Location & Demography

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Area: 1,246,700 sq. km. (481,400 sq. mi).
Cities: Capital--Luanda (est. pop. 5.0 million); Huambo (750,000); Benguela (600,000).
Terrain: A narrow, dry coastal strip extending from the far north (Luanda) to Namibia in the south; well watered agricultural highlands; savanna in the far east and south; and rain forest in the north and the enclave of Cabinda.
Climate: Tropical and tropical highland.


Angola is located on the South Atlantic coast of West Africa between Namibia on the south and, with the exception of the enclave of Cabinda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) on the north; the D.R.C. and Zambia form the eastern boundary. Cabinda is bounded by the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) on the north and east and by the D.R.C. on the south. The country is divided into an arid coastal strip stretching from Namibia to Luanda; a wet, interior highland; a dry savanna in the interior south and southeast; and rain forest in the north and in Cabinda. The upper reaches of the Zambezi River pass through Angola, and several tributaries of the Congo River have their sources in Angola. The coastal strip is tempered by the cool Benguela Current, resulting in a climate similar to coastal Baja California. The hot, humid rainy season lasts from November to April, followed by a moderate dry season from May to October. The interior highlands have a mild climate, with a rainy season from November through April, followed by a cool dry season from May to October, when overnight temperatures can fall to freezing. Elevations generally range from 3,000 to 6,000 feet. The far north and Cabinda enjoy rain throughout much of the year.


Population (2008 est.): 17,000,000.
Annual population growth rate (2004): 2.8%.
Ethnic groups: Ovimbundu 37%, Kimbundu 25%, Bakongo 13%, mixed racial 2%, European 1%.
Religions (2001 official est.): Roman Catholic 68%, various Protestant 20%, indigenous beliefs 12%.
Languages: Portuguese (official), Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo, and others.
Education: Years compulsory--8. Enrollment (combined gross enrollment for primary, secondary, and tertiary schools, 2004 est.)--26%. Literacy (total population over 15 that can read and write, 2004 est.)--67.4% (female 54.2%, male 82.9%).
Health: Life expectancy (2004 est.)--total population 42 years. Infant mortality rate (2007 est.)--116/1,000. Under-five mortality (2007 est.)--158/1,000.
Work force (2006 est. 7.7 million): Agriculture 26%, unemployed 27%, percentages in commerce, industry, services and informal sector undetermined.


Type: Republic.
Independence: November 11, 1975.


GDP (2008 est.): $84 billion.
Annual real GDP growth rate (2008 est.): 16.4%.
Per capita GDP (2007): $4,941.
Avg. inflation rate (2008): 13.2%.
Natural resources: Petroleum, diamonds, iron ore, phosphates, bauxite, uranium, gold, granite, copper, feldspar

Despite a fast-growing economy largely due to a major oil boom, Angola ranks in the bottom 10% of most socioeconomic indicators. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that Angola's real GDP increased by 16% in 2008. However, GDP growth in 2009 was flat due to significantly lower oil prices owing to the global financial crisis. Early projections for 2010 suggest that Angola will again return to double digit real growth. Angola is still recovering from 27 years of nearly continuous warfare, and it remains beset by corruption and economic mismanagement. Despite abundant natural resources and rising per capita GDP, it was ranked 157 out of 179 countries on the 2008 UN Development Program's (UNDP) Human Development Index. Subsistence agriculture sustains one-third of the population.

In the last decade of the colonial period, Angola was a major African agricultural exporter. Because of severe wartime conditions, including the massive dislocation of rural people and the extensive laying of landmines throughout the countryside, agricultural activities came to a near standstill, and the country now imports over half of its food. Small-scale agricultural production has increased several-fold over the last 5 years due to de-mining efforts, infrastructure improvements, and the ability of returnees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return safely to agricultural areas, yet production of most crops remains below 1974 levels. Some efforts at commercial agricultural recovery have gone forward, notably in fisheries and tropical fruits, but most of the country's vast potential remains untapped.

Agriculture: Products--bananas, sugarcane, coffee, sisal, corn, cotton, manioc, tobacco, vegetables, plantains; livestock; forest products; fisheries products.
Industry: Types--petroleum drilling and refining, mining, cement, fish processing, food processing, brewing, tobacco products, sugar, textiles, ship repair.



Estimates of Angola's population vary, as there has been no census since 1970, but it is generally estimated at 17 million. Angola has three main ethnic groups, each speaking a Bantu language: Umbundu 37%, Kimbundu 25%, and Kikongo 13%. Other groups include Chokwe, Lunda, Ganguela, Nhaneca-Humbe, Ambo, Herero, and Xindunga. In addition, mixed racial (European and African) people amount to about 2%, with a small (1%) population of whites, mainly ethnic Portuguese. Portuguese make up the largest non-Angolan population, with at least 30,000 (though many native-born Angolans can claim Portuguese nationality under Portuguese law). Portuguese is both the official and predominant language.