A Brief History of Angola

By Tim Lambert

In the Middle Ages what is now Angola was organized into kingdoms. The people lived by agriculture. Craftsmen made things of metal and pottery. The Portuguese first reached Angola in 1483 but at first, they showed little interest in the area. The first Portuguese colony in Angola was not founded till 1575.

In the 17th century and 18th centuries, Angola was a source of slaves for the Portuguese. Many were transported to Brazil. However, the slave trade was abolished in 1836. Until the late 19th century Portugal had little power over inland Angola but in 1885 the European nations divided up Africa between them. Portugal was forced to make good its claim to Angola and establish effective control over the inland areas. However, it was not until the 1920s that the Portuguese completely controlled Angola.

The Portuguese used forced labor on plantations. However, in 1961, there was a rebellion. As a result of the rebellion, forced labor was abolished but different groups in Angola began a guerilla war against the Portuguese. However, they also fought each other. Angola finally became independent after a coup took place in Portugal in 1974.

Angola became independent on 11 November 1975 but civil war continued. Fighting went on until 1991. In that year a ceasefire was arranged but broke down in 1992 and the civil war resumed. A second cease-fire was made in Angola in 1994 but it broke down in 1998. The long civil war finally ended with a cease-fire in 2002 but Angola was left devastated. Slowly the country was rebuilt. Its exports of oil helped Angola.

A new constitution was introduced in Angola in 2010. Today Angola is still a poor country and it is largely dependent on exports of oil. However, the economy of Angola is growing strongly. There is reason to be optimistic about the future of Angola. In 2024 the population of Angola was 33 million.


Last Revised 2024