Angola is a land of contrast. It has abundant natural resources such as petroleum, diamonds, phosphate, timber, and fish. It also has numerous rivers for hydroelectric energy and fertile farmland. The people are resilient and keen to improve their socioeconomic status. Although, Angola has suffered through five hundred years of Portuguese colonialism and war, peace has reigned since 2002—, yet problems remain. The farmland is rife with landmines, many former combatants remain unemployed, and displaced Angolans still reside in neighboring nations or have been removed from their tribal home areas. Health problems are on the rise, with polio, malaria, and HIV/AIDS spreading. Democracy has yet to fully take root in Angola as the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) continues to dominate the political system. Angola could have a bright future, but first the nation must exorcise the ghosts of the past. On a more positive note, Angola’s artistic culture is reviving through poetry, novels, and theater. More and more Angolan writers, artists, and filmmakers are beginning to explore the rich variety of their nation’s long, varied history and the personalities who shaped it.
Bibliographies, General Works, and Dictionaries
Several definitive works are available on Angola. See James 2011 for a more recent and Martin 1980 for a more dated source. The CIA World Factbook provides strictly data with little interpretation or analysis. Chabal 2007, Hart and Lewis 1995, Maier 2007, and Weigert 2011 provide a broad overview of Angola, while Wheeler and Opello 2010 focuses on Portugal’s role in Angola.
Central Intelligence Agency. Angola. In The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency.
The CIA presents a very factual examination of the people, government, economy, geography, communication, and transnational issues facing Angola.
Chabal, Patrick, ed. Angola: The Weight of History. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.
Chabal offers a political and economic analysis of post-conflict Angola showing how the past may affect the future prospects of the nation. It is hoped that the nascent democracy, combined with the wise use of oil revenues, can provide for social stability.
Hart, Keith, and Joanna Lewis, eds. Why Angola Matters. Based on a Report of a Conference Held at Pembroke College, Cambridge, on 21–22 March 1994. Cambridge, UK: African Studies Center, 1995.
Here we have a collection of presentations from a conference held in Cambridge focusing upon Angola’s history, colonial struggle, civil war, political parties, individuals, and the economy.
James, W. Martin. Historical Dictionary of Angola. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2011.
James offers a useful reference work on Angola covering early history to postwar reconstruction. The book includes maps, bibliography, chronology, acronyms, and more than six hundred entries.
Maier, Karl. Angola: Promises and Lies. London: Serif, 2007.
Maier presents an excellent account of the civil war, which was rooted in ethnicity, ideology, and Cold War tensions. The author ably guides us through the various leaders, factions, and nations that contributed to the long conflict.
Martin, Phyllis. Historical Dictionary of Angola. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1980.
This is an earlier edition from the Historical Dictionary series with more of an emphasis on early Angolan history and colonialism.
Weigert, Stephen. Angola: A Modern Military History, 1961–2002. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
This book presents the first complete military analysis of Angola’s modern history, the colonial war, the civil war, and the postwar era. In addition, the author, a US State Department official, examines the União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA) insurgency.
Wheeler, Douglas L., and Walter C. Opello Jr. Historical Dictionary of Portugal. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2010.
Wheeler’s dictionary has many entries on Angola and Portugal’s role there.
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