Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/50

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

of hills almost bare of vegetation between Benguella and Mossamedes. Nepheline basalts and liparites occur at Dombe Grande. The presence of gum copal in considerable quantities in the superficial rocks is characteristic of certain regions.

Climate.—With the exception of the district of Mossamedes, the coast plains are unsuited to Europeans. In the interior, above 3300 ft., the temperature and rainfall, together with malaria, decrease. The plateau climate is healthy and invigorating. The mean annual temperature at São Salvador do Congo is 72·5° F.; at Loanda, 74·3°; and at Caconda, 67·2°. The climate is greatly influenced by the prevailing winds, which are W., S.W. and S.S.W. Two seasons are distinguished—the cool, from June to September; and the rainy, from October to May. The heaviest rainfall occurs in April, and is accompanied by violent storms.

Flora and Fauna.—Both flora and fauna are those characteristic of the greater part of tropical Africa. As far south as Benguella the coast region is rich in oil-palms and mangroves. In the northern part of the province are dense forests. In the south towards the Kunene are regions of dense thorn scrub. Rubber vines and trees are abundant, but in some districts their number has been considerably reduced by the ruthless methods adopted by native collectors of rubber. The species most common are various root rubbers, notably the Carpodinus chylorrhiza. This species and other varieties of carpodinus are very widely distributed. Landolphias are also found. The coffee, cotton and Guinea pepper plants are indigenous, and the tobacco plant flourishes in several districts. Among the trees are several which yield excellent timber, such as the tacula (Pterocarpus tinctorius), which grows to an immense size, its wood being blood-red in colour, and the Angola mahogany. The bark of the musuemba (Albizzia coriaria) is largely used in the tanning of leather. The mulundo bears a fruit about the size of a cricket ball covered with a hard green shell and containing scarlet pips like a pomegranate. The fauna includes the lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, buffalo, zebra, kudu and many other kinds of antelope, wild pig, ostrich and crocodile. Among fish are the barbel, bream and African yellow fish.

Inhabitants.—The great majority of the inhabitants are of Bantu-Negro stock with some admixture in the Congo district with the pure negro type. In the south-east are various tribes of Bushmen. The best-known of the Bantu-Negro tribes are the Ba-Kongo (Ba-Fiot), who dwell chiefly in the north, and the Abunda (Mbunda, Ba-Bundo), who occupy the central part of the province, which takes its name from the Ngola tribe of Abunda. Another of these tribes, the Bangala, living on the west bank of the upper Kwango, must not be confounded with the Bangala of the middle Congo. In the Abunda is a considerable strain of Portuguese blood. The Ba-Lunda inhabit the Lunda district. Along the upper Kunene and in other districts of the plateau are settlements of Boers, the Boer population being about 2000. In the coast towns the majority of the white inhabitants are Portuguese. The Mushi-Kongo and other divisions of the Ba-Kongo retain curious traces of the Christianity professed by them in the 16th and 17th centuries and possibly later. Crucifixes are used as potent fetish charms or as symbols of power passing down from chief to chief; whilst every native has a “Santu” or Christian name and is dubbed dom or dona. Fetishism is the prevailing religion throughout the province. The dwelling-places of the natives are usually small huts of the simplest construction, used chiefly as sleeping apartments; the day is spent in an open space in front of the hut protected from the sun by a roof of palm or other leaves.

Chief Towns.—The chief towns are São Paulo de Loanda, the capital, Kabinda, Benguella and Mossamedes (q.v.). Lobito, a little north of Benguella, is a town which dates from 1905 and owes its existence to the bay of the same name having been chosen as the sea terminus of a railway to the far interior. Noki is on the southern bank of the Congo at the head of navigation from the sea, and close to the Congo Free State frontier. It is available for ships of large tonnage, and through it passes the Portuguese portion of the trade of the lower Congo. Ambriz—the only seaport of consequence in the Congo district of the province—is at the mouth of the Loje river, about 70 m. N. of Loanda. Novo Redondo and Egito are small ports between Loanda and Benguella. Port Alexander is in the district of Mossamedes and S. of the town of that name.

In the interior Humpata, about 95 m. from Mossamedes, is the chief centre of the Boer settlers; otherwise there are none but native towns containing from 1000 to 3000 inhabitants and often enclosed by a ring of sycamore trees. Ambaca and Malanje are the chief places in the fertile agricultural district of the middle Kwanza, S.E. of Loanda, with which they are in railway communication. São Salvador (pop. 1500) is the name given by the Portuguese to Bonza Congo, the chief town of the “kingdom of Congo.” It stands 1840 ft. above sea-level and is about 160 m. inland and 100 S.E. of the river port of Noki, in 6° 15' S. Of the cathedral and other stone buildings erected in the 16th century, there exist but scanty ruins. The city walls were destroyed in the closing years of the 19th century and the stone used to build government offices. There is a fort, built about 1850, and a small military force is at the disposal of the Portuguese resident. Bembe and Encoje are smaller towns in the Congo district south of São Salvador. Bihe, the capital of the plateau district of the same name forming the hinterland of Benguella, is a large caravan centre. Kangomba, the residence of the king of Bihe, is a large town. Caconda is in the hill country S.E. of Benguella.

Agriculture and Trade.—Angola is rich in both agricultural and mineral resources. Amongst the cultivated products are mealies and manioc, the sugar-cane and cotton, coffee and tobacco plants. The chief exports are coffee, rubber, wax, palm kernels and palm-oil, cattle and hides and dried or salt fish. Gold dust, cotton, ivory and gum are also exported. The chief imports are food-stuffs, cotton and woollen goods and hardware. Considerable quantities of coal come from South Wales. Oxen, introduced from Europe and from South Africa, flourish. There are sugar factories, where rum is also distilled and a few other manufactures, but the prosperity of the province depends on the “jungle” products obtained through the natives and from the plantations owned by Portuguese and worked by indentured labour, the labourers being generally “recruited” from the far interior. The trade of the province, which had grown from about £800,000 in 1870 to about £3,000,000 in 1905, is largely with Portugal and in Portuguese bottoms. Between 1893 and 1904 the percentage of Portuguese as compared with foreign goods entering the province increased from 43 to 201 %, a result due to the preferential duties in force.

The minerals found include thick beds of copper at Bembe, and deposits on the M'Brije and the Cuvo and in various places in the southern part of the province; iron at Ociras (on the Lucalla affluent of the Kwanza) and in Bailundo; petroleum and asphalt in Dande and Quinzao; gold in Lombije and Cassinga; and mineral salt in Quissama. The native blacksmiths are held in great repute.

Communications.—There is a regular steamship communication between Portugal, England and Germany, and Loanda, which port is within sixteen days' steam of Lisbon. There is also a regular service between Cape Town, Lobito and Lisbon and Southampton. The Portuguese line is subsidized by the government. The railway from Loanda to Ambaca and Malanje is known as the Royal Trans-African railway. It is of metre gauge, was begun in 1887 and is some 300 m. long. It was intended to carry the line across the continent to Mozambique, but when the line reached Ambaca (225 m.) in 1894 that scheme was abandoned. The railway had created a record in being the most expensive built in tropical Africa—£8942 per mile. A railway from Lobito Bay, 25 m. N. of Benguella, begun in 1904, runs towards the Congo-Rhodesia frontier. It is of standard African gauge (3 ft. 6 in.) and is worked by an English company. It is intended to serve the Katanga copper mines. Besides these two main railways, there are other short lines linking the seaports to their hinterland. Apart from the railways,