Angola is an independent republic which lies on the Atlantic coast of Africa and forms part of the Southern African region. The capital city is Luanda. Other major cities are Huambo and Lubango and the ports of Lobito and Namibe. The official language is Portuguese.

The country has recently ended a state of civil war which lasted for 20 years and devastated the economy. The local currency is the New Kwanza. (US$ / NK – current exchange rate).

Angola’s economy is in disarray as a result of decades of almost continuous war. Output per capita in Angola is among the lowest in the world, despite the abundance of natural resources in the country.

Subsistence farming provides the livelihood for most of the population. Violence continues in Angola, millions of land mines still remain in the country, and as a result, many farmers fear returning to their farms. Because of this, much of the country’s food is imported. Unless peace is assured and government policies implemented, Angola will not be able to exploit its resources of fisheries, gold, forests, arable land, diamonds and large deposits of oil.

Angola’s GDP is amongst the largest in southern Africa. The Angolan government continues to implement privatisation policies. Over 250 parastatals have been reorganised into over 800 smaller, private firms. In 1996, Luanda was listed among the busiest ports in the world.

The Angolan government plans to attract foreign investors by making new opportunities available, including: privatisation of all parastatal coffee companies; onshore and downstream oil operations; rehabilitation of multi-million dollar rehabilitation contracts and upgrading of telecommunications facilities. Since early 1999 the Angolan government has implemented macroeoconimc reforms which include the liberalization of exchange rates and interest rates, and the approval of customs duties and tax rate reforms.

The Angolan oil industry is key to the economy of the country. In particular the upstream oil industry is its major source of foreign exchange. The downstream oil industry in Angola is controlled by the state-owned company, Sonangol which also owns the country’s oil refinery at Luanda. Angola’s other significant industry is mining. Oil production and the supporting activities are vital to the economy, contributing about 45% to GDP.

Malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, polio, HIV-AIDS, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, yellow fever (regional), schistosomiasis (bilharzia) and dengue fever may be contracted while travelling in Angola. Travellers should be aware that advanced payment for medical services might be required. Prescription medicines should be carried in their original containers together with the prescription. All visitors should be fully vaccinated, including polio. Before entering Angola, medical and general insurance (including the provision for emergency evacuation) should be arranged.

The international time zone for Angola is Greenwich + 1. The international dialling code for Angola is +244. The principal airlines that fly to Angola are TAAG (Angolan Airways), Air Portugal and Sabena. All visitors to Angola require passports and all nationals from countries with which Angola has no prior agreements require entry visas.

Shaun Bakamoso

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