Sunday, January 8, 2012

Africa from A-Z: Angola

Image sourc
Before doing some digging on Angola, the second country in my series Africa from A-Z, the first thing that popped into my mind was a bunny of the sweater-making variety.   
First thought: Angora bunny which I thought were Angola bunnies.  Not so. 
But then my mom corrected me and told me that these bunnies whose fur makes sweaters are angora and not angola.  And so I thought of a few more.  Conflict, diamonds, dictator.  All of which turned out to be more on point than bunnies.  However, after some probing I learned a few new things about this south African country which gained its independence from Portugal in 1975 and is surrounded by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Namibia.  I think you might, too!

The wildest fact I learned about Angola was the United State's collaboration with South Africa 
during their South-African Border War (aka Angolan Bush War) which raged from 1966-1989.  Like most wars, it looks like it was a complicated mess.  The war involved Cuba and the USSR as well as Angola and Namibia's bids for independence.  South Africa, in cohort with the United States, recruited and sent black Vietnam war veterans to Angola to help fight against Cuba and the Soviet Union's encroaching influence on the country (!!!).  Yeesh.   Here is a fiery article from veterans against the Vietnam war talking about the United State's intervention in Angola.  Makes your heart hurt thinking about all the men and women dying for the freedom of our country - and also for our foolishness as we pursue the protection of our economic interests.  Because Angola is not only rich in diamonds but also in black gold - and is one of the largest exporters of oil to the United States. 
Image source.
Angola: Journey Through Change, is a photography book highlighting the devastating effects of internal strife and war spanning 40 years.  Looks like there are some powerful images to be seen focusing on the effect of landmines that have been found and continue to be discovered in the country.
Angola, like many countries, will also host presidential elections in 2012.  And Angola boasts the title of second-largest oil producing country in Africa (producing 1.9 million barrels a day) and also that of second longest-ruling leader.

Did you know that Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011, is from Angola?  I did not!  If you can't watch the video I'll give you a synopsis: She believes in extraterrestrials, that women are more capable than men (though I find her logic a bit weak..) and she would like to be a butterfly if she had to be an animal.

Angola from A-Z:

Looking to hit the town in Luanda, Angola's capital?  Here's a blog with all the hot spots!
A blog by the wife of a foreign service officer currently stationed in Luanda.
A blog by an oil-worker on the rigs in Angola.  
A bookmark with Angola on it!
And some buttons!

From BBC:
  • President: Jose Eduardo dos Santos (in power since 1979, 69 years old)
  • Full name: The Republic of Angola 
  • Population: 19.6 million (UN, 2011)
  • Capital: Luanda
  • Area: 1.25m sq km (481,354 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Portuguese (official), Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 50 years (men), 53 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 kwanza = 100 lwei
  • Main exports: Oil, diamonds, minerals, coffee, fish, timber
  • GNI per capita: US $3,940 (World Bank, 2010)
 What do you think of Angola?  How are you liking the format?  I wish my links for blogs were not so expat slanted but I can't read Portuguese...


  1. Love your Africa from A-Z project, Jennifer! Really great reading.

    -Laura (your friend in Bamako)

  2. My friend Yolandi lived in Angola for over a year while her husband worked as a contractor for Exxon. I remember it being very, very restrictive for her to be sent any packages (nearly no food at all, no consumer goods that are pricey). Everything in the country is so expensive, and I guess they don't want people sending stuff to get around it. She once wrote she paid over $100 (US equivalent) for a pizza!

    Not on my wish list of countries to visit, that's for sure....

  3. Thanks, Laura! And Kate - I remembered you telling me about your friend - it doesn't sound like the most open place to live for an expat! (and probably dangerous for many esp. with the landmines). Thanks for reading!


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