Angola is located in south-central Africa, bordering Namibia, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Recently emerging from four decades of warfare, this country has begun the long process of reconstruction, and become the second-fastest growing economy in Africa.

Numerous African kingdoms, including Kongo, Ndongo, and Lunda, inhabited the territory of modern-day Angola before European colonization.  The Portuguese arrived in 1483 and over the next 400 years gradually expanded their influence in the region through political pressure and military force.  The colony’s borders were fixed in 1885, and Angola became a Portuguese overseas province in 1951.  Only ten years later the Angolan War of Independence erupted, and wasn’t completed until 1975, when the Carnation Revolution in Portugal offered an opportunity for Angolan insurgents to declare their country independent.  This, however, would not be the end of bloodshed in Angola.  A civil war among the various revolutionary groups soon followed, and quickly escalated into a major proxy war, with different factions backed by the US, USSR, and China.  It outlasted the Cold War, finally ending with the military and political victory of the MPLA party in 2002, at a cost of approximately 500,000 lives.

Angola1

The end of the long civil war has been a tremendous boon to Angolan society, and prompted a boom in investment and GDP growth.  However, the country is still considered to be in a state of humanitarian crisis.  Poverty is widespread, and access to education is limited for much of Angola’s population.  Unexploded minefields are a significant problem throughout much of the country.  And despite large oil deposits, providing substantial impetus to the economy, over half of Angola’s reserves are located in the exclave province of Cabinda, still experiencing a breakaway insurgency which, needless to say, inhibits production efforts.

Despite these many obstacles, Angola has attracted some immigration in recent decades.  Four million people displaced by the war have returned to their homes, which has led to a major increase in agricultural production.  Missionary groups have resumed operations in the interior as well, and a small number of adventurous tourists have begun visiting the country:  attractions include the burgeoning capital Luanda, scenic Mussolo Island, and numerous spots of natural beauty and indigenous cultural value.  Luanda offers an increasing variety of job opportunities; development and volunteer work are widely available throughout the country.  Teachers may be particularly in demand, as the Angolan education system is rather short-staffed.

English is not widely spoken in Angola, so travelers will definitely want to learn some Portuguese before visiting.  It is the first language of about two thirds of the population, and many more learn it as a second language.  The local dialect features similarities to both European and Brazilian Portuguese, with some influence from the Bantu languages spoken by the rest of the population.  The latter are first languages to about 40% of Angolans, and of them the most common are Kimbundu, Umbundu, and Kikongo.

Links

Country Info:

National Geographic: Angola Facts
Wikipedia: Angola
CIA World Factbook Entry

Language:

Online Portuguese (European) language course
Online Portuguese (Brazillian) language course
Learning Portuguese Facebook page
Wikipedia: Portuguese Language
Wikipedia: Angolan Portuguese
Wikipedia: Languages of Angola

Relocation Resources:

Embassy of Angola in Washington, DC
Angola at Wikitravel
Expat Blog: Angola
CareerJet: Jobs in Angola