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The Republic of Angola is a country in South Africa, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Democratic Republic of Congo in the north, Zambia in the east, and Namibia in the south. Its largest city and capital are Luanda.

Angola also has a province, Cabinda, which was once known as Portuguese Congo, which includes Belize, Buco-Zau, Cabinda, and Cacongo. Cabinda is separated from the main part of Angola by a narrow strip of land that belongs to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Currently, a Cabinda independence movement considers Angola's occupation of the territory to be illegal, and some factions have declared an independent Republic of Cabinda.

The history of Angola might be divided into three parts. During medieval times, the region was ruled by kings. Then came a few centuries in which the land was dominated by Brazilian conquerors who harvested Angolan people as slaves and spread disease throughout the land. During the time when the modern era began, in the early 1800s, and 1975, when the colonial period ended, Angola's coast and portions of the interior were under the control of Portugal.

The slave trade was abolished in 1836, and the Portuguese government freed its existing slaves in 1854. A few years after, slavery in Angola was abolished altogether. These decrees were not entirely enforceable however. During the slave period, approximately a half million Angolans were taken to Brazil or other places to work as slaves.

In the 1900s, the flow of migrations was reversed, and up to a half million Europeans migrated to Angola seeking gold, diamonds, and other resources. In 1975, when Angola achieved independence from colonial rule, the white population of Angola moved back to Europe, leaving African nationalists to struggle for control.

Under colonial rule ethnic Angolans were not permitted to form political parties or labor unions, so the first nationalist movements did not form until after World War II, led by a largely Westernized urban class. Portugal's refusal to address the demands of the Angolans for a degree of self-determination led to armed conflicts in 1961, and then an outright war that went on for more than a decade.

During the fighting, three distinct groups of militant nationalists emerged, supported to a degree by the Portuguese Communist Party. These groups were the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (NFLA), the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which was formed as a coalition with the Angolan Communist Party, and received assistance from the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China.

The overall nationalist movement was hampered by factionalism between these groups, as each competed for influence within the Angolan population and various international powers. When a ceasefire was called in 1974 and Portugal began a gradual withdrawal, these factions seized strategic positions, acquired arms, and worked to increase their individual military capabilities.

Almost immediately, the war with Portugal was followed by a civil war. Cuba sent troops to assist the MPLA, and the Soviet Union sent arms and advisors. The FNLA was clearly defeated, while UNITA was able to withdraw its officials and militia to the southern provinces, from which is continued an insurgent campaign against the MPLA.

Between 1975 and 1991, the MPLA established a political and economic system based on central planning and the implementation of a communist one-party state. All locally owned businesses were nationalized and incorporated into a single state-owned enterprise. Corruption was common, but the MPLA survived an attempted coup by the Communist Organization of Angola (OCA) in 1977, killing thousands of OCA members.

In 1990, the MPLA abandoned its Marxist ideology to declare a new platform based on social democracy. Angola became a member of the International Monetary Fund, and the country enjoyed some successes in attracting foreign investments. Peace was reached with UNITA in 1991; however, when the MPLA won a major electoral victory at the polls in 1992, UNITA objected and returned to war. In 2002, Jonas Savimbi, the founder, and leader of UNITA was killed and peace was made between the two groups again. UNITA gave up its military wing and joined the government as an opposition party.

The chief ethnic groups in Angola are the Ovimbundu, the Ambundu, and the Bakongo, along with other ethnic African groups, and a very small population of people of European or Chinese descent. Its languages include those originally spoken by its various ethnic groups, as well as Portuguese, which is the first language of about 40% of the population. Christianity dominates the religions of Angola, primarily Catholicism, followed by Congregational and Methodist.



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