22 interesting facts about Angola

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Africa’s richest woman, a rediscovered antelope and an immense waterfall are among the most interesting facts about Angola.

Interesting facts about Angola include the magnificent Kalandula Falls (Shutterstock)
Interesting facts about Angola include the magnificent Kalandula Falls (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Angola
Capital city: Luanda
Population: 32,522,339
Area: 1,246,700 sq km
Major languages: Portuguese, Umbundu, Kikongo, Kimbundu, Chokwe
Time zone: UTC+1 (West Africa Time)
(Source: CIA World Fact Book)

Interesting facts about Angola

1. Located in southwestern Africa, Angola is known to have been inhabited by agricultural cultures from around 1000 to 500 BCE.
– Source: Britannica

2. Angola was once part of the central and west African Kingdom of Kongo. Founded in the 14th century the kingdom incorporated much of present-day northern Angola as well as parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo and southern Gabon.
– Source: Encyclopedia.com

3. The name Angola derives from the word ngola which was the title given to Ndongo kings – the historical African kingdom of the Mbundu people founded around the late 15th or early 16th century.
– Source: Britannica

4. In 1483, Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão became the first European to explore the region.
– Source: Encyclopedia.com

5. In 1575, the Portuguese founded the city of Luanda – the future capital of Angola.
– Source: BBC News

6. Luanda has repeatedly been ranked as one of the world’s most expensive cities for expatriate employees to live in.
– Source: The Independent

Luanda is the capital of Angola
Luanda is the capital of Angola (Shutterstock)

7. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Angola was a significant Portuguese slave-trading base. Between 1580 and 1680 over a million slaves were transported to Brazil.
– Source: BBC News

8. In 1836 the slave trade was officially abolished by the Portuguese administration. However, forced labour continued in its place with Portugal maintaining colonial control over Angola.
– Source: BBC News

9. In 1975, following a revolution in Portugal, Angola gained full independence. Portugal’s entire colonial empire collapsed which also included Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe.
– Source: The Guardian, BBC News

10. Angola then fell into a 27-year civil war dominated by foreign intervention which included the USA, Cuba and South Africa. By the time peace came in 2002, over a million people had died.
– Source: The Guardian, Lonely Planet

11. The Angolan flag is horizontally striped red and black which represents communism and the African people. In the centre is a yellow emblem featuring a star signifying internationalism and progress, a cogwheel for industrial workers and a machete for agricultural labourers. The ensemble is similar to the hammer, sickle and star of the old Soviet flag.
– Source: Britannica

The Angolan flag
The Angolan flag (Shutterstock)

12. The enclave of Cabinda is separated from the rest of Angola by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The enclave is oil-rich but is also plagued by poverty and ongoing conflicts with rebel separatist groups.
– Source: Reuters

13. Angolan businesswoman, Isabel dos Santos, is Africa’s richest woman. She is the daughter of the former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos and is estimated to have a fortune of $2.2bn.
– Source: The Guardian

14. Dos Santos is currently the subject of a criminal investigation in Angola for maladministration of funds, embezzlement and corruption.
– Source: New York times

15. Angola is Africa’s second-biggest crude oil producer (after Nigeria) and the world’s 14th-biggest.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

16. Oil accounts for at least 88% of the country’s total exports.
– Source: OEC

17. Angola is Africa’s seventh-largest country by land area and the world’s 24th.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

18. The giant sable antelope, which is endemic to Angola, was thought to be extinct since 1982. However, the antelope was ‘rediscovered’ in 2006 but remains endangered.
– Source: The Guardian

The giant sable antelope
The ‘rediscovered’ giant sable antelope (Shutterstock)

19. Angola is home to one of Africa’s largest waterfalls (possibly second-largest), the Kalandula Falls. The falls are 105m high and 400m wide and considered one of the largest waterfalls by volume in Africa.
– Source: The Guardian, Lonely Planet

20. Angola is still struggling to clear landmines leftover from its civil war. Mother and son members of the British Royal Family have visited Angola to raise awareness of the issue. Princess Diana visited in 1997 and then her son, Prince Harry, visited in 2019.
– Source: Time Magazine

21. Angola has one of the youngest populations in the world with a median age of just 15.9. Only Niger and Uganda have younger populations.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

22. Angola also has the world’s second-highest fertility rate after Niger. On average, 5.96 children are born per woman.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book