Having gained independence from its colonizing power, Portugal, in 1975, the three main Angolan parties – Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) fought a bloody civil war which ended only with the death of the UNITA leader, Jonas Savimbi.
Angola was also the stage for one of the bloodiest episodes of the cold war, with the United States supporting UNITA and the invasion of Angola by the South African army and the former Soviet Union supporting the MPLA and the sending of Cuban troops to the West African country.
Having received initial support from the Portuguese military to set up government in Luanda, the colonial capital, the MPLA declared itself the legitimate government of Angola and took power. As well as this the South African army was unable to successfully combat the Cubans and MPLA soldiers.
A large majority of Angola’s 11 million people live from subsistence agriculture on the 1,246,700 square kilometers of its territory and most foodstuffs have to be imported.
Average Angolan life expectancy is of just 36.5 years and the infant mortality rate is 190 deaths to every thousand births.
Oil production accounts for around half of the Gross National Product and more than half of all exports. Official data points to Angola having confirmed reserves of 23 billion barrels of oil and 80 billion cubic meters of gas.
Apart from oil, Angola exports oil derivatives, diamonds, some agricultural products such as coffee, wood and cotton, and fish.
Interestingly, its main export markets after the United States are Continental China and Taipei, with 30 and 8 percent of the total, respectively.
Angola has a total labor force of 5.1 million people. More than half of these are unemployed, although the primary sector accounts for 85 percent with the remaining 15 percent in the service industry, agriculture represents no more than 8 percent of the country’s GDP. Industry supports the Angolan GDP and represents more than 67 percent of it.
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