Index of all articles, click here

Portuguese Angola

Angola (also Portuguese West Africa, Portuguese Angola; since 1951 Overseas Province of Angola and finally State of Angola, since 1972) is the common name by which the Portuguese colony in southwestern Africa was known across different periods of time. The former colony became an independent country in 1975 and now forms the Republic of Angola.


The history of Portuguese presence on the territory of contemporary Angola lasted from the foundation of a Portuguese settlement in what today is Soyo, in the 16th century, until the decolonization of the territory in 1975. During these four centuries, several entirely different situations have to be distinguished.

When Portuguese explorers reached the Kongo Kingdom at the end of the 15th century, Angola as such did not exist; on its present territory, a number of independent peoples were living, some of them organized in political units ("kingdoms") of variable size. The Portuguese were interested in trade, mainly slave trade; thus they maintained a peaceful and mutually profitable relationship with the rulers and dominant social segment of the Kongo Kingdom, whom they Christianized and taught reading and writing in Portuguese, allowing them a share of the benefits from the slave trade. They established small trading posts on the lower Kongo River, which now belongs to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and a more important trading settlement on the Atlantic coast, at Soyo which then belonged to the Kongo Kingdom and is today Angola's northernmost town (except for the Cabinda exclave).

In 1575 the settlement of Luanda was established on the coast south of the Kongo Kindom, and in the 17th century the settlement of Benguela, even more to the south. From 1580 to the 1820s, well over a million people from current-day Angola were exported as slaves to the so-called New World, mainly to Brazil, but also to North America.[1] According to Oliver and Atmore, 'for 200 years, the colony of Angola developed essentially as a gigantic slave-trading enterprise".[2] Kingdom of Portugal sailors, explorers, soldiers and merchants had a long-standing policy of conquest and establishment of military and trading outposts in Africa with the conquest of Muslim-ruled Ceuta in 1415 and the establishment of bases in current-day Morocco and the Gulf of Guinea. The Portuguese had Catholic beliefs and their military expeditions included from the very beginning the conversion of foreign peoples.

In the 17th century, conflicting economic interests led to a military confrontation with the Kongo Kingdom. Portugal defeated the Kongo Kingdom in the Battle of Mbwila on October 29, 1665, but suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Kitombo when they tried to invade Kongo in 1670. Control of most of the central highlands was achieved in the 18th century. Further reaching attempts at conquering the interior were undertaken in the 19th century [3] However, full Portuguese administrative control of the entire territory was not achieved until the beginning of the 20th century. It is thus at that stage that Angola in its present dimensions was constituted, as a Portuguese colony.

In 1884 Britain, which up to that time refused to acknowledge that Portugal possessed territorial rights north of Ambriz, concluded a treaty recognizing Portuguese sovereignty over both banks of the lower Congo, but the treaty, meeting with opposition there and Germany, was not ratified. Agreements concluded with the Congo Free State, the German Empire and France in 1885-1886 fixed the limits of the province, except in the south-east, where the frontier between Barotseland (north-west Rhodesia) and Angola was determined by an Anglo-Portuguese agreement of 1891 and the arbitration award of the King of Italy in 1905.

During the Portuguese’s colonial rule of Angola, cities, towns and trade-posts were founded, railroads were opened, ports built, and a Westernized society was being gradually developed, despite the fact of a deep traditional tribal heritage in Angola which the minority European rulers were neither willing nor interested to eradicate. Since the 1920s, Portugal's administration showed an increasing interest in developing Angola's economy and social infrastructure.[4]

Overseas Province
In 1951, the Portuguese Colony of Angola became an Overseas Province of Portugal. In the late 1950s the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) began to organize strategies and action plans to fight Portuguese rule as well as the remunerated forced labor system which affected many of the native black people from the countryside who were relocated from their homes and had to perform compulsory work, almost always unskilled hard work, in an environment of economic boom.[5] Organized guerrilla warfare began in 1961, the same year that a law was passed to end every sort of forced labor. In 1961, the Portuguese government indeed abolished a number of basic legal provisions which discriminated against black people like the Estatuto do Indigenato (Decree-Law 43: 893 of September 6, 1961). The conflict, conversely known as the Colonial War or the War of Liberation, erupted in the North of the territory when UPA rebels based in Republic of the Congo massacred civilians in surprise attacks. The effective military in Angola were composed of approximately 6,500 men: 5,000 native black Africans and 1,500 white European sent from Portugal. After these events the Portuguese Government, under the dictatorial Estado Novo regime of António de Oliveira Salazar and later Marcelo Caetano, sent thousands of troops from Europe to perform counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.

The beginning of the war: Organized guerrilla warfare began in 1961, the same year that a law was passed to end every sort of forced labor. In 1961, the Portuguese government indeed abolished a number of basic legal provisions which discriminated against black people like the Estatuto do Indigenato (Decree-Law 43: 893 of September 6, 1961). The conflict, conversely known as the Colonial War or the War of Liberation, erupted in the North of the territory when UPA rebels based in Republic of the Congo massacred civilians in surprise attacks. The effective military in Angola were composed of approximately 6,500 men: 5,000 native black Africans and 1,500 white European sent from Portugal. After these events the Portuguese Government, under the dictatorial Estado Novo regime of António de Oliveira Salazar and later Marcelo Caetano, sent thousands of troops from Europe to perform counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.

In 1963 Holden Roberto established the Revolutionary Government of Angola in Exile (Portuguese: Governo revolucionário de Angola no exílio, GRAE) in Kinshasa in an attempt to claim on the international scene the sole representation of forces fighting Portuguese rule in Angola. The UNITA also started pro-independence guerrilla operations in 1966. Despite the overall military superiority of the Portuguese Army in the Angolan theatre, the independence guerrilla movements were never fully defeated. However, by 1972, after a successful military campaign in the East of Angola, complemented by a pragmatic hearts and minds policy, the conflict in Angola was effectively won for the Portuguese. From 1966 to 1970, the pro-independence guerrilla movement MPLA, expanded their limited insurgency operations to the East of Angola. This vast countryside area was far away from the main urban centers and close to foreign countries were the guerrillas were able to take shelter. The UNITA, a smaller pro-independence guerrilla organization established in the East, supported the MPLA. Until 1970, the combined guerrilla forces of MPLA and UNITA in the East Front were successful in pressuring Portuguese Armed Forces (FAP) in the area to the point that the guerrillas were able to cross the Cuanza River and could threaten the territory of Bié which had an important urban center in the agricultural, commercial and industrial town of Silva Porto. In 1970, the guerrilla movement decided to reinforce the Eastern Front by relocating troops and armament from the North to the East. From 1971 onward, the FAP performed a successful counter-insurgency military campaign that expelled the remaining members of the three guerrilla movements operating in the East to beyond the frontiers of Angola.

Campaign in the Eastern Front: In 1971, the FAP started a successful counter-insurgency military campaign that expelled the three guerrilla movements operating in the East to beyond the frontiers of Angola. The last guerrillas lost hundreds of soldiers and left tons of equipment behind, disbanding chaotically to the neighboring foreign countries in the region or in some cases, joining or surrendering to the Portuguese authorities. In order to gain the confidence of the local rural populations, and create conditions for their permanent and productive settlement in the region, the Portuguese authorities organized massive vaccination campaigns, medical check-ups, water, sanitation and alimentary infrastructure as a way to better contribute to the economic and social development of the people and dissociate the population from the guerrillas and their influence. In 31 December 1972, the Development Plan of the East (Plano de Desenvolvimento do Leste) included in its first stage, 466 development enterprises (150 were completed and 316 were being built). 19 health centers had been built and 26 were being constructed. 51 new schools were operating and 82 were being constructed[6][7]

However, the Portuguese authorities were unable to defeat the liberation guerillas as a whole during the Portuguese Colonial War, particularly in Portuguese Guinea, and had suffered heavy casualties across the 13 years of conflict. Throughout the war period Portugal faced increasing dissent, arms embargoes and other punitive sanctions imposed by most of the international community. For the Portuguese society the war was becoming even more unpopular due to its length and financial costs, the worsening of diplomatic relations with other United Nations members, and the role it had always played as a factor of perpetuation of the Estado Novo regime. It was this escalation that would lead directly to the mutiny of members of the FAP in the Carnation Revolution in 1974 - an event that would lead to the independence of the former Portuguese colonies in Africa.

Federated State
In 1972, the Portuguese National Assembly wanting to grant its African overseas territories a wider political autonomy in order to tone down the increasing dissent abroad and within its own structure, changed Angola's status from an overseas province to an “autonomous state” with authority over some internal affairs; Portugal was to retain responsibility for defense and foreign relations. However, the aim was by no means to grant Angola independence, but on the contrary, to "win the hearts and minds" of the Angolans, convincing them to remain permanently a part of an intercontinental Portugal. Renaming Angola (like Mozambique) in 1972 "Estado" (state) was part of an effort to apparently give the Portuguese Empire a sort of federal structure, conferring some degree of autonomy to the "states". In fact, the structural changes and increase in autonomy were highly limited. The government of the "State of Angola" was the same as the old "provincial government", except for merely cosmetic differences of personnel and titles. Like in the mainland, it was entirely composed of people that were aligned with the Estado Novo regime's establishment. While this occurred, a few guerrilla nuclei stayed active inside the territory, and continued to campaign against Portuguese rule in the outside. The mere idea of having the independence movements take part in the political structure of the revamped territory's organization was absolutely and totally unthinkable (on both sides).[8]

Carnation Revolution and independence
In April 25, 1974, the Portuguese government of the Estado Novo regime under Marcelo Caetano, the corporatist and authoritarian regime established by António de Oliveira Salazar that had ruled Portugal since the 1930s, was overthrown in a military uprising in Lisbon. In May of that year the new revolutionary government of Portugal proclaimed a truce with the pro-independence African guerrillas in an effort to promote peace talks and independence.[9] The military-led coup returned democracy to Portugal, ending the unpopular Colonial War where thousands of Portuguese soldiers had been conscripted into military service, and replacing the authoritarian Estado Novo (New State) regime and its secret police which repressed elemental civil liberties and political freedoms. It started as a professional class[10] protest of Portuguese Armed Forces captains against a decree law: the Dec. Lei nº 353/73 of 1973.[11][12]

These events prompted a mass exodus of Portuguese citizens, overwhelmingly white but some mestiço (mixed race) or black, from Portugal's African territories, creating hundreds of thousands destitute refugees — the retornados.[13] Angola became a sovereign state on 11 November 1975 in accordance with the Alvor Agreement and the newly-independent country was proclaimed the People's Republic of Angola.


In the 20th century, Portuguese Angola was subject to the Estado Novo regime. In 1951, the Portuguese authorities changed the statute of the territory from Colony to an Overseas Province of Portugal. Legally, the territory was as much a part of Portugal as Lisbon but as an overseas province enjoyed special derogations to account for its distance from Europe. Most members of the government of Angola were from Portugal, but a few were Africans. Nearly all members of the bureaucracy were from Portugal, as most Africans did not have the necessary qualifications to obtain positions.

The government of Angola, as it was in Portugal, was highly centralized. Power was concentrated in the executive branch, and all elections where they occurred were carried out using indirect methods. From the Prime Minister's office in Lisbon, authority extended down to the most remote posts of Angola through a rigid chain of command. The authority of the government of Angola was residual, primarily limited to implementing policies already decided in Europe. In 1967, Angola also sent a number of delegates to the National Assembly in Lisbon.

The highest official in the province was the governor-general, appointed by the Portuguese cabinet on recommendation of the Overseas Minister. The governor-general had both executive and legislative authority. A Government Council advised the governor-general in the running of the province. The functional cabinet consisted of five secretaries appointed by the Overseas Minister on the advice of the governor. A Legislative Council had limited powers and its main activity was approving the provincial budget. Finally, an Economic and Social Council had to be consulted on all draft legislation, and the governor-general had to justify his decision to Lisbon if he ignored its advice.

In 1972, the Portuguese National Assembly changed Angola's status from an overseas province to an “autonomous state” with authority over some internal affairs; Portugal was to retain responsibility for defense and foreign relations. Elections were held in Angola for a legislative assembly in 1973.[9]


Portuguese Angola was a territory covering 1,246,700 km², an area greater than France and Spain put together. It had 5,198 km of terrestrial borders and a coastline with 1,600 km. Its geography was diverse. From the coastal plain, ranging in width from 25 kilometres in the south to 100-200 kilometers in the north, the land rises in stages towards the high inland plateau covering almost two-thirds of the country, with an average altitude of between 1,200 and 1,600 metres. Angola's two highest peaks were located in these central highlands. They were Moco Mountain (2,620 m) and Meco Mountain (2,538 m).

Most of Angola’s rivers rose in the central mountains. Of the many rivers that drain to the Atlantic Ocean, the Cuanza and Cunene were the most important. Other major streams included the Kwango River, which drains north to the Congo River system, and the Kwando and Cubango Rivers, both of which drain generally southeast to the Okavango Delta. As the land drops from the plateau, many rapids and waterfalls plunge downward in the rivers. Portuguese Angola had no sizable lakes, besides those formed by dams and reservoirs built by the Portuguese administration.

The Portuguese authorities established several national parks and natural reserves across the territory: Bicauri, Cameia, Cangandala, Iona, Mupa, Namibe and Quiçama. Iona was Angola's oldest and largest national park, it was proclaimed as a reserve in 1937 and upgraded to a national park in 1964.

Angola was indeed a territory that underwent a great deal of progress after 1950. The Portuguese government built dams, roads, schools, etc. There was also an economic boom that led to a huge increase of the European population. The white population increased from 44,083 in 1940 to 172,529 in 1960. With around 1,000 immigrants arriving each month. On the eve of the end of the colonial period, the ethnic European residents numbered 400,000 (1974) (excluding enlisted and commissioned soldiers from the mainland) and the mixed race population was at around 100,000 (many were Cape Verdian migrants working in the territory). The total population was around 5.9 million at that time.

Luanda grew from a town of 61,208 with 14.6% of those inhabitants being white in 1940, to a major cosmopolitan city of 475,328 in 1970 with 124,814 Europeans (26.3%) and around 50,000 mixed race inhabitants. Most of the other large cities in Angola had around the same ratio of Europeans at the time, with the exception of Sá da Bandeira (Lubango), Moçâmedes (Namibe) and Porto Alexandre (Tombua) in the south where the white population was more established. All of these cities had European majorities from 50% to 60%.


Portuguese explorers and settlers had founded trading posts and forts along the coast of Africa since the 15th century, and reached the Angolan coast in the 16th century. Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais founded Luanda in 1575 as "São Paulo de Loanda", and the region developed as a slave trade market with the help of local Imbangala and Mbundu peoples who were notable slave hunters. Trade was mostly with the Portuguese colony of Brazil in the so called "New World"; Brazilian ships were the most numerous in the ports of Luanda and Benguela. By this time, Angola, a Portuguese colony, was in fact like a colony of Brazil, another Portuguese colony. A strong Brazilian influence was also exercised by the Jesuits in religion and education.[24]

The colonial power, Portugal, becoming ever richer and more powerful, and would not tolerate the development these neighbouring African states and subjugated them one by one, enabling Portuguese hegemony over much of the area. During the period of the Iberian Union (1580-1640), Portugal lost influence and power and made new enemies. The Dutch, a major enemy of Castile, invaded many Portuguese overseas possessions, including Luanda. The Dutch ruled Luanda from 1640 to 1648 as Fort Aardenburgh. They were seeking black slaves for use in sugarcane plantations of Northeastern Brazil (Pernambuco, Olinda, Recife) which they had also seized from Portugal. John Maurice, Prince of Nassau-Siegen, conquered the Portuguese possessions of Saint George del Mina, Saint Thomas, and Luanda, Angola, on the west coast of Africa. After the dissolution of the Iberian Union in 1640, Portugal reestablished its authority over the lost territories of the Portuguese Empire.[24]

The Portuguese started to develop townships, trading posts, logging camps and small processing factories. From 1764 onwards, there was a gradual change from a slave-based society to one based on production for domestic consumption and export. Meanwhile, with the independence of Brazil in 1822, the slave trade was abolished in 1836, and in 1844 Angola's ports were opened to foreign shipping. By 1850, Luanda was one of the greatest and most developed Portuguese cities in the vast Portuguese Empire outside Mainland Portugal, full of trading companies, exporting (together with Benguela) palm and peanut oil, wax, copal, timber, ivory, cotton, coffee, and cocoa, among many other products. Maize, tobacco, dried meat and cassava flour also began to be produced locally. The Angolan bourgeoisie was born. From the 1920s to the 1960s, strong economic growth, abundant natural resources and development of infrastruture, led to the arrival of even more Portuguese settlers from the metropole.[24]

Diamond mining began in 1912, when the first gems were discovered by Portuguese prospectors in a stream of the Lunda region, in the northeast. In 1917 Diamang was granted the concession for diamond mining and prospecting in Portuguese Angola. From the mid-1950s until 1974, iron ore was mined in Malanje, Bié, Huambo, and Huíla provinces, and production reached an average of 5.7 million tons per year between 1970 and 1974. Most of the iron ore was shipped to Japan, West Germany, and the United Kingdom, and earned almost US$50 million a year in export revenue. During 1966-67 a major iron ore terminal was built by the Portuguese at Saco, the bay just 12 km North of Moçâmedes (Namibe). The client was the Compania Mineira do Lobito, the Lobito Mining Company, which developed an iron ore mine inland at Cassinga. The construction of the mine installations and a 300 km railway were commissioned to Krupp of Germany and the modern harbour terminal to SETH, a Portuguese company owned by Hojgaard & Schultz of Denmark. The small fishing town of Moçâmedes hosted construction workers, foreign engineers and their families for 2 years. The Ore Terminal was completed on time within one year and the first 250,000 ton ore carrier docked and loaded with ore in 1967.[25][26] The Portuguese discovered petroleum in Angola in 1955. Production began in the Cuanza basin in the 1950s, in the Congo basin in the 1960s, and in the exclave of Cabinda in 1968. The Portuguese government granted operating rights for Block Zero to the Cabinda Gulf Oil Company, a subsidiary of ChevronTexaco, in 1955. Oil production surpassed the exportation of coffee as Angola's largest export in 1973.

By the early 1970s, a variety of crops and livestock were produced in Portuguese Angola. In the north, cassava, coffee, and cotton were grown; in the central highlands, maize was cultivated; and in the south, where rainfall is lowest, cattle herding was prevalent. In addition, there were large plantations run by Portuguese that produced palm oil, sugarcane, bananas, and sisal. These crops were grown by commercial farmers, primarily Portuguese, and by peasant farmers, who sold some of their surplus to local Portuguese traders in exchange for supplies. The commercial farmers were dominant in marketing these crops, however, and enjoyed substantial support from the overseas province's Portuguese government in the form of technical assistance, irrigation facilities, and financial credit. They produced the great majority of the crops that were marketed in Angola's urban centres or exported for several countries.[27]

Fishing in Portuguese Angola was a major and growing industry. In the early 1970s, there were about 700 fishing boats, and the annual catch was more than 300,000 tons. Including the catch of foreign fishing fleets in Angolan waters, the combined annual catch was estimated at over 1 million tons. The Portuguese territory of Angola was a net exporter of fish products, and the ports of Moçâmedes, Luanda and Benguela were among the most important fishing harbours in the region.


Non-urban black African access to educational opportunities was very limited for most of the colonial period, most were not even able to speak Portuguese and did not have knowledge of Portuguese culture and history.[28] Until the 1950s, educational facilities run by the Portuguese colonial government were largely restricted to the urban areas.[28] Responsibility for educating rural Africans were commissioned by the authorities to several Roman Catholic and Protestant missions based across the vast countryside, which taught black Africans in Portuguese language and culture.[28] As a consequence, each of the missions established its own school system, although all were subject to ultimate control and support by the Portuguese.[28]

In mainland Portugal, the homeland of the colonial authorities who ruled in the territory from the 16th century until 1975, by the end of the 19th century the illiteracy rates were at over 80 percent and higher education was reserved for a small percentage of the population. 68.1 percent of mainland Portugal's population was still classified as illiterate by the 1930 census. Mainland Portugal's literacy rate by the 1940s and early 1950s was low by North American and Western European standards at the time. Only in the 1960s did the country make public education available for all children between the ages of six and twelve, and the overseas territories profited from this new educational developments and change in policy at Lisbon.

Starting in the early 1950s, the access to basic, secondary and technical education was expanded and its availability was being increasingly opened to both the African indigenes and the ethnic Portuguese of the territories. Education beyond the primary level became available to an increasing number of black Africans since the 1950s, and the proportion of the age group that went on to secondary school in the early 1970s was an all-time record high enrolment.[28] Primary school attendance was also growing substantially.[28] In general, the quality of teaching at the primary level was acceptable, even with instruction carried on largely by black Africans who sometimes had substandard qualifications.[28] Most secondary school teachers were ethnically Portuguese, especially in the urban centers.[28]

Two state-run university institutions were founded in Portuguese Africa in 1962 by the Portuguese Ministry of the Overseas Provinces headed by Adriano Moreira - the Estudos Gerais Universitários de Angola in Portuguese Angola and the Estudos Gerais Universitários de Moçambique in Portuguese Mozambique - awarding a wide range of degrees from engineering to medicine.[29] In the 1960s, the Portuguese mainland had four public universities, two of them in Lisbon (which compares with the 14 Portuguese public universities today). In 1968, the Estudos Gerais Universitários de Angola was renamed Universidade de Luanda (University of Luanda).


From the 1940s onward, city and town expansion and modernization included the construction of several sports facilities for football, rink hockey, basketball, volleyball, handball, athletics, gymnastics and swimming. Several sports clubs were founded across the entire territory, among them were some of the largest and oldest sports organizations of Angola. Several sportsmen, especially football players, that achieved wide notability in Portuguese sports were from Angola. José Águas, Rui Jordão and Jacinto João were examples of that, and excelled in the Portugal national football team. Since the 1960s, with the latest developments on commercial aviation, the highest ranked football teams of Angola and the other African overseas provinces of Portugal, started to compete in the Taça de Portugal (the Portuguese Cup). Other facilities and organizations for swimming, nautical sports, tennis and wild hunting became widespread. Beginning in the 1950s, motorsport was introduced to Angola. Sport races were organized in cities like Nova Lisboa, Benguela, Sá da Bandeira and Moçâmedes. The International Nova Lisboa 6 Hours sports car race became noted internationally.[30]

Colonization of Angola

The Portuguese colony of Angola was founded in 1575 with the arrival of Paulo Dias de Novais with a hundred families of colonists and four hundred soldiers. Luanda was granted the status of city in 1605. The fortified Portuguese towns of Luanda (established in 1575 with 400 Portuguese settlers) and Benguela (a fort from 1587, a town from 1617) remained almost continuously in Portuguese hands until the independence of Angola in 1975.


In Portugal, Paulo Dias de Novais secured a grant allowing him to colonize the African country. In exchange for agreeing to raise private funds to finance his expedition, bring Portuguese colonists and build forts in the country, the crown gave him rights to conquer and rule the sections south of the Kwanza River

To the south of the Kingdom of the Kongo, around the river Kwanza, there were various important states, of which the Kingdom of Ndongo -located in the highlands between the Kwanza and Lukala Rivers-, ruled by the Ngola (King), was the most significant.

Dias de Novais arrived in Angola with an armed force and more Jesuit priests. Originally he planned to offer his small force as a mercenary reinforcment to Ndongo and to Kongo for their various wars. After indifferent success, a Portuguese who had long resided in Kongo, Francisco Barbuda, persuaded the king of Ndongo that Portugal intended to take his country over. Acting on this intelligence, the king ordered the Portuguese to be killed and expelled. In 1579 therefore, Ndongo made a sudden and devastating war on the Portuguese (and their many servants and slaves, many of whom were from Kongo) and drove them from Ndongo back to a few holdings in the region around Luanda. The Portuguese were aided in their defense by Kongo, whose king Álvaro I, sent a large army in his support and to attack Ndongo in revenge for the slaughter of Kongo slaves. Although Kongo's army was defeated trying to cross the Bengo River and ran out of supplies, Dias de Novais managed to hold on to Luanda and the small fort of Nzele on the Kwanza River.

From 1575 to 1589 when he died, Dias de Novais sought to recover and expand Portuguese possessions in the Kwanza Valley. He did so largely by making alliances with local rulers who were disaffected with Ndongo rule, notably the ruler (soba) of Muxima. In this effort, Portuguese managed to take over the province of Ilamba located between the Kwanza and Bengo Rivers, and in a hard fought battle in 1582, founded the post at Massangano at the confluence of the Kwanza and Lucala Rivers. Emboldened by victories over Ndongo armies in 1583 and 1585, Dias de Novais' lieutenant Luis Serrão, who took over the colony following Dias de Novais' death in 1589 led an attack on Ndongo's capital at Kabasa. This attack, however, was a spectacular failure, as Ndongo, allied with its neighbor Matamba crushed the Portuguese army and drove it back to Massangano.

The following period was a stalemate, capped by a peace agreement in 1599. Portuguese governors in the interim, finding themselves too weak to attack Ndongo, were content with engaging in political wrangling with the kingdom and with seeking opportunities to use its own political conflicts to their advantage.

King Philip, disappointed with the revenue generated from taxing trade, sent Manuel Cerveira Pereira to Benguela in 1610 to take control of the copper in inner Angola. Philip hoped to construct artillery with Angolan copper and send the artillery to Portuguese-ruled Brazil while selling defeated natives as slaves from the port in Benguela. Francisco Correia da Silva was initially supposed to serve as Portugal's administrator in Angola in 1611, but never assumed the office. Instead, the King appointed Bento Banha Cardoso, a soldier who had served in Angola since 1592, as interim governor. Governor Cardoso's predecessor, Forjaz Pereira, allied with the Imbangala against other native tribes, an alliance that lasted for decades. During Cardoso's tenure, from 1611 to 1619 the Imbangala expanded the Portuguese Empire eastward while providing a reliable, steady source of slaves. The descendants of Imbangala warriors and conquered peoples formed the kingdoms of Kasange and Matamba[1][2]

In 1610, Friar Luis Brandão, the head of Portuguese-run Luanda college, wrote to a Jesuit who questioned the legality of the enslavement of native Angolans, saying, "We have been here ourselves for forty years and there have been many learned men here and in the province of Brazil who never have considered the trade illicit." He further stated that only a small number of Natives may have been enslaved illegally, and that the Portuguese at least converted them to Christianity.[3]

In 1611, the eastern Kongo exported 100,000 meters of cloth to Angola. Traders sold much of the cloth to Europeans.[4]

Angola exported slaves at a rate of 10,000 per year in 1612.[5]

The Portuguese built a new port in Benguela in 1616 to expand Portugal's access to Angolan slaves.[6]

In 1618 the Portuguese built Fortaleza São Pedro da Barra fortress, followed by the Fortaleza de São Miguel fortress in 1634. Luanda was Portuguese Angola's administrative centre from 1627, with one exception.

At the time of the arrival of the Portuguese, Ngola Kiluange was in power, and by maintaining a policy of alliances with neighbouring states, managed to hold out against the foreigners for several decades. Eventually he was beheaded in Luanda.

Years later, the Ndongo rose to prominence again when Jinga Mbandi, known as Queen Jinga, took power. A wily politician, she kept the Portuguese in check with carefully prepared agreements. After undertaking various journeys she succeeded in 1635 in forming a grand coalition with the states of Matamba and Ndongo, Kongo, Kasanje, Dembos and Kissamas. At the head of this formidable alliance, she forced the Portuguese to retreat. Fitful negotiations followed, and in 1639 Njinga concluded a peace with Portugal. At the same time Portugal established diplomatic relations with Kasanje, the Imbangala band that occupied the Kwango River valley south of Njinga's domains in Matamba.

Following a peace treaty in 1657, she became a very pious Christian, according to the Capuchin witnesses Gaeta and Cavazzi.


  • 1. Joseph C. Miller, Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730-1830, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988
  • 2. Medieval Africa, 1250-1800 (pp174) By Roland Anthony Oliver, Anthony Atmore
  • 3. René Pélissier, Les guerres grises. Résistance et revoltes en Angola (1845-1941), Montamets/Orgeval: Editora do autor, 1977
  • 4. [1] More Power to the People, 2006.
  • 5. [2], British Broadcasting Company, January 2008.BBC News
  • 6. (Portuguese) António Pires Nunes, Angola Vitória Militar no Leste
  • 7. António Pires Nunes, Angola, 1966-74: vitória militar no leste, ISBN: 9728563787, 9789728563783, Publisher: Prefácio, 2002
  • 8. John A. Marcum, The Angolan Revolution, vol. II, Exile Politics and Guerrilla Warfare (1962-1976), Cambridge/Mass. & London, MIT Press, 1978
  • 9. a b Angola, History, The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2007, Columbia University Press
  • 10. (Portuguese) Cronologia: Movimento dos capitães, Centro de Documentação 25 de Abril, University of Coimbra
  • 11. (Portuguese) Arquivo Electrónico: Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, Centro de Documentação 25 de Abril, University of Coimbra
  • 12. (Portuguese) A Guerra Colonial na Guine/Bissau (07 de 07), Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho on the Decree Law, RTP 2 television, youtube.com.
  • 13. Dismantling the Portuguese Empire, Time Magazine (Monday, July 07, 1975) NB: The figures in this source are too high, as the total number of whites in the colonies did not reach 700,000.
  • 14. Angola antes da Guerra, a film of Luanda, Portuguese Angola (before 1975), youtube.com
  • 15. LuandaAnosOuro.wmv, a film of Luanda, Portuguese Angola (before 1975), youtube.com
  • 16. BenguelaAnosOuro.wmv, a film of Benguela, Overseas Province of Angola, before 1975.
  • 17. NovaLisboaAnosOuro.wmv, a film of Nova Lisboa, Overseas Province of Angola, before 1975.
  • 18. LobitoAnosOuro.wmv, a film of the Lobito in Portuguese Angola, before independence from Portugal.
  • 19. SáDaBandeiraAnosOuro.wmv, a film of Sá da Bandeira, Overseas Province of Angola, before 1975.
  • 20. MalanjeAnosOuro.wmv, a film of Malanje, Overseas Province of Angola (before 1975).
  • 21. (Portuguese) Angola de outros tempos Moçamedes, Moçâmedes under Portuguese rule before 1975, youtube.com
  • 22. Angola-Carmona (Viagem ao Passado)-Kandando Angola, a film of Carmona, Portuguese Angola (before 1975).
  • 23. CabindaAnosOuro.wmv, a film of Cabinda, Portuguese Angola (before 1975).
  • 24. a b c History of Angola, Republic of Angola Embassy in the United Kingdom
  • 25. (Portuguese) Angola - Moçâmedes, minha terra, eu te vi crescer... (Raul Ferreira Trindade), history of Moçâmedes/Namibe
  • 26. (Portuguese) Angola de outros tempos Moçamedes, Moçâmedes under Portuguese rule before 1975, youtube.com
  • 27. Louise Redvers, POVERTY-ANGOLA: NGOs Sceptical of Govt’s Rural Development Plans, [Inter Press Service News Agency] (June 6, 2009)
  • 28. a b c d e f g h Warner, Rachel. "Conditions before Independence". A Country Study: Angola (Thomas Collelo, editor). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (February 1989). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.[3]
  • 29. (Portuguese) 52. UNIVERSIDADE DE LUANDA
  • 30. 6h Huambo 1973, Nova Lisboa Internacional Sports Race

  • 1. Heywood, Linda Marinda; John Kelly Thornton (2007). Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the Foundation of the Americas, 1585. p. 114.
  • 2. Chasteen, John Charles; James A Wood (2004). Problems in Modern Latin American History. p. 56.
  • 3. Alden, Dauril (1996). The Making of an Enterprise. p. 510.
  • 4. Thornton, John (1998). Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800. p. 49.
  • 5. Stearns, Peter N.; William Leonard Langer (2001). The Encyclopedia of World History. p. 394.
  • 6. Newitt, Malyn D. D. (2005). A History of Portuguese Overseas Expansion, 1400-1668. p. 170.

    This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Portuguese Angola" and "Colonization of Angola", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.