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Where is Angola?

Updated on November 14, 2010

Angola is a republic in West Africa, with a western coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. To the north is Zaire, to the east Zambia and to the south Namibia (South West Africa). The small enclave of Cabinda, north of the Congo (Zaire) River estuary, is part of Angola. Angola has an area of 1,246,700 square kilometres.

The coastal plain rises to a plateau or tableland where the weather is cool and pleasant, but the rest of the country is hot and damp and mosquitoes thrive there. It is mostly made up of grassy plains, although the valleys of the rivers which join the Congo (Zaire) to the north are thickly forested. Lions, leopards, giraffes, rhinoceroses, buffaloes and elephants are found in Angola, as well as hippopotamuses and crocodiles.

The people are mainly African (chiefly Bantu), with European settlers, people of mixed race, and Bushmen in the southeast. Most work on the land, either on large state farms or smaller peasant associations. Angola was at one time a major coffee producer, but production has declined since the country became independent in 1975. Cotton and timber are now important
industries, while at the port of Mogamedes there are refrigeration plants for the fishing industry.

The chief mining activity is diamond mining, while granite and quartz are also exported. Most of the rich deposits of copper, manganese and iron ore had already been worked by the time Angola became independent, though some iron is still mined at Cassinga in the south. Oil (petroleum) is obtained south of the Cuanza River: it is thought likely that Angola could become one of the major oil producers in Africa.

The chief ports are the capital Luanda, Lobito, Benguela and Mogamedes. The second largest town is Huambo. A railway links Benguela with the mining areas of Shaba (Zaire) and Zambia. Four other lines run inland from the coast.

Angola was settled by the Portuguese at the end of the 15th century; Henry the Navigator made a treaty with the native king. Until the 19th century Angola supplied slaves for the Portuguese plantations in Brazil. Although the slave trade was made illegal in 1830 it did not finally cease until some years later. The Portuguese took complete control of the country in 1888.

During the 1960s African nationalists fought a guerrilla war against the Portuguese, who had governed Angola as an overseas province of Portugal. After the change in its government in 1974, Portugal withdrew from its overseas territories and Angola became independent the following year. However, civil war broke out between opposing nationalist forces. In 1976 a Communist government, supported by the U.S.S.R. and Cuba, came to power and began to run the country on socialist lines. Angola is a supporter of other independence movements in southern Africa, particularly that of its southern neighbour, Namibia.

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