Angola Recent History

Angola was discovered in 1486 by Diego Cao, squire of King John II of Portugal, during his second trip to the mouth of the Congo. The Portuguese took possession of it in 1574 but only in 1591 did Congo and Angola be represented in a geographical map, drawn by Filippo Pigafetta from Vicenza, engineer, writer and diplomat of Pope Sixtus V, and published in Rome.

In 1663 another Portuguese, Manuel Godinho, departed from Loanda, a district of northern Angola, crossed the part of the African continent from Angola to Mozambique, also a Portuguese colony, discovered by Vasco de Gama in 1498.

According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Angola, the city of Nuovo Redondo was founded on the Angolan coast in 1682.

In 1795 the same itinerary of Godinho was covered by Josè Assumpçao and Mello. In 1807 the Portuguese statesman, Duke of Saldanha, began his travels inland to extend Portuguese dominion over the populations residing there. In 1816/17 there were other explorations made by Cardozo and others among which two Portuguese officers, Gamitto and Monteiro who, starting from Tete (Mozambique) went up the Zambesi, then almost unknown and reached the kingdom of Loanda.

Then from 1842 to 1887 there were numerous explorations almost exclusively by Portuguese navigators and explorers. Almost, because among them there was a journey by the Hungarian Ladislao Magyar in the West Benguella, and an expedition by the English lieutenant L. Cameron, who in 1875/76 crossed the Casongo, Baluba, Lunda and also arrived in Benguella.

In 1887 England, favored by this expedition, secured that territory which took the name of Rhodesia and which has always separated Angola from Mozambique.

Meanwhile, as early as the mid-nineteenth century, migratory movements from Brazil, Holland and other countries started the colonization of the territory. It was then necessary to establish the borders of each region conquered by the newcomers and the Portuguese signed several agreements: with Germany and France in 1886, with the Belgian Congo and England in 1891 and then, the delimitation between Angola and Rhodesia, was resolved in 1905 with the mediation of the king of Italy.

Angola Recent History

During the colonization there was a notable increase in the white population, due to the immigration of the Europeans, although the majority remained to the black people. There were many industrial initiatives, especially in the extraction of diamonds and oil, and numerous plants for the refinery of the precious “black gold” arose for the latter; cement factories, brick factories, sugar factories, breweries, oil mills, tobacco factories and dairy processing were installed. And given the presence of impressive rivers, Danele and Catumbeca, it was also possible to count on a large production of energy.

In 1935 Angola was declared an integral part of Portugal but in 1951 it took on the name of “Portuguese overseas province”.

Under a law that entered into force in 1955, the highest authority in Angola became a Governor General, naturally Portuguese, not subject to local controls but strictly dependent on the Ministry of Overseas, especially in financial matters. However, he was able to legislate for all matters that did not fall within the competence of the Portuguese National Assembly and the Ministry. In his duties he could also count on a local Legislative Council and a Government Council.

In 1946 Angola was divided into 5 districts but had no indigenous administrators. Very difficult was the obtaining of Portuguese citizenship by the natives, except possessing strict requirements. Despite this, in all Portuguese overseas possessions the difference in race was never an obstacle to the company’s performance.

From 1945 to 1951 Portugal developed vast plans to increase Portuguese immigration to Angola, also allocating the related funds. A small part of Portuguese citizens who emigrated to Angola managed to live there, many returned to their homeland. In order to overcome this inconvenience, Portugal developed two more six-year plans from 1952 to 1964, ensuring considerable funds for the development and progress of the colony.

But already in 1961, when Marcelo Caetano was succeeded by the Portuguese dictator Salazar, some Angolan independence groups began to make themselves heard.

And then Caetano granted greater autonomy to the country, made an opening to international capital to accelerate economic and social development with the aim of seeing the indigenous desire for freedom diminish, and with this policy he immediately obtained good results, especially in industry extractive, textile and food processing.

In 1969 he started work on the construction of a hydroelectric basin on the Cunene river; the situation of black people was improved, even with the prohibition of any small sign of racial discrimination; the school situation experienced better times also with the particular attention given to indigenous languages; the population of the university of Luanda, the capital, multiplied; there was a marked improvement in health services and wages were also raised.

In 1972 Angola, from overseas territory, became a “state”. This was divided into 16 districts, the governor was always Portuguese, assisted by a Legislative Assembly and an Advisory Board. Citizenship was granted to all those citizens who could demonstrate a fair knowledge of the Portuguese language, but the number of colored representatives elected in the 1973 consultations remained small. Angola became part of NATO and made alliances with Rhodesia and South Africa.

Despite this the opposition of color gradually grew and at that point some organizations were already in conflict with each other. They were: the “Popular Movement of Libertaçao de Angola” (MPLA) led by dr. Agostinho Neto, the FLNA, led by Holden Roberto and l’Unità, that is “Uniao Nacional Para a Independencia Total de Angola” by J. Savimbi.

The revolution that broke out in Portugal on April 25, 1974 started Angolan organizations for the autonomy of the country.
The new Portuguese president general Costa Gomes announced that Angola’s independence would be proclaimed on 11 November 1975. And in this transition phase a mixed administrator was appointed in charge whose members, due to large ethnic, tribal, religious and policies, in April 1975 caused the civil war which had many victims.

Kenya was called to draw up a pacification plan and meanwhile the exodus of the white Portuguese population began following Portugal’s refusal to intervene actively. The war also continued because foreign states sent armaments to the belligerents. On 11 November 1975 there were simultaneously two declarations of independence: both from the MPLA, from Luanda, and from the FNLA, from Huambo (ex Nova Lisboa)

In the first months of 1976 the MPLA, thanks to the help of the USSR and Cuba, prevailed over the others and obtained the recognition of the only and legitimate government of Angola, by the Organization of African Unity. In May 1976 the government of Neto interrupted relations with Portugal, but had to begin his mandate immediately amid great economic difficulties, a consequence of the gaps left in infrastructure by the exodus of about 400,000 Portuguese.

In addition, the ruling party, the MPLA, highlighted a lack of unity through the contestation of its own faction led by N. Alves, the Africanist of the Movement. In 1977 he attempted a coup, repressed by Neto with serious losses. A substantial purge was carried out within the MPLA which proclaimed itself, in the meantime, Marxist-Leninist and was called MPLA-PT with the addition, in fact, of “Partido de Trabalho”, that is “Labor Party”.
On November 11, 1980, the 5th anniversary of independence, the first Popular Assembly was inaugurated.

In 1979, in a Moscow hospital, meanwhile, Neto had died and his successor JE Dos Santos, he immediately found himself having to face UNITA, supported by the US who tried to obtain the withdrawal of Cuban troops from the territory.

With a resurgence of hostilities in 1986, the Angolan and Cuban army, when they were about to defeat Savimbi, were seen to have removed the trophy for the intervention of the aviation of South Africa which for some years had held some departments of its army in Angolan territory.

Thus Angola, while confirming its Marxist tendencies, had to downsize its economic policy by entrusting its rebirth and rebuilding to western capitals, especially to US capitals.

In 1988, just with the mediation of the United States, an agreement was signed between Angola, Cuba and South Africa. South Africa withdrew its troops, Cuba declared that it would complete the withdrawal of all its troops by 1991 and Namibia would be independent.

Angola, in addition to having acceded to the Lomè Convention with the EEC, in the Congress of 1990 announced a vast democratization project both in politics and in economics, based on multi-partyism and market liberalization. Furthermore, internal peace was restored with UNITA, also with the mediation of Portugal.

On 29/30 September 1992 the elections took place: the Popular Movement of Freedom of Angola prevailed in the legislative elections, and the presidential president JE Dos Santos was confirmed in the presidential elections.

But the National Union for Total Independence of Angola, which in those elections had established itself in the territories of the South-East and East, contested them and deserted the inauguration of the National Assembly and with arms conquered 65 % of the territory. Government forces managed to retake some areas but not the city of Soyo, on the border with Zaire, home to vast oil fields.

At this point both the United States and Great Britain intervened to officially recognize the constituted government of Angola but also to lift the arms embargo on the Movement. The United Nations also intervened by practicing an arms embargo and others to get the ceasefire of the opposing fighters. They also confirmed the presence of special troops previously sent to protect the smooth running of the elections. Peace negotiations resumed in November 1993 following the intervention of South African President Nelson Mandela, and were signed in Lusaka in November 1994. In addition to the ceasefire, the entry of Union activists into military forces was also agreed. regular, the release of prisoners and the release of all the mercenaries who had fought for both sides.

Only in May 1995 did the real hostilities end with the recognition by J. Malheiro Savimbi, head of the Union, of President Dos Santos. Together they agreed on a government of national unity. An amendment to the Constitution was made by means of which two positions of vice-president were set up “ex novo”, one of which was assigned to Savimbi. Then the government and the Unity found themselves in tune with the arrangement of the Angolan Armed Forces who were given an additional contingent of 90,000 units and finally, having ascertained the regularity of the situation and the abatement of a very high percentage of the violence and irregularities, Angola managed to obtain a large international loan for the recovery of its disastrous economy.

In August 1996 Savimbi renounced the position of vice-president and in November of the same year the term of office of the National Assembly was extended to 2000. Meanwhile, in September the Union had declared the complete demobilization of its contingent and the United Nations confirmed the end of their presence for February 1997. But having found that about 15,000 units had not joined the surrender of arms, the United Nations extended the their peacekeeping mandate.

However, the fact that he managed to unlock this situation was the civil war that broke out in Zaire. Here the Union, ally of the dictator Mobutu, exported diamonds in exchange for weapons. The Angolan government, however, supporter of the Zairian rebels, commanded by LD Kabila, helped him in March 1997 to conquer the city of Kamina, stronghold of the Union men. This, weakened by this conflict, had to surrender and accept the conditions proposed at the time in Lusaka. Savimbi however continued to refuse the post of vice-president but accepted that of “head of the opposition”. So in April 1997, a “government of national unity and reconciliation” was formed with the opening also to representatives of ten other minor parties.


The United Nations decided at this point to replace the present peacekeepers with a less demanding mission, until the complete demobilization of Savimbi’s army. But still persisting in October 1997, they found themselves forced to reconstitute new sanctions against him.

During 1998 the hostilities escalated and the civil war started again. In January 1999, after shooting down two United Nations planes, the Luanda government asked them to permanently withdraw the military forces engaged in the country.