Fast Facts

Population:
15,375,000
Capital:
Luanda; 2,623,000
Area:
1,246,700 square kilometers (481,354 square miles)
Language:
Portuguese, Bantu
Religion:
Indigenous beliefs, Roman Catholic, Protestant
Currency:
Kwanza
Life Expectancy:
40
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $1,700
Literacy Percent:
42
Flag: Angola
Map: Angola

Angola lies on the Atlantic coast of southwestern Africa; its small (but oil-rich) northern province, Cabinda, is separated from the rest of the country by a small part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Congo River. Angola's narrow coastal plain, where most of the people live, rises to a high interior plateau with rain forests in the north and dry savanna in the south.

A Portuguese colony since the 15th century, Angola was the source for millions of slaves sent to Brazil (also a Portuguese colony) and other places across the Atlantic. It won independence in 1975 after 14 years of guerrilla war. Civil war then broke out between major ethnic groups. The Mbundu, about a quarter of the population and based in the north, took the capital, Luanda. The Ovimbundu, with over a third of the population, and others set up a rival government in the interior city of Huambo. The civil war brought more bloodshed—and economic collapse—as 300,000 Portuguese fled. After 16 years of civil war a peace agreement made elections possible in 1991. But the elections were disputed, and peace was shattered 18 months later by renewed conflict. The 27-year-long civil war ended in 2002 with hopes of a lasting peace. The war ravaged the country's political and social institutions and littered the country with land mines. Angola is one of the world's poorest countries, with life expectancy (40 years) among the lowest in Africa.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Petroleum, diamonds, iron ore, phosphates, feldspar, bauxite, uranium, gold
  • Agriculture: Bananas, sugarcane, coffee, sisal; livestock; forest products; fish
  • Exports: Crude oil, diamonds, refined petroleum products, gas

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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