi’s 40%; a runoff never took place. The Constitutional Law of 1992 establishes the broad outlines of government structure and delineates the rights and duties of citizens. The government is based on ordinances, decrees, and decisions issued by a president and his ministers and on legislation produced by the National Assembly and approved by the president. The Assembly is generally subordinate to the executive.

Angola is governed by a president, vice president, and 85 appointed ministers and state secretaries. Political power is concentrated in the presidency. The executive branch of the government is composed of the president (head of state and government), the vice president, ministers of state, and the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers, composed of all government ministers and secretaries of state, meets regularly to discuss policy issues. The president, the Council of Ministers, and individual ministers in their areas of competence have the ability to legislate by decree.

Of the 220 deputies currently seated in the National Assembly, 130 are elected at large, and 5 are elected to represent each of the 18 provinces. The Electoral Law also calls for the election of three additional deputies to represent citizens living abroad; however, those positions have not been filled.

Angola held legislative elections on September 5, 2008, Angola’s first since 1992. Due to technical difficulties on election day, voting was extended through September 6 in some constituencies. The results of the elections were accepted by UNITA and most other opposition parties. The MPLA won 81.6% of the electorate, giving it 191 out of 220 seats in parliament. The remaining 29 parliamentary seats were won by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) (16), the Social Renewal Party (PRS) (8), National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) (3), and the New Democracy (ND) coalition (2).

Angola enacted a new constitution on February 5, 2010 and on February 8, President dos Santos swore in a new government. The new constitution allows for the direct election of the president, introduces the new office of the vice president, and eliminates the position of prime minister. After signing the new constitution, President dos Santos declared that national elections would take place in 2012. Municipal elections may take place after the next national poll. The central government administers the country through 18 provinces. Governors of the provinces are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the president. The government has embarked on a program of decentralization, and in August 2007 the Council of Ministers passed a resolution to grant some municipalities control of their own budgets; this measure was extended to all municipalities in 2008.

The legal system is based on Portuguese and customary law but is weak and fragmented. Courts operate in only a fraction of the 164 municipalities. A Supreme Court serves as the appellate tribunal; a constitutional court was established in May 2008.

The 27-year civil war ravaged the country’s political and social institutions. Daily conditions of life throughout the country mirror the inadequate administrative infrastructure as well as inadequate social institutions, for which government support is often weak. Many hospitals are without medicines or basic equipment, schools are without books, and public employees often lack the basic supplies for their daily work. The government estimates that 4.7 million people were internally displaced by the civil war. In March 2007, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Angola jointly celebrated the end of a 5-year organized voluntary repatriation program that returned home more than 400,000 Angolan refugees. However, over 200,000 refugees remain outside Angola, mainly in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, and Namibia.

 

Angola maintains an embassy in the United States at 2100-2108 16th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-785-1156; fax 202-785-1258; web: www.angola.org).

Type: Republic.

Independence: November 11, 1975.

Branches: Executive–elected president (chief of state), appointed prime minister, and 31 appointed civilian ministers and 55 vice ministers. Legislative–elected National Assembly (223 seats). Judicial–Supreme Court, Constitutional Court

Administrative subdivisions: Province, municipality, commune.

Political parties: 98 with legal status; in 1992, 12 won seats in the National Assembly. Ruling party–Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). Opposition–National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), Social Renewal Party (PRS), National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), Party for Democratic Progress – Angola National Alliance (PDP-ANA), Democratic Renewal Party (PRD), Party of the Alliance of Youth, Workers, and Peasants (PAJOCA), Liberal Democratic Party (PLD), Democratic Alliance (AD), Angolan Democratic Forum (FDA), Social Democratic Party (PSD), Front for Democracy (FPD), and the Angolan National Democratic Party (PNDA).

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