Sitting in the western region of Africa, Angola is the seventh largest country on the continent. Although it is not famous for safari experiences, there are still plenty of amazing nature and animals in Angola. Boasting an interesting history and vibrant culture, there are many facts about Angola that is worth knowing.
Common Facts About Angola
Officially known as the Republic of Angola, this is another country on the African continent with Spanish heritage. The nation has an estimated population of 34.8 million people.
Angola is known for having some of the best beaches in Africa. It also houses the second-largest waterfall on the continent. This country has a lot to offer visitors, and if you ever decide to visit, here are some facts about Angola that you should know.
Several countries in Africa are prone to armed conflicts and civil/social unrest. Always double check the latest situations from both your government and the local government advisories.
Historical Facts On Angola
Angola Is Over 1000 Years
Angola, as a country, has a relatively simple history compared to many other African nations. The Khoi and San people were the first people recorded to inhibit present-day Angola. They were known to be hunter-gatherers; these people inhabited the region until the arrival of the Bantu people.
In the first millennium BC, the infamous Bantu migration led a fraction of the Bantu people from Western Africa, mainly from Nigeria and Niger, to present-day Angola.
To establish harmony, the Bantu speakers introduce farming (Cultivation of bananas and taro) to the hunter-gatherers of the Khoi and San tribes. They also introduced them to cattle herding. That sharing of knowledge helped them to live peacefully together as farmers, hunters, and cattle herders.
Did you know this fact about Angola? It was very influential back in the day before colonization. This may be one of the reasons why it was so attractive to their subsequent colonial masters.
Many political entities were formed in present-day Angola; the Kingdom of Kongo was the most influential. Yeah, that kingdom of Kongo played a major role in the history and naming of the two Congo countries (Congo-Brazzaville and Congo-Kinshasa).
The influence of the kingdom of Kongo spread across the region beyond the shores of Angola through to Congo and Gabon. It was a driving force in the civilization of the region. It established flourishing trade routes with neighboring regions.
Although their trade wasn’t transoceanic, their influence was enviable. Some of their trade partners were similar powerhouse kingdoms at the time. Notable ones include Great Zimbabwe and the Mutapa Empire (Zimbabwe).
Portuguese first landed in present-day Angola in 1484. However, before they set foot in Angola, they already had a strong relationship with the Kingdom of Kongo. The first Portuguese trading station was established in Sayo, the northernmost part of Angola.
The Portuguese established many settlements around the country; in 1575, they founded São Paulo de Loanda (Present-day Luanda). They established many other settlements and engaged in the slave trade. It was also common for them to exchange slaves for manufactured goods.
Gaining total control over Angola was no easy feat as they faced several resistances from friends (other European nations) and foes (Angolans). It began in the 16th century, and they finally gained total control in the 19th century.
Slave Trade In Angola
Here is an Angola Fact that is often thrown under the radar. Although it was not as pronounced as the slave trade in Senegal and Benin, Angola hosted one of the largest slave trades on the African continent.
Between the 17th and 18th centuries, the Portuguese exported over one million slaves from Angola to Brazil.
Despite abolishing the slave trade in 1836, the Portuguese did not stop exploiting the people. They exerted their authority over the people by engaging them in forced labor.
Here is an important fact about Angola that you may not know. It is one of the countries on the African continent to gain independence in the later years. Angola achieved independence from the Portuguese in 1975 after long battles and a series of revolts.
Even after several colonial laws were passed, the Portuguese still refused to grant Angola independence. The Angolan independence only came after the revolution that occurred in Portugal, which forced the country to sign the Alvor agreement of 1975.
Before this agreement was signed, the Portuguese refused to concede, and the battle for independence lasted over 12 years. The national day in Angola is November 11.
Useful Facts About Angola For Tourists
Here’s a fun fact about Angola you probably don’t know. Angola houses the second largest waterfalls in Africa. The Kalandula waterfall is one of the many natural wonders in Africa. It is second only to Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Kalandula Falls is 105 meters high and 400 meters wide. This is one of the many attractions in Angola, and one for your Africa travel bucket list.
Miradouro Da Lua
Miradouro da Lua is translated as the “Viewpoint of the Moon.” It is one of the unique natural wonders of Angola. You will find this in Belas, a city a few kilometers from Luanda (the Capital of Angola).
Mirandouro da Lua offers a special experience that gives you the perspective of the moon, because of its peculiar terrain. Here, you witness a tricolor karst formed due to erosion caused by rain and wind. It has sharp carved pinnacles, making it a beautiful sight.
It is said that Miradouro da Lua has a resemblance to the moon’s surface. So why not create your own new planet experience at this famous landmark in Angola?
Kissama National Park
The Kissama National Park in Angola is one of many tourists attraction in the country. Although Angola is not a famous location for a safari or wildlife watching, this Angolan park is home to some impressive animals.
Some famous animals in the Kissama National Park are giraffes, elephants, African golden cats, turaco, and mountain Zebra.
Giant Sable Antelope
Here is an exciting animal fact about Angola. It is the only place in the world where you can spot the giant sable antelope.
This species of antelope was thought to have been in extinction and interestingly was actually reported to be extinct. However, it was later discovered in Angola and treated as the country’s national treasure.
The sable antelope is unique as its horns can grow at least 2 meters long. It also has a broad stature.
Cultural Fun Facts Of Angola
This tree is special to the Angolan culture. The country’s popular belief is that the gods planted the Imbondeiro trees. The tree is also known as “Baobab”, which means upside-down.
This unusual-looking tree can be spotted growing all over the country and it rarely has any leaves on it. It is claimed that the imbondeiro tree helps keep soil humid and prevent soil erosion.
Languages In Angola
The official language in Angola is Portuguese, but there are at least 46 other indigenous languages in Angola. Some of the popular languages widely used in the country include Umbundu, Kimbundu and Kikongo.
However, English and French are the most famous international languages spoken in Angola.
Chicken Muamba The National Dish
Here is an exciting fact about Angola food. The country’s cuisine is heavily stew based. The land in the country is quite fertile, so rice, beans, and vegetables are staple in traditional Angola food.
Angolan cuisine is highly Portuguese-influenced due to the country’s history. Meat, especially pork, and chicken, is a constant part of Angola’s cuisine. Spices like garlic and onions are also always present in Angola dishes.
Chicken muamba is a popular dish in Angola and is considered by many as the country’s national dish. It is a chicken-based stew.
The chicken is boiled and allowed to cook in the stew. It is flavored with garlic and onions and garnished with pepper and spices. Some use okra to thicken their stew.
Chicken muamba is often enjoyed with Funge (cassava porridge). It can also be eaten with other food like rice and beans.
One rather surprising fact about Angola is its claim that the famous samba dance originated in the country. Although samba is more commonly associated with Brazil, it is within the realm of possibility that it really originated in Angola.
In Angola, it is called the semba dance. This dance is an important part of Angolan culture and is enjoyed all over the country.
Here is a fact about Angola’s culture that you probably don’t know: Angola and Brazil are Portuguese-speaking countries. There is a possibility that the exchange of the semba dance happened during the era of the transoceanic slave trade between the Portuguese and Brazil.
Simple Angola Facts For Kids
Luanda is a coastal city and the capital of Angola. It is the largest city in the country, with a total land area of 113 square km.
That said, Luanda also serves as the commercial hub and administrative center of Angola. It has an elevation of a little over 6 meters above sea level and houses over 2.5 million of the country’s population.
Angola has a decent coastline of 1600 km, and it ranks 9th among the 38 African countries that have coastlines. Therefore, it is no surprise that you can spot some beautiful beaches in Angola. You can enjoy some of the best beaches on the African continent in Angola.
Angola Kwanza is the official currency in Angola.
There are some interesting facts about the Angola currency, such as you are not allowed to take more than US$15,000 worth of it out of the country. Similar to other countries with economic instability, there is often a bank rate and black market rate.
The Angolan currency is minted in coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50) and banknotes (100, 500, and 2000). The highest denomination is 2000 kwanza.
Young And Youthful Population
An encouraging fact about Angola is its youthful population, which means potential for growth.
It is believed that of the 34 million people in Angola, at least 70% are 25 years or younger. The youthful population of Angola makes it a country with a very productive labor force.
Angola has very beautiful landscapes with diverse terrains. The country has three major natural regions. The coastal lowlands (low plains), hills and mountains (high rising inland), and high plains (planalto or high plateau).
Climate In Angola
The climate in Angola is tropical or subtropical. It is safe to say the country is a warm country.
The average annual temperature in Angola is 27°C, average cold, which is often experienced between June to September, is around 18-20°C.
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Other Interesting Facts About Angola
Diogo Cao was the first European to set foot in Angola. He landed in the region in 1483. The Portuguese explorer was scouting for a new territory to add to the Portuguese colony. The following year in 1484, the Portuguese began to settle in Angola.
One of the exciting facts about Angola today, is that it is one of the several African countries scouted for quality football (soccer) players.
Seventh Largest Country In Africa
Angola is the seventh largest country in Africa. With a total land area of over 1.2 million square km, it ranks as the 44th largest country in the world. To put things into perspective, Angola is almost twice as large as France.
Here is a geographical fun fact about Angola. Of all the six countries larger than Angola on the African continent, only the Democratic Republic of Congo doesn’t have a touch of the Sahara Desert. All other five (Algeria, Chad, Libya, Niger, and Sudan) feature some part of the Sahara Desert.
Richest Woman In Africa
Did you know this interesting Angola fact? It was home to the richest woman in Africa until 2021. Isabel dos Santo, with a net worth estimated to be around $2.2 billion, was ranked as the richest woman in Africa.
Isabela was a daughter of a former dictator president of Angola “Jose Eduardo”. Forbes stripped her of the title in 2021 when she was charged with embezzlement in 2020, which led to asset freezes.
Nigerian businesswoman Folorunsho Alakija subsequently ranks as the richest woman in Africa, with an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion.
Natural Resources In Angola
Angola is a country blessed with numerous natural resources. Some of the most prominent are oil, gas, and diamonds.
The oil reserve in Angola is estimated to be around 9 billion barrels and boasts a whopping 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
These natural resources have helped boost the Angolan economy. It has helped placed the country among the top 10 richest countries on the African continent.
The Name Angola
The country’s name Angola comes from the word “Ngola.” Ngola was the title given to the rulers of the ancient Ndonga kingdom.
It has been suggested that the Ndonga kingdom was founded between the 15th and 16th centuries, although the kingdom collapsed sometime in 1671 after the Portuguese invaded present-day Angola.
How about this for an unusual fact about Angola? In Angola, it is illegal to take photographs of government buildings and government-owned streets.
No one is permitted to take such photos. However, like every other thing in life, there is an exception. If you want to take such photographs, you are required to get a permit from the officials. Apart from that, you risk flirting with significant jail terms.
The Paris Of Africa
The capital city of Angola, “Luanda”, has been ranked as the most expensive city on the African continent. It is probably no surprise it is dubbed the “Paris of Africa.”
In Luanda, many basic supplies like food, transportation, and medical care, among others, are highly priced in the city. All of this greatly influences the cost of living in Luanda.
Discovering More Fun Facts About Angola
It’s clear that this is a country with a diverse history and culture. There are plenty of fascinating facts about Angola that are not commonly known.
With its abundant natural resources such as oil and gas, it became one of Africa’s fastest-growing countries after leaving a long history of conflict behind. While the nation is still developing and recovering, there is potential for more growth. It is certainly an interesting country to look out for from all perspectives.