The African continent is comprised of 54 nations, each with its own independent government and sovereignty, GDP, culture, natural resources, language(s), military, and religion. The treasure trove of mineral and raw material wealth has scarcely been touched and the continent's largely untapped fertile lands could feed the world. Herewith is Jewel of Africa, an interactive adventure in the cradle of mankind, an exploration of nations from A-Z in alphabetical order.
Angola: Blessed with oil diamonds, fertile soil
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola, is a country on the west coast of Southern Africa. It is the second-largest Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) country in both total area and population (behind Brazil), and is the seventh-largest country in Africa. It is bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the north, Zambia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
The name Angola comes from the Portuguese colonial name Reino de Angola (“Kingdom of Angola”), which appeared as early as Paulo Dias de Novais's 1571 charter. The toponym was derived by the Portuguese from the title ngola held by the kings of Ndongo. Ndongo in the highlands, between the Kwanza and Lucala Rivers, was nominally a possession of the Kingdom of Kongo, but was seeking greater independence in the 16th century.
Angola has an exclave province, the province of Cabinda that borders the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The capital and largest city is Luanda on the Atlantic coast in the northwest of the country.
Angola has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age. Its formation as a nation-state originates from Portuguese colonization, which initially began with coastal settlements and trading posts founded in the 16th century. In the 19th century, European settlers gradually began to establish themselves in the interior. The Portuguese colony that became Angola did not have its present borders until the early 20th century, owing to resistance by native groups such as the Cuamato, the Kwanyama, and the Mbunda.
After a protracted anti-colonial struggle, Angola achieved independence in 1975 as a Marxist-Leninist one-party Republic. The country descended into a devastating civil war the same year, between the ruling People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba; and the insurgent anti-communist National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), supported by the US and South Africa. The country has been governed by MPLA ever since its independence in 1975. Following the end of the war in 2002, Angola emerged as a relatively stable unitary, presidential constitutional republic.
Government and politics
The Angolan government is composed of three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. The executive branch of the government is composed of the president, vice-presidents, and council of ministers. The legislative branch comprises a 220-seat unicameral legislature, the National Assembly of Angola, elected from both provincial and nationwide constituencies. For decades, political power has been concentrated in the presidency. The Constitutional Court is the supreme body . The Supreme Court serves as the court of appeal. The legal system is based on Portuguese and customary law. There are 12 courts in more than 140 counties in the nation.
After 38 years of rule, in 2017 President Jose Eduardo dos Santos stepped down from MPLA leadership. The leader of the winning party at the parliamentary elections in August 2017 would become the next president of Angola. The MPLA selected the former Defense Minister João Lourenço as Santos' chosen successor.
Angolan military and police
The Angolan Armed Forces are headed by a chief of staff who reports to the Minister of Defense. There are three divisions—the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Total manpower is 117,000. Angolan
ordnance includes Russian-manufactured fighters, bombers and transport planes, Brazilian-made EMB-312 Tucanos for training, Czech-made L-39s for training and bombing, and a variety of western-made aircraft such as the C-212\Aviocar, Sud Aviation Alouette III. A small number of AAF personnel are stationed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa) and the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville).
The Western perception of Africa, notably sub-Sahara Africa, as Third World hodge-podge of thatch- roof huts and tribal-based assemblages off the grid, are unfounded assertions based on stereotypes rooted in ignorance and bigotry.
These pictures of Luanda, the capital city of Angola boasting a teeming metro populace of 8.9 million, is a teeming port city on the west coast of Southern Africa. A seafront promen-
ade known as the Marginal runs alongside sparkling Luanda Bay.
Luandan citizens (left) wait for public transportation at a transit stop featuring a rising skyline in the back- ground showcasing sky-scrapers that co-exist with the country's tribal com- munity.
Angola has vast stores of diamonds, oil and gas, gold, copper, forestry (lumber), and is rich in agriculture. Since independence, oil and dia- monds have been the most impor- tant economic resource. Angola's economy has in recent years moved on from the disarray caused by a quarter-century of Angolan civil war to become the fastest-growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest-growing in the world, with an average GDP growth of 20 percent between 2005 and 2007. Between 2001-10,
The size of the diamond to the right is commonplace in Angolan mines.
Agriculture and forestry is an area of potential opportunity for the country. Angola needs 4.5 million tons of grain per year, but grows only about 55 percent of the maize it needs, 20 percent of the rice, and just 5 percent of its required wheat. Coffee, cotton and Guinea pepper plants are indigenous, and the tobacco plant flourishes in several districts. The World Bank estimates that less than 3 per cent of Angola's abundant fertile land is cultivated and the economic potential remains largely unexploited. Abundant forests also make wood a potential cash crop.
Angola's natural riches include its abundance of wild animals, a sure tourist attraction for travelers the world over. Government-protected game preserves shield wild beasts like elephant, rhinoceros, and gorillas from poachers and allows the public to get close-up views of the animals in their natural habitat.
Seven game reserves exist in Angola. They are Iona National Park, Quiçama National Park, Cameia National Park, Bicuar National Park, Cangandala National Park, Mupa National Park, and
Luengue-Luiana National Park
The beauty and grandeur of sub-Sahara Africa nearly defies description. Once described by European explorers as "darkest Africa," is dark and mysterious no more, but vibrant, beautiful, and majestic for all the world to see. Angola is but one example of the striking splendor of snow-capped peaks
towering above sea-level like Moro De Moco, Angola’s tallest mountain at an elevation of 8,596 ft. situated in the middle of the Central Highlands northwest of Angola’s second largest city Huambo and the lush verdant essence of the tropical rain- forest featuring cascading waterfalls feeding fresh wild rivers.
The National Police departments oversee public order, criminal investigation, traffic and transport, investigation and inspection of economic activities, taxation, and riot control and intervention. The force has an estimated 8,700 officers, which includes criminal investigators, detectives, and inspectors.
Angola has vast stores of diamonds, oil and gas, gold, copper, forestry (lumber), and is rich in agriculture. Since independence, oil and diamonds have been the most important economic resource. Angola's economy has in recent years moved on from the disarray caused by a quarter-century of Angolan civil war to become the fastest-growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest-growing in the world, with an average GDP growth of 20 percent between 2005 and 2007. Between 2001-10, Angola had the world's highest annual average GDP growth at 11.1 percent.
In 2004, the Exim Bank of China approved a $2 billion line of credit to Angola to rebuild the nation's crumbling infrastructure, and to limit the influence of the International Monetary Fund. China is Angola's biggest trade partner and export destination as well as the fourth-largest source of imports. Bilateral trade reached $27.67 billion in 2011, up 11.5 percent year-by-year. China's imports, mainly crude oil and diamonds, increased 9.1 percent to $24.89 billion while China's exports to Angola, including mechanical and electrical products, machinery parts and construction materials, surged 38.8 percent The oil glut led to a local price for unleaded gasoline of 0.37 per gallon.
The Angolan economy grew 18 percent in 2005, 26 percent in 2006, and 17.6 percent in 2007. Due to the global recession, the economy contracted an estimated -0.3 percent in 2009. The security brought about by the 2002 peace settlement has allowed the resettlement of 4 million displaced persons and a resulting large-scale increase in agriculture production.
Angola's financial system is maintained by the National Bank of Angola. The country's economy has grown significantly since Angola achieved political stability in 2002, mainly due to fast-rising earnings in the oil sector. The nation has upgraded critical infrastructure, an investment made possible by funds from the nation's development of oil resources. According to a report, just slightly more than 10 years after the end of the civil war Angola's standard of living has overall greatly improved. Life expectancy, which was just 46 years in 2002, reached 51 in 2011.
With assets of $6.8 billion, Angola is now the third-largest financial market in sub-Saharan Africa, surpassed only by Nigeria and South Africa. Diamonds and oil make up 60 percent of Angola's economy, almost all of the country's revenue and all of its dominant exports. Growth is almost entirely driven by rising oil production which is 1.25 million barrels per day, leveling off from 1.5 barrels in February 2020. Control of the oil industry is consolidated in Sonangol Group, a conglomerate owned by the Angolan government. In December 2006, Angola was admitted as a member of OPEC.
According to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative American think tank, oil production from Angola has increased so significantly that Angola now is China's biggest supplier of oil. China has extended three multibillion dollar lines of credit to the Angolan government; two loans of $2 billion from China Exim Bank, one in 2004, the second in 2007, as well as one loan in 2005 of $2.9 billion from China International Fund Ltd.
Operations in Angola’s lucrative diamond mines include partnerships between state-run Endiama and mining companies such as ALROSA which operate in Angola. The nation was forced to reduce its guidance production to 9.3 million carats in 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but, according to reports by gem authority, Rough & Polished, has plans to produce 13.8 million carats of diamonds in 2022.
Ganga Júnior, chairman of the state-owned diamond company Endiama, said that the company is projecting revenue of $1.5 billion in 2022. During the first four months of 2021, Angola produced 3.1 million carats. During the same period in 2020, it produced 5.3 million carats.
Angola has vast mineral and petroleum reserves, and its economy is among the fastest-growing in the world, especially since the end of the civil war. However, economic growth is highly uneven, with most of the nation's wealth concentrated in a disproportionately small sector of the population. The standard of living remains low for most Angolans; life expectancy is among the lowest in the world, while infant mortality is among the highest.
Angola is a member of the United Nations, OPEC, African Union, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, and the Southern African Development Community. As of 2019, the Angolan population is estimated at 31.83 million. Angola is multicultural and multiethnic. Angolan culture reflects centuries of Portuguese rule, namely the predominance of the Portuguese language and of the Catholic Church, intermingled with a variety of indigenous customs and traditions.
Landscape, climate conditions
Angola, although located in a tropical zone, has a climate uncharacteristic of this zone, due to the confluence of three factors: the cold Benguela Current flowing along the southern part of the coast the relief in the interior the influence of the Namib Desert in the southwest Angola's climate features two seasons: rainfall from November to April drought, known as Cacimbo, from May to October, drier, as the name implies with lower temperatures. While the coastline has high rainfall rates, decreasing from north to south and from 31 inches to 2.0 inches, with average annual temperatures above 73 degrees Fahrenheit, one can divide the interior zone into two areas: North, with high rainfall and high temperatures; and Central Plateau, with a dry season and average temperature of 66.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
The country consists of a sparsely watered and somewhat sterile coastal plain extending inland for a distance varying from 30-100 miles. Slightly inland and parallel to the coast is a belt of hills and mountains and behind those a large plateau. The total land size is 481,400 square miles
The geology and outline of the west coast of Angola is related to the opening of South Atlantic that started in the Early Cretaceous and continued until the Eocene, which is reflected in the invertebrate and vertebrate fossil fauna. The diamond mine of Catoca preserved unexpected ancient dinosaur, mammal, and crocodylomorph tracks 128 Million years. The rock formations of Angola are in three distinct regions: littoral zone, median zone, and central plateau.
(1) The littoral zone contains the only fossiliferous strata. These are of Tertiary and Cretaceous ages, the latter rocks resting on a reddish sandstone of older date. (2) The median zone was formed by a series of hills more or less parallel with the coast, is composed largely of crystalline rocks with granites and some Palaeozoic unfossiliferous rocks. (3)The central plateau consists of ancient crystalline rocks with granites overlain by non-fossiliferous sandstones and conglomerates of the Paleozoic age. The outcrops are largely hidden under laterite.
The Cretaceous rocks of the Dombe Grande region (near Benguela) are of Albian age and belong to the Acanthoceras mamillari zone. The beds containing Schloenbachia inflata are referable to the Gault. Rocks of Tertiary age are met with at Dombe Grande, Moçâmedes and near Luanda. The sandstone with gypsum, copper and sulfur of Dombe are doubtfully considered to be of Triassic age. Recent eruptive rocks, mainly basalts, form a line of hills almost bare of vegetation between Benguela and Moçâmedes. Nepheline basalts and liparites occur at Dombe Grande. The presence of gum copal in considerable quantities in the superficial rocks is characteristic of certain regions.
Like the rest of tropical Africa, Angola experiences distinct, alternating rainy and dry seasons. The coastal strip is tempered by the cool Benguela Current, resulting in a climate similar to coastal Peru or Baja California. It is semiarid in the South and along the coast to Luanda. There are two rainy seasons in the steppe; the short rains from November to February, and the high rains from March and April. Summers are hot and humid, while winters are mild and dry. The north has a cool, dry season. The climate is greatly influenced by the prevailing winds, which arc W., S.W. and S.S.W. Two seasons are distinguished—the cool, from June to September; and the rainy, from November to April. The heaviest rainfall occurs in April, and is accompanied by violent storms. The far north and Cabinda have the highest annual rainfall.
Terrain, land use, pasture, forest
Angola has four principal natural regions: the arid coastal lowland, stretching from Namibia to Luanda and characterized by low plains and terraces; green hills and mountains, rising inland from the coast into a great escarpment; a large area of high inland plains of dry savanna, called the high plateau (planalto), which extends eastward and south-east from the escarpment; and rain forest in the north and in Cabinda. The highest point in Angola is Morro de Môco, at 2,620 m. Elevations generally range from 3,000 to 6,000 feet.
The coastal lowland is for the most part flat, with occasional low cliffs and bluffs of red sandstone. There is but one deep inlet of the sea—Great Fish Bay (or Baía dos Tigres). Farther north are Port Alexander, Little Fish Bay and Lobito Bay, while shallower bays are numerous. Lobito Bay has water sufficient to allow large ships to unload close inshore. The coastal lowland rises from the sea in a series of low terraces. This region varies in width from about 19.8 inches near Benguela to more than 118 inches the Cuanza River Valley just south of Angola's capital, Luanda, and is markedly different from Angola's highland mass.
The Atlantic Ocean's cold, northward flowing Benguela Current substantially reduces precipitation along the coast, making the region relatively arid or nearly so south of Benguela (where it forms the northern extension of the Namib Desert), and quite dry even in its northern reaches. Even where, as around Luanda, the average annual rainfall may be as much as 19.8 inches, it is not common for the rains to fail. Given this pattern of precipitation, the far south is marked by sand dunes, which give way to dry scrub along the middle coast. Portions of the northern coastal plain are covered by thick brush.
The approach to the great central plateau of Africa is marked by the west-central highlands, a series of irregular escarpments and cuestas parallel to the coast at distances ranging from 20 km to 100 km inland as Tala Mugongo (4,300 feet.), Chella and Vissecua (5,200 feet.). The Cuanza River divides the mountain zone into two parts. The northern part rises gradually from the coastal zone to an average elevation of 500 meters, with crests as high as 1,000 to 1,800 meters. South of the Cuanza River, the hills rise sharply from the coastal lowlands and form a high escarpment, extending from a point east of Luanda and running south through Namibia. The highest peak is Morro Do Moco at 8,600 feet, and the escarpment is steepest in the far south in the Serra da Chella mountain range. In Benguela Province other high points are Loviti, rising 7,780 feet, in 12 degrees S., and Mt. Elonga at 7,500 feet. South of the Cuanza is the dormant volcano Caculo-Cabaza, elevation 3,300 feet.
The high plateau, with an altitude ranging from 3,900 to 5,900 feet, lies to the east of the hills and mountains and dominates Angola's terrain. The Zambezi River and several tributaries of the Congo River have their sources in Angola. A large number of rivers originate in the central uplands, but their patterns of flow are diverse and their ultimate outlets varied. A number flow in a more or less westerly course to the Atlantic Ocean, providing water for irrigation in the dry coastal strip and the potential for hydroelectric power. Two of Angola's most important rivers, the Cuanza Cuanza and the Cunene, take a more indirect route to the Atlantic; the Cuanza flowing north and the Cunene flowing south before turning west. The Cuanza is the only river wholly within Angola that is navigable—for nearly 200 kilometers from its mouth by boats of commercially or militarily significant size. The Congo River, whose mouth and western end form a small portion of Angola's northern border with Zaire, is also navigable.
North of the Lunda Divide the Kwango and many other streams flow north from the tableland to join the Kasai River (one of the largest affluents of the Congo), which in its upper course forms for fully 300 miles, the boundary between Angola and the Congo. South of the divide some rivers flow into the Zambezi River system and thence to the Indian Ocean, others to the Okavango River along the border with Namibia and in Botswana, and thence to Lake Ngami and the Okavango Swamp in Botswana. The tributaries of the Cubango River and several of the southern rivers flowing to the Atlantic are seasonal, completely dry much of the year.
Agriculture and forestry is an area of potential opportunity for the country. The African Economic Outlook organization says “Angola requires 4.5 million tons of grain per annum, but grows only about 55 percent of the maize it needs, 20 percent of the rice, and just 5 percent of its required wheat.” Coffee, cotton and Guinea pepper plants are indigenous, and the tobacco plant flourishes in several districts. The World Bank estimates that less than 3 per cent of Angola's abundant fertile land is cultivated and the economic potential of the forestry sector remains largely unexploited. Before independence in 1975, Angola was a breadbasket of southern Africa and a major exporter of bananas, coffee and sisal, but three decades of civil war (1975-2002) destroyed fertile countryside, left it littered with landmines and drove millions into the cities.
The country now depends on expensive food imports, mainly from South Africa and Portugal, while more than 90 percent of farming is done at the family and subsistence level, where thousands of Angolan small-scale farmers are trapped in poverty.
Flora and fauna
Both flora and fauna are characteristic of the greater part of tropical Africa. As far south as Benguela the coast region is rich in oil palms and mangroves. In the northern part of the province are dense forests. In the South towards the Kunene are regions of dense thorn scrub. Rubber vines and trees are abundant, but in some districts their number has been considerably reduced by the primitive methods adopted by native collectors of rubber. The species most common are various root rubbers, notably the Carpodinus chylorrhiza. This species and other varieties of carpodinus are very widely distributed. Landolphias are also found.
Among the trees are several which yield excellent timber, such as the tacula (Pterocarpus tinctorius), which grows to a enormous size, its wood being blood-red in color, and the Angola mahogany tree. The bark of the musuemba (Albizzia coriaria) is largely used in the tanning of leather. The mulundo bears a fruit about the size of a cricket ball covered with a hard green shell and containing scarlet pips like a pomegranate.
Wildlife include lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, buffalo, zebra, kudu, and many other antelopes, wild pig, ostrich, and crocodile. Angola previously served as a habitat for the endangered African wild dog, now considered extinct in the nation. Among numerous types of fish are the barbel, bream, and African yellow fish.
Transport in Angola consists of: Three separate railway systems totaling 1,716 miles, 47,613 miles of highway (11,903 paved), 1,295 navigable inland waterways, five major sea ports, 243 airports (32 paved). TAAG Angola Airlines is the nation's state-owned air carrier. Angola’s port business ranks among the top five major ports—Namibe, Lobito, Soyo, Cabinda, and Luanda. The port of Luanda is the largest of the five and one of the busiest on the African continent.
Travel on highways outside of towns and cities in Angola are not best advised for those without four-wheel drive vehicles. While a reasonable road infrastructure has existed within Angola, time and the war have taken their toll on the road surfaces, leaving many severely potholed, littered with broken asphalt. In many areas drivers have established alternate tracks to avoid the worst parts of the surface, although careful attention must be paid to the presence or absence of landmine warning markers by the side of the road.
The Angolan government has contracted the restoration of many of the country's roads. The road between Lubango and Namibe, for example, was completed recently with funding from the European Union, and is comparable to many European main routes. Completing the road infrastructure is likely to take some decades, but substantial efforts are underway. Luanda's construction boom is financed largely by oil and diamonds.
Along with Angola's construction inroads, the telecommunications industry is considered one of the main strategic sectors in Angola. In October 2014, the building of an optic fiber underwater cable was announced. This project aims to turn Angola into a continental hub, thus improving Internet connections both nationally and internationally. On March 11, 2015, the First Angolan Forum of Telecommunications and Information Technology was held in Luanda under the motto “The challenges of telecommunications in the current context of Angola,” to promote debate on topical issues on telecommunications in Angola and worldwide. A study of this sector, presented at the forum, said Angola had the first telecommunications operator in Africa to test LTE — with speeds up to 400 Mbit/s — and mobile penetration of about 75 percent; there are about 3.5 million smart phones in the Angolan market; There are about 16,000 miles of optical fiber installed in the country.
The first Angolan satellite, AngoSat-1, was launched into orbit on Dec. 26, 2017. It was launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on board a Zenit 3F rocket. The satellite was built by Russia's RSC Energia, a subsidiary of the state-run space industry player Roscosmos. The satellite payload was supplied by Airbus Defense & Space. Due to an on-board power failure during solar panel deployment, communication was lost with the satellite. Although, subsequent attempts to restore communications with the satellite were successful, the satellite eventually stopped sending data and RSC Energia confirmed that AngoSat-1 was inoperable.
The launch of AngoSat-1 was aimed at ensuring telecommunications throughout the country. According to Aristides Safeca, Secretary of State for Telecommunications, the satellite was aimed at providing telecommunications services, TV, internet and e-government and was expected to remain in orbit "at best" for 18 years. A replacement satellite named AngoSat-2 is in the works and is expected to be in service by 2020. As of February 2021, Ango-Sat-2 was about 60 percent ready. Telecom officials reported the launch is expected in about 17 months, by July 2022.
According to its latest population figures, Angola boasts 35.5 million citizens. An ethnic stew, the population is comprised of Ovimbundu, 37 percent; Ambundu, 23 percent; Bakongo, 13 percent; and 32 percent (other), which includes Chokwe, Ovambo, Ganguela, and Xindonga. About 2 percent mulattos (mixed European and African), 1.6 percent Chinese, and 1 percent European add to the mix.
Ambundu and Ovimbundu ethnic groups combined form a 62 percent majority of the population, forecast to grow to over 60 million people in 2050, 2.7 times the 2014 population. It is estimated that Angola was host to 12,100 refugees and 2,900 asylum seekers by the end of 2007. Roughly 11,400 of those refugees were originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, that arrived in the 1970s. As of 2008 there were an estimated 400,000 Democratic Republic of the Congo migrant workers, at least 220,000 Portuguese, and about 259,000 Chinese living in Angola. Roughly 5,000 Brazilians also reside in Angola. One million Angolans are mixed race (Black and White).
Language and religion
The languages in Angola are those originally spoken by the different ethnic groups and Portuguese, introduced during the Portuguese colonial era. The most widely spoken indigenous languages are Umbundu, Kimbundu, and Kikongo, in that order. Portuguese is the official language of the country.
According to the 2014 census, numerous tongues are spoken in Angola. Portuguese is spoken by 71.1 percent, Umbundu, 23 percent; Kikongo, 8.2 percent; Kimbundu, 7.8 percent; Chokwe, 6.5 percent; Nyaneka, 3.4 percent; Ngangela, 3.1 percent; Fiote, 2.4 percent; Kwanyama 2.3 percent; Muhumbi, 2.1 percent; Luvale, 1 percent; and other languages, 4.1 percent.
There are about 1,000 religious communities, mostly Christian, in Angola. While reliable statistics are nonexistent, it is estimated have that more than half of the population Catholic, while about a quarter adhere to the Protestant church introduced during the colonial period. Congregationalists largely comprise the Ovimbundu of the Central Highlands and the coastal region to its west, Methodists in the Kimbundu-speaking strip from Luanda to Malanje, Baptists almost exclusively among the Bakongo of the northwest, and scattered elements of Adventists, Reformed and Lutherans.
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 and Zaïre. Since independence, hundreds of pentecostal and similar communities have established a presence in the cities, where more than 50 percent of the population is located.
The Islamic Community of Angola estimates the Muslim population to be 500,000, comprised largely of migrants from West Africa and the Middle East, notably Lebanon, although some are local converts. The Angolan government does not legally recognize Muslim organizations and often shuts down mosques or prevents their construction.
Foreign missionaries were very active prior to independence in 1975, although since the beginning of the anti-colonial fight in 1961 the Portuguese colonial authorities expelled a series of Protestant missionaries and closed mission stations based on the belief that the missionaries were inciting pro-independence sentiments. Missionaries have been able to return to the country since the early 1990s, although security conditions due to the civil war prevented them, until 2002 from restoring many of their former inland mission stations.
The Catholic Church and some major Protestant denominations mostly keep to themselves in contrast to the "New Churches" which actively proselytize. Catholics, as well as some major Protestant denominations, provide help for the poor in the form of crop seeds, farm animals, medical care and education.
Health and education
Angola has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world and one of the world's lowest life expectancies. A 2007 survey concluded that low and deficient niacin status was common in Angola. In September 2014, the Angolan Institute for Cancer Control (IACC) was created by presidential decree to integrate the National Health Service in Angola. The purpose of the national service is to ensure health and medical care in oncology, policy implementation, programs and plans for prevention and specialized treatment.
In 2014, Angola launched a national campaign of vaccination against measles, extended to every child under 10 years old and aiming to go to all 18 provinces in the country. The measure is part of the Strategic Plan for the Elimination of Measles 2014-2020 created by the Angolan Ministry of Health which includes strengthening routine immunization, a proper dealing with measles cases, national campaigns, introducing a second dose of vaccination in the national routine vaccination calendar and active epidemiological surveillance for measles. This campaign took place together with the vaccination against polio and vitamin A supplementation.
Although by law education in Angola is compulsory and free for eight years, the government reports that a percentage of pupils are not attending due to a lack of school buildings and teachers. Pupils are often responsible for paying additional school-related expenses, including fees for books and supplies. In 1999, the gross primary enrollment rate was 74 per cent and in 1998, the most recent year for which data are available, the net primary enrollment rate was 61 per cent. Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of pupils formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance.
There continues to be significant disparities in enrollment between rural and urban areas. In 1995, 71.2 percent of children ages 7-14 years were attending school. It is reported that higher percentages of boys attend school than girls. During the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002), nearly half of all schools were reportedly looted and destroyed, leading to current problems with overcrowding. The Ministry of Education recruited 20,000 new teachers in 2005 and continued to implement teacher training. Teachers tend to be underpaid, inadequately trained, and overworked (sometimes teaching two or three shifts a day).
Culture in Angola has been heavily influenced by Portuguese culture, especially in language and religion, and the culture of the indigenous ethnic groups of Angola, predominantly Bantu culture. The diverse ethnic communities maintain their own cultural traits, traditions and languages, but in the cities, a mixed culture has been emerging since colonial times; in Luanda, since its foundation in the 16th century. In this urban culture, Portuguese heritage has become more and more dominant. African roots are evident in music and dance and is molding the way in which Portuguese is spoken. This process is well reflected in contemporary Angolan literature, especially in the works of Angolan authors.
Soccer or football is the national pastime in Angola, as it is for most of the world outside the US. It first participation in the World Cup qualifiers was in 1986, where they won in the first round, beating Senegal 4-3 on penalty kicks. They later lost in the second round of the 1986 World Cup qualifiers to Algeria. The Angola national football team again qualified for the FIFA World Cup in 2006 and 2018. In their 2006 appearance, the squad made it to the World Cup finals. They were eliminated after one defeat and two draws in the group stage.
Basketball is the second most popular sport in Angola. Its national team has won the AfroBasket crown11 times and holds the record for most titles. As a top team in Africa, it is a regular competitor at the Summer Olympic Games and the FIBA World Cup. Angola is home to one of Africa's first competitive leagues.
Angola has participated in the World Women's Handball Championship for several years. The country has also appeared in the Summer Olympics for seven years and both regularly competes in and once has hosted the FIRS Roller Hockey World Cup, where the best finish is sixth.
Angola is also often believed to have historic roots in the martial art "Capoeira Angola" and "Batuque" which were practiced by enslaved African Angolans transported as part of the Atlantic slave trade.
Jarrette Fellows, Jr. / Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa)