Angola Geography and Population

By | January 8, 2023

Angola – Geography

Angola – Geography, Population development is characterized by the same trends as in most other African countries, but a number of special conditions apply. The almost DKK 10 million Angolans are divided into a number of ethnic groups, all of Bantu origin. Largest is ovimbundu on the central plateau, this is also where UNITA has its hinterland, but there is no clear link between ethnic groups and location in the civil war. The second largest group is mbundu around Luanda, chokwe and Ovambo followed by bakongo in the northwestern provinces.

About half of the population are Catholics, and the Catholic Church sought to mediate in the Civil War.

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The size of the population growth is unknown, but both the birth and death rates are very high. Only a minority has access to a modern health system or clean water, and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world, 130-200 per person. 1000 live births. Hardest hit are the rural areas where health posts and schools were destroyed during the war.

Cities are estimated to have grown 7-8% per year since 1980. This has led to infrastructure collapse, slum growth and the dominance of the informal sector. This development applies not least to the capital, which estimates half the city population. For culture and traditions of Angola, please check allunitconverters.

The protracted war has caused major refugee problems. In 1990, the number of internal refugees was estimated at 800,000, and between 250,000 and 480,000 had fled to neighboring countries. Refugee problems continued until the peace settlement in 2002; After that, more than 300,000 have returned from neighboring countries, but it is estimated that another 130,000 are abroad (2005). Resettlement of all these people is a huge problem in the future.

Formally, men and women have the same rights, but women are subject to the same discrimination as in other parts of Africa: bride price, polygamy, the greatest workload in agriculture, many births and poor education. 77% of women are illiterate versus 50% for men (1985).


The vast majority of the population are farmers, and the country has excellent natural conditions to feed itself. Soils are generally fertile; 2/3 of the country consists of the central plateau, which is 1000 to 1500 meters above sea level, from where the main rivers include Cuanzaand Cunene, springs. The climate is predominantly tropical, warmest in the north and coolest on the coast in the south. The rainfall in the north is over 1000 mm a year and falls to 50 mm in the driest southwest. In the north there is rainy season from September to May and in the southern part of the plateau from December to March. However, the amount of rainfall during the rainy season varies greatly; it can, for a few years, for example in 2006, almost fail, resulting in local food shortages. In most of the country the natural vegetation is savannah, however there is tropical rainforest in Cabinda. The utilization of timber has been reduced to a minimum, but as one of the few countries in Africa, Angola has sufficient timber resources for firewood. To the southwest, the vegetation thins out and in the southern coastal zone the climate is desert-like.

About 2% of the area is cultivated. In 1975 Angola was an exporter of coffee, sugar, cotton and sisal, but its production has declined significantly since independence. The country was self-sufficient with basic food and exported, among other things. corn, but now the rural population produces predominantly for themselves. Cattle farming in the southern provinces has also dropped drastically. The reasons are several. The state took over the abandoned Portuguese farms and continued them as state farms according to Eastern European pattern. These have generally provided deficits. The rural trading system collapsed as the state introduced fixed and low acquisition prices; rural areas received no support, as the post-independence reconstruction was underway, infrastructure collapsed, and the protracted civil war particularly affected rural areas. Although the civil war has now ended, there are still major problems with a destroyed infrastructure.


The sea off Benguela and Namibe is rich in fish due to the meeting between cold and warm ocean currents. During the colonial period, large catches of sardine and horse mackerel provided raw materials for a significant fishmeal industry. The Portuguese removed most of the fleet, the industry has not been maintained and the yield has been halved. Some fish are caught under license by foreign ships.


Angola has experienced an oil adventure and over the years the oil sector has been the economic backbone of the war-torn country. The production takes place in the Cabinda area in close cooperation with foreign oil companies (Chevron) and has an enclave character: It is detached from the rest of society and uses very little Angolan labor. For long periods, the oil facilities were guarded by Cuban troops against the sabotage of UNITA insurgents.

Incidentally, the subsoil is rich in raw materials, but utilization is limited. Most important are diamonds in Lunda Norte Province and iron ore in Cassinga, but both productions have fallen after independence. There is great potential for an expansion of diamond mining just as copper seems to be a new export item from the mining sector.


By 1975, Angola had a well-developed light industry that supplied the domestic market. But the industry depended on imports of machinery and production equipment, and in the early 1990’s there were only 280 companies left out of 4000. The lack of capital (maintenance), skilled labor and raw materials have been crucial factors.


The railway network has a length of 3000 km in three main lines from inland to the port cities of Luanda, Lobito and Namibe. The line to Lobito connects the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia with the sea. Both railways and roads are poorly maintained and have been hit by extensive sabotage by UNITA. This has meant growth for aviation, but the fleet is worn out. The only international airport is Luanda.

Regional development

The civil war and the government’s development policy have reinforced the differences between city and country and between the provinces. Investments have mainly gone to the cities on the west coast, but these are also characterized by considerable poverty, among other things. because of the many refugees. The eastern provinces have been most severely affected in the civil war, which in many places has led to an almost complete cessation of production.


Politically, Angola has been oriented towards the former socialist countries in Eastern Europe, and military were MPLA supported by Cuba in the fight against UNITA, which in turn was supported by the US, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, this orientation is not reflected in foreign trade. Coffee and cotton have lost their importance to exports, with oil dominating overall; here are the main customers US and China. Portugal is the main buyer of coffee.

Angola Geography