Angola

Country Code: 244
ISO Code: AGO/AO

Angola, officially Republic of Angola (Portuguese: Republic of Angola, Kikongo, Kimbundu and Umbundu: Repubilika and Ngola), is a country located in southern Africa that has borders with Namibia in the south, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo by the north and with Zambia by the east, whereas towards the west it has coast bathed by the Atlantic Ocean. Its capital is Luanda and in the north of the country is the exclave of Cabinda, which has borders with the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Portuguese were present in various parts of the coast that today belongs to Angola since the sixteenth century and interacted in various ways with the natives. The Portuguese presence was strengthened in the nineteenth century with its penetration into the territory and its effective occupation to be considered a colony of Europeans, as stipulated in the Berlin conference of 1884. The consolidation of colonization did not occur. until the 1920s, after the subjugation of the Mbunda people and the abduction of their king, Mwene Mbandu Kapova I.

Angola achieved its independence from Portugal in 1975, after a long war. However, once emancipated, the new country was immersed in an intense and lasting civil war that lasted from 1975 to 2002. The country has abundant mineral and petroleum deposits, and its economy has grown at a very high rate since the years 1990, especially since the end of the civil war. Despite this, the standard of living of most Angolans is very low, and their rates of life expectancy and infant mortality are among the worst in the world.6 It is a country with great economic inequalities, as the largest part of the wealth is in the hands of a very small percentage of its inhabitants.

Its system of government is multiparty democracy, with a presidential regime. He is a member of the African Union, of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, of the Latin Union and of the Southern African Development Community.

HISTORY

The original inhabitants of present-day Angola were hunters and gatherers and spoke the Khoisan language, few in number and quite dispersed. With the expansion of the Bantu peoples, who reached the present territory of Angola from the year 1000, they were absorbed by these or dispersed in a southward direction. Some small groups are still found in southern Angola, others north of Botswana and Namibia.

The Bantu were a village of farmers, gatherers and hunters who probably began their migrations from the rainforest, on what is now the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. Its expansion took place in small groups, which relocated in response to ecological, economic or political circumstances. Throughout the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, they established a series of kingdoms in the space of contemporary Angola, the main one being the Kingdom of the Congo. This included the northwest of present-day Angola, the west of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo, and the south of the current Gabon. The strip that at present is border between Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its apogee was given during centuries XIII to XVIII.

In 1482, at the mouth of the Congo River, a Portuguese fleet arrived, commanded by Diogo Cão. That was the first contact with the ancestors of the current Angolans, specifically with the Kingdom of the Congo, and the prelude to the colonizing process that over five centuries went through very different periods.

Portugal arrived in the territory in 1483 on the Congo River, where the Kongo existed that stretched from the current Gabon, in the north, to the Cuanza River in the south. Portugal established in 1575 a Portuguese colony in Luanda based on the slave trade. The Portuguese gradually took control of the coastal strip through the sixteenth century through a series of treaties and wars, thus forming the colony of Angola, still small, and which belonged to Spain from 1580 to 1640, due to its union with Portugal.

The Dutch occupied Luanda from 1641 to 1648, providing a boost for the anti-Portuguese states. In 1648, Portugal retook Luanda and initiated a process of military conquest of the states of Kongo and Ndongo that ended with the victory of the Portuguese in 1671. The total Portuguese administrative control of the interior did not occur until the beginning of the 20th century. In 1951, the colony was recategorized as an overseas province, also called Portuguese West Africa.

After the decision of Portugal to bet on a multiracial state in the face of the decolonization process, three independence movements emerged in Angola:

The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola, MPLA), with a base between kimbundu and the mestizo intelligence of Luanda, and ties with communist parties in Portugal and the countries of the Warsaw Pact.
The National Liberation Front of Angola (Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola, FNLA), with an ethnic base in the northern Bakongo region and links with the United States Government, the Mobutu Sese Seko regime in Zaire and the apartheid government of South Africa, among others.
The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola, UNITA), led by Jonas Malheiro Savimbi with an ethnic and regional base in the heart of Ovimbundu, in the center of the country.
After a guerrilla war of 14 years, initiated on February 4, 1961, and following the Revolution of the Claveles in Portugal, Angola achieved its independence in 1975.

Before the formal transfer of government by the Portuguese set for November 11, 1975, on August 9, 1975, a civil war broke out between the MPLA, UNITA and the FNLA, all three supported by external forces.

The MPLA, of leftist inspiration, managed to defeat, with the support of Cuban, Guinean and Katangese forces (from Katanga, a divided province of Zaire that later would return to its sovereignty) to its opponents in Qifangondo, at the gates of Luanda and received the government of hands of the Portuguese, but the war continued.

In 1976, the FNLA, supported by Zaire, was defeated in Operation Carlota, leaving the MPLA and UNITA backed by apartheid South Africa to fight for power.

In 1991, after the battle in Cuito Cuanavale in 1988, after long negotiations, South Africa and Cuba agreed to withdraw from Namibia and Angola respectively. Then, the Angolan government and UNITA agreed to turn Angola into a multiparty state. However, after José Eduardo dos Santos, of the MPLA won the presidential elections supervised by international observers, UNITA again unleashed hostilities alleging fraud, an allegation that was not endorsed by the observers.

A new peace agreement in 1994 (Lusaka Protocol) between the government and UNITA saw the integration of UNITA ex-insurgents into the government. A government of national unity was installed in 1997. However, UNITA claimed that the government was not complying with the agreements and resumed hostilities in 1998. This time the UN approved a censure against UNITA. President José Eduardo dos Santos suspended the regular functioning of democratic bodies due to the conflict and launched a major offensive that crushed the conventional forces of UNITA in 1999 and recaptured the main cities. UNITA announced a return to guerrilla warfare.

On February 22, 2002, Jonah Savimbi, the leader of UNITA, was killed in an ambush in the province of Moxico and a ceasefire was reached between the two factions. UNITA left the armed struggle and was definitively transformed into a political party.

In 2008 parliamentary elections were held, after ten years of suspension of guarantees and democratic procedures, with the approval in general by international observers, who also denounced several irregularities. In the elections, the MPLA won by an overwhelming majority. However, under the constitution adopted in 2010, there will no longer be any presidential elections, since the position of President will be occupied by the leader of the party that obtains the majority in the parliament.

Some of Angola’s main problems are a serious humanitarian crisis as a result of the prolonged war, the abundance of anti-personnel mines, and the actions of the guerrilla movements like the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), which are fighting for the independence of the northern enclave of Cabinda in order to achieve an independent republic. The region’s enormous oil reserves are also one of the parameters of the conflict, since its production is fundamental for the Angolan economy and the volume of its extraction corresponds to more than half of the GDP.7 Although the authorities’ limited support Congolese forces towards this guerrilla group have reduced their activity, 8 their actions continue to mobilize the Angolan army.

Angola, like many sub-Saharan nations, is subject to periodic epidemics of infectious diseases. As of April 2005, Angola is in the middle of an epidemic of the Marburg virus, which is becoming the worst epidemic of hemorrhagic fever recorded in history, with more than 237 recorded deaths from the 261 registered cases and has extended to 7 of the 18 provinces as of April 19, 2005.

LANGUAGES

The official language of law and de facto is Portuguese. Thus, article 9 of the “Lei de Bases do Sistema de Educação” (2001) establishes that education be conducted in this language, the “Lei de Defesa do Consumidor” (2003) establishes that information is provided in Portuguese, and standards similar are included in the Traffic and Customs Code. On the other hand, the Press Law of 2006 contemplates the promotion of national languages (national languages), which are not listed but which are specified in the new Constitution; they are, in order of numerical importance, the umbundu, the kimbundu, the kikongo, the chókwè, the nganguela and the kwanyama.

The knowledge of Portuguese and its use as a lingua franca among the members of different linguistic groups was reinforced during the period of the civil war, not by schooling but by the need produced by the massive displacement to the cities of people of diverse origin who fled of the combat zones. A study published in the newspaper O Público in 1995 estimated that 99% of the inhabitants of Luanda were able to express themselves in Portuguese, while the use of Kimbundu had fallen, particularly among young people.47 This is, of course, a exceptional situation: in other cities, the knowledge and use of Portuguese are less marked and the mastery of the respective local languages was preserved more. As for the rural areas, there is always a clear predominance of the local language. Even so, the domain of the colonial language on the part of the local population is very high in comparison with the majority of African countries.

Currently the Bantu languages of Angola have gained importance with the creation of the Faculty of Letters of the Agostinho Neto University of Luanda where there are language and culture courses emphasizing native African languages and literatures.

The Kwanyama language is the main language used in the province of Cunene (425,000 people) and in northern Namibia, Ovamboland region (240,000 people).
Kikongo is the language of the Kongo people made up of more than 4,500,000 people living in the south-west of Congo-Brazzaville, west of Congo-Kinshasa and northwest of Angola, with important communities in all the major cities of Angola.
Kimbundu is the language of the Ambundu, with about 4 million people, who inhabit Luanda and the region that stretches from the capital to Malanje.
Umbundu is used by about 5 million people of the Ovimbundu people, mainl in the provinces of Huambo, Bié and Benguela.
Interestingly, due to the Cuban military presence in the Angolan Civil War, there is a community of about two thousand people who speak the Spanish language in the city of Luena.

RELIGION

Christianity is the predominant religion in Angola. The World Christian Database states that 93.5% of Angolans are Christian, 4.7% are practicing ethnic religions (indigenous), 0.6% are Muslim, 0.9% are agnostic and 0.2% are non-religious. religious.48 However, other sources place the percentage of Christians at 53%, the rest of the population adhering to indigenous beliefs. According to these sources, of the Christians in Angola, 72% are Catholics, and the remaining 28% are divided between Baptists, Presbyterians, Evangelical Reformed (Pentecostals, Methodists, Lutherans) and some small Christian cults.

In an evaluation study of the levels of nations of religious regulation and persecution with the score of 0-10, where 0 represents low levels of regulation or persecution, Angola obtained 0.8 in the Government Regulation of the Religion, 4.0 in social regulation of religion, 0 in the Government Favoritism of Religion and 0 in case of religious persecution.

The main Protestant denominations are the Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists (United Church of Christ), and the Assemblies of God. The largest syncretic religious group is the Kimbanguist Church, whose followers believe that the Congolese pastor of the mid-twentieth century José Kimbangu was a prophet. A small portion of the population of rural areas of the country practices traditional or indigenous religions. There is a small Islamic community around migrants from West Africa.

In colonial times the coastal populations of the country were mainly Catholic, while there were Protestant missionary groups active in the interior. With the massive social displacement caused by 26 years of civil war, this division is no longer generally valid.

Foreign missionaries were very active before independence in 1975, although the Portuguese colonial authorities expelled many Protestant missionaries and closed mission stations based on the belief that the missionaries were inciting independence feelings. Missionaries have been able to return to the country since the early 1990s, although the security conditions due to the civil war have prevented the restoration of many of their former mission sites in the interior of the country.

The Catholic religion maintains itself in contrast to the main Protestant denominations, which are much more active in trying to win new members. The main Protestant denominations provide aid to the poor in the form of crop seeds, farm animals, medical care and education in English, mathematics, history and religion.

In November of 2013, the government of President José Eduardo dos Santos reported that Islam would be banned and the mosques of the country demolished, since the practice of this cult was not approved as being “contrary to the habits and customs of the Angolan culture.” transforming this into the first country in the world to ban Islam in modern times.

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