Country located in SW Africa on the Atlantic Ocean. Namibia lies to the S, the Congo to the N, and Zambia to the SE. The Congo River flows for 100 mi along the N border.
Angola existed as a prosperous component of the African kingdom of Kongo when Portuguese explorers and emissaries first began to establish themselves in the region at the end of the 15th century. Portugal swiftly subdued the country and through the 19th century exploited the African population as a major source for the highly profitable slave trade with Brazil. During 1884–85 Portugal’s claims to Angola were ratified at the Berlin Conference at which Africa was parcelled out to European colonial powers. During the 20th century Portugal turned to intensive colonization and exploitation of the agricultural and mineral resources of the colony. Armed rebellion against Portuguese rule erupted in 1961 and raged unabated until 1975, when Angola was granted independence. Most of the Portuguese population of bureaucrats, businessmen, and farmers then fled to Europe and left Angola’s internal economy in shambles.
A struggle between competing factions immediately ensued, and Angola became a stage for a major power confrontation. By 1976, the Marxist Popular Movement for Angolan Freedom, or MPLA, had gained control over most of the nation. Guerrilla activity by the ousted factions continued, and in April 1978, 5,000 Cuban troops were brought in to help defeat them. Forces from South Africa invaded the country repeatedly in 1978, 1980, 1981, and 1982, ostensibly hunting insurgents from Namibia, or Southwest Africa. The war between the MPLA government of President Eduardo dos Santos and the UNITA rebels led by Jonas Savimbi devastated the country. The Lusaka accords in 1994 created a peace, but further fighting broke out in 1998 that spread Angola’s conflict into the Congo. The fighting mostly ended in 2002 with Savimbi’s death. Luand a is Angola’s capital and the country benefits from oil resources in the enclave of Cabinda N of the Congo River.