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Friday, December 17, 2010

A brief overview of Angola

-     Capital: Luanda
-     Official language: Portuguese
-     Area: 1.246.700 km2, world’s 23rd largest country (twice the size of the US state of Texas)
-     Population: 18.498.000
-     Religion: 47% indigenous beliefs, 38% Roman Catholic, 15% Protestant
-     Climate: Tropical Wet Climate, with two seasons; winter dry season (May to October, 60°F/16° on the coast) and summer hot rainy season (November to April, 70°F/21°C on the coast)
-     243 airports, of which 32 are paved
-     Angola was a Portuguese overseas colony from 1575 to 1975, 400 years. After independence, Angola was the scene of an intense civil war from 1975 to 2002. This devastating civil war, which lasted several decades, claimed millions of lives and refugees, destroyed the fertile countryside, leaving it littered with landmines (it was the 2nd country in the world with the most landmines).
-     The country is the second-largest petroleum and diamond producer in sub-Saharan Africa; however, Angola has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world and the world’s 2nd lowest life expectancies.
-     Literacy is quite low, with 67.4% of the population over the age of 15 able to read and write in Portuguese (82.9% of males and 54.2% of women in 2001).
-     Angola’s economy has undergone a period of transformation in recent years, moving from the disarray caused by a quarter century of civil war to being the fastest growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. In 2004, China’s Eximbank approved a USD $ 2 billion line of credit to Angola. The loan is used to rebuild Angola’s infrastructure (see Chinese workers on the pictures), and has also limited the influence of the International Monetary Fund in the country. Angola is now China’s biggest supplier of oil.
-     Angola scored poorly on the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance. It was ranked 44 from 48 sub-Saharan African countries, scoring particularly badly in the areas of Participation and Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.
-     Among Angola’s major problems are a serious humanitarian crisis (a result of the prolonged war: thousands of Angolan small-scale farmers are trapped in poverty), the abundance of minefields, and the actions of guerilla movements fighting for the independence of the northern exclave of Cabinda. While most of the internally displaced have now returned home, the general situation for most Angolans remains desperate, and the development facing the government challenging as a consequence.

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