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Angola - Introduction

Based on a combination of all major infectious diseases that occur in the country, Angola is at the HIGHEST RISK for infectious diseases with an overall risk among the worst in the world. Luanda is afflicted with virtually every disease known to humanity. Hepatitis, measles, typhoid fever, polio, malaria, leprosy, amoebic infestations, cholera, yellow fever, filaria, tetanus, meningitis, trypanosomiases, rabies, tuberculosis, syphilis, and two varieties of AIDS, plus a variety of other illnesses hold sway over the population.

The diseases of high risk in Angola are diarrhea (bacterial and protozoal), hepatitis A and B, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), malaria, meningococcal meningitis, schistosomiasis, trypanosomiasis and typhoid/paratyphoid fever.The greatest short-term health risks to personnel deployed to Angola are associated with consumption of water contaminated with raw sewage or runoff containing fecal pathogens. Ground travel throughout Angola is problematic due to the extensive use of land mines during the civil war. Other environmental factors include agricultural and industrial contamination of soil, water and food supplies; intense heat and sandstorms in the Namib Desert; and periodic flooding on the plateau.

The capital city, Luanda, continues to maintain a well deserved reputation as a haven for armed robberies, assaults, carjackings, and overall crimes of opportunity. However, reliable statistical crime data is unavailable in Angola. Luanda traffic is gridlocked, hectic, and chaotic. Very few intersections have traffic signals, and drivers often ignore those that do. The city streets are riddle with potholes, vendors, and other hazards that make driving an extremely stressful ordeal. High speed roads often end abruptly and lead to treacherous unimproved surfaces. Overloaded, poorly maintained, and disabled vehicles, as well as pedestrians and livestock, pose hazards for motorists. Landmines also pose a continuing hazard to travelers.

The Angolan economy is highly dependent on oil, accounting for over half of GDP and 83% of government revenue and 97% of export value. It is the second largest producer, after Nigeria, in sub-Saharan Africa. It joined OPEC at the beginning of 2007. The current production, all offshore, is estimated to have risen to over 2m bpd in 2007, as investment in deep and ultra-deep blocks came on stream. Diamonds also play a large part in the Angolan economy but have also been impacted significantly by the global economic downturn. Angola was the fourth largest producer of rough diamonds - largely gemstone quality - in the world in 2008. Output has grown steadily since the war when smuggling, illegal digging and the absence of government control had caused a significant drop.

Angola is a large, developing country in southwest central Africa. The capital city is Luanda. The government estimates the population to be approximately 20 million as of 2012. Recent estimates of Angola's population have ranged from 13 million to 18 million. There has been no census since the early 1970s. Portuguese, the official language, is widely-spoken throughout the country. Despite its extensive oil and mineral reserves and arable land suitable for large-scale production of numerous crops, Angola has some of the world's lowest social development indicators. Development was severely restricted by a 27-year civil war that broke out upon independence in 1975 and destroyed most of the country's infrastructure. Since the war ended in 2002, the economy grew at a double-digit annual rate until the global financial crisis undercut oil revenue. Although the government continues extensive infrastructure reconstruction and development projects, Angola still faces challenges with its infrastructure and with providing government services, especially in basic social services, aviation and travel safety, accommodations and communications.

Angola has three main ethnic groups, each speaking a Bantu language: Umbundu 37%, Kimbundu 25%, and Kikongo 13%. The MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), founded in December 1956 under the direction of Agostinho Neto, called for the formation of a single front of all the anti-imperialist forces in Angola. Its appeal. however. was primarily limited to the second largest ethnic group - the Mbundu - living in the region around Luanda, and to the Mestiqos, who formed the multiracial colonial bourgeoisie. The Mbundu were integrated into Portuguese society more than any other group, and they created the drive and leadership for a nationalist movement.

The Frenta Nacional de Libertagao de Angola (FNLA) was founded in March 1962 under the leadership of Holden Roberto. Unlike the MPLA's nationalist goal of 'Angolity,' the FNLA's original objective was the restoration of the ancient Kingdom of Congo in Northern Angola. The party's main constituency remained the Bakongo people of the north, who were almost exclusively rural and remained largely outside colonial society. However, despite the degree of separation from the state, it was this group that suffered most from the policy of land dispossession in the 1950s. The FLNA tried to expand its constituency by establishing a government in exile (GRAE) in 1962, with Jonas Savimbi as minister of foreign affairs. However, the GRAE was short-lived and by 1963, Savimbi and Roberto were no longer speaking. Savimbi resigned from the GRAE in 1964, amid accusations of 'tribalism.'

UNITA was founded in March 1966 and drew its primary support from the Ovimbundu ethnic group. With the largest population in Angola, the Ovimbundu were well integrated into colonial society, but were also dispersed due to migrant work. This fragmentation largely explains their late entry into the nationalist movement, and UNITA became an internal vehicle for the Ovimbundu group to counterbalance the role of the other two major ethnic groups in the national liberation war.

After gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola suffered one of the longest, bloodiest, and most bitter civil wars in the post-colonial era. The MPLA, which controlled the cities, established itself as the new government. It won widespread diplomatic recognition, though not from the United States. The FNLA faded from the picture. Unita, with support from South Africa and the United States, grew into a strong armed opposition movement. External support complicated the civil war, contributing to its duration and the level of fighting. Because the MPLA, a Marxist-oriented movement, began receiving Soviet and Cuban support before independence, the United States and South Africa regarded it with suspicion. Cuban troops intervened in Angola on the side of the MPLA, and Soviet aid increased at independence, fanning those suspicions.

The country today bears the scars of that long struggle, from a shattered economy, to a seriously damaged infrastructure, to increasing civil violence caused by demobilized and unemployed soldiers. At its height, the Angolan civil war engaged both superpowers and some of their principal allies. It w--for long a sensitive area of disagreement in US-Soviet relations. The availability of external military assistance to both sides (South African and U.S. aid for UNITA, Cuban and Soviet bloc aid for the MPLA, the physical size of the country, and the flow of oil revenues into government war chests allowed the Angolan civil war to continue at a highly destructive level long after ultimate military stalemate appeared certain.

Peace eluded Angola for four decades, and confounded politicians and policy-makers around the world for years. The multi-generational conflict seamlessly transformed itself from an independence struggle against Portuguese colonisers, to a well-funded proxy war drawing in both superpowers, and finally, into an even deadlier and more devastating contest for personal power and resources. For Angolans, the tragedy was overwhelming: more than five hundred thousand were killed and more than half of the country's population of 10 million was displaced by a war which only ended in 2002 with the death of one man, Jonas Savimbi.

Angola is a constitutional republic. Every year, the country moves further away from the horrible history of civil war and toward a more politically mature society. The ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), led by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos since 1979, has been in power since independence in 1975 and exercised tight, centralized control over government planning, policymaking, and media outlets. In 2008 the government held the first legislative elections since 1992. On 31 August 2012, the government held the first fully constituted presidential and legislative elections in the country’s history. The MPLA won 71.8 percent of the vote, and on September 28, dos Santos began his a new five-year term as president. Domestic and international observers reported that polling throughout the country was peaceful and generally credible, despite a ruling party advantage due to state control of major media and other resources and serious logistical failures that marred polling in the capital of Luanda. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.

Political violence is not a substantial risk in most of Angola. The most significant incident of political violence since the end of the civil war was the January 2010 attack on the Togolese national soccer team by FLEC-PM (Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda—Military Position), an offshoot of the longstanding FLEC separatist group in the northern province of Cabinda. The team was traveling through Cabinda by road to take part in a soccer tournament when it was ambushed by FLEC operatives. Three people were killed and nine people injured in the attack.

Land mines placed during the civil war and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) remained a threat. No local agency compiled nationwide incident statistics for the year. According to a compilation of sources, land mine and ERW accidents killed 38 and injured at least 51in 2011. This represents an increase from (unofficially) 18 killed and 24 injured in 2010. According to the National Institute for Demining Affairs, most recent incidents were related to ERW rather than land mines, especially by children who found the design appealing or by adults who had the misconception that the explosives have mercury or other materials inside that can be sold for a profit. The government continued to strengthen and expand national demining capacity during the year, and it partnered extensively with international NGOs on demining operations and mine-risk education.

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Page last modified: 23-08-2013 19:27:24 ZULU