Angola, or Republic of Angola, a country in southwestern Africa. Until 1975 it was a possession of Portugal and was sometimes called Portuguese West Africa. Angola is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Namibia, and the Atlantic Ocean. The area (including Cabinda, a section north of the Congo River's mouth) is 481,354 square miles (1,246,700 km 2). Greatest distances are about 800 miles (1,290 km) north-south and 750 miles (1,210 km) east-west.

Facts in brief about Angola
Capital: Luanda.
Official language: Portuguese.
Area: 481,354 mi2 (1,246,700 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, 850 mi (1,368 km); east-west, 800 mi (1,287 km). Coastline—928 mi (1,493 km).
Elevation: Highest—Moco, 8,596 ft (2,620 m). Lowest—sea level.
Population: Current estimate—17,313,000; population density, 36 per mi2 (14 per km2); distribution, 63 percent rural, 37 percent urban. .
Chief products: Agriculture—bananas, cassava, coffee, corn, sugar cane. Manufacturing—food processing, cement, chemicals, textiles. Mining—diamonds, petroleum.
Flag: Angola's flag, adopted in 1975, has two horizontal stripes of red and black (top to bottom). A yellow emblem in the center has a five-pointed star that stands for socialism, a half cogwheel for industry, and a machete for agriculture.
Money: Basic unit—kwanza. One hundred centavos equal one kwanza.
Physical Geography
Land

Angola has two regions: a narrow coastal plain and an extensive area of interior plateaus. The coastal plain is a low-lying strip along the Atlantic. Nowhere is it more than 100 miles (160 km) wide. In the north the plain is covered by scrubby vegetation; in the south desertlike lands prevail. Gentle slopes in the north and steep slopes in the center and south mark the rise of the plateaus.

The interior plateaus vary from about 3,500 to 5,500 feet (1,070 to 1,680 m) above sea level. In the west, on the Bié Plateau, is Angola's highest point—8,597 feet(2,620 m). Eastward the rolling to hilly plateaus slope down to less than 4,000 feet (1,220 m). There are tropical rain forests in the north, and elsewhere, scattered woodlands, savannas, and steppes.

AngolaAngola is a country on the southwest coast of Africa.
Water

Angola has no large lakes, but rivers are numerous. The Cuanza and Cunene flow westward to the Atlantic. In the eastern two-thirds of Angola, many rivers feed the great Congo and Zambezi systems, among them the Cuango, Cassai, Lungwebungu, and Cuando. Hydroelectric power potential is great, and several power stations are in operation.

Climate

Angola lies about 5 to 17 degrees south of the Equator in a zone between rainy and dry tropical climates. A cold offshore ocean current and the plateau region's height also strongly influence the climate.

The coastal plain, especially the south, is cooled and made dry by the northward-flowing Benguela Current. Temperatures range from about 65º F. to 80º F. (18º to 27º C). Except in the humid north, rainfall is scanty and seasonal, occurring mostly from October to May. Annual precipitation decreases from about 25 inches (630 mm) in the north to 2 inches (50 mm) in the south.

Temperatures on the plateau are generally cooler and have greater seasonal variation than those on the coast. November to May is the rainy season; the rest of the year is relatively dry. Annual precipitation varies from 60 to 25 inches (1,520 to 630 mm), the smallest amounts falling in the south.

The People

The great majority of people live in the western third of the country. Most of Angola's people belong to Bantu groups—chiefly the Ovimbundu, Kimbundu, and Bakongo. About half of all Angolans are Christians, mostly Roman Catholics. Animism is the principal non-Christian religion. Bantu languages are spoken in the countryside; Portuguese is common in the cities and remains the official language.

The educational system suffers from a shortage of funds, supplies, and teachers. The literacy rate is about 42 per cent. The University Agostinho Neto, named for an eminent statesman, is in Luanda.

Economy

Prior to independence in 1975 Angola's economy was dominated by the Portuguese, and their departure deprived the country of capital, trained managerial personnel, and skilled labor. The economy was further weakened by the civil war that followed independence. The economic system is a mixture of socialism and private enterprise; the government's goal is to eventually nationalize virtually all industry.

Currency

Angola's basic currency unit is the Kwanza.

Agriculture

supports the vast majority of the people. Most farming is at the subsistence level. The chief crops are cassava, corn, sugar cane, and bananas. Large commercial plantations, which were abandoned by the Portuguese, have been nationalized and turned into state farms and cooperatives. Coffee is the leading commercial crop and agricultural export. Cattle are raised in the tsetse-free area of the south.

Mining and Fishing

Angola is rich in minerals, with petroleum and diamonds being the leading ones produced. Petroleum comes mainly from Cabinda and, by value, is the nation's most important export. It is also the chief source of government revenue. Commercial fishing, which has great potential, provides fish for the domestic market and fish meal and oil for export.

Manufacturing

consists primarily of the processing of agricultural products and the making of consumer goods, such as textiles and clothing. Heavier industries include petroleum refining and the making of cement.

Transportation

Angola has a fairly good system of all-weather roads. Several railways, including the Benguela line, which serves the copper-rich areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia, run inland from the coast. Luanda, Lobito, and Namibe are the chief ports. Except for the mouth of the Congo River, the rivers are not navigable. The main international airport is at Luanda. Many towns have airstrips.

Government

The president is the head of state and government, and is elected by the people. The National Assembly makes up the country's laws. A prime minister is appointed by a party in the National Assembly.