Recent History: Angola is rebuilding its country after the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002. Fighting between the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), led by Jose Eduardo DOS SANTOS, and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas SAVIMBI, followed independence from Portugal in 1975. Peace seemed imminent in 1992 when Angola held national elections, but UNITA renewed fighting after being beaten by the MPLA at the polls. Up to 1.5 million lives may have been lost – and 4 million people displaced – in the quarter century of fighting. SAVIMBI’s death in 2002 ended UNITA’s insurgency and strengthened the MPLA’s hold on power. President DOS SANTOS has announced legislative elections will be held in September 2008, with presidential elections planned for sometime in 2009. (This text is from http://www.nationmaster.com)
Angola is a former Portuguese colony who gained independence in 1975. The official language spoken is Portuguese. Statistics say that about 44% of the population is Catholic. The population of Angola is about 12.5 million. Over 8 million people are living in urban areas. It is the largest country in southern Africa and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Republic of Congo to the north & east, Zambia to the east and Namibia to the south. Angola potentially has one of the most prosperous economies in Africa. Oil extraction from offshore and coastal fields between Luanda and Cabinda accounts for more than 90% of Angola foreign earnings, and the country has also mineral resources including diamonds, fertile agricultural land, hydroelectricity potential and marine fish resources. The full exploration of the natural resources depends on the resumption of peace and stability. (Text from http://www.uneca.org) Angola is the #1 provider of petrol to the USA and China.
Some alarming statistics:
- Life expectancy in Angola is about 42 years old
- Infant mortality rate is 184 deaths to every 1000 births, one of the highest in the world (In fact, there were about 6 infant deaths this past year from local staff members here at school)
- There are still thousands of landmines remaining from the civil war waiting to be found and deactivated (Apparently it costs 3 dollars to make a landmine and over 1000 dollars to remove one)
- Roughly 67% of the population is literate
Check out the map of Angola. There are several national parks and loads of untouched beaches. We´ve gotten a small taste of the landscape from our recent trip south to Rio Longa and find it very interesting. We hope to visit the Kissama National Park soon where we can see live Elephants, Zebra, Giraffe and other African animals.