According to LOCALBUSINESSEXPLORER, the Angolan population at the 1970 census was made up of 5,673,046 residents, Of which about 5.2% of European origin, with an annual increase rate that on average is 1.5% and therefore relatively low compared to neighboring countries. The average density is 4.6 residents per km 2 and reaches its maximum values especially on the coast and inland exclusively along the Benguela railway line, in correspondence with the Lobito-Huambo section; it is in fact in the relative district that there is the maximum population density with about 27 residents per km 2.
The Angolan economy, given its too recent autonomous political definition, is still affected by the colonial system, with prevailing forms of destructive economy or pure and simple exploitation of the abundant mineral resources; the active population is mostly employed in plantations and in the first processing of products destined for more developed countries, through Portuguese intermediation.
Agriculture constitutes the main activity and is practiced above all in large plantations; cereals are of little importance compared to the large plantations of sugar cane, coconut palm, coffee and tobacco which, in order, affect the coastal plain and therefore the western selvedges of the plateau. Coffee production, about 2.2 million q in 1974, is now the major resource and therefore the most important item of exports; among the industrial plants, cotton (600,000 q of seeds) and tobacco (69,000 q) and then sugar cane (800,000 q of sugar) are processed locally in the processing industries of Luanda, Benguela, Lobito and Huambo. Given the long colonial regime, the manufacturing industry is almost non-existent and the major underground products, such as diamonds from Malanje (2.1 million carats in 1973), oil from Cabinda, Benfica, etc. (8.4 million tonnes in 1975) and Cassinga iron ores (3.7 million tonnes in 1973) are almost entirely exported; the production of timber is also discrete (7.5 million m3 in 1974), largely absorbed by Portugal. Cattle clearly prevail in the breeding with about 3 million heads in 1974. The railway network, which has a total development of about 3000 km, is made up of three penetration lines, the most important of which is the one that runs from Lobito through Villa Texeira crosses the border and continues through Zaire and Rhodesia to Beira, in Mozambique; in recent years the development of the road network has been discreet (about 72,000 km in 1973), especially in the northern part where it effectively integrates the railway network.
The surplus of the trade balance amounted in 1973 to more than 5 billion escudos, with the USA in first place among the acquiring countries and Federal Germany among the exporting ones; commercial exchanges with the metropolis amounted to 25% of the total, with a positive balance for the Angola of 1,360 million escudos ; in 1974 the balance of payments due to the metropolis for the previous years was about to be completed.
History. – The beginning of the armed struggle by indigenous independence groups in 1961 triggered the process of dynamization of the administrative and economic structures of the Angola, accentuated after Marcelo Caetano succeeded Salazar. By granting greater autonomy, the country was open to the penetration of international capital, in an attempt to bring development rates to levels that would allow both to withdraw support from the demands for independence and to find the means with which to support the costs of the colonial war.
Some important results were achieved especially in the extractive industry, in the hands of multinational companies (iron, diamonds and, in the Cabinda district, oil), as well as in the textile and food processing industry, making the rate of increase rise as early as 1967 industry at 10% per annum, albeit with high operating costs and within a typical inflationary conjuncture of war.
The realization of grandiose projects was undertaken, such as that of the hydroelectric basin on the Cunene River, begun in 1969 by a Luso-South African consortium, which should also have allowed the settlement of thousands of white settlers. Alongside the economic effort, the government tried, in the last decade, to improve the state of the black population: these limited reforms allowed the increase in poor schooling, both primary (4916 schools with 547,000 students) and higher (the University of Luanda, created in 1963, had 2820 students ten years later), also improving its level through the elimination of racial discrimination in school texts and the granting of greater attention to indigenous languages. Similarly, health services improved,
In 1972 the new organic law on the overseas territories and the relative statutes were approved, which granted to the Angola the symbolic title of “state”. Divided into 16 districts, the country was administered by a Portuguese governor assisted by a Legislative Assembly (53 elected members) and a Consultative Council; the rights deriving from Portuguese citizenship, definitively extended to all natives in 1961, remained in fact limited to those who had a good knowledge of the Lusitanian language: therefore the number of black representatives elected in the consultations of 1972/73 remained small, even lower than that of other Portuguese territories in Africa. The elimination of the term “colony” still allowed Portugal to evade UN petitions on need for decolonization; membership in NATO also allowed him to enjoy the political-military support of some members of that organization, as well as the explicit alliance of Rhodesia and South Africa and the tacit collaboration of Negro nations such as Malawi. Nonetheless, the color opposition, chronologically the oldest on the continent even if limited to a few intellectuals, became more and more accentuated. From some pre-existing groupings, the MPLA was born in December 1956 (Popular Movement de Libertaçao de Angola) which, under the guidance of Dr. Agostinho Neto, would have been in contrast with the UPA – later FLNA – of Holden Roberto, an organization less politicized and more compromised in tribal struggles.
The armed struggle of the MPLA, the first to be waged in the Portuguese colonies, began on February 4, 1961 with the attack on the Luanda prisons, while the UPA, following the granting of independence to the Belgian Congo, unleashed a bloody racial struggle and tribal in the north of the country. After a temporary standstill due to competition from the FLNA – which, source of the support of Zaire in which thousands of Angolan refugees lived, established a government in exile (GRAE) achieving the recognition of the Organization of African Unity -, the MPLA reorganized in 1964 by attacking the district of Cabinda from the starting bases located in Congo Brazzaville and then in Zambia, and obtained control, starting from 1968, of 1/3 of the territory (the MPLA’s strength reached, according to Portuguese sources, to 7000 men ). The Lisbon effort to eliminate the guerrilla was unsuccessful despite the military reorganization of 1970 – commander-in-chief was gen. Costa Gomes – and the constant increases in military spending (in 1973, 2 billion escudos for 70,000 soldiers). While a new independence group was born in 1966, Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA, the partial rapprochement that took place at the end of 1970 between the MPLA and the FLNA intertwined with the attempts to physically eliminate Agostinho Neto and to arrive at a negotiated peace.
The revolution of April 25, 1974 in Portugal opened a new era of relationships. The gen. António de Spínola tried to work out a compromise solution, but the law of 10 July 1974 and the Alvor agreements of 10/15 January 1975 between the new Portuguese president, gen. Costa Gomes, and the representatives of the three liberation forces established the full independence of the country, setting it for 11 November 1975. In the transition phase, a mixed administration was in charge; serious incidents have affected both black and white populations, while the contrasts between the MPLA, the FLNA and UNITA – which differ in ethnic and tribal characteristics, religious beliefs, political options and international support – have caused since April 1975 armed clashes with thousands of victims, which was tried in vain to put an end through a pacification pact signed in Kenya in June. The situation precipitated due to the refusal of the Portuguese armed forces to actively intervene, the exodus of the white population began, while the civil war extended as a result of foreign military aid to the belligerents. On 11 November there were two simultaneous declarations of independence, of the MPLA in Luanda, and of the FNLA and UNITA in Huambo (formerly Nova Lisboa): in the first months of 1976 the MPLA ended up imposing itself, also thanks to the more decisive support from the USSR, Cuba and other socialist countries, obtaining recognition by the Organization of African Unity as the only and legitimate government of Angola. In May 1976 the government of Angola