Angola Essay

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A country disadvantaged by a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002, Angola is on a rebound with a double-digit gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate and oil production of about 1.9 million barrels per day. The country is resilient; it withstood tribal conflicts and gained independence from Portugal and Brazil in 1975.
Geography contributed to a history of global trade. Angola has a land area of 1,246,700 square kilometers and is located in southern Africa by the South Atlantic Ocean and between Namibia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Major ports are in Cabinda, Lobito, Luanda, and Namibe. There are 232 airports in Angola, with an international hub in Luanda.
The 12 million Angolans are diverse, with ethnic groups such as Ovimbundu, Kimbundu Bakongo, Mestizo, European, and others. Portuguese is the official language, alongside Bantu and other African languages. About 47 percent hold indigenous beliefs, 38 percent are Roman Catholic, and 15 percent are Protestant.
The political environment is stable. Unrest in its history resulted from fighting between two rival camps—the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) led by current president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) led by Jonas Savimbi. When Savimbi died in 2002, UNITA’s insurgency ended and the MPLA held power.
Oil Production
Angola’s natural resources, primarily oil, contributed to its economic transformation. Oil-related production constitutes about 85 percent of GDP. The country’s production includes bananas, sugarcane, coffee, corn, cotton, tapioca, tobacco, vegetables, and forest products. Active industries include petroleum, diamonds, iron ore, phosphates, feldspar, bauxite, uranium, gold, cement, metal products, brewing, tobacco, sugar, textiles, ship repair, and fish and food processing.
Major oil companies and countries trade with Angola. ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total, and China’s Sinopec have been oil industry participants. Angola exports over $40 billion worth of products primarily to countries such as the United States, China, Taiwan, France, and Chile. It imports about $11 billion worth of commodities such as machinery and electrical equipment, vehicles and spare parts, medicines, food, textiles, and military goods from the United States, Portugal, South Korea, China, Brazil, South Africa, and France.
Economic indicators suggest economic stability. In 2007 Angola’s GDP was $80.95 billion with the real growth rate at 16.3 percent. GDP composition is largely industry and services, and GDP per capita is at $6,500. In 2006 stock of direct foreign investment was about $17.6 billion. Inflation declined from 325 percent in 2000 to 13 percent in 2007. The local currency, “kwanza,” had minimal fluctuation against the dollar and was valued at $1 = 76 in 2007.
While the economy is growing, challenges exist. Notable issues relate to poverty, inadequate infrastructure, corruption, unemployment and underemployment, health and environment, and a need for government reforms and transparency. In order to rebuild, billions of dollars in lines of credit were provided by China, Brazil, Portugal, and the European Union.
Despite the challenges, rising oil production, construction, and abundant resources drive growth. In 2007 Angola became a member of OPEC, ensuring long-term participation in the oil trade and global business.


  1. CIA, “Angola,” World Factbook, cia .gov (cited March 2009);
  2. Martin Clark, “Africa,” Petroleum Economist (v.26/28, October 2005);
  3. Embassy of Angola, “History of Angola,” (cited March 2009);
  4. Martin Quinlan, “Forward, with China,” Petroleum Economist (v.73/5, May 2006).

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