Angola is located on the western coast of Southern Africa. It is the seventh-largest country in Africa, bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Zambia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The exclave province of Cambinda borders the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to Angola’s oil reserve, one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Angola is a coastal country, however it doesn’t have many coastal islands besides two – the Kwanda Island and the Baia dos Tigres. The capital and largest city of Angola is Luanda and it also the most expensive city in the world since most goods are imported.
For many centuries before European incursions, Bantu tribes inhabited the geographical area now called Angola. The Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais founded Luanda in 1575, with a hundred families of settlers and four hundred soldiers. Subsequently the Portuguese established several settlements and trading posts along the coast. In the late 16th century the slave trade flourished here, and reportedly it was responsible for the exportation of over three million native Africans (against their will) to the Portuguese colony of Brazil.
By the 19th century Angola became a colony of Portugal and a major exporter bananas and coffee.
However, the desire for independence grew stronger and stronger, and in response the Portuguese provoked an armed conflict in 1961. Nationalist movement develops guerrilla war in order to gain independence. After nearly 15 years of warfare, Angola achieved independence on November 11th 1975. Jose Eduardo dos Santos became country’s first leader in 1979. The new country should have flourished as it contained a massive diamond and oil reserve (worth billions), however instead, a 27-year civil war followed. Nearly 1.5 million Angolans died, and 4 million were displaced as a result. In 2002, the civil war came to an end following the killing of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. 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 is still expected to retain a strong influence over the running of the country”, according to the BBC.
Angola has a wealth of natural resources with Oil and Diamond being the most treasured. Most of the mentioned oil reserves are found in the enclave of Cambinda, and according to an American foundation, oil production from Angola has increased so significantly that Angola now is China’s biggest supplier of oil. Angola is the second largest oil-producing African country and the 16th largest oil producing nation in the world with a daily production of 1.5 million barrels. It is the 12th member of OPEC and is currently exporting nearly 90% of crude oil to China and the U.S.A. The economy of Angola is largely dependent on oil, Oil production accounts for 40% of Angola’s GDP; the country has an estimated 8 billion barrels of oil reserves. Angola is rich in subsoil heritage where its diamond reserves are found. Angola is estimated to have total diamond reserves of 180 million carats located at provinces of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul. Its recent diamond production is estimated to be 9.4 Million Carats. The biggest mine of Angola is Cato ca. This mine produces 7 million carats of diamonds annually. Other resources include copper and a rich wildlife (dramatically impoverished during the civil war), forest and fossil fuels. Agriculture used to be a dominant industry in Angola prior to the civil war. As a result of the civil war, “less than 3 percent of Angola’s abundant fertile land is cultivated and the economic potential of the forestry sector remains largely unexploited” according the World Bank. Although the country is gaining back momentum to become the fastest-growing economy in the continent and one of the fastest-growing in the world, with an average GDP growth of 20% between 2005 and 2007. In the period 2001–10, Angola had the world’s highest annual average GDP growth, at 11.1%.
Angola has diverse ethnic groups, mostly of the Bantu group; composed of Ovimbundu (language Umbundu) 37%, Ambundu (language Kimbundu) 23%, Bakongo 13%, and 32% other ethnic groups (including the Chokwe, the Ovambo, the Ganguela and the Xindonga) as well as about 2% mestiços (mixed European and African), 1.6% Chinese and 1% European. The Ambundu and Ovimbundu ethnic groups combined form a majority of the population, at 62%. Portuguese is the official language of the country. The most widely spoken indigenous languages are Umbundu, Kimbundu and Kikongo, in that order.
Cuisine in Angola is combination of traditional and Portuguese influences.
The Angolans’ use of certain spices and methods of cooking were greatly influenced by Portugal. Angolan cuisine is remarkably tasty and aromatic. The usual ingredients include fish, chicken, cassava, beans, okra, and other types of vegetables. To say the least, Angolan cuisine is nourishing as well as appetizing. Popular dishes include: Funje, which is also spelled as funge, is a staple food in Angola. Made from cassava flour, it’s usually served with chicken, fish, beans, or greens; Caruru is an okra-and-shrimp dish that can trace its origin to Brazil; Fried insects, Like in some African countries, insects are a delicacy in Angola. Catatos and gafanhotos de palmeria are especially common in the country. Catatos is fried caterpillar usually eaten with rice. The caterpillar is cooked in garlic and tastes like prawn. Gafanhotos de palmeria is toasted grasshopper and is eaten with funje. Mafute de Cacusso grilled tilapia with beans cooked on palm oil. Piri piri chicken is originally from Angola and Mozambique, and was adapted as a Portugal dish. The dish is basically made by marinating chicken in chili pepper and grilling it afterward. Chili pepper is called piri piri in Angola.
Music in Angola has a strong oral storytelling tradition, and the ability to speak well is admired throughout Angolan society. A written literary culture developed in the 19th century in the cities, and political poetry and literature played a significant part in the independence movement. The most famous poet in Angola is Antonio Agostinho Neto, an admired political poet and former president of Angola. Lilly Tchiumba wrote and composed these songs about Angola based on traditional stories and music that she learned growing up in Luanda, Angola’s capital city. She sings in Kimbundu, one of Angola’s national languages, and she is accompanied by violas, ungo, kabaca-puita, and an n’goma drum. The music also reflects Portuguese influence, a result of the 500 years of Portuguese colonial rule in Angola. The songs range from a parent lamenting over a sick child (“N’Zambi”) to praising the role of women in Angolan society (“Muáto Muá N’Gola”). The liner notes include brief summaries of the stories in each song.