angolaAngola is a huge country (more than 13 times the size of Portugal) in the south-west of Africa. Between 1975 and 2002, the country has suffered the ravages of civil war with the loss of an estimated 1.5 million lives. The two main powers in the struggle were the left-wing MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), and the right-wing UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola). 

The fighting started with Angola's independence from Portugal, and continued even after the country's first national elections took place in 1992, when the MPLA took power officially. The fighting finally calmed down after the death of Jonas Savimbi of UNITA in 2002.

Despite the country's potentially lucrative natural resources, including oil, diamonds, gold, and uranium, the economic situation is dire due to the devastating effects of more than a quarter of a century of conflict. Deforestation and the resulting erosion, as well as land mines strewn across the few fertile fields prevent the development of agriculture, requiring that most of the food consumed in Angola be imported. Nevertheless, since the troubles subsided, the economy seems to be gradually recovering - thanks in part to trade deals with China.

Portuguese is the official and most widely spoken language in Angola, although native Bantu languages are also spoken by many. Pronunciation of Angolan Portuguese is very similar to that of Portugal, but there is an obvious African feel to the accent.

Further Reading (all links open in a new window)

CIA Factbook: Angola

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