Every 11th day of November, the central/southern African country of Angola celebrates its Independence Day;to commemorate the date in 1975 that Angola gained its independence from Portugal.
While African tribes inhabited Angola for untold centuries, their lands never constituted a single nation in the distant past. The modern day history of Angola begins with the arrival of Portuguese explorers/colonizers in the late 1400’s; on their way to find a way around Africa to India. Portugal founded Luanda in 1575, and this began 400 years of colonial rule by Portugal.
Portugal extracted as many natural resources out of Angola as they could and was the most notorious of all slave-trading European nations. Their rule over Angola was oppressive, and they held onto their colonies longer than most other colonial powers did after World War II.
The war for independence in Angola began in 1961, but it was the uprising of 1974 that ultimately led to independence being won and recognised by 11 November, 1975.
Here are some interesting facts about Angola
- Angola was once part of the central and west African Kingdom of Kongo. Founded in the 14th century the kingdom incorporated much of present-day northern Angola as well as parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo and southern Gabon.
- The name Angola is derived from the word ngola which was the title given to Ndongo kings; the historical African kingdom of the Mbundu people founded around the late 15th or early 16th century.
- The capital city, Luanda has repeatedly been ranked as one of the world’s most expensive cities for expatriate employees to live in.
- The Angolan flag is horizontally striped red and black which represents communism and the African people. In the centre is a yellow emblem featuring a star signifying internationalism and progress, a cogwheel for industrial workers and a machete for agricultural labourers. The ensemble is similar to the hammer, sickle and star of the old Soviet flag.
- The giant sable antelope, which is endemic to Angola, was thought to be extinct since 1982. However, the antelope was ‘rediscovered’ in 2006 but remains endangered.
- Angola is home to one of Africa’s largest waterfalls, the Kalandula Falls. The falls are 105m high and 400m wide and considered one of the largest waterfalls by volume in Africa.
- Brazil’s world famous samba dance is recognized globally. But it may have originated in Angola. In Angola, their traditional dance is called semba and is believed to be the root of what later evolved into samba in Brazil.
- Nearly 70% of the Angolan population is under 24 years old.
- Angola comes in at number seven in size. Roughly twice the size of France or Texas, the nation spans more than 480,000 square miles. Globally it ranks as the 23rd largest country.
- It is illegal to take pictures of any government buildings or even look at them through binoculars.
- It’s criminal to take their currency, Kwanza, out of the country.