Angola, officially the Republic of Angola gained its independence from Portugal on 11 November, 1975, after a protracted liberation war.
Celebrations to mark the independence are to be held on Thursday at the November 11 Stadium on the outskirts of Luanda, a 50 000-seat venue that symbolises the war-torn country’s rebirth and which hosted the opening match of the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
After independence in November 1975, Angola faced a devastating civil war which lasted several decades and claimed millions of lives and produced many refugees. Following negotiations held in Portugal, itself under severe social and political turmoil and uncertainty due to the April 1974 revolution, Angola’s three main guerrilla groups agreed to establish a transitional government in January 1975.
Angola has vast mineral and petroleum reserves, and its economy has on average grown at a two-digit pace since the 1990s, especially since the end of the civil war. In spite of this, standards of living remain low for the majority of the population, and life expectancy and infant mortality rates in Angola are among the worst-ranked in the world. Angola is considered to be economically disparate, with the majority of the nation’s wealth concentrated in a disproportionately small sector of the population.
Angola is a member state of the African Union, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the Latin Union and the Southern African Development Community.
Geography and People
Area: 481,321 square miles (1,246,620 km2) – Angola is the world’s twenty-third largest country (after Niger)
Population: 13,338,541 (July 2011 est.)
Official language: Portuguese
Capital City: Luanda
Life expectancy: 38.76 years
Temperature: Angola’s average temperature on the coast is 60 °F (16 °C) in the winter and 70 °F (21 °C) in the summer. It has two seasons; dry season (May to October) and hot rainy season (November to April).
Government type: Republic
Independence: 11 November 1975 (from Portugal)
Constitution: Adopted by People’s Assembly 25 August 1992
Legal system: Portuguese civil law system and customary law
President: Jose Eduardo DOS SANTOS
Prime Minister: Antonio Paulo KASSOMA
Ambassador to UN: Ismael Abraao GASPAR MARTINS
Mineral Resources: Angola has a rich subsoil heritage, from diamonds, oil, gold, copper, as well as a rich wildlife (dramatically impoverished during the civil war), forest, and fossils.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $107.3 billion (2010 est.)
GDP per capita: $8,200 (2010 est.)
GDP real growth rate: 1.6% (2010 est.)
Unemployment: More than 50% (2001 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 13.3% (2010 est.)
Population below poverty line: 40.5% (2006 est.)
Current account balance: $2.089 billion (2010 est.)
Angola’s economy has undergone a period of transformation in recent years, moving from the disarray caused by a quarter century of civil war to being the fastest growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest in the world, with an average GDP growth of 20 percent between 2005 and 2007. In the period 2001–2010, Angola had the world’s highest annual average GDP growth, at 11.1 percent. In 2004, China’s Eximbank approved a $2 billion line of credit to Angola. The loan is being used to rebuild Angola’s infrastructure, and has also limited the influence of the International Monetary Fund in the country
Cell phones: 8.109 million (2009)
Internet users: 3,717 (2010)
Paved roadways: 5,349 km
The indigenous languages with the largest usage are Umbundu, Kimbundu, and Kikongo, in that order. Portuguese is the official language of the country.
There are about 1000 mostly Christian religious communities in Angola. While reliable statistics are nonexistent, estimates have it that more than half of the population are Roman Catholics, while about a quarter adhere to the Protestant churches introduced during the colonial period.
Christians: Congregationalists, Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostal.
Muslims: practically all of them immigrants from West African and other countries and belonging to the Sunnite branch, represent only about 1%; because of their diversity, they do not form a community. In 2011, according to the Islamic Community of Angola (Comunidade Islâmica de Angola, COIA) there were more than 80 mosques serving about 500,000 Muslims in Angola, and the number was growing.