Official name : Republic of Angola
Area: 1,246,700 square kilometers (481,226 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Mount Moco (Morro de Moco) (2,620 meters/8,596 feet)
Lowest point on land: Sea level
Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern
Time zone: 1 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 1,758 kilometers (1,092 miles) from southeast to northwest; 1,491 kilometers (926 miles) from northeast to southwest; the Cabinda Province extends 166 kilometers (103 miles) north-northeast to south-southwest and 62 kilometers (39 miles) east-southeast to west-northwest
Land boundaries: Total land boundaries 5,198 kilometers (4,812 miles); Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2,511 kilometers (1,557 miles), of which 220 kilometers (85 miles) is the boundary of the discontiguous Cabinda Province; Republic of the Congo, 201 kilometers (77.5 miles); Namibia, 1,376 kilometers (531 miles); and Zambia, 1,110 kilometers (428.5 miles)
Coastline: 1,600 kilometers (992 miles)
Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)
1 LOCATION AND SIZE
Angola is located on the west coast of the African continent, south of the equator. Angola is south and southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DROC), northwest of Zambia, north of Namibia, and east of the Atlantic Ocean. Cabinda Province is separated from the rest of Angola by the DROC and is completely surrounded by that country and the Republic of the Congo. With a total land area of 1,246,700 square kilometers (481,226 square miles), including the exclave (area separate from the main part of a country) of Cabinda, Angola is slightly less than twice the size of Texas. Angola is divided into eighteen provinces.
2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES
Angola has no territories or dependencies.
Angola's temperatures and climates vary from region to region. The north has a wet, tropical (supports plant growth year round) climate; the east has a moderate tropical climate; and the southern central strip near the border with Namibia has hot, dry desert conditions. There are two seasons in Angola: a dry, cool winter and a hot, rainy summer. The average temperature is about 20°C (68°F); however, temperatures are warmer along the coast and cooler on the central plateau. The annual average rainfall is 5 centimeters (2 inches) near the southern coast (Namibe); 34 centimeters (13 inches) at the northern coast (Luanda); and as high as 150 centimeters (59 inches) in the northeast. Regions of Angola do suffer from occasional drought.
4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS
Most of Angola is covered with broad table-lands (broad areas that are higher in elevation than their surroundings) that are greater than 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) high. Angola also has high plateaus in the central and southern regions as high as 2,400 meters (7,920 feet). There are many rivers in Angola, but only a few of them are navigable (suitable for boating). The Cabinda region, which lies between DROC and Republic of the Congo just north of the Angolan mainland, is also a part of Angola. The wet regions of the north and northwest, including Cabinda, are covered with thick forests, while the drier areas in the center of the country support sparse savanna-like grassy vegetation. Land abuse, such as desertification (land losing its ability to support plant life), forest loss, and water impurity are significant environmental problems.
5 OCEANS AND SEAS
Seacoast and Undersea Features
Angola's western coast borders on the Atlantic Ocean. The waters off the coast support a fishing industry that contributes to export income.
The Atlantic coastland is an arid (almost no annual rainfall) strip that is well irrigated by the western-flowing rivers. The coastal lowlands vary in width from approximately 25 kilometers (15 miles) to more than 150 kilometers (93 miles).
6 INLAND LAKES
There are no major lakes within Angola.
7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS
Most rivers originate in central Angola. Several rivers flow toward the Atlantic coast and provide both hydroelectric power and irrigation for the normally dry coastal strip. Only two rivers are navigable by any but the very smallest boats.
The Cuanza (Kuanza or Kwanza) River, located in the central portion of the country, is the longest river at 966 kilometers (600 miles), but only 200 kilometers (126 miles) of its length is navigable. The Cuanza drains into the Atlantic Ocean. The Cuango (Kwango) River, located in the northern region, is a fairly navigable waterway that drains into the Congo River system. The Cuando (Kwando) and Cubango Rivers both drain southeast to the Okavango (Cubango) Swamp.
The southernmost rivers in Angola, which flow to the Atlantic, are seasonal and thus are completely dry during much of the year.
The southern desert-steppe is sandy and dry and has sparse vegetation, except along the major rivers. Inconsistent precipitation keeps the far south somewhat dry. The area is marked by sand dunes, which give way to dry scrub (low shrubby plants) in the central portions.
9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN
The coastal grasslands are well irrigated because of the drainage of the rivers from the higher central plateaus. Elephant grass and scrubby forest cover the surface of the sandy floodplains. Meadows and pastures constitute about 23 percent of the total land area.
The Mayombé Hills in northeast Cabinda were once covered by rain forest. As of 2002, much of the rain forest trees had been cut down.
10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES
The highest peak in Angola is Mount Moco (Morro de Moco) with an elevation of 2,620 meters (8,596 feet). It is located just northwest of Huambo.
Other major peaks rising from the coastal lowlands are Mount Mejo (Morro de Mejo) at 2,583 meters (8,474 feet) in the Benguela region and Mount Vavéle (Morro de Vavéle) at 2,479 meters (8,133 feet) in Kuanza Sul. Running through the center of the country (and into Zambia) is the Lunda Divide, a set of low ridges marking the divisions between west-and east-flowing rivers.
11 CANYONS AND CAVES
There are no significant caves or canyons in Angola.
12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS
The Bié Plateau, also known as the Great Central Plateau, covers most of Angola. Precipitation at the highest points in the central plateau permits the growth of deciduous forest (trees that lose their leaves), although much of the forest has been cut down for timber and fuel. The climate and soils of these central plateaus support a variety of vegetation. Most of the eastern half of Angola is a relatively flat and open plateau characterized by sandy soils.
13 MAN-MADE FEATURES
The country has six dams, but as of 2002, only three were functioning. The Cambembe Dam on the Cuanza River provides power to Luanda.
14 FURTHER READING
Black, Richard. Angola . Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1992.
Broadhead, Susan H. Historical Dictionary of Angola. 2nd ed. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1992.
Cushman, Mary Floyd. Missionary Doctor, The Story of Twenty Years in Africa . New York: Harper & Brothers, 1944.
Laurè, J. Angola . Chicago: Children's Press, 1990.
U.S. Department of State. Angola, 1996 Post Report. Washington, DC: The Department of State, 1996.
Welcome to the Republic of Angola. http://www.angola.org/ (accessed June 17, 2003).