Angola History

Angola History


From the 6th century AD various Bantu peoples settled on the territory of today’s Angola. They drove the originally resident “Bushmen” (San). From 1400, northern parts of the area belonged to the great Kingdom of the Congo.

Colonial period

Towards the end of the 15th century, Portuguese seafarers began exploring the country from the mouth of the Congo. They established trading branches along the coast and, over time, Christianized the population with whom lively trade relationships were established. A major commodity was black slaves from the interior, which were mainly shipped to South America by the Portuguese (around two million people by the mid-19th century). The military base of Luanda, today’s capital of Angola, was founded in 1575 . When conquering the hinterland, the Portuguese encountered fierce opposition from the local population, which was not entirely subdued until the 19th century.

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In the mid-19th century, the slave trade was banned internationally, and the Portuguese colonial masters (the area of ​​what is now Angola was declared a colony in 1653) began to grow coffee and sugar cane. Angolans were compelled to work on the plantations. The area of ​​today’s Cabinda province in the north of the country (today separated from the rest of Angolan territory by a narrow strip of land from the Democratic Republic of the Congo) was taken over by the Portuguese in 1883. According to AbbreviationFinder, at the Congo Conference in Berlin in 1885, the borders of the Portuguese colony of Angola and the Cabinda exclave were established and recognized by the European powers.

In 1951, the mother country Portugal declared Angola an overseas province with limited internal self-government in order to counter the pressure of the growing independence movements of the African population. However, only whites and a small number of Angolans who obtained Portuguese civil rights under certain conditions were able to take an active part in political life; the majority of the black population was considered to be underprivileged. As a result, several independence movements emerged, which merged in 1953 to form the “Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola” (MPLA, People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) and called for a detachment from Portugal. The government’s repression was followed by several waves of strikes and riots in the early 1960skilled by the Portuguese military (estimated number of deaths: 10, 000 to 50,000 people). Measures such as the abolition of forced labor and the theoretical granting of Portuguese civil rights to all Angolans (but not to illiterates) could not prevent the “National Front for the Liberation of Angola” (FNLA, Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola), which emerged in 1962 formed an exile government in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Another independence movement (“União Nacional para a Independ¨ºncia Total de Angola”, UNITA, National Union for the Complete Independence of Angola) started the armed struggle against the Portuguese in Angola in 1966.

Independent Republic

After the end of the dictatorship in Portugal in 1974 (“Carnation Revolution”), the three key Angolan independence groups MPLA, FNLA and UNITA together with the new Portuguese government decided the independence of Angola. However, the contradictions between the liberation movements (the communist-oriented MPLA was supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba, the pro-western FNLA and UNITA received military aid from the USA, Portugal and South Africa) led to serious power struggles within the country. MPLA troops took control of Angola in 1976 and established a one-party system in the People’s Republic of Angola. The FNLA and UNITA continued to operate from the surrounding countries, until 1994 it was estimated that up to a million people were killed in this civil war, Hundreds of thousands fled Angola.

In 1980 Angola (together with Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Tanzania) was one of the founding members of the “Development Community of Southern Africa” ​​(SADC, Southern African Development Community), whose goal is closer economic cooperation between the states in southern Africa. In 1988, after long peace negotiations under American leadership between Angola, South Africa and Cuba, a decision was made to withdraw Cuban troops by mid-1991 (and at the same time to withdraw South African troops from Namibia).

The collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989 also led to a change in politics in Angola. Acting head of state Jos¨¦ Eduardo dos Santos (since 1979, MPLA) announced far-reaching reforms. In 1991, a peace agreement was signed between the MPLA ruling in Angola and the resistance movement UNITA, which provided for the introduction of the multi-party system and the free market economy. The first free multi-party elections were held in Angola in 1992 (since 1975, when a transitional government was elected). MPLA representatives and the incumbent Santos government won the majority of votes, but UNITA leader Konas Savimbi did not recognize the election result. The civil was flared up again. In 1993, UNITA troops controlled almost two thirds of Angola’s territory.

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In November 1994 a new peace treaty (Lusaka Peace Protocol) was concluded between the ruling MPLA and UNITA. A year later, both leaders agreed to deploy a 7,000-strong UN peacekeeping force to oversee the gradual disarmament of the UNITA rebels and begin removing the countless land mines (estimated at nine to 15 million) that victims each day at the Civilians demanded. In addition to the inadequate provision of food and drinking water to the population, numerous infectious diseases had spread throughout the country, and medical care, which was actually free of charge, was no longer effective due to the completely destroyed infrastructure.

The situation in Angola was not pacified in the years that followed. Offers for a joint “Government of National Unity and Reconciliation” (GURN) from MPLA and UNITA, in which the leader of the rebel organization Jonas Savimbi was to take over as vice president, were repeatedly rejected by UNITA. In 1997, UNITA gave in and the GURN government was formed for the first time, with a total of four ministers and seven deputy ministers. Jonas Savimbi was given special status (“Leader of the largest opposition party” and “Advisor to the President”). Regardless of this, civil war broke out again in 1998 between UNITA and government troops in the north of the country (a large part of the diamond mines, with which UNITA finances its organization).The Security Council then tightened the sanctions imposed on UNITA in 1993. In September 1998, a wing of UNITA split off and founded UNITA Renovada, which the government regards as the sole representative of UNITA (most of the UNITA representatives elected to Parliament belong to UNITA Renovada). In 1999 the UN decided to withdraw its peacekeepers from Angola. At this point, UNITA again controlled more than two thirds of the country (and about two thirds of the diamond mines).

At the beginning of 2001, the situation of the civilian population in Angola had deteriorated even further, according to international human rights and aid organizations. Around 1.7 million people were on the run from attacks by both the UNITA rebels and government forces. Due to the heavy mining of the country, the supply of food and drinking water to the population was no longer guaranteed, and the number of people infected with infectious diseases continued to increase. After the death of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi in February 2002, there was hope of relaxation. As expected, UNITA, which was already militarily troubled, was forced to hold peace talks and an armistice was signed on April 4, and has been observed since then.UNITA turned into an unarmed political party.

At the beginning of 2007, Angola officially joined OPEC as the 12th full member. Petroleum exports led to a rapid growth in large domestic product, but the growing prosperity does not reach ordinary people.

In September 2008, parliamentary elections were held for the first time since the end of the civil war, in which the ruling MPLA won 191 of the 220 parliamentary seats. UNITA initially lodged a complaint against the election result, but subsequently withdrew the protest, after which the country remained peaceful.

In 2010 a new constitution was adopted in Angola. Since then, the President has no longer been directly elected by the people, but by the National Assembly, and also holds the office of head of government. The MPLA won 71% of the vote in the 2012 parliamentary elections. With this, President Jos¨¦ Eduardo dos Santos (MPLA) continues to hold his office.

Angola President