A virtual guide to Angola. This page aims to give you a broad overview of Angolan art, culture, people, environment, geography, history, economy and government.
Beside a country profile this page contains links to sources that will provide you with in-depth information about this South African nation, e.g.: official web sites of Angola, addresses of Angolan and foreign embassies, domestic airlines, city- and country guides with extensive travel and tourism information on accommodation, tourist attractions, events and more like weather information, maps, statistics and local newspapers from Angola.
The original inhabitants of Angola are thought to have been Khoisan speakers. After 1000, large numbers of Bantu speakers migrated to the region and became the dominant group. Angola derives its name from the Bantu kingdom of Ndongo, whose name for its king is ngola.
Explored by the Portuguese navigator Diego Cão in 1482, Angola became a link in trade with India and Southeast Asia. Later it was a major source of slaves for Portugal's New World colony of Brazil. Development of the interior began after the Berlin Conference in 1885 fixed the colony's borders, and British and Portuguese investment fostered mining, railways, and agriculture.
Angola, more than three times the size of California, extends for more than 1,000 mi (1,609 km) along the South Atlantic in southwest Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo are to the north and east, Zambia is to the east, and Namibia is to the south. A plateau averaging 6,000 ft (1,829 m) above sea level rises abruptly from the coastal lowlands. Nearly all the land is desert or savanna, with hardwood forests in the northeast.
Angola underwent a transition from a one-party socialist state to a nominally multiparty democracy in 1992.
Angola has a fast-growing economy largely due to a major oil boom, but it also ranks in the bottom 10 of almost every socioeconomic indicator. Aside from the oil sector and diamonds, it is in economic disarray because of 27 years of nearly continuous warfare, corruption, and economic mismanagement. Despite abundant natural resources, output per capita remains among the world's lowest. Subsistence agriculture and dependence on humanitarian food assistance sustain the large majority of the population.
By contrast, the rapidly expanding petroleum industry now producing up to 900,000 barrels per day (bpd), behind only Nigeria in Africa, accounts for 51.7% of GNP, 89% of exports, and 90% of government revenues. Oil production remains largely offshore and has few linkages with other sectors of the economy. Block Zero, located in the enclave of Cabinda, currently provides the majority of Angola's crude oil production.
ChevronTexaco, through its subsidiary Cabinda Gulf Oil Company, is the operator with a 39.2% share. SONANGOL (the Angolan state oil company), TotalFinaElf, and ENI-Agip are partners in the concession. ChevronTexaco also operates Angola's first producing deepwater section, Block 14, which started pumping in January 2000. Production from these Cabinda fields will be eclipsed by deepwater production further south in the Kwanza Basin scheduled to come on-line by 2007. TotalFinaElf brought the first of these deepwater blocks on-line with production from its Block 17 concession beginning in February 2002. Additional significant discoveries have been made in deepwater Blocks 15, 18, and 24, in which ExxonMobil, BP, Statoil, Norsk Hydro, and Agip have major interests. Exploration is ongoing in recently awarded ultra deep water concessions and in deep water and shallow concessions in the Namibe Basin. BP made the first significant ultra-deep water find in its Block 31 concession in 2002. TotalFinaElf operates Angola's one refinery (in Luanda) as a joint venture with SONANGOL; plans for a second refinery in Lobito are moving forward. ChevronTexaco and Sonangol are exploring the feasibility of a liquefied natural gas plant at Soyo. The United States purchases more than half of Angola's petroleum production, by far the largest importer. Exports to Asian countries, particularly China, have grown rapidly in recent years.