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State

Capital

Angola

Luanda

Currency unit

Kwanza

Connections

AIDS

Central

Portugal

Southern

War

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 Economics

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History

Independent following the Portuguese revolution in 1975.

At the mouth of the river Zaire (formerly the Congo) was a kingdom of a people known as the Bakongo, mainly in Angola. Basil Davidson observes that when the Portuguese first met these people in 1483 they were treated as equals and the king of Portugal sent letters to the king of the Bakongo as he would to a European ruler. The Portuguese sent missionaries.

Later, the slave trade destroyed the kingdom of Kongo. The Portuguese occupied the coastal fringe of the territory during the 17th century. In the 19th century the Portuguese had hoped to conquer the territory between Angola and Mozambique but were beaten to it by Cecil Rhodes who occupied Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Portuguese did not control the interior until the end of the 19th century.

The border with South West Africa (Namibia) was fixed only in 1926 but the other frontiers were fixed in 1890.

The War of Independence began in the 1950s and grew during the 1960s. The Portuguese left in 1975 following their revolution.

However, following independence there was a civil war between three, largely ethnically based, parties. One of these, FNLA, supported by Mobutu of Zaire dropped out. The MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) formed a government in the capital and controlled much of the country. The MPLA was helped by Soviet and Cuban troops and followed a Marxist policy. Its control of the oil in the Cabinda enclave allowed it to keep going despite the collapse of much of the economy when the Portuguese settlers left.

UNITA (Union for the Total Independence of Angola) was based in the south and received help from South Africa which was interested in preventing a strong government in Angola. UNITA also received support from the United States, via the CIA and non-governmental rightwing groups, as part of a Cold War strategy (and support for South Africa by people who were in practice racists). The US government only recognized the MPLA government in May 1993 (after it had ceased to be Marxist, and after Clinton became President).

The liberation movement SWAPO of Namibia also operated from Angola.

South African troops operated in the southern area controlled by UNITA for many years. Supported covertly by the CIA, South African troops invaded large areas of southern Angola in 1975. They had to withdraw when the US Senate voted to forbid US government support to UNITA and South Africa. However, most commentators believe that UNITA continued to receive US support in a laundered form (through extreme right foundations).

The civil war continued until 1992, though the Cubans agreed to leave, prompted by the unwillingness of the Soviet Union to pay as they reduced their overseas commitments and then a complete cut off following its disappearance. The Cubans were instruments of Soviet policy but perhaps also represented Fidel Castro's wishes to support revolutionaries in poor countries. It seemed possible that negotiations would end with both parties participating in a coalition government but UNITA did not accept the election result. Did it continue to receive support from the far right in the US? Possibly.

Civil war resumed in December 1992 but with a now legitimate MPLA enjoying a military advantage. In 1993 it became even more ferocious than in the previous civil war. The UN observers showed themselves powerless to influence events. The suffering and deaths grew with the complete destruction of many cities and towns. In a world of numerous bad wars, Angola had one of the worst.

Now that the war is over the Chinese seem to be taking over.

Languages

Portuguese

Bantu:

Ovimbundu;

Mbundu;

Kongo;

Lunda;

Nganguela;

Non-bantu

Khoisan.

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

Until 1992 a one-party state led by the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola). With the ending of support from Russia and Eastern Europe this party abandoned Marxism and adopted a multi-party system.

Some parts of the country have been controlled by UNITA led by Jonas Savimbi who waged civil war against the MPLA.

Elections in October 1992 resulted in the victory of MPLA and its president Eduardo dos Santos. Savimbi refused to accept the result and resumed the civil war.

"Peace" was agreed Nov. 1994. The war did not stop. Further 'peaces' were made. The last phase of the war began in 1998.

The death of Jonas Savimbi in battle in February 2002 may have brought the war to an end. UNITA and the government signed a ceasefire agreement in April 2002.

The main problem now, apart from the devastated areas of the country left by the war (millions of landmines), is the corruption of the government and state apparatus. The former marxists seem now to be solely concerned with enriching themselves at the expense of the mass of the people, embezzling the oil and diamond revenues.

Interesting reading

Basil Davidson - The African Slave Trade


The African Slave Trade


African Slave Trade


Vom Sklavenhandel zur Kolonialisierung

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

Oil and diamonds keep the country going but the agricultural plantation economy has largely collapsed because of civil war and widespread insecurity outside the main towns.

Presumably UNITA paid for its side of the war from the diamonds sold to non-cartel buyers and then to De Beers; while the MPLA received the money from the oil fields.

De Beers say they will not in future (from 2000) buy war diamonds. Only if reliable means of determining the origin of diamonds are used could this policy be enforced. The same is true of diamonds from Sierra Leone, also paying for a nasty war.

The main economic activity now comes from the Chinese. Huge construction projects employ mainly Chinese labour. In effect the country has been recolonised.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

Starvation resulting from the war.

Huge numbers of landmines were used in the wars. As a result much of the agricultural land is unusable.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

Unspeakable horrors during the wars.

Climate effects

Last revised 27/09/11


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