Quick Links: Angola General Info – Tourist AttractionsThe Geography

Angola, officially the Republic of Angola, is a country in Southern Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean and Luanda is its capital city. The exclave province of Cabinda has borders with the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The name Angola comes from the Portuguese colonial name Reino de Angola (Kingdom of Angola), appearing as early as Dias de Novais’s 1571 charter. The toponym was derived by the Portuguese from the title ngola held by the kings of Ndongo. Ndongo was a kingdom in the highlands, between the Kwanza and Lukala Rivers, nominally tributary to the king of Kongo but which was seeking greater independence during the 16th century.

Angola is a member state of the African Union, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the Latin Union and the Southern African Development Community.

A vaccination certificate for yellow fever and cholera vaccination are required to enter the country. Typhoid, hepatitis A, tetanus and polio vaccinations are recommended.

Visas To enter Angola visitors must obtain a visa at the country of origin’s Angolan consular office. A passport size picture, a valid passport, and a completed application form must be submitted. It is not possible to obtain a visa upon arrival.

Population

Angola’s population is estimated to be 18,056,072 (2012). It is composed of Ovimbundu (language Umbundu) 37%, Ambundu (language Kimbundu) 25%, Bakongo 13%, and 32% other ethnic groups (including the Chokwe, the Ovambo, the Mbunda, with the latter having been replaced by Ganguela, a generic term for peoples east of the Central Highlands, which has a slightly derogatory meaning when applied by the western ethnic groups, and the Xindonga) as well as about 2% mestiços (mixed European and African), 1.4% Chinese and 1% European.  The Ambundu and Ovimbundu nations combined form a majority of the population, at 62%. The population is forecast to grow to over 47 million people to 2060, nearly tripling the estimated 16 to 18 million in 2011.  The last official census was taken in 1970, and showed the total population as being 5.6 million. The first post-independence census is to be held in 2014.

It is estimated that Angola was host to 12,100 refugees and 2,900 asylum seekers by the end of 2007. 11,400 of those refugees were originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) who arrived in the 1970s. As of 2008 there were an estimated 400,000 DRC migrant workers, at least 30,000 Portuguese, and about 259,000 Chinese living in Angola.

Since 2003, more than 400,000 Congolese migrants have been expelled from Angola. Prior to independence in 1975, Angola had a community of approximately 350,000 Portuguese; currently, there are about 200,000 who are registered with the consulates, and increasing due to the debt crisis in Portugal. The Chinese population stands at 258,920, mostly composed of temporary migrants

History

Khoisan hunter-gatherers are the earliest known modern human inhabitants of the area. They were largely absorbed and/or replaced by Bantu peoples during the Bantu migrations, though small numbers remain in parts of southern Angola to the present day. The Bantu came from the north, probably from somewhere near the present-day Republic of Cameroon and Sudan. The establishment of the Bantu took many centuries and gave rise to various groups who took on different ethnic characteristics.

During this time, the Bantu established a number of political units (“kingdoms”, “empires”) in most parts of what today is Angola. The best known of these is the Kingdom of the Kongo that had its centre in the northwest of contemporary Angola, but included important regions in the west of present day Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of Congo, and in southern Gabon. It established trade routes with other trading cities and civilizations up and down the coast of southwestern and West Africa and even with the Great Zimbabwe Mutapa Empire, but engaged in little or no transoceanic trade.

Others include the Mbunda, whose Kingdom was established in the fifteenth century at the confluence of Kwilu and Kasai rivers, in the south of present day Democratic Republic of the Congo, after a misunderstanding in Kola, also known as the origin of the Lunda and the Luba Kingdoms. The Mbunda trace their origin from Sudan, trekking southwards through Kola where they came in contact with the Luba and Ruund Kingdoms. They reached what is now Angola in the sixteenth century, where they encountered the Khoisan, Bushmen and other groups considerably less technologically advanced than themselves, whom they easily dominated with their superior knowledge of metal-working, ceramics and agriculture. The Mbunda Kingdom in Mbundaland, southeast of the now Angola endured until late nineteenth century, one of the oldest and biggest ethnic grouping in Southern Africa.

The Portuguese were present in some – mostly coastal – points of the territory of what is now Angola, from the 16th to the 19th century, interacting in diverse ways with the peoples who lived there. In the 19th century, they slowly and hesitantly began to establish themselves in the interior. Angola as a Portuguese colony encompassing the present territory was not established before the end of the 19th century, and “effective occupation”, as required by the Berlin Conference (1884) was achieved only by the 1920s after the Mbunda resistance and abduction of their King, Mwene Mbandu I Lyondthzi Kapova. Independence was achieved in 1975, after a protracted liberation war. After independence, Angola was the scene of an intense civil war from 1975 to 2002. Despite the civil war, areas such as Baixa de Cassanje continue a lineage of kings which have included the former King Kambamba Kulaxingo and current King Dianhenga Aspirante Mjinji Kulaxingo

Currency
The official currency of Angola is the Kwanza (AOA).  Although the import or export of any sum of kwanza had been strictly prohibited, but the ban was lifted since February 2012, so now travellers are allowed to bring in or take out up to 50,000 kwanzas. International currencies are accepted but best to check prior to travel.
Language

A very low percentage of the local population can communicate in English. Traveling in Angola therefore requires a basic knowledge of the Portuguese language, or a local guide/interpreter. The indigenous languages with the largest usage are Umbundu, Kimbundu, and Kikongo, in that order.

Also, due to the fact that many people migrate from neighbouring countries to Angola, it is sometimes possible to use French, Afrikaans, or English.

Religion

There are about 1000 mostly Christian religious communities in Angola. While reliable statistics are nonexistent, estimates have it that more than half of the population are Catholics, while about a quarter adhere to the Protestant churches introduced during the colonial period.  In Luanda and region there subsists a nucleus of the “syncretic” Tocoists and in the northwest a sprinkling of Kimbanguism can be found, spreading from the Congo/Zaire. Since independence, hundreds of Pentecostal and similar communities have sprung up in the cities, where by now about 50% of the population is living; several of these communities/churches are of Brazilian origin.

The U.S. Department of State estimates the Muslim population at 80,000-90,000, while the Islamic Community of Angola puts the figure closer to 500,000. Muslims consist largely of migrants from West Africa and the Middle East (especially Lebanon), although some are local converts.

Public Holidays
  • January 1 (New Year)
  • February 4 (Liberation Movement Day )
  • March 8 (International Women’s Day)
  • April 4 (Peace Day)
  • May 1 (International Labour Day)
  • September 17 (National Heroes’ Day)
  • November 2 (Memorial Day)
  • November 11 (Independence Day)
  • December 25 (Christmas Day)
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Day
Getting Around

By train

There are no railroad links between Angola and other nations.

By car

Namibia :  at the border post near Oshikango(Namibia)/Ngiva(Angola).

Entering from the North was, as of 2002, via Luvo, a small town on the Kinshasa-Matadi ‘road’. If you want to drive through Angola, it’s a real experience. Off the beaten track, road conditions might not be quite what you are used to so be prepared, particularly during the rainy season where potholes are likely to be a frequent occurence. Also, keep a look out for livestock and the overloaded vehicles of the Angolan residents.

By bus

There are no bus links between Angola and other nations.

By boat

There are no official ferry links between Angola and other nations. As of 2003, it was at least possible to enter Angola via a small passenger ferry near Rundu in Namibia. There was both an Angolan and Namibia border official present. The crossing was mostly used by Angolans for the purposes of acquiring food and other supplies in Namibia. There are (as of 2007) ferries running from the enclave of Cabinda to Luanda, which can be useful to avoid the unstable DRC. They carry cars as well. Seek local advice for when they depart. Sources claim that they run twice a week, cost $180 per person (bike included), and take 14 hours to do the trip (2005). If there are no ferries, there might be cargo planes that you (and your car) can ride on between Cabinda and Luanda . Be warned – these planes are unsafe.

Info Sources : http://www.angola.org/index.php?page=tourism  ;  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angola :  http://wikitravel.org/en/Angola