Name derived by the Portuguese from the title "ngola" held by kings of the Ndongo kingdom in what is now northern Angola.

Year:  2017

Area: 1,246,700 sq km

Population: 20,172,332 -- 59th in World

Flag: Two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and black with a centered yellow emblem consisting of a five-pointed star within half a cogwheel crossed by a machete (in the style of a hammer and sickle); red represents liberty, black the African continent, the symbols characterize workers and peasants.

In 1482, when the Portuguese first landed in what is now northern Angola, they encountered the Kingdom of the Kongo. Mbanza Kongo, the capital, had a population of 50,000 people. South of this kingdom were various important states, of which the Kingdom of Ndongo, ruled by the ngola (king), was most significant. Modern Angola derives its name from the king of Ndongo.

The Portuguese took control of the coastal strip throughout the 16th century by a series of treaties and wars. The Dutch occupied Luanda from 1641-48, providing a boost for anti-Portuguese states. In 1648, Brazilian-based Portuguese forces re-took Luanda and initiated a process of military conquest of the Congo and Ndongo states that ended with Portuguese victory in 1671. Full Portuguese administrative control of the interior did not occur until the beginning of the 20th century.

Portugal's primary interest in Angola quickly turned to slavery. The slaving system began in the  early 16th century with the purchase from African chiefs of people to work on sugar plantations in São Tomé and Príncipe, and Brazil. Many scholars agree that by the 19th century, Angola was the largest source of slaves not only for Brazil but also for the Americas, including the United States.

By the end of the 19th century, a massive forced labor system had replaced formal slavery and would continue until outlawed in 1961. It was this forced labor that provided the basis for development of a plantation economy and, by the mid-20th century, a major mining sector.

Colonial economic development did not translate into social development for native Angolans. The Portuguese regime encouraged white immigration, especially after 1950, which intensified racial antagonisms. As decolonization progressed elsewhere in Africa, Portugal, under the Salazar and Caetano dictatorships, rejected independence and treated its African colonies as overseas provinces.

In the 1960s, three independence movements emerged to fight the Portuguese, Movimento Popular da Libertação de Angola (MPLA), Frente Nacional para a Libertação de Angola (FNLA), and União Nacional para a Indepêndencia Total de Angola (UNITA). A 1974 coup d'etat in Portugal established a military government that promptly ended the war and agreed, in the Alvor Accords, to hand over power to a coalition of the three movements. The ideological differences between the three movements eventually led to armed conflict, with FNLA and UNITA forces, encouraged by their respective international supporters, attempting to wrest control of Luanda from the MPLA.

The intervention of troops from South Africa on behalf of UNITA and Zaire on behalf of the FNLA in September and October, 1975, and the MPLA's importation of Cuban troops in November effectively internationalized the conflict.

Retaining control of Luanda, the coastal strip, and increasingly lucrative oil fields in Cabinda, the MPLA declared independence on November 11, 1975, the day the Portuguese abandoned the capital.

UNITA and the FNLA formed a rival coalition government based in the interior city of Huambo. Agostinho Neto became the first president of the MPLA government that was recognized by the United Nations in 1976. Upon Neto's death from cancer in 1979, then-Planning Minister José Eduardo dos Santos ascended to the presidency and has remained ever since.

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