Capital | Luanda
Population | 12,799,293 (July 2009 est.)
Area | 1,246,700 sq km
Official language | Portuguese, English
Holidays | Independence Day, 11 November (1975)
Currency | kwanza (AOA)
Time Zone | UTC+1
Best time to visit | June to August during the dry season.
Connecting with the Culture | Weaving your way through Luanda’s potholed, palm fringed streets alongside Rastas, streetkids, flash wheeler dealer types and fashion obsessed girls. Going wild in Kissama’s grassland park among giraffes, ostriches, and the antelope unique to Angola, the palanca. Dancing in the wake of a fast moving `kizomba’ dancer, or busting a move to accordion fuelled dance music, `rebita’. Soaking it up on your own stretch of beach in Namibe. Taking in the dizzying heights at Tunda-Vala volcanic fissure, 2600km above sea level.
Read | `Angola Beloved’ by T. Ernest Wilson, the story of a pioneering Christian missionary’s struggle to bring the gospel to an Angola steeped in witchcraft.
Listen | To anything by Bonga Kwenda, former world-record holding runner and star soccer player who became an African musical legend.
Watch | `Rostov-Luanda’, which documents the journey of a returning refugee across Angola in search of an old friend.
Eat | calulu de peixe (fish stew)
Drink | local coffee. Angola was one of the largest producers of coffee worldwide prio to the civil war.
In a word | Tudo bom? (how’s things?)
Characteristics | Mass population displacement, starvation, landmines – all the trophies of wat, sparkling beaches, mineral wealth, poverty.
Surprises | Luanda is the fourth most expensive city in the world. (all that imported food); much of the large national park areas are devoid of animals, most having been eaten by starving people during the recent periods of conflict. Angolans love going to church, and they love romance. They go nuts for Valentine’s Day and soap operas. They have the highest fertility rate in the world.