Bantu-speaking people settled in the area now called Angola in 6th century A.D.; by the 10th century various Bantu groups had established kingdoms, of which Kongo became the most powerful. From the late 14th to the mid 19th century a Kingdom of Kongo stretched across central Africa from present-day northern Angola into the current Congo republics. It traded heavily with the Portuguese who, beginning in the 16th century, established coastal colonies and trading posts and introduced Christianity. Angola became a major hub of the transatlantic slave trade conducted by the Portuguese and other European powers - often in collaboration with local kingdoms including the Kongo. Estimates are that the Angola area may have lost as many as 4 million people as a result of the slave trade. The Kingdom of Kongo’s main rival was the Kingdom of Ndongo to its south, whose most famous leader was the 17th century diplomat to the Portuguese and later Queen, Nzingha Mbande, who successfully fought off Portuguese encroachment during her nearly 40-year reign. Smaller kingdoms, such as the Matamba and Ngoyo, often came under the control of the Kongo or Ndongo Kingdoms. During the Berlin Conference of 1884-85, Angola’s modern borders were set by Portugal and other European powers, but the Portuguese did not fully control of large portions of the territory. Portugal gained control of the Kingdom of Kongo in 1888 when Kongo’s King Pedro V sought Portuguese military assistance in exchange for becoming a vassal. After a revolt in 1914, Portugal imposed direct rule over the colony and abolished the Kongo Kingdom.
The Angolan National Revolution began in 1961 and in 1975, Angola won its independence when Portugal’s dictatorship fell, in part because of growing discontent over conflict in Angola and other colonies. Conflict between Angola’s multiple independence movements quickly emerged with the Popular Movement for Liberation of Angola (MPLA), led by Agostinho NETO, taking power and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas SAVIMBI, emerging as its main competitor. After NETO’s death in 1979, Jose Eduardo DOS SANTOS, also of the MPLA, became president. Over time, the Angolan civil war escalated and became a major Cold War conflict with the MPLA supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba and UNITA by apartheid South Africa and the US. Up to 1.5 million lives may have been lost - and 4 million people displaced - during the more than a quarter century of fighting. SAVIMBI's death in 2002 ended UNITA's insurgency and cemented the MPLA's hold on power. DOS SANTOS did not seek reelection in 2017 and supported Joao LOURENCO’s successful bid to become president. LOURENCO was reelected in 2022. Angola scores low on human development indexes despite using its large oil reserves to rebuild since the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002.
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NOTE: The information regarding Angola on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Angola 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Angola 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
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