Preface Last Updated: 11/14/2003 11:46 AM
The name “Angola”comes from the Mbundu word for “king”-ngola. Few
African countries have seen their natural and human potential as
underutilized and thoroughly ravaged by violence as Angola.
In precolonial southern Africa, the area was home to some of the
continent’çs richest kingdoms, which welcomed European merchants and
missionaries in the 15th century, only to be corrupted and
ultimately destroyed by the transatlantic slave trade in the 16th
century. The abolition of the trade – a politically and economically
destabilizing event — was followed by the repressive taxation and
forced labor regimes of Portuguese colonialism. Although much of the
rest of the continent underwent rapid decolonization in the 1960s,
the armed struggle for independence in Angola took nearly 15 years
and perpetuated internal divisions that turned into a decades-long,
ongoing civil war.
Small groups of hunter-gatherers were the first to inhabit the
region of present-day Angola, but late in the first millennium
Bantu-speaking people migrated to the area from the north. They
brought with them iron-smelting skills, agricultural practices, and
cattle, all of which they used to establish some of the largest and
most centralized kingdoms in Central Africa. In the mid-13th or 14th
century, Congo kings organized agricultural settlements surrounding
the mouth of the Congo River into provinces, collected taxes, and
established an official currency of shells.
Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão sailed into the mouth of the Congo
River in 1482. The Portuguese initially maintained peaceful
relations with the Congo, trading goods in exchange for slaves. But
the slave-traders became more intrusive and violent. When they began
to meet resistance, the Portuguese monarchy sent troops to Angola.
Slavery existed in some form in most of Angola’s kingdoms. It is
estimated that between the late 16th century and 1836, when Portugal
officially abolished slave trafficking, 4 million people from the
region were captured for the slave trade. Slave trading agents, or
pombeiros — some Portuguese, most African, or Afro-Portuguese (mestiços)
— bought slaves from local chiefs in exchange for cloth, guns, and
other European goods.
Throughout the 19th century and until the military campaigns
ended in 1930, many sectors of Angolan society resisted domination
by the Portuguese monarchy. Kings, especially the well-educated
leaders of the Congo, invoked historical treaties to resist
The country has been engulfed in war and civil strife since its
independence from Portugal in 1975. A peace accord, signed in 1994,
brought a temporary halt to the civil war, but war erupted again in
However, despite these grave difficulties, Angola is not without
its share of intrigues. Numerous beautiful beaches surrounding
Luanda — such as the Palmeirinhas, Ilha, and Ramiros — are popular
places for water sports enthusiasts. Three museums include a Museum
of Anthropology, with an excellent collection of African arts, and
several discos and clubs are dotted throughout the city. Angolans
are also known for their hospitality; it is not uncommon for
visitors to be invited into their homes for a traditional meal.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 11/14/2003 11:47 AM
Angola, about the size of Texas and California combined (481,351
square miles), is located on the southwestern coast of Africa (South
Atlantic Ocean). It borders the following countries: Democratic
Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Namibia, and Zambia. The
coastline extends a distance of nearly 1,000 miles from Angola’s
oil-rich enclave of Cabinda north of the mouth of the Zaire River
and is separated from the rest of the country by the Democratic
Republic of the Congo to the border of Namibia. The country
stretches inland for some 950 miles, a third of the way across
Africa. The terrain features a narrow coastal plain, which rises
abruptly to a vast inland plateau. Angola’s interior elevations
range from 3,000–7,000 feet, with the upland region forming one of
Africa’s largest watersheds. The climate is semiarid in the south
and along the coast to Luanda. The north has a cool dry season (May
to October) and a hot rainy season (November to April). Natural
hazards are locally heavy rainfall, which causes periodic flooding.
In Luanda during the January to April hot season, the temperature
is often in the upper 90s; the sun is quite intense; and the
humidity is very high. During the winter months, June through
September, the days are pleasant, with high temperatures around
80ºF, with mild evenings. Skies are often hazy, a condition called “cacimbo.”
Generally, there are light rains during November and December, with
heavy rains falling in March and April.
Population Last Updated: 11/14/2003 11:53 AM
With only about 12 million people, Angola is lightly populated.
As a result of three decades of conflict, an estimated 80% of the
population is now concentrated in 20% of the national territory
closest to the coast, and nearly 30% of the total population now
resides in the capital, Luanda. The rest of the population is spread
over the central highlands.
Angolans are mostly of Bantu ethnic heritage. About 75% of
Angola’s people are members of Angola’s four largest ethnic groups.
The Ovimbundu, normally resident in the central highlands and
southeastern parts of Angola, are the largest group, comprising
about 37% of the population. The Ovimbundu were traditionally
farmers and traders.
The Kimbundu, approximately 25% of Angola’s population, live in
and around Luanda and to the east. Prolonged contact with Portuguese
colonial rulers has given the Kimbundu the highest proportion of
Angolans assimilated into European culture.
The Bakongo, usually concentrated in the northwest, and areas
adjacent to the Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cabinda
Province, constitute 13% of the population. The Bakongo at one time
formed a loose federation known as the Kingdom of the Kongo with
whom the Europeans made initial contact in the 15th century when the
Portuguese first landed at the mouth of the Congo River.
The Lunda and Chokwe occupy the northeastern sector of Angola,
with branches also in Democratic Republic of Congo, and make up 10%
of the population. These two ethnic groups once comprised a great
kingdom in the Angolan interior and were barely touched by
Other relatively minor ethnic groups include the Nganguela in the
southeast and the Ovambo and Herero in the southwest (about 7%). The
Ovambo and Herero are migratory cattle herders, who maintain close
ties to kinsmen in Namibia, and regularly migrate across the
Angolan-Namibian border. The rest of the population is made up of
mulatto or mestizo (mixed European and African, 2%), Europeans (1%),
and others (5%).
Before the 1975 civil war, approximately 750,000 non-Africans,
primarily Portuguese citizens, lived in Angola. About 500,000 fled
to Portugal because of the war. Today, about 40,000 Portuguese live
in Angola, constituting the largest foreign population. The mulatto/mestizo
are influential politically and economically beyond their numbers.
The diverse ethnic backgrounds of the population suggest the wide
range of languages spoken. No one African language is widely used
beyond its ethnic area. Portuguese is Angola’s official language and
is used by the government, in schools, and by people throughout the
The last official Angolan census was taken in 1970. Since then,
because the war has made accurate demography impossible, population
figures have only been given as estimates. The Angolan Government
estimated the 1988 population at almost 9.5 million. Today’s best
estimate is about 12 million inhabitants, with about 3 million of
those residing in Luanda.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 11/14/2003 11:54 AM
Angola changed from a one-party Marxist/Leninist system ruled by
the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) to a
multiparty democracy following the September 1992 elections. Since
then, political power is increasingly concentrated in the
Presidency. The political power of the MPLA Central Committee
Political Bureau has diminished. Currently, the MPLA and eight other
political parties are represented in the National Assembly,
including the largest opposition party, UNITA, made up of former
fighters who have abandoned the armed struggle.
In late 1999, a major Government offensive succeeded in
destroying Jonas Savimbi’s conventional military capacity and
driving him to guerrilla tactics. Currently, the Government controls
90%–95% of the national territory, and a similar share of the
population, with Savimbi’s forces reduced to scattered, but
sometimes effective, raids against civilian as often as military
targets. As the UNITA military threat abated, the Government has
slowly allowed for greater public dissent, a freer press,
considerable leverage for opposition parties, and a proposal to hold
national elections in 2002. Some of this public debate has increased
and strengthened civil society, in the process helping to make the
country a more dynamic and interesting place to work in
The executive branch of the government is composed of the Chief
of State, President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, Prime Minister (a
position which, since the early 1999 government reorganization, is
also held by the President), and the Council of Ministers.
The Constitution establishes the broad outlines of the government
structure and delineates the rights and duties of citizens. The
legal system is based on the Portuguese civil and customary law
system. It was recently modified to accommodate a multi-party
political system and increased use of free-market concepts and is
again under revision in the National Assembly. The legal voting age
for Angolans is 18.
Military and civilian courts exist, but the judicial system is
precarious. There have been reports of prolonged detention without
trial, unfair trials, and arbitrary executions.
The country is divided into 18 provinces, each with its own
provincial government, but the governors are appointed by and under
direct authority of the central government.
Angola has been ravaged by warfare since initiation of the
struggle for independence from the Portuguese in 1961. An estimated
450,000 people have been killed; 100,000 maimed; and 3.7 million
people were orphaned or forced from their homes since the wars
began. The war has severely damaged the country’s social
institutions and infrastructure. The millions of dislocated people,
orphaned children, and the lack of communications and transport
between cities and the interior have all taken their toll. Daily
conditions within the country, and in the capital city, Luanda, are
difficult for most Angolans. Hospitals are without medicines or
basic equipment; schools are without books; and public servants
often lack the basic supplies for their day-to-day work.
Foreign Policy. An ally of the Socialist Block during the Cold
War, Angola has increasingly drawn closer to Western nations,
including the U.S. Angola’s vast petroleum resources and its role as
a regional power give it high importance.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 11/14/2003 11:55 AM
The arts and crafts market may not be as prolific in Angola as in
some African countries, but there are beautiful artifacts. There is
a trade in antique masks and fabrics. Ivory engraving is said to be
the most intricate and detailed work found in Angola. Some craftsmen
in Luanda market in woodcarvings for the expatriate community, and
there are a few good painters as well, painting from traditional
landscape and portrait to abstract art.
Angola is predominantly Roman Catholic (60%). Protestants (15%)
and various indigenous beliefs that may also be nominally Christian
(25%) fill out the pattern of religious affiliation. Catholic
churches are found in most towns, and their religious workers have
played an important role in keeping education and food distribution
programs going in the war-torn country.
The Portuguese brought the Catholic religion with them, and
toward the end of the 19th century Protestant missionaries arrived
from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Catholic and Protestant
missionaries have played a significant role in Angolan education. At
the time of independence the leaders of Angola’s three major
liberation movements had been educated at Protestant missions.
Literacy, less than 10% at independence, has increased, despite the
onset of the civil war, and is estimated at 45% of the total
population. Currently, only 40% of Angolan children attend school
for the first three grades, after which attendance declines
severely. Also, the quality of education is poor, and most of the
children of parents with money are sent overseas to Portugal or
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 11/14/2003 11:57 AM
The continuing civil war has devastated Angola’s
post-independence economy and has created wide-ranging humanitarian
and social problems and diverted resources that otherwise might have
been used for the maintenance and improvement of infrastructure. The
war has caused serious disruptions in the transportation of people
and goods, and in agricultural production.
Angola is resources-rich, with abundant offshore oil reserves,
high-quality diamond deposits, numerous other minerals, rich
agricultural lands, and many rivers, which serve as a source of
water and power supply. Prior to independence, Angola was a net food
exporter, and one of the largest coffee and cotton producers in the
world. Other main crops included bananas, sugarcane, sisal, corn,
manioc, tobacco, forest products, fish, and livestock. Now Angola
buys almost all of its food, as well as most consumer products.
Coca-Cola invested $35 million in a bottling plant located 60
kilometers outside of Luanda. The plant opened in early 2000 and
added a second production line in November 2000. Coca-Cola’s
investment is the largest single nonmineral investment in Angola’s
The oil sector dominates the economy. Petroleum exports account
for about 90% of total exports annually, and oil revenue makes up
almost half of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, which reached
$5.6 billion in 1999. This strong reliance on a single commodity
makes Angola very vulnerable to fluctuations in oil prices. Weak oil
prices in 1998 and part of 1999, combined with increased arms
purchases in response to an escalation of hostilities, led to a
heavy external debt burden. Angola’s external debt amounted to
almost $10 billion at the end of 1999, and $4.4 billion of this
amount was in arrears. Higher oil prices in late 1999 and 2000 and
the intake of signing bonuses for new oil concessions helped to keep
the debt from growing further.
Angola is the third largest trading partner of the U.S. in
sub-Saharan Africa, mainly because of significant petroleum exports.
Between 1997–99, Angolan crude oil accounted for about 5% of U.S.
total imports of crude. The U.S. imported $2.4 billion of crude oil
from Angola in 1999 and exported $252 million of goods to Angola,
primarily machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, and
After 1975, Angola’s Soviet-influenced economy was highly
centralized and state-dominated. The Government has very slowly
introduced reforms and liberalizations since the early 1990s. The
government enacted its most significant reforms to date in 1999,
when it unified official and parallel market exchange rates and
liberalized interest rates. In April 2000, the Government reached an
agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a Staff-Monitored
Program (a precursor to receiving loans from the IMF and other
concessional lenders). Progress on economic reforms, such as
privatization and improved account ability and transparency,
continues-but at a slow pace.
Automobiles Last Updated: 11/14/2003 11:58 AM
Individuals assigned to Luanda are advised to bring a vehicle to
post, though some members of the Mission do not own one. A 2000 law
requiring that all cars brought into the country be no more than 3
years of age has been informally relaxed for non-commercial users.
The only safe means of traveling in the city is by automobile. As
with all other types of infrastructure in Angola, roads have been
poorly or infrequently maintained in the past 20 years. Potholes are
typically deep and numerous. High-clearance, heavy-duty suspension
vehicles are recommended. Cars brought into Angola by nonresidents
are considered in transit, and no taxes are levied. Only leaded fuel
is available, and although the lines are long at peak hours, there
is no widespread shortage of fuel. Fuel prices have risen
considerably over the last year. Rental vehicles are available, but
are very costly.
The General Services Office (GSO) takes care of registration, and
all vehicles imported by Embassy personnel receive diplomatic
license plates. There are no vehicle inspections required for
registration or licensing purposes. Vehicle traffic moves on the
right as in the U.S. A valid U.S. driver’s license is needed to
apply for an Angolan driver’s license, but recently the Angolan
Government has been slow in issuing licenses despite charging a fee.
All U.S. Embassy employees are issued diplomatic identity cards.
Local third-party insurance is available and required by law. Full
coverage purchased locally is expensive and not reliable when paying
for damages. Vehicle owners may wish to obtain hard-currency
insurance from outside Angola.
There are repair facilities in the city for GM, Dodge, Jeep,
Ford, Toyota, and Nissan vehicles. However, it is helpful to bring
basic items such as air and oil filters, fan belts, spark plugs,
etc., with you. A heavy-duty battery is required, and
air-conditioning is a must year round. The poor road conditions also
cause suspension systems and tires to wear rapidly. Any vehicle
shipped to Angola should have heavy-duty suspension, radial tires,
and undercoating. Carburetors should be adjusted to low-octane
leaded gas and catalytic converters removed, since locally available
gasoline is of poor quality. Because of the extremely high rate of
pilferage from the Luanda port, do not ship car radios, stereos, or
other removable items with the vehicle. Shipping time for vehicles
averages about 4 months with some time in port. It will take about a
month to receive plates before the vehicle can be driven. During
this period, and subject to availability, a motor pool vehicle with
driver may be scheduled, on a reimbursable basis, to provide
transportation for personal errands.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 11/14/2003 11:59 AM
Local public transportation is limited and deemed unsafe for use
by Embassy personnel. The public buses and collective taxis
(minibuses or “candongueiros”) are not safe; no individual taxi
service exists. Reliable railroad transportation is not available.
Roads to the interior are not deemed safe for general travel. (See
section on Touring and Outdoor Activities for information on
restrictions on road travel.) The best method of reaching other
areas is by air. Air transport to major interior cities is available
on the Angolan national airline TAAG; however, security conditions
and equipment problems regularly interrupt service. Embassy
personnel often fly to interior cities on U.N. or petroleum company
aircraft on official business.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 11/14/2003 11:59 AM
The following airlines provide service to/from Europe on a weekly
or more frequent basis: Sabena (Belgium), Air France, TAP
(Portugal), and TAAG (Angola). Air Namibia, Air Zimbabwe, Air
Ethiopia, Air Gabon, and South African Airlines offer regional
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 11/14/2003 11:59
Angola’s telephone system is poor. Local and international
telephone connections can be difficult to make and can be extremely
frustrating and expensive. The telephone system is slowly being
changed to digital, but problems are still rampant.
Post has a good MITEL internal telephone system at the Chancery
and the Administrative Annex that will soon be linked, and all
Embassy staff members are issued cellular telephones. Embassy
staffers depend on handheld radios for local communications.
Wireless Service Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:00 AM Luanda’s
cellular telephone system is estimated to be 400% oversubscribed,
and connections, particularly during business hours, are difficult
Internet Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:00 AM
Internet access is also available through two service providers,
Netangola and Ebonet, costing about $400 per year for unlimited
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:01 AM
The weekly pouch sent to Washington closes on Monday mornings.
Transit time to Washington averages 5 days. Weekly incoming pouches
from Washington take 2–3 weeks to arrive. Luanda has no APO service.
All incoming mail must meet standard pouch requirements of size,
weight, and excluded items, such as glass and liquids. Pouch address
for mail is:
Full Name Department of State 2550 Luanda Place Washington, D.C.
It is advisable to send all mail by pouch. Angolan mail service
is slow to nonexistent. Transit time for international mail can
range from 14 days to 4 months. Pilferage and lost mail are
considerable problems in the local postal system. The local postal
system is not considered safe or reliable for use. International
Full Name American Embassy Luanda C. P. 6484 Luanda, Angola
The DHL courier service is another way of receiving packages or
mail quickly and efficiently, as quickly as a week for mail from the
U.S. However, the cost of sending mail or packages by DHL is
Radio and TV Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:02 AM
Luanda’s local radio stations broadcast on AM, FM, and SW.
Programs concentrate on popular music and local news, with programs
from 6 am until midnight daily. Shortwave broadcasts from Europe,
North America, and Africa are the best source for international news
and can be received without much difficulty.
Angolan television (TPA) transmits daily in color, with
programming consisting of news, sports, cartoons, soap operas,
cultural programs, and movies from the U.S., Europe, and Brazil.
International programs are usually telecast in original languages
with Portuguese subtitles. A multi-system 120/220v television,
video, or stereo system is required; local television transmissions
are in PAL–1. Some Embassy residents subscribe to satellite cable
TV. The Embassy compound receives AFRTS and CNN.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
11/14/2003 12:02 AM
Almost all publications in Angola are in Portuguese; a few French
books are also available. The main local newspaper, the state-run
Jornal de Angola, is published daily. Several independent newspapers
(also in Portuguese) are published weekly or biweekly.
English-language publications are difficult to obtain in Angola. It
is advisable to receive magazines, newspapers, and books by pouch
mail or subscribe to an internet service.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:02 AM
The government-run hospitals are substandard by Western criteria
and lack such basics as medicines, supplies, or trained staff, and
are often without water, electricity, and sanitary facilities. There
is one dental office recommended by the Health Unit nurse for basic
The Embassy has a local contract nurse available in the Embassy
Health Unit three mornings a week for routine visits and dispensing
medications. The contract nurse or a recommended private clinic
first screens persons with illnesses or injuries before they can be
referred for medical treatment outside of Angola. There is also a
locally hired physician for the FSNs.
The regional medical officer, based in Pretoria, South Africa,
makes quarterly visits to post and is readily available for
consultations via telephone, e-mail, cable, or high-frequency radio.
However, in case of emergency, there are several adequate general
practice medical clinics that Embassy personnel may use until
patients can be stabilized for evacuation. Although there is
adequate dental care available in Luanda for routine or emergency
treatment, Embassy personnel are normally sent to South Africa or
Namibia for oral surgery procedures.
Community Health Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:03 AM
Because of the poor living and health conditions within the
capital city’s neighborhoods, disease, illness, and malnutrition are
commonplace among the majority of Luanda’s population. Warm weather
and standing water from rains create a rampant breeding area for
mosquitoes, and malaria is a common and dangerous threat to the
population throughout Angola. Dust is also a continuous problem, and
many people suffer from allergies and sinus trouble.
Recently a beautification project called Urbana 2000 was begun to
try to beautify and clean up the city’s image. Though Luanda’s
garbage collection system operates regularly, garbage and trash
still ends up in the streets. Air pollution from dust, automobile
exhaust, and burning garbage is heavy. City water is badly
contaminated by raw sewage, human waste, and other toxic substances.
Because of the poor living conditions, the average life expectancy
for local citizens is only 45 years.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:04 AM
Luanda is afflicted with virtually every disease known to
mankind. There are incidents of the following illnesses: hepatitis
types A, B, C, measles, typhoid fever, polio, leprosy, amoebic
infestations (whipworm, roundworm, amebiasis, and giardia lambia),
cholera, yellow fever, filaria, tetanus, meningitis, trypanosomiasis,
rabies, tuberculosis, syphilis, and two varieties of AIDS. HIV and
hepatitis contaminate the local blood supply. HIV/AIDS precautions
are strongly recommended. Malaria is a serious continuing health
risk because of the warm climate and a lack of community programs to
combat it. Luanda is normally dry and dusty for 9 months of the
year; as a result, some individuals are troubled with sinus,
allergy, and respiratory problems.
It is recommended that vaccinations, including yellow fever,
typhoid, rabies, hepatitis A, B, C, and meningitis, be updated prior
to coming to post, but for those requiring a vaccination series they
can be completed at post. All dental work and checkups should be
completed before arriving at post. Antimalarial precautions are a
must, with Mefloquine or Doxycycline being the prophylaxis of
choice. It is recommended that malaria prophylaxis begin a week
prior to arrival at post. An ample supply of over-the-counter
medications should be shipped in household effects (HHE).
Post provides bottled drinking water, as drinking local tap water
is very hazardous. Care must be taken when dining out, as food
poisoning is common, although not necessarily in restaurants
frequented by expatriates. All locally grown produce should be
soaked in iodine or bleach solution before consuming, and care
should be taken with the purchase and cooking of local meats and
In sum, Angola, and Luanda in particular, is a place for the
relatively healthy who are free of any major or continuing health
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 11/14/2003
At present it is not possible for spouses or dependents to work
on the local economy, though a reciprocal work agreement is being
negotiated. There are also limited spouse employment opportunities
in the Embassy and other U.S. Government agencies. The U.N.
sometimes has openings, but these are very limited in number, and
competition for them is intense. There are multiple opportunities to
do volunteer work with non-government organizations (NGOs) and other
American Embassy - Luanda
Post City Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:06 AM
The capital city, Luanda, is less than 9 degrees south of the
Equator, but the Antarctic-fueled Benguela Ocean current, which
cools the coastal areas during much of the year, tempers the rigors
of tropical heat. Luanda is located on a narrow coastal plain, which
quickly gives way to a vast plateau and the highland regions of the
Luanda City overlooks the South Atlantic Ocean, the “island”
peninsula (Ilha do Cabo), and the natural harbor and port. The most
prominent and historical landmark is the ancient Portuguese fort
left over from colonial days that overlooks the ocean as well as the
city. Many of the buildings in the city are highrises, mainly hotels
and apartment buildings. There is much architectural history in
Luanda, which can still be seen in some of the renovation work,
particularly the “Cidade Alta” new Government complex.
Large numbers of internally displaced persons are included in
Luanda’s population of approximately 3 million people, many of them
living in huge, maze-like neighborhoods of sun-dried, mud brick
shacks known as “musseques.” These musseques, which seemingly
mushroom almost overnight, have no utilities or public services, no
running water or electricity, and no sanitation systems.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:09 AM
The U.S. Embassy was officially opened with the establishment of
American diplomatic relations with Angola on June 22, 1993. Prior to
the establishment of an Embassy in Angola, American interests were
handled by the Italian Embassy from 1975 until 1991, followed in
1991 by a U.S. Liaison Office. USAID formally opened its mission to
Luanda in 1996, although it had maintained a representative in
country since 1991.
The Embassy Chancery is located on the Miramar Compound (a
.66-acre site), which sits on the hillside overlooking Luanda Bay.
The Miramar Compound consists of 10 mobile homes, three travel
trailers, three pre-fabricated office buildings, a safe-haven, a
swimming pool, a warehouse, and a guard/gate house. The
Administrative and Consular Sections are located about 1½ miles away
from the Chancery in the “Casa Inglesa” office building, located
above an auto repair shop in downtown Luanda. The USAID office is
located in a separate building downtown. The U.S. Mission in Luanda
currently has a staff of 22 State, 3 DOD, and 3 AID direct-hire
employees. AID also has 4 U.S. PSCs. The Mission has two
third-country nationals (TCNs) and 90 Foreign Service nationals (FSNs).
Construction of a new consolidated Embassy building on the Miramar
compound is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2001.
The Embassy operates on a 40-hour work week, with hours from 8 am
to 6 pm, Monday through Thursday, and from 8 am to noon on Fridays.
The Embassy honors all U.S. Federal holidays and about eight local
Angolan holidays. Addresses and telephone numbers for the Chancery
and administrative/consular annex are:
Embassy Compound, Miramar: Rua Houari Boumedienne #32 Caixa
Postal 6468 Luanda, Angola
Telephone Numbers: (244)(2) 445–481 (244)(2) 446–224 (244)(2)
447–028 (244)(2) 446–924 (Chancery Fax) (871)–683–133–246 (INMARSAT
Web Site: www.ebonet.net/usangola
Administrative/ Consular Annex: “Casa Inglesa” Rua Major
Kahangulo, #132/ 136 Caixa Postal 6468 Luanda, Angola
Telephone Numbers: (244)(2) 396–727 (244)(2) 392–498 (244)(2)
395–371 (244)(2) 390–515 (Fax)
USAID Offices Rua Kwamme N’krumah, #31 (Edificio Maianga), 4th
Telephone Numbers: (244)(2) 399–518 (244)(2) 399–519 (244)(2)
399–520 (244)(2) 399–521 (Fax) (244)(2) 399–522 (Fax)
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:10 AM
Short-term visitors generally stay in one of several Western
standard hotels, including Hotel Presidente-Meridien, Hotel
Continental, and Hotel Tropico. With the diplomatic discount the
rooms run between $120–$170 per night, which includes breakfast.
Food consumed in the hotel restaurants can be expensive but is
covered by the per diem rate. Temporary quarters are also available
in fully furnished travel trailers and mobile homes on the Chancery
(Miramar) compound. USAID personnel either stay in a hotel or in
temporary duty (TDY) apartments.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:10 AM
Personnel assigned to Luanda are assigned to permanent housing by
the post Housing Board soon after notice of their posting to Angola,
based on regulations pertaining to the employee’s grade, family
size, and stated preferences. In most cases, personnel go directly
to their assigned home upon arrival. Adequate housing is difficult
to obtain in Luanda, and rental prices are very high. Mission
housing consists of rented houses, townhouses, and apartments. Most
of the housing is located in residential areas or downtown
apartments convenient to the Embassy and Administrative annex.
Details on individual houses and apartments can be obtained from the
post administrative officer. All are fully furnished homes.
Furnishings Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:11 AM
Embassy housing is furnished with complete dining, living, and
bedroom sets. Master bedrooms are furnished with queen-sized beds.
Some houses have no closets or cupboards, but the Embassy does
provide armoires and tries to install shelving, as possible.
Government-provided appliances and furnishings include a
refrigerator, stove, washer and dryer, freezer, microwave oven, and
vacuum cleaner. The Embassy supplies a Welcome Kit to new arrivals
that includes towels, linens, pots and pans, dishes, glassware, iron
and ironing board, toaster, and coffee maker, which is adequate
until an individual’s UAB shipment arrives. Personnel are authorized
to ship up to 7,200 pounds of HHE and 250 pounds of UAB. However,
storage space in most housing is limited, and post has no facilities
to store excess personal effects. The Embassy is gradually adding
more bookcases and patio furniture to homes, but newcomers are
advised to bring these items if they have them. Throw rugs or
medium-size carpets are helpful; most homes have tile or parquet
floors. Curtains can be made locally, but newcomers are urged to
order them readymade from the U.S. and be reimbursed.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:11 AM
Running water is available throughout much of the city, though
outages do occur. All Embassy housing includes a water tank with a
pump. Because of the inconsistency of the electricity, all housing
has generators. Electricity is 220 volts, 50-cycle electrical power.
Power outlets are the standard European two round prong. Four
transformers are provided per home for major appliances. However,
HHE should include smaller transformers for use with small personal
appliances. Persons planning to bring sensitive electronic equipment
to post should also bring a voltage regulator, UPS, and/or surge
protector, as voltage may fluctuate as much as 10%. It is also
advisable to bring only battery-operated clocks to post.
Food Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:12 AM
Personnel are authorized 2,500 pounds of consumables. Most basic
items (dairy products, eggs, butter, bread, sugar, flour, beans,
rice, fresh and frozen meats, and limited amounts of fresh fruits
and vegetables) can be purchased locally in open-air markets and
supermarkets (Jumbo, Afri-Belg, and Intermarket) or in hard currency
stores (ES-KO and Cantina Palança). Items in the hard-currency
stores are expensive compared to Washington, D.C. prices, but not
prohibitive. Fresh fruits and vegetables are grown locally or
imported from South Africa with a moderate amount of variety
(tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, onions, lettuce, apples, oranges,
mangos, papayas, bananas, etc.). Items purchased in the open-air
markets are sold “as is.” Care must be taken with these items,
especially in the proper cleaning of all fresh produce. Fresh local
fish is also abundant and reasonable. Alcoholic beverages are also
found in a wide variety, such as wines from South Africa and Europe,
beers from Angola, South Africa, Namibia, and hard liquors. Embassy
personnel may also order foodstuffs, including perishables, on a
bimonthly basis from South Africa. Due to the cost of air shipment,
prices are high, but an employee’s consumable allowance (except
military personnel) can be used to defray shipping costs for the
first year of their tour.
Suggested items for consumables shipment include favorite snack
foods, microwave popcorn, spices, seasoning mixes, dry salad
dressing or dip mixes, and pancake syrup. Also suggested is
mayonnaise, Bisquick, whole-wheat flour, pancake, muffin, and cake
mixes, peanut butter, any dietetic foods or drinks, and gourmet
foods that cannot be found easily (e.g., sun-dried tomatoes). Most
of the above items can be found in Luanda but quality, quantity, and
prices vary widely.
Clothing Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:13 AM
Locally available clothing is unacceptable by American standards.
Size, selection, and availability are extremely limited. It is
advisable to bring all clothing items and shoes with you. There are
no local taboos regarding clothing, and the majority of people in
Luanda dress in the “Western” style. As Luanda has a tropical
climate, any type of washable cotton/linen tropical wear would be
well suited for day and nighttime use. Replenishment of clothing
items is done most often by catalog purchase through the pouch
system. Clothes can also be bought in South Africa at reasonable
prices and are of good quality.
Luanda’s year-round climate is generally sunny, hot, and humid.
Washable 100% cotton clothing is recommended, as dry cleaning
facilities are unreliable. Comfortable, durable walking shoes are
also recommended. Life, in general, and social functions, in
particular, tend to be casual in the expatriate community. Angolans,
on the other hand, always dress well for functions. A dark
suit/short cocktail dress should be brought to post. Since winter
(June–July) evenings can be cool, light jackets or sweaters are also
Military personnel should bring one or two sets of BDU’s, Class
A’s, Class B’s, and dress blues/dress mess (attache’s mandatory;
OPSCO, recommended). Ensure you possess all uniform accoutrements
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:14 AM
It is recommended that all supplies for everyday life be brought
to post. Even though most of the items may be found in Luanda, they
are not always available, and quality may be questionable or the
brand name unfamiliar. For example, these items should be considered
for inclusion in HHE: toiletries, cosmetics, personal hygiene
products, home medicines, drugs, common household needs and other
conveniences commonly used for housekeeping, household repairs, or
When preparing to ship HHE, consider including some of the
following items: bedding (especially bed pillows), towels, small
throw rugs for kitchen and bath areas, two shower curtains with
hooks, pictures, throw pillows, laundry detergent, spray starch,
coffeemaker, steam iron, ironing board, all paper products, and all
cleaning products. Suggestions for the kitchen are: pots and pans,
dishes, glassware, silverware, kitchen utensils, table and kitchen
linens, plastic wrap, plastic freezer storage bags, aluminum foil,
any baking items, and hand mixer or food processor (220v). For
personal health: general medications and all personal hygiene
products. For entertainment: hardcover and paperback books,
multi-system TV (with PAL-1 for local viewing), VCR, and stereo
equipment. Bring hobby supplies, such as gardening tools, personal
exercise equipment, and any extra personal items needed for
entertaining. Bring all sporting equipment and picnic/beach items to
post with you. Some suggested items are fishing gear, snorkel gear,
water skiing equipment, coolers, thermos jugs, small charcoal
grills, plastic/paper picnic utensils, beach umbrellas, and beach
chairs. Though most of the above items can be found locally in some
form, these are expensive, and some items may be of questionable
Basic Services Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:15 AM
Luanda has one drycleaner shop that is considered adequate, plus
a few well-regarded, reasonably priced barbershops and beauty
salons. There are auto repair shops in town that have received mixed
reviews and are not inexpensive.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:15 AM
Domestic help is readily available at reasonable rates, usually
payable in U.S. dollars. However, those employed who have not worked
before for Americans may need training, and most speak only
Portuguese. Currently, there is no requirement for pension, social
security, or retirement payments for domestic help. All household
help should have a medical exam and routine security background
check prior to beginning work.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:15 AM
There are missionaries of all faiths living in Angola. Although
their principal role is humanitarian assistance, many do hold
religious services for their individual faiths. There is a large
number of Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist churches in Luanda. The
Catholic church has a resident cardinal, and the Methodist church
has a resident bishop. Church facilities are simple; most services
are conducted in Portuguese, and attendance by Angolans is normally
high. An English nondenominational church group meets every Sunday
morning and is open to everyone.
Dependent Education Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:16 AM
The International School of Luanda (LIS) instructs in English as
a first language and has a preschool and kindergarten, as well as
grades 1–8. It is a member of the Association of International
Schools in Africa (AISA) and is listed in the worldwide
International Education Handbook. The school is working in
conjunction with the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO)
and their Primary Years Program and is also seeking U.S.
accreditation. There are also French and Portuguese schools in
Luanda, and a daycare/nursery school is available at the Swedish
compound near the Miramar Compound.
Special Needs Education Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:16 AM
No special education facilities are available in Angola.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:17 AM
The national sports of Angola are soccer and basketball. Local
games are held regularly. Angola also sponsors tennis, European
handball, basketball, and field hockey teams. Dance, aerobics,
karate, and “capoeira” lessons are available, located at several
different fitness gyms and at reasonable prices. Runners can
participate in the Hash House Harriers, a weekly “Fun Run” sponsored
by the British Embassy, and more informal events.
The Miramar Compound has a small swimming pool. There is also a
treadmill and stationary bicycle for exercise located in the
recreational trailer on compound.
The city has a tennis club; court rental is $10 per hour for
non-members. Bring shoes, rackets, and balls sufficient to last a
tour. Reasonably priced tennis lessons are available through private
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:17 AM
Because of the security situation, there is little chance to
travel within Angola. Mission personnel are restricted to staying
within 20 kilometers of the center of Luanda; to travel beyond this
limit, an employee must first obtain written approval from the Chief
of Mission. Mission personnel fly to interior cities on U.N. or
petroleum company aircraft on official business.
The Embassy has two boats with outboard motors available for
rental. The Mussulo Peninsula has nice beaches off the main coast,
just a short boat ride from the city. Several pristine and uncrowded
beaches further south are accessible by road. Sport fishing is also
popular, and the waters just off the coast have an abundant supply
of many types of game fish. Anthropology and natural history museums
are found downtown. There is a historic fort overlooking the bay.
Other attractions outside of Luanda, but within the 20-km security
limit, include the Slave Museum and the arts and crafts market.
Entertainment Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:18 AM
Entertainment in Luanda is limited. The CLO office has a small
video and book library. The recreation trailer on the Miramar
Compound has a combination TV/videocassette player that receives CNN
International and Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS).
Periodically, Alliance Française and the Portuguese Cultural Center
will have special cultural programs to which all are invited. There
is a small theater with local groups performing. Most people dine
out for entertainment. Nightclubs, jazz clubs, and many relatively
good restaurants serve Angolan, Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese,
Spanish, and Cuban cuisine. Restaurants in Angola are expensive by
Among Americans Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:18 AM Periodically,
Embassy personnel hold informal gatherings. One is the “happy hour”
every Friday night beside the Embassy pool. The group called Os
Comiloes meets periodically to try out new restaurants and to
socialize. There is also a book club whose members include Embassy
personnel and Americans from the community. Board game nights are
routinely hosted in the homes of personnel.
International Contacts Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:19 AM
International contacts among the U.N., diplomatic, and expatriate
communities are common. Many informal dinners, receptions, and other
types of activities are held on a routine basis (see section on
Sports). Angolans are usually friendly toward foreigners and have a
special affinity for Americans. They especially like to be invited
into people’s homes. Ample opportunities to get to know the people,
customs, and cultures of Angola exist. However, a working knowledge
of Portuguese is extremely helpful in making host country contacts.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:19 AM
Because of the ongoing civil war and difficulties in the capital
city, there are fewer large official functions than in many other
capitals. Each Embassy generally hosts a reception for its national
day. Other functions typically are small dinners or cocktail
receptions at the homes of individual diplomats or in restaurants,
clubs, and theaters.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:20 AM
Printed invitation cards are used for official functions.
However, many people choose to use the telephone or make personal
contact to extend invitations for dinners or outings. Printed
business cards are widely used by the diplomatic corps, business
community, and government officials. Bring a large supply of printed
cards to post. Formal dress is the exception rather than the norm.
Dress is most often informal (jacket without tie) or even casual,
such as would be worn to a barbecue or beach outing.
Special Information Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:21 AM
A visa and a current yellow fever vaccination are required for
entry into Angola.
A travel warning is in effect for Angola. Personnel planning to
travel to post should refer to the Bureau of Consular Affairs web
site for specific information.
The security situation in Luanda requires caution. Civil war,
banditry and landmines make travel throughout Angola unsafe. Street
crime, sometimes violent, is common in Luanda and in other urban
centers. Police, who often carry automatic weapons, patrol city
streets. They are unpredictable, and their authority should not be
challenged. Travel in many parts of Luanda is relatively safe by
day, but doors must be locked, windows rolled up, and packages
stored out of sight. Police checkpoints contribute to unsafe travel
on roads leading out of the city. Visitors are strongly advised to
avoid unnecessary travel after dark. All visitors are required at
the earliest opportunity to contact the Embassy security officer for
A 20-kilometer travel restriction outside Luanda is currently in
effect. Travel outside the 20-kilometer area requires RSO and Chief
of Mission approval.
Post Orientation Program
Luanda does not hold a formal post orientation program. Embassy
community sponsors are assigned to each newcomer to help him/her get
acquainted and to adjust to his/her new home. Since the U.S. and
international communities are small, orientation is informal and
social. The Embassy maintains a small collection of books on Angola,
including works on history, religion, culture, and geography. A
basic knowledge of Portuguese is a necessity for a successful tour
in Angola. Post has a limited language-training program. Individual
tutoring with native speaking instructors is available.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:22 AM
There are four main air routes used in reaching Luanda:
U.S./Lisbon/Luanda; U.S./Paris/Luanda; U.S./Brussels/ Luanda; and
U.S./Johannesburg/Luanda. Early notification to post of travel plans
is important. The Fly America Act does not apply to travel between
Angola and European countries. Entry visas for Angola should be
obtained in Washington, D.C. prior to traveling to post. It is also
a good idea to get visas for other African countries that may be
visited before leaving Washington, D.C.
HHE shipments are routed from the U.S. by sea through the
European Logistical Supply Office (ELSO), Antwerp, Belgium, and from
there by air to Angola. For military personnel, all HHE is sent by
air to Angola. UAB may also be routed through ELSO and takes about 6
weeks once it has been turned over to the airlines in the U.S.
Automobiles come containerized via ship and can take as long as 4
months to arrive. Check with the post management officer and
transportation specialist prior to consigning shipments to a packing
company. Please ensure that personal effects are carefully wrapped
and packed in waterproof paper. All items should be encased in
plywood and banded with metal. Your name should be marked on each
case. Prior to your arrival at post, please provide the Embassy with
an inventory of your personal effects. Remember to insure all
shipments. Effects shipped to Luanda should be marked as follows:
American Embassy (Name or Initials) Rua Major Kahangulo, 132/136
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:22 AM
Duty-free entry is extended to all personal effects, consumables,
and automobiles, both initial and follow-on. Please note that only
one automobile may be imported tax free. A second car is subject to
all duties, taxes, and shipping costs. You may also order items from
the U.S. through the diplomatic pouch (see section on Mail and
Pouch). Bring at least a dozen small, color, passport-sized
photographs for each family member to use for identity cards, driver
Pets Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:23 AM
Quarantine is not required for pets brought to Angola. Dogs and
cats must have rabies shots within 6 months, but not less than 30
days prior to arrival at post. Heartworm medication is also advised.
Limited pet food is available locally, and what is available is very
expensive. An ample supply of all food and pet care items should be
shipped with consumables as well as in HHE. The mange parasite is
prevalent in Angola; infection may occur if a pet comes in contact
with infected animals. There are several private practice
veterinarians in Luanda. No kennel facilities are available.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:23 AM
The Government of Angola prohibits the importation of any type of
personal firearms or ammunition.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
11/14/2003 12:24 AM
Angola’s currency is the kwanza. The exchange rate is
market-determined. U.S. paper currency (no coins) is widely accepted
in Angola. Angolan kwanzas are not convertible outside of Angola.
Banking practices are unreliable. It is advisable to use your
stateside bank, with direct deposit for all payroll or voucher
transactions. Traveler checks are not generally accepted outside the
Mission. Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and by a few
businesses that cater to the expatriate communities. Otherwise,
credit cards are not accepted.
Angola uses the metric system of weights and measures.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 11/14/2003
Diplomat personnel resident in Angola do not have to pay taxes
when purchasing vehicles in Angola. Cars registered in Angola for
less than 3 years are taxed on a sliding scale for buyers not on the
There are no restrictions on the resale of personal property.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:31 AM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Angolan Embassy in Washington, D.C. http://22.214.171.124
Angola’s Official Web Site http://www.angola.org
Angola Business and Economics http://www.angola.org/business
Angola Press http://www.angolapress-angop.ao
UNITA’s Homepage http://www.kwacha.org
R dio Eccl‚sia-Catholic Emissary in Angola http://ecclesia.snet.co.ao
Lusofone Web Site-gossip (chat room), information, and other
Abbot, Peter. et al. Modern African Wars: Angola and Mozambique
1961– 1974. Men-At-Arms Series, 1994.
Angola Unravels: The Rise and Fall of the Lusaka Peace Process.
Mass market paperback, 1999.
Antsee, Margaret. Orphan of the Cold War.
Ayo, Yvonne. Eyewitness Africa. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1995.
Bender, Gerald I. Angola Under the Portuguese. University of
California Press: Berkley, 1980.
Birmingham, David. Frontline Nationalism in Angola and
Birmingham, David. Portugal and Africa. 1999.
Bredin, Miles, and Harriet Logan (photographer). Blood on the
Tracks: A Rail Journey from Angola to Mozambique. 1995.
Britten, Victoria. The Death of Dignity: Angola’s Civil War.
Bowdich. Account of the Discoveries of the Portuguese in the
Interior of Angola and Mozambique. 1974.
Ciment, James. Angola and Mozambique: Post Colonial Wars in
Southern Africa (Conflict and Crisis in the Post-Cold War World).
Collelo, Thomas, ed. Angola: A Country Study. Third edition.
Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1990.
Crocker, Chester. High Noon in Southern Africa.
Hare, Paul J. Angola’s Last Best Chance for Peace: An Insider’s
Account of the Peace Process, U.S. Institute of Peace Press:
Washington, D.C., 1998.
Henderson, Lawrence. Angola: Five Centuries of Conflict.
Hothschild, Adam. King Leopold’s Ghost.
Jolicoeur, Suzanne. The Arc of Socialist Revolutions: Angola to
Kapuscinski, Ryszaro. Another Day of Life.
Kelly, Robert C., et al. Angola Country Review 1999/2000. 1999.
Laure, Jason. Angola (Enchantment of the World). Library series,
Lee, Richard E. (introduction) Congo and Angola Regions, 1999.
(Not yet released to the public.)
Maier, Karl, and Serif Lies. Angola Promises (paperback): London,
Marcum, John. The Angolan Revolution.
Matloff, Judith. Fragments of a Forgotten War. 1997.
Minter, William. Apartheid’s Contras: An Inquiry into the Roots
of War in Angola and Mozambique. 1994.
Okuma, Thomas. Angola in Ferment. 1974.
Sean Sheehan, Angola: Cultures of the World. 18 Marshall
Cavendish Corporation. 1999.
Somerville, Keith. Angola: Politics, Economics, and Society
(Marxist Regimes Series). 1986.
Spikes, Daniel. Angola and the Politics of Intervention.
Tvedten, Inge, et al. Angola: Struggle for Peace and
Reconstruction (Nations of the Modern World, Africa). 1997.
Van der Winden, Bob, ed. A Family of the Musseque. Oxford,
England: WorldView Publishing, 1996.
Warner, Rachel. Refugees. Hove, England: Wayland Ltd., 1996.
Watson, James. No Surrender: A Story of Angola. London: Lions
Wilson, T. Ernest. Angola Beloved. 1998.
Wright, George. The Destruction of a Nation: United States Policy
Toward Angola Since 1945. 1997.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 11/14/2003 12:30 AM
In addition to U.S. Government holidays, the post observes the
following local national holidays:
Dia dos Mártires de Repressâo Colonial Jan. 4 Dia do Início da
Luta Armada Feb. 4 Carnaval varies Dia International da Mulher Mar.
8 Sexta-Feira Santa April 13 Dia International de Trabalhador May 1
Dia International de Criança June 1 Dia do Fundador da Nação Sept.
17 Dia do Finados/Memorial Day Nov. 2 Angolan Independence Day
(Sunday) Nov. 11