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In Response To: The war in Angola ()

Angola (CIA World Factbook)

Geography: The People's Republic of Angola is situated on the Atlantic coast of Africa and bounded by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the north, Zambia to the east, and Namibia to the south. The country stretches over 1 246 700 square kilometres.

Population: 12 million, mainly belonging to Bantu ethnic groups. More than four million Angolans are displaced. Some 200 000 have sought refuge in Zambia, and 180 000 others have fled to the DRC.

Capital: Luanda (three million inhabitants).

Language: Portuguese (official) though Bantu languages are widely spoken.

Religion: Animist (45%), Christian (43%).

History: Colonised by Portugal in 1575, Angola gained independence on November 11, 1975 after a civil war between Portuguese forces and three liberation groups - the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) led by Jonas Savimbi and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA).

Since 1975, Angola's government has been controlled by the Marxist-influenced MPLA. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos took office in 1979. The country received large amounts of aid in the 1970s and 1980s from Cuba and the Soviet Union.

The MPLA was at war with Unita from 1975 to 1991. In the 1980s Unita received support and funding from South Africa and the United States, who demanded the withdrawal of Cuban troops and an end to Soviet assistance.

Savimbi refused to accept his party's loss in 1992 elections and civil war resumed. Dos Santos and Savimbi signed the Lusaka peace accords in November 1994, but the deal was never respected.

The United Nations imposed sanctions on Unita in October 1997 for its failure to respect the peace treaty.

Civil war resumed in full force in 1998. An estimated 500 000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Political Institutions: A semi-presidential regime has been in place since 1992. A multi-party system was brought in through a new constitution in 1991.

There are 222 MPs in the national assembly - 132 representing the MPLA and 70 from Unita.

Economy and resources: Angola, which possesses substantial agricultural, oil, diamond, iron and phosphate resources, has been largely devastated by the civil war. Industrial and agricultural production has been wiped out. Only the offshore oil industry survived, and now brings in 80% of fiscal revenue and represents 42% of gross domestic product.

GNP: $410 per capita.

Foreign debt: $10.871 billion in 1999 (World Bank).

Defence: The army counts some 107 500 men. There are 10 000 paramilitaries in the country, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS - 2000/01).

A contingent of Angolan troops was deployed to Congo-Brazzaville in 1999 in support of President Denis Sassou Nguesso and are still on the ground. Angolan troops are also deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

UN troops: In October 1999, the United Nations set up a small humanitarian aid and human rights mission of about 30 people, called the UN Office in Angola, after allowing the mandate of the UN Mission of Observers in Angola (Monua) to expire due to the continuing civil conflict.

Angola is a member of the Southern African Development Community.

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