It is bordered to the North and Northeast by Congo-Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the East by Zambia, to the South by Namibia, and to the West by the Atlantic Ocean. Blessed with a great diversity of landscapes and natural beauty, the country boasts exotic beaches, tropical forests, desert and savannah – home to a wide variety of fauna and flora – numerous lakes and rivers, not forgetting 1,650 kilometres of coastline. Inhabited by some of the most traditional peoples of Africa, Angola also has large, cosmopolitan cities, as well as an ancestral culture, combined with various influences and founded on the diversity of its people. Although Angola, as we know it today, was only established in 1926, the human presence in this part of Africa dates back to the Palaeolithic, with a history of migrations on the continent’s west coast. For thousands of years, different peoples migrated here from the North, like the Bantu. Between the 13th and 15th centuries, the Kingdom of Kongo achieved territorial hegemony to become the most powerful of a series of kingdoms along the west coast of Africa.
The Portuguese arrived in 1482, when the navigator Diogo Cão docked his caravels at the mouth of the Congo River, starting five centuries of colonial domination. Although the first exchanges were more commercial in nature, Portuguese domination was accentuated due to military uperiority, culminating in the Letter of Donation of the Captaincy of Angola to Paulo Dias de Novais in 1571. In 1576, Dias de Novais founded the São Paulo de Loanda settlement. Currently known as Luanda, this settlement expanded rapidly and became a major port on Africa’s Atlantic coast during the centuries that followed. Angola’s capital was nicknamed the “Paris of Africa”, due to the charisma and beauty of the “old city’s” colonial architecture, combined with the bold architecture and modernity of the “uptown”. Today’s Luanda is a huge metropolis with over eight million inhabitants. Centre of the country’s political and economic power, it’s one of the most dynamic capitals in Africa, offering countless opportunities.
Angola experienced five centuries of colonial domination, and during this time, its agricultural wealth, which included coffee, cocoa, sisal, and sugar cane, as well as mineral riches, such as oil, diamonds, gold, marble, granite and precious stones, led to a degree of economic and social development. The winds of freedom began to blow in the 1940s, when the decolonisation of African countries became an international issue.
Due to the intransigence of the Portuguese political system, which shunned the possibility of peaceful negotiations for the self-determination and independence of its colonies, an armed struggle began, not against the Portuguese people, but against the dictatorial regime that lasted 14 years (1961-1975).
On 11th November 1975, Agostinho Neto, the country’s first President, proclaimed Angolan independence. This declaration was soon followed by a civil war that lasted until 2002, when peace agreements were signed.