The Republic of Angola is situated on the Western coast of Southern Africa bordering the South Atlantic Ocean. It shares its border with the Republic of the Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo in the north, Zambia in the east, and Namibia in the south. The country has a total land area of 1,246,700 sq. km with 1,600 km of coastline. The total population is 32,522,239 (July 2020 est.) and around 71.2 percent of them speak Portuguese, the official language. Angola was the last one in Africa to have gained its independence in 1975 from almost 500 years of colonial rule.
1. It is the second largest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa
Angola is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) since 2007. Approximately 1.42 million barrels of oil per day were produced in 2019. The oil production and its supporting activities make up half of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and comprised more than 90 percent of their export earnings, a fun fact about Angola.
2. Angola’s capital, Luanda, is one of the most expensive cities for expatriates
Luanda is the largest city and the capital of Angola. The cost of living for expats is way much higher than the average Angolans residing in this city. Luxurious housing is in high demand among these foreign residents, but there is a limited supply of it, which makes the rental fees so much more expensive. Most goods are imported and higher import tariffs are imposed.
3. It is one of the largest producers of diamond in Africa
A fun fact about Angola is that there are several diamond mines in this country, and the Catoca diamond mine in Lunda Sul province is the fifth largest in the world. The revenue from mining was not as high as it could be. More than half of the diamond resources are yet to be explored. The marketing policy that the government imposed is said to be prone to corruption and underpricing. Illegal diamond mining and smuggling also contribute to reduced revenues.
4. The province of Cabinda is separated from the rest of Angola
Geographically, Cabinda is located within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was under the control of Portugal in the late 19th century but was made a part of Angola in 1975. This province is very valuable to the country’s economy because oil production is largely concentrated here.
5. Much of Angola was left in ruins after twenty-seven years of civil war
Portugal withdrew from Angola in November 1975 and the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) declared itself the government of the country. However, the other two liberation movements rejected its hold on power, and civil war ensued. The fighting continued even after peace agreements were signed or after an election was held. The civil war lasted for 27 years and hundreds of thousands of people died, millions of people were displaced, and much of the infrastructure destroyed.
6. The country’s name was derived from an ancient king
In 1482, the Portuguese first landed in what is now northern Angola in the Kingdom of Kongo. One of several vassal states of Kongo was the Kingdom of Ndongo whose kings or rulers used the title of “Ngola a Kiluanje.” It was often shortened to “ngola” from which the name, Angola, was derived, an interesting Angola fact.
7. It is not unusual for an Angolan man to have several non-official wives
More males were exported as slaves than females during the colonial rule. More men were also killed during the long period of civil war. When the war ended in 2002, it became apparent that there was a shortage of men. It had then become common for a man to have several wives whose ages differ greatly. Polygamy is still not legal to this day, but the practice is widespread in the country.
8. Almost forty percent of the population is living below the poverty line
Angola is considered one of the richest in Africa, but almost 40 percent of its people are still living below poverty line. Not everyone has access to electricity, safe water sources, proper health care, and education. The main livelihood for most of the people is subsistence agriculture. There is growing inequality among Angolans with most of the population not reaping the benefits of the booming oil industry and increased economic growth.
9. Angola’s national icon is a giant sable antelope
The giant sable antelope, endemic to Angola, is greatly admired for its magnificent long, curved horns that can reach up to 1.5 meters in length. It has become Angola’s national icon and it is proudly displayed on their currency and postage stamps. A fun fact about Angola is that it was feared to be extinct after the civil war, but it was later found to have survived. They are now conserved in the protected areas of the Luando Strict Nature Reserve and the Cangandala National Park.
10. The nation’s move from analog to digital with AngoSat-1
Angola’s first national satellite, AngoSat-1, was launched in December 2017. It was partly funded and built by Russia. It would have greatly improved telecommunications and internet access across the country. However, the satellite failed soon after it reached the orbit and officially declared a loss in April 2018. Russia will build another satellite to replace the first one at no cost to Angola as per the insurance policy of AngoSat-1, an interesting Angola fact. The AngoSat-2 is set to launch in 2022.
11. Land mines are still found in the countryside of Angola
There is an ongoing operation for locating and removing the land mines that are left in the countryside from the civil war. The national military along with private Angolan firms and international partners all take part in making the area safe again for residents.
The Republic of Angola is one of the richest countries in Africa and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. With the country being very rich in oil, natural gas, diamonds, and other natural resources, it is no wonder that they were able to rebuild and revive their economy after the devastation caused by the civil war. Hopefully, the living conditions of the average Angolan would be greatly improved as well.
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