President: José Eduardo dos Santos (1979)
Prime Minister: position abolished (2012)
Total area: 481,350 sq mi (1,246,699 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 19,088,106 (growth rate: 2.78%); birth rate: 38.97/1000; infant mortality rate: 79.99/1000; life expectancy: 55.29
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Luanda, 5.068 million
Other large cities: Huambo, 1.098 million
Monetary unit: New Kwanza
Angola, more than three times the size of California, extends for more than 1,000 mi (1,609 km) along the South Atlantic in southwest Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo are to the north and east, Zambia is to the east, and Namibia is to the south. A plateau averaging 6,000 ft (1,829 m) above sea level rises abruptly from the coastal lowlands. Nearly all the land is desert or savanna, with hardwood forests in the northeast.
Angola underwent a transition from a one-party socialist state to a nominally multiparty democracy in 1992.
The original inhabitants of Angola are thought to have been Khoisan speakers. After 1000, large numbers of Bantu speakers migrated to the region and became the dominant group. Angola derives its name from the Bantu kingdom of Ndongo, whose name for its king is ngola.
Explored by the Portuguese navigator Diego Cão in 1482, Angola became a link in trade with India and Southeast Asia. Later it was a major source of slaves for Portugal's New World colony of Brazil. Development of the interior began after the Berlin Conference in 1885 fixed the colony's borders, and British and Portuguese investment fostered mining, railways, and agriculture.