General issues: Portuguese colony 1870-1951, Portuguese province 1951-1972, Portuguese possession, State of Angola 1972-1975, Peoples republic 1975-1992, Republic 1992-Present
Country name on general issues: Angola
Currency: 1 Milreis = 1000 Reis 1870-1913, 1 Escudo = 100 Centavos 1913-1928, 1 Angolar = 100 Centavos 1928-1960, 1 Escudo = 100 Centavos 1960-1977, 1 Kwanza = 100 Lwei 1977-Present
Population: 4 790 000 in 1900, 24 383 000 in 2014
Political history Angola
Angola is located in western Africa. Until 1975, Angola is a Portuguese colony. The Portuguese first settle in Luanda in 1575. In 1587, a second settlement follows in Benguela. From the 16th until the 19th century, Portuguese rule is limited to the coastal regions. The Portuguese focus on trade – the slave trade being the most important until the 19th century. In the 19th century trade is diversified and agriculture is developed. At the conference of Berlin in 1885 – where the colonial powers divide the spheres of influence in Africa – Angola is awarded to Portugal. The borders with the neighboring countries are defined, subsequently, through bilateral treaties with Congo, Germany, France and Great Britain between 1885 and 1891. Between 1885 and 1920, all of Angola is brought under effective colonial administration.
In 1951, Angola becomes a Portuguese province – as do the other Portuguese colonies. The effect is limited: Angola is allowed a representative in the Portuguese parliament and citizens of Angola may become citizens of Portugal with fewer restrictions. A further step is taken in 1972 when Angola becomes the State of Angola. Portugal is transformed into a federal state, the overseas possessions gaining internal self government. The changes made by Portugal are however – and in this Portugal is different from other colonial powers – not aimed at decolonization, but rather at a continuation of the colonial status quo, albeit in a more modern form.
Independence movements – based on the major ethnic groups in Angola – are formed in the 1950’s and since 1961 they engage in an armed struggle for independence. Independence is finally gained in 1975 as the Peoples Republic of Angola. A coalition formed by the independence movements to rule the country is short lived. A civil war ensues that will last until 2002, with a short pause in 1992 and 1993 when the country becomes a republic and general elections are held. The civil war in Angola is one of the more important theaters of the Cold War, factions being supported by the Soviet Union, the United States and their allies. The conflict is interwoven with conflicts in the neighboring Congo – then called Zaire – and South West Africa – the current Namibia. Since 2002, the country has known relative stability.
Angola has many population groups, mainly of Bantu origin. The main groups are the Ovimbundu, the Ambundu and the Bakongo that constitute 37%, 25% and 15% of the population respectively. Small groups of Khoisan – the traditional hunter gatherers living in southwestern Africa – live in the south of the country. Finally, small population groups of European and mixed origin live in Angola. The differences between the population groups are one of the reasons for the prolonged civil war in Angola. The Angola economy relies for 85% on the production of oil. The civil war has prevented the country from diversifying its economy.
Part of Angola is the exclave of Cabinda. Cabinda was awarded to Portugal in 1885. In 1885, the Portuguese sign treaties with the local rulers and form the protectorate of Portuguese Congo. In 1920, Cabinda becomes a de facto part of Angola, although it de jure retains a separate position in the Portuguese colonial empire. In 1961, a separatist movement proclaims the independence of Cabinda, however, after the Angola war of independence it becomes a fully integrated part of Angola.
Postal history Angola
The first stamps for Angola are issued in 1870. As in other Portuguese possessions these are, until around 1950, of a generic design for the Portuguese colonies. Since 1950, the issues are of a generic template, but with a local design. The stamps of Portuguese Angola are, in 1975, superseded by the issues of the peoples republic, from 1992 the Republic of Angola. A word of caution concerns issues inscribed Angola that have appeared on the market since 1998 and that are not recognized by the Angola postal authorities and that are not listed in the catalogs. These issues being aimed at the thematic philatelic market.
For Cabinda, from 1894 until 1920 stamps have been issued as Portuguese Congo.