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Angola (Republic of), independent state in southwest Africa; bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, Zaire in the north, Zambia in the east, and Namibia in the south.

Land and climate

Angola is dominated by the Bié Plateau, some 4,000 ft (1,219 m) above sea level, which occasionally rises to altitudes of 8,000 ft (2,438 m) or more. To the north are tropical rain forests; to the south, semiarid or desert regions. In the east, the plateau drops off to the basins of the Zambezi and Congo rivers. The narrow coastal plain to the west, though humid, receives little rainfall. Savanna wildlife is abundant.


The overwhelming majority of Angolans are Africans belonging to several Bantu tribes. More than half of the population are Christians (chiefly Roman Catholic) and a significant minority follows traditional religions.


Crude oil is Angola's principal export, followed by coffee, diamonds, and iron ore. There is also some light industry, including food processing and production of cotton, textiles, and paper.


Angola was a Portuguese colony from 1576 onward, and the export of slaves to Brazil caused severe depopulation. Portuguese colonization and economic development grew in the early 20th century, coupled with repression of the native peoples. Nationalists began the fight for independence in 1961, and by the 1970s some 50,000 Portuguese troops were engaged in fighting nationalist guerrillas. Angola became independent on November 5, 1975, and conflict erupted among three rival groups for control of the government. The Popular Liberation Movement (MPLA), backed by Soviet and Cuban troops, prevailed. Angola has been sympathetic to liberation groups from neighboring countries and, since 1979, has been the focus of attacks by South African troops stationed in Namibia. A 1988 accord was reached by which Cuban troops withdrew from Angola and South African troops from Namibia. However the political situation remained unstable. Towards the end of the 1990s, Angola became closely involved in the power struggle in Congo (the former Zaire).


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