Facts About Angolan Culture, Geography, and History
Angola, located in Southern Africa is highly influenced by the Portuguese and Brazil culture creating a beautiful blend of its own identity. The People’s Republic of Angola became independent in 1975 with its capital city as Luanda. Having experienced its own share of war, Angola has since grown with a population estimated to be 12.6 million as at the year 2000.
12. Africa’s 7th largest country
Angola is Africa’s seventh largest country with an area of 481,400 square miles, and the 23rd largest country in the world. It is twice the size of Texas. Angola is close neighbors to other countries in the Region. It borders Namibia in the South, the Republic of Congo in the North and half of the Eastern part while Zambia covers the other half. Its shares borders with the Atlantic Ocean in the West.
11. Has one of the largest waterfalls in Africa
Rucana falls flows into the Kunene River at the Angola-Namibia border, once and still a wonder to behold. Rucana falls in Angola is one of the largest waterfalls in the continent both in volume and width, measuring 2,300 feet wide and 390 feet high.
10. Home of the giant and beautiful Sable Antelope
The Giant Black Sable Antelope, a magnificent wildlife which is endemic to Angola, was discovered in 2004 after it was thought to be extinct because of the years of civil war. The Sable antelope, which gracefully carries its scimitar horns of five-feet long above its head is rightfully the national animal of Angola found on most national paraphernalia like money, postage stamps, passports and brand logo for the national airline.
9. Has one of the youngest populations in the world
The country has a relatively young population, as almost 70% of the population is under 24 years of age. This can be attributed to the civil war that raged between 1975 to 2002 where an estimated one million lives were lost both in the war and resulting disease and famine experienced in the war-torn country. Luckily, the birth rate still remains one of the highest in the world.
8. The origin of the dreadlocks hairstyle
Angola is the origin of the dreadlocks hairstyle which has been worn by the early tribes of the country, namely the Mwila and Mucubal women who after braiding each others hair will use ochre mud, dried cattle dung, oil, herbs, and butter to hold their hair in dreadlock patterns.
The 4-6 numbered dreadlocks are called Nontombi, which can be reduced to three locks as a result of a death in the family. Another tribe that lives in Southern Angola is the Himba tribe, although a larger majority lives in Namibia, also wears their dreadlocks in smaller locks, covered in a mix of ground red clay, goat fur, and butter.
7. Has a shortage of men
The country has a shortage of men, and it is not unusual for a man to have several wives. Men go to war, while women and children are left leaving a few left after the civil war have to compensate for the deficit created. Although polygamy is widely practiced and accepted, it is not recognized by law. Probably after the younger generation grows, it can eventually balance out the gender inequality.
6. Became one of the wealthiest African nations
After emerging from decades of civil wars, Angola has risen to become one of the wealthiest countries in Africa with a GDP of $194 billion and a GDP per capita of $6500. Named the sixth richest in Africa, with potentials of climbing the ranks at any time down the years to come, its huge oil and gas resources and precious stones. Agricultural exports also has contributed to the growing wealth of the country.
5. Cuba helped Angola in their fight for independence
Cuba played an instrumental role in Angola’s struggle for independence by supplying freedom Cuban fighters with weapons. One of outcomes of Fidel Castro’s legacy is that he released troops numbering 36,000 men in 1970 to fight and support the People Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). This helped led to Angola’s independence. Cuba also helped again in 1988 to avert a military disaster.
4. Portuguese were first Europeans in Angola
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to set foot in Angola. The Portuguese explorer, Diogo Cao, arrived in 1484 and by the late 15th century other explorers from Portugal had inhabited the Kongo Kingdom. Although Slave trading was part of the attraction for the Europeans, their influence was felt as early as 1491 where many indigents of the Kingdom could already speak and write Portuguese
3. Khoi and San are the earliest inhabitants of Angola
The earliest inhabitants of Angola were nomadic Khoi and San ethnic groups, who predominantly practiced hunting and gathering. The Khoi people and San people are collectively known as Khoisan were the first inhabitant of sub-Saharan Africa covering Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. About 5000 Khoisans still live in southern Angola today – they are referred to as men of the bush or bushmen with their unique click consonant language
2. Gets its name from the ancient Kingdom of Ndongo
Angola gets its name from the ancient Kingdom of Ndongo, whose kings carried the title of “ngola.” Later in the sixteenth century “ngola” was found in Portuguese writing and they actually named a Portuguese colony on the coast Angola, before a larger territory equally under the influence of the Portuguese adopted the names in the nineteenth century. Finally 1975, present-day Angola claimed its name and independence
1. Has one of the most expensive cities in Africa for expats
Luanda is the largest city in Angola, and the country’s capital city. It was recently voted as the most expensive city in Africa for expatriates. This is traceable to the wide gap of development between the capital city and other parts of Angola as a result of political upheaval and economic crisis. This lead to expats having to pay high price for standard and suitable accommodations and imported goods that will make them feel comfortable.
Another reason for the high cost of living for expats is the constant weakening of local currencies against the dollar. The industrialization of the capital cities also force expats to live where their job skill and expertise are needed.