U.S. Department of State Background Note
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Angola is located on the South Atlantic Coast of West Africa between Namibia and the Republic of the Congo. It also is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north and east and Zambia to the east. The country is divided into an arid coastal strip stretching from Namibia to Luanda; a wet, interior highland; a dry savanna in the interior south and southeast; and rain forest in the north and in Cabinda. The upper reaches of the Zambezi River pass through Angola, and several tributaries of the Congo River have their sources in Angola. The coastal strip is tempered by the cool Benguela current, resulting in a climate similar to coastal Baja California. There is a short rainy season lasting from February to April. Summers are hot and dry, while winters are mild. The interior highlands have a mild climate with a rainy season from November through April followed by a cool dry season from May to October when overnight temperatures can fall to freezing. Elevations generally range from 3,000 to 6,000 feet. The far north and Cabinda enjoy rain throughout much of the year.
Estimates of Angola's population vary widely, as there has been no census since 1970, but it is estimated at no less than 15.5 million. Angola has three main ethnic groups, each speaking a Bantu language: Ovimbundu 37%, Kimbundu 25%, and Bakongo 13%. Other groups include Chokwe, Lunda, Ganguela, Nhaneca-Humbe, Ambo, Herero, and Xindunga. In addition, mixed racial (European and African) people amount to about 2%, with a small (1%) population of whites, mainly ethnically Portuguese. Portuguese make up the largest non-Angolan population, with at least 30,000 (though many native-born Angolans can claim Portuguese nationality under Portuguese law). Portuguese is both the official and predominant language.
In 1482, when the Portuguese first landed in what is now northern Angola, they encountered the Kingdom of the Congo, which stretched from modern Gabon in the north to the Kwanza River in the south. Mbanza Congo, the capital, had a population of 50,000 people. South of this kingdom were various important states, of which the Kingdom of Ndongo, ruled by the ngola (king), was most significant. Modern Angola derives its name from the king of Ndongo. The Portuguese gradually took control of the coastal strip throughout the 16th century by a series of treaties and wars. The Dutch occupied Luanda from 1641-48, providing a boost for anti-Portuguese states. In 1648, Brazilian-based Portuguese forces re-took Luanda and initiated a process of military conquest of the Congo and Ndongo states that ended with Portuguese victory in 1671. Full Portuguese administrative control of the interior did not occur until the beginning of the 20th century.
Portugal's primary interest in Angola quickly turned to slavery. The slaving system began early in the 16th century with the purchase from African chiefs of people to work on sugar plantations in São Tomé, Principé, and Brazil. Many scholars agree that by the 19th century, Angola was the largest source of slaves not only for Brazil, but also for the Americas, including the United States. By the end of the 19th century, a massive forced labor system had replaced formal slavery and would continue until outlawed in 1961. It was this forced labor that provided the basis for development of a plantation economy and, by the mid-20th century, a major mining sector. Forced labor combined with British financing to construct three railroads from the coast to the interior, the most important of which was the transcontinental Benguela railroad that linked the port of Lobito with the copper zones of the Belgian Congo and what is now Zambia, through which it connects to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
Colonial economic development did not translate into social development for native Angolans. The Portuguese regime encouraged white immigration, especially after 1950, which intensified racial antagonisms. As decolonization progressed elsewhere in Africa, Portugal, under the Salazar and Caetano dictatorships, rejected independence and treated its African colonies as overseas provinces. Consequently, three independence movements emerged: the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) led by Agostinho Neto, with a base among Kimbundu and the mixed-race intelligentsia of Luanda, and links to communist parties in Portugal and the East Bloc; the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), led by Holden Roberto with an ethnic base in the Bakongo region of the north and links to the United States and the Mobutu regime in Kinshasa; and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas Malheiro Savimbi with an ethnic and regional base in the Ovimbundu heartland in the center of the country and links to the People's Republic of China and apartheid South Africa.
From the early 1960s, elements of these movements fought against the Portuguese. A 1974 coup d'etat in Portugal established a military government that promptly ceased the war and agreed, in the Alvor Accords, to hand over power to a coalition of the three movements. The ideological differences between the three movements eventually led to armed conflict, with FNLA and UNITA forces, encouraged by their respective international supporters, attempting to wrest control of Luanda from the MPLA. The intervention of troops from South Africa on behalf of UNITA and Zaire on behalf of the FNLA in September and October 1975 and the MPLA's importation of Cuban troops in November effectively internationalized the conflict. Retaining control of Luanda, the coastal strip, and increasingly lucrative oil fields in Cabinda, the MPLA declared independence on November 11, 1975, the day the Portuguese abandoned the capital. UNITA and the FNLA formed a rival coalition government based in the interior city of Huambo. Agostinho Neto became the first president of the MPLA government that was recognized by the United Nations in 1976. Upon Neto's death from cancer in 1979, then-Planning Minister José Eduardo dos Santos ascended to the presidency.
The FNLA's military failures led to its increasing marginalization, internal divisions, and abandonment by international supporters. An internationalized conventional civil war between UNITA and the MPLA continued until 1989. For much of this time, UNITA controlled vast swaths of the interior and was backed by U.S. resources and South African troops. Similarly, tens of thousands of Cuban troops remained in support of the MPLA, often fighting South Africans on the front lines. A U.S.-brokered agreement resulted in withdrawal of foreign troops in 1989 and led to the Bicesse Accord in 1991, which spelled out an electoral process for a democratic Angola under the supervision of the United Nations. When UNITA's Jonas Savimbi failed to win the first round of the presidential election in 1992 (he won 40% to dos Santos's 49%, which required a runoff), he called the election fraudulent and returned to war. Another peace accord, known as the Lusaka Protocol, was brokered in Lusaka, Zambia, and signed in 1994. This agreement, too, collapsed into renewed conflict. The UN Security Council voted on August 28, 1997 to impose sanctions on UNITA. The Angolan military launched a massive offensive in 1999, which destroyed UNITA's conventional capacity and recaptured all major cities previously held by Savimbi's forces. Savimbi then declared a return to guerrilla tactics, which continued until his death in combat in February 2002.
On April 4, 2002, the Angolan Government and UNITA signed the Luena Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which formalized the de facto cease-fire that prevailed following Savimbi's death. In accordance with the MOU, UNITA recommitted to the peace framework in the 1994 Lusaka Protocol, returned all remaining territory to Angolan Government control, quartered all military personnel in predetermined locations, and relinquished all arms. In August 2002, UNITA demobilized all military personnel and in September 2002, together with the government, reconstituted the UN-sponsored Joint Commission to resolve all outstanding political issues under the Lusaka Protocol. On November 21, 2002, UNITA and the government declared all outstanding issues resolved and the Lusaka Protocol fully implemented. UN Security Council sanctions on UNITA were lifted on December 9, 2002. UNITA and the MPLA held their first post-war party congresses in June and December 2003, respectively. The UNITA Congress saw the democratic transfer of power from interim leader General Paulo Lukumba "Gato" to former UNITA representative in Paris Isaias Henriqué Samakuva, while the MPLA Congress reaffirmed President dos Santos' leadership of party structures. Samakuva was reelected to a second 4-year term as UNITA party president at a UNITA party congress in July 2007, and will serve as UNITA's leader for the next 4 years.
The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Peace and Reconciliation in Cabinda on August 1, 2006, is seen as a step toward ending conflict in Cabinda and in bringing about greater representation for the people of Cabinda. It follows a successful counterinsurgency campaign by the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), who still maintain a strong troop presence there. The MOU rejects the notion of Cabindan independence, calls for the demobilization and reintegration of former Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) fighters into various governmental positions, and creates a special political and economic status for the province of Cabinda. Many FLEC military combatants have now been integrated into the Angolan Armed Forces, including some command positions. In addition, Cabindans will be given designated numbers of vice ministerial and other positions in the Angolan Government. Some FLEC members, who did not sign onto the peace memorandum, continue their independence efforts through public outreach and infrequent low-level attacks against FAA convoys and outposts.
President--Jose Eduardo dos Santos
Prime Minister--Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos "Nando"
Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs--Aguinaldo Jaime
Minister of External Affairs--João Bernardo de Miranda
Minister of the Interior--Roberto Leal Monteiro Ngongo
Minister of Finance--José Pedro de Morais
Minister of Defense--Kundi Paihama
Minister of Petroleum--Desidério da Graça Veríssimo da Costa
Minister of Planning--Ana Dias Lourenço
Ambassador to the United States--Josefina Perpetua Pitra Diakite
Permanent Representative to the United Nations--Ismael Gaspar Martins
Angola maintains an embassy in the United States at 2100-2108 16th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-785-1156; fax 202-822-9049; web: www.angola.org). Angola also maintains consulates in New York City (attached to its Permanent Mission to the United Nations) at 866 UN Plaza, 48th St., Suite 552, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-233-3588, ext. 15; fax 212-980-9606; web: http://www2.un.int/public/Angola/) and in Houston at 3040 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 708, Houston, TX 77056 (tel. 713-212-3840; fax 713-212-3841).
Angola has a fast-growing economy largely due to a major oil boom, but it also ranks in the bottom 10% of most socioeconomic indicators. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that Angola's real GDP will increase by 31.4% in 2007, although the Angolan Government in July reduced its own projection for 2007 real GDP growth to 19.8%. Aside from the oil sector and diamonds, Angola is recovering from 27 years of nearly continuous warfare, corruption, and economic mismanagement. Despite abundant natural resources, and rising per capita GDP, it was ranked 161 out of 177 countries on the 2006 UN Development Program's (UNDP) Human Development Index. Subsistence agriculture sustains one-third of the population.
By contrast, the rapidly expanding petroleum industry--now producing approximately 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd), behind only Nigeria in Africa--accounts for 51.7% of GNP, 95% of exports, and 80% of government revenues. Production is expected to reach 1.8 million barrels per day by the end of 2007. Angola also produces 40,000 bpd of locally refined oil. Oil production remains largely offshore and has few linkages with other sectors of the economy, though a local content initiative promulgated by the Angolan Government is pressuring oil companies to source from local businesses.
Block 15, located offshore of the enclave of Cabinda, currently provides 40% of Angola's crude oil production. ExxonMobil, through its subsidiary Esso, is the operator with a 40% share. In 2005, Block 15's second major sub-field, Kizomba B, came online producing at about 250,000 bpd. BP, ENI-Agip, and Statoil are partners in the concession. Chevron operates Block 0, also in offshore Cabinda, which provides one-quarter of Angola's crude oil production. Its partners in Block 0 are Sonangol (the Angolan state oil company), TotalFinaElf, and ENI-Agip. In 2006, Block 0 had a total production of 400,000 bpd, and drilling activity continues at a high level. Chevron also operates Angola's first producing deepwater section, Block 14, which started pumping in January 2000 and produced 105,000 bpd in 2006.
TotalFinaElf brought the first Kwanza Basin deepwater blocks on-line with production from its Block 17 concession that began in February 2002. Inauguration of the Dalia oilfield in December 2006 combined with the Girassol field already in operation brought Block 17's total production to approximately 500,000 bpd as of July 2007. Exploration is ongoing in ultra-deep water concessions and in deepwater and shallow concessions in the Namibe Basin. BP made the first significant ultra-deepwater find in its Block 31 concession in 2002 and had reached nine significant discoveries by the end of 2005. BP expects to ship its first crude from the Plutonio oilfied in Block 18 in September 2007 and expects Plutonio to average 200,000 bpd in full production. Marathon also drilled a successful well in its Block 32 ultra-deep water concession. TotalFinaElf operates Angola's one refinery (in Luanda) as a joint venture with Sonangol; plans for a second refinery in Lobito with projected production of 200,000 bpd are moving forward. There are plans to increase capacity of the Luanda refinery from 40,000 bpd to 100,000 bpd. Chevron, Sonangol, BP, Total, and Eni are developing a $4-5 billion liquefied natural gas plant at Soyo.
Exports to Asian countries have grown rapidly in recent years, particularly China. In late 2004, China's state oil company Sinopec bought into Block 18, securing the deal by offering a $2 billion signing bonus to Sonangol, the national oil company. Sinopec has also formed a partnership with Sonangol to operate Block 3/05 (formerly Block 3/80), whose operation was transferred from Total to Sonangol. Sonangol will seek to expand its operation of onshore and shallow water blocks. This includes the northern block of Cabinda's onshore concessions, which since the reduction in hostilities with separatist forces is now open to exploration. Sonangol and Sinopec will also be eyeing future concession rounds, particularly for 23 blocks in the Kwanza Basin onshore area and the relinquished parts of Blocks 15, 17, and 18, currently operated by Exxon, Total, and BP. During 2006, Angola was the leading source country in terms of dollar value for the crude oil China imported, importing U.S. $10.928 billion, up 16.5% year on year.
Diamonds make up most of Angola's remaining exports, with yearly production at 6 million carats. Diamond sales reached approximately $1.1 billion in 2006. Despite increased corporate ownership of diamond fields, much production is currently in the hands of small-scale prospectors, often operating illegally. Only eight formal sector mines are operating out of a total of 145 concessions. In June 2005, De Beers signed a $10 million prospecting contract with the government's diamond parastatal, ending a 4-year investment dispute between De Beers and the government. The government is making an increased effort to register and license prospectors. Legal sales of rough diamonds may occur only through the government's diamond-buying parastatal, although many producers continue to bypass the system to obtain higher prices. The government has established an export certification scheme consistent with the "Kimberley Process" to identify legitimate production and sales. Other mineral resources, including gold, remain largely undeveloped, though granite and marble quarrying have begun.
In the last decade of the colonial period, Angola was a major African agricultural exporter. Because of severe wartime conditions, including extensive laying of landmines throughout the countryside, agricultural activities were brought to a near standstill, and the country now imports about half of its food. Small-scale agricultural production has increased dramatically over the last 3 years as internally displaced persons (IDPs) are returning to the land. Some efforts at commercial agricultural recovery have gone forward, notably in fisheries and tropical fruits, but most of the country's vast potential remains untapped. Coffee production, though a fraction of its pre-1975 level, is sufficient for domestic needs and some exports. Recently passed land reform laws will attempt to reconcile overlapping traditional land use rights, colonial-era land claims, and recent land grants to facilitate significant commercial agricultural development.
An economic reform effort launched in 1998 was only marginally successful in addressing persistent fiscal mismanagement and corruption. In April 2000, Angola started an IMF staff-monitored program (SMP). The program lapsed in June 2001 over IMF concerns about lack of adequate Angolan progress. Under the program, the Government of Angola did succeed in unifying exchange rates and moving fuel, electricity, and water prices closer to market rates. In March 2007, the government announced it was not interested in a formally-structured IMF program, but would continue to participate in Article IV consultations and other technical assistance on an ad hoc basis.
In December 2002 President dos Santos named a new economic team to oversee homegrown reform efforts. The new team succeeded in decreasing overall government spending, rationalizing the Kwanza exchange rate, closing regulatory loopholes allowing off-budget expenditures, and capturing all revenues in the state budget. New procedures were implemented to track the flow of funds between the Treasury, Banco Nacional de Angola (the central bank), and the state-owned Banco de Poupanca e Credito, which operates the budget. The Angolan Government adopted a new investment code. Concerns remain about quasi-fiscal operations by the state oil company Sonangol, continued oil-backed commercial borrowing by the Angolan Government, and inadequate transparency and oversight in the management of public accounts. The Angolan commercial code, financial sector law, and telecommunications law all require substantial revision.
Angola is the second-largest trading partner of the United States in sub-Saharan Africa, largely because of its petroleum exports. U.S. exports to Angola primarily consist of industrial goods and services--such as oilfield equipment, mining equipment, chemicals, aircraft, and food. On December 30, 2003, President Bush approved the designation of Angola as eligible for tariff preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The Angolan Armed Forces, known by its Portuguese acronym FAA, are headed by a chief of staff who reports to the civilian minister of defense. There are three services--the army, navy, and air force. Total manpower is about 140,000. The army is by far the largest of the services with about 130,000 personnel. The navy numbers about 3,000 and operates several small patrol craft and barges. Air force personnel total about 7,000; its equipment includes Russian-manufactured fighters and transport planes, Bell helicopters, and Italian trainers. The "Casa Militar," or presidential guard, answers directly to the Office of the President and is separate from FAA command and control structures.
From 1975 to 1989, Angola was aligned with the Soviet Union and Cuba. Since then, it has focused on improving relationships with Western countries, cultivating links with other Portuguese-speaking countries, and asserting its own national interests in Central Africa through military and diplomatic intervention. In 1993, it established formal diplomatic relations with the United States. It has entered the Southern African Development Community as a vehicle for improving ties with its largely anglophone neighbors to the south. In 1997, Zimbabwe and Namibia joined Angola in its military intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Angolan troops fought in support of the Laurent and Joseph Kabila governments. It also has intervened in the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) in support of President Sassou-Nguesso. Angola has also engaged in a more robust economic relationship with the People's Republic of China. The P.R.C. has extended a U.S. $2 billion credit line to Angola.
Multilaterally, Angola has promoted the revival of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) as a forum for cultural exchange and a means of expanding ties with Portugal and Brazil. During the peace process, the government fully cooperated with the UN Mission in Angola (UNMA), which concluded its mandate in mid-February 2003. Angola concluded a 2-year term on the UN Security Council in December 2004. In June 2007, it began a 3-year term on the Human Rights Council.
The United States established formal diplomatic relations with the Government of Angola in 1993. Before 1989, U.S.-Angolan relations were defined by the Cold War. The United States initially supported Holden Roberto's FNLA and later Jonas Savimbi's UNITA against the pro-Soviet and pro-Cuban MPLA government in Luanda. Since 1992, the bilateral relationship has steadily improved. In May 2004, President dos Santos met with President Bush during an official visit to Washington.
The U.S. Mission in Angola consists of four agencies--the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Defense, and the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS/CDC). In addition, a variety of federal agencies maintain relationships with the Angolan Government through ongoing projects, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Energy. In FY 2005, U.S. Government assistance amounted to roughly $62.8 million.
In FY 2006, USAID's Food for Peace office provided $3.5 million in food inputs that were made available to the World Food Program for nutrition support to populations in the most food insecure and vulnerable provinces, and for returning refugees. This level of support continued a phased reduction, which as recently as FY 2005 amounted to $30.7 million, consistent with Angola's rapidly improving ability to produce its own food through improved access to land and markets as well as the settlement of formerly displaced people. Food for Peace assistance will be discontinued in FY 2007.
USAID's development program in Angola in FY 2007 is consistent with the country's status as a developing country at a pivotal juncture in its development and reconstruction. In FY 2006, the program budget was $25.5 million and focused on: civil society strengthening, improved governance, and democratization; market-oriented economic analysis and economic reform policy; agricultural sector productivity; maternal and child health; HIV/AIDS prevention, education and voluntary counseling'; and workforce development. Angola also launched a major program to fight malaria through the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI). The Governing Justly and Democratically objective strengthens constituencies and institutions required for democratic governance by strengthening civil society organizations and promoting local government decentralization; fostering an independent media, government transparency, accountability, and capability, and improved dialogue between citizens and government; and laying the groundwork for free and fair elections. The Investing in People objective aims to improve maternal and child health and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases by helping communities and institutions to provide necessary health services and to conduct HIV/AIDS prevention programs. The PMI is the largest health program and expands efforts to scale up proven preventive and treatment interventions toward achievement of 85% coverage among vulnerable groups and 50% reduction in morbidity due to malaria. The Economic Growth objective fosters economic policy and financial sector reform; credit access for micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises; and expanded trade and investment.
Emergency support from HHS/CDC was provided to address the 2005 Marburg virus outbreak in northern Angola, with assistance from the USAID Mission. CDC personnel joined with the World Health Organization (WHO) as part of the international response to assist with epidemiologic investigation, infection control, and laboratory diagnosis. CDC personnel in Atlanta provided laboratory and scientific support to Angola's Ministry of Health and to countries bordering Angola, establishing a field laboratory in Luanda, Angola to provide prompt laboratory confirmation of suspect Marburg cases in Angola and neighboring countries. Additional HIV/AIDS funding for the country of just over $2 million from HHS/CDC is also available, and helped expand surveillance, information systems, laboratory, and blood bank quality control.
On February 19, 2006, the Provincial Government of Luanda declared a cholera outbreak, in coordination with the WHO. What began as a localized outbreak of cholera in Luanda rapidly spread around Angola, with cases detected in seven provinces and mortality rates as high as 15% in certain areas. Causes of this rapid expansion included poor sanitation and a lack of potable water (70% of the country was without access), which were compounded by a series of heavy rains in March 2006 and April 2006. Limited stocks of available medical supplies were rapidly depleted, and the UN stressed the need for immediate, widespread assistance. The U.S. Ambassador determined April 19, 2006 that an adequate response was beyond the capacity of the Angolan Government, and through this disaster declaration requested U.S. Government assistance to support the international response and contain the spread of the outbreak. USAID's response was to provide $50,000 for immediate relief needs. As of January 23, 2007, a total number of 70,396 cumulative cases and 2,799 deaths were reported in 16 out of the 18 provinces, since the beginning of the outbreak. Following torrential rains in January 2007, the Chief of Mission, in response to an emergency declared by the Government of Angola, determined that U.S. Government assistance was needed to support the government and efforts of international agencies to mitigate the effects of flooding in the capital, Luanda. As a result, USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance released $70,000 to provide emergency relief for families displaced by the floods.
To assist with economic reform, in FY 2007 the State Department provided $2.2 million to work on land tenure, economic policy, and the financial sector. An additional $143,000 in grants was provided to community development projects and non-governmental organization (NGO)-sponsored democracy and human rights projects. $152,000 in International Military Education and Training (IMET) funds was provided for English language training to the Angolan Armed Forces. Professional training for law enforcement personnel at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Gaborone, Botswana continued. The Safe Skies for Africa program provided around $800,000 in equipment and training to the Angolan civil aviation authority. As part of its public diplomacy program, the Embassy provided nearly $434,000 in English language training, educational exchanges and fellowships, and information resource services. The State Department provided $6 million for ongoing landmine, small arms, and munitions destruction projects throughout the country. These projects have played a major role in clearing agricultural land and opening critical road networks and increasing access in those areas of the country most impacted by landmines.
At the same time, the energy-based U.S. trading relationship continues to expand and spark other ties. One offshoot has been the development of a Sister City relationship between Lafayette, Louisiana and Cabinda and between Houston, Texas and Luanda. The Catholic University of Luanda has close links with a number of American institutions and has received support from the Angola Educational Assistance Fund, a U.S. non-profit organization organized by Citizens Energy of Boston. Sonangol has a longstanding program of educating its professionals in U.S. universities, complementing Chevron's policy of U.S. training for its own growing pool of Angolan professionals. Long before oil was discovered, American missionary efforts from the early 19th century established several Protestant churches in the interior, which also provided much of the schooling that was available in rural colonial Angola; those historical links now are being revived with exchanges in both directions.
Principal U.S. Officials
Chargé d'Affaires--Francisco Fernandez
Deputy Chief of Mission--Francisco Fernandez
USAID Director--Susan Brems
Defense Attaché--LTC Chris Grieg
The U.S. Embassy is located at Rua Houari Boumedienne No. 32, Miramar, Luanda, Angola. International mail: Caixa Postal 6484, Luanda, Angola; Pouch: Department of State, 2550 Luanda Place, Washington, DC 20521-2550; telephone: (244) (222) 64-1000; fax: (244) (222) 64-1232.
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Revised: Oct. 2007