Country of the World Angola

About the country Angola, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: On the west coast of southern Africa, the main section of Angola is bordered by Zaire, Zambia, and Namibia. The small enclave of Cabinda lies about 25 mi. north of the main Angolan coastline, squeezed between Zaire and the People's Republic of the Congo. Outside of a low coastal strip, most of the nation lies on plateaus above 3,000 ft. Tropical jungle covers Cabinda, and the Mocamedes Desert lies in the south.

Size: 481,351 sq. mi. (1,246,700 sq. km.).

Population: 6.1 million.

Who Rules: The People's Republic of Angola is governed by a Revolutionary Council representing the top leadership of the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), which reorganized itself as the Party of Labor in 1978, and its armed forces. The Angolan constitution and Decree Law No. 1 provide for a pyramidal structure of "people's power," based on village and barrio (neighborhood) committees, as well as workers' control of work places. Eventually, the government plans to top the pyramid with a national People's Assembly, elected by the smaller bodies, but presently Provincial People's Committees are the highest elected bodies.

Who REALLY Rules: In the late 1950s and 1960s, three liberation movements emerged in the struggle against the Portuguese colonial government. These were the Marxist MPLA, the socialist National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), and the non-Communist, pro-Western National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). After Angola achieved independence from Portugal in 1975, a civil war erupted, pitting UNITA and the FNLA against the MPLA. Relying on massive Soviet military aid and the intervention of some 15,000 Cuban troops, the MPLA won an apparent victory and seized the Angolan government. However, UNITA forces retreated into the southern Angolan provinces, where they regrouped and organized themselves for guerrilla warfare against the MPLA and Cubans. In 1978, with alleged South African assistance, UNITA units gained control of the southern Angolan countryside and launched attacks on MPLA-Cuban held towns. The MPLA retaliated with "search-and-destroy" missions and rounded up UNITA sympathizers, imprisoning them in concentration camps called "re-education centers." In order to collect the region's annual $600 million oil revenues from Gulf Oil, the MPLA has occupied the northwest province of Cabinda, where the local liberation movement has tried to establish a separate state. Though the MPLA relied on substantial aid from the U.S.S.R. and Cuba to take power, it appears to be pursuing independent policies. "People's power" has not taken effect in all areas; the government has arrested the leaders of strikes for higher wages.

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