1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Angola
ANGOLA, the general name of the Portuguese possessions on the west coast of Africa south of the equator. With the exception of the enclave of Kabinda (q.v.) the province lies wholly south of the river Congo. Bounded on the W. by the Atlantic Ocean, it extends along the coast from the southern bank of the Congo (6° S., 12° E.) to the mouth of the Kunene river (17° 18′ S., 11° 50′ E.). The coast-line is some 900 m. long. On the north the Congo forms for 80 m. the boundary separating Angola from the Congo Free State. The frontier thence (in 5° 52′, S.) goes due east to the Kwango river. The eastern boundary—dividing the Portuguese possessions from the Congo State and Barotseland (N.W. Rhodesia)—is a highly irregular line. On the south Angola borders German South-West Africa, the frontier being drawn somewhat S. of the 17th degree of S. latitude. The area of the province is about 480,000 sq. m. The population is estimated (1906) at 4,119,000.
The name Angola (a Portuguese corruption of the Bantu word Ngola) is sometimes confined to the 105 m. of coast, with its hinterland, between the mouths of the rivers Dande and Kwanza, forming the central portion of the Portuguese dominions in West Africa; in a looser manner Angola is used to designate all the western coast of Africa south of the Congo in the possession of Portugal; but the name is now officially applied to the whole of the province. Angola is divided into five districts: four on the coast, the fifth, Lunda, wholly inland, being the N.E. part of the province. Lunda is part of the old Bantu kingdom of Muata Yanvo, divided by international agreement between Portugal and the Congo Free State.
The coast divisions of Angola are Congo on the N. (from the river Congo to the river Loje), corresponding roughly with the limits of the “kingdom of Congo” (see History below); Loanda, which includes Angola in the most restricted sense mentioned above; Benguella and Mossamedes to the south. Mossamedes is again divided into two portions—the coast region and the hinterland, known as Huilla.
Physical Features.—The coast is for the most part flat, with occasional low cliffs and bluffs of red sandstone. There is but one deep inlet of the sea—Great Fish Bay (or Bahia dos Tigres), a little north of the Portuguese-German frontier. Farther north are Port Alexander, Little Fish Bay and Lobito Bay, while shallower bays are numerous. Lobito Bay has water sufficient to allow large ships to unload close inshore. The coast plain extends inland for a distance varying from 30 to 100 m. This region is in general sparsely watered and somewhat sterile. The approach to the great central plateau of Africa is marked by a series of irregular terraces. This intermediate mountain belt is covered with luxuriant vegetation. Water is fairly abundant, though in the dry season obtainable only by digging in the sandy beds of the rivers. The plateau has an altitude ranging from 4000 to 6000 ft. It consists of well-watered, wide, rolling plains, and low hills with scanty vegetation. In the east the tableland falls away to the basins of the Congo and Zambezi, to the south it merges into a barren sandy desert. A large number of rivers make their way westward to the sea; they rise, mostly, in the mountain belt, and are unimportant, the only two of any size being the Kwanza and the Kunene, separately noticed. The mountain chains which form the edge of the plateau, or diversify its surface, run generally parallel to the coast, as Tala Mugongo (4400 ft.), Chella and Vissecua (5250 ft. to 6500 ft.). In the district of Benguella are the highest points of the province, viz. Loviti (7780 ft.), in 12° 5′ S., and Mt. Elonga (7550 ft.). South of the Kwanza is the volcanic mountain Caculo-Cabaza (3300 ft.). From the tableland the Kwango and many other streams flow north to join the Kasai (one of the largest affluents of the Congo), which in its upper course forms for fully 300 m. the boundary between Angola and the Congo State. In the south-east part of the province the rivers belong either to the Zambezi system, or, like the Okavango, drain to Lake Ngami.
Geology.—The rock formations of Angola are met with in three distinct regions: (1) the littoral zone, (2) the median zone formed by a series of hills more or less parallel with the coast, (3) the central plateau. The central plateau consists of ancient crystalline rocks with granites overlain by unfossiliferous sandstones and conglomerates considered to be of Palaeozoic age. The outcrops are largely hidden under laterite. The median zone is composed largely of crystalline rocks with granites and some Palaeozoic unfossiliferous rocks. The littoral zone contains the only fossiliferous strata. These are of Tertiary and Cretaceous ages, the latter rocks resting on a reddish sandstone of older date. The Cretaceous rocks of the Dombe Grande region (near Benguella) are of Albian age and belong to the Acanthoceras mamillari zone. The beds containing Schloenbachia inflata are referable to the Gault. Rocks of Tertiary age are met with at Dombe Grande, Mossamedes and near Loanda. The sandstones with gypsum, copper and sulphur of Dombe are doubtfully considered to be of Triassic age. Recent eruptive rocks, mainly basalts, form a line 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, communication is by ancient caravan routes and by ox-wagon tracks in the southern district. Riding-oxen are also used. The province is well supplied with telegraphic communication and is connected with Europe by submarine cables.
Government and Revenue.—The administration of the province is carried on under a governor-general, resident at Loanda, who acts under the direction of the ministry of the colonies at Lisbon. At the head of each district is a local governor. Legislative powers, save those delegated to the governor-general, are exercised by the home government. Revenue is raised chiefly from customs, excise duties and direct taxation. The revenue (in 1904-1905 about £350,000) is generally insufficient to meet expenditure (in 1904-1905 over £490,000)—the balance being met by a grant from the mother country. Part of the extra expenditure is, however, on railways and other reproductive works.
History.—The Portuguese established themselves on the west coast of Africa towards the close of the 15th century. The river Congo was discovered by Diogo Cam or Cão in 1482. He erected a stone pillar at the mouth of the river, which accordingly took the title of Rio de Padrão, and established friendly relations with the natives, who reported that the country was subject to a great monarch, Mwani Congo or lord of Congo, resident at Bonza Congo. The Portuguese were not long in making themselves influential in the country. Gonçalo de Sousa was dispatched on a formal embassy in 1490; and the first missionaries entered the country in his train. The king was soon afterwards baptized and Christianity was nominally established as the national religion. In 1534 a cathedral was founded at Bonza Congo (renamed São Salvador), and in 1560 the Jesuits arrived with Paulo Diaz de Novaes. Of the prosperity of the country the Portuguese have left the most glowing and indeed incredible accounts. It was, however, about this time ravaged by cannibal invaders (Bangala) from the interior, and Portuguese influence gradually declined. The attention of the Portuguese was, moreover, now turned more particularly to the southern districts of Angola. In 1627 the bishop's seat was removed to São Paulo de Loanda and São Salvador declined in importance. In the 18th century, in spite of hindrances from Holland and France, steps were taken towards re-establishing Portuguese authority in the northern regions; in 1758 a settlement was formed at Encoje; from 1784 to 1789 the Portuguese carried on a war against the natives of Mussolo (the district immediately south of Ambriz); in 1791 they built a fort at Quincollo on the Loje, and for a time they worked the mines of Bembe. Until, however, the “scramble for Africa” began in 1884, they possessed no fort or settlement on the coast to the north of Ambriz, which was first occupied in 1855. At São Salvador, however, the Portuguese continued to exercise influence. The last of the native princes who had real authority was a potentate known as Dom Pedro V. He was placed on the throne in 1855 with the help of a Portuguese force, and reigned over thirty years. In 1888 a Portuguese resident was stationed at Salvador, and the kings of Congo became pensioners of the government.
Angola proper, and the whole coast-line of what now constitutes the province of that name, was discovered by Diogo Cam during 1482 and the three following years. The first governor sent to Angola was Paulo Diaz, a grandson of Bartholomew Diaz, who reduced to submission the region south of the Kwanza nearly as far as Benguella. The city of Loanda was founded in 1576, Benguella in 1617. From that date the sovereignty of Portugal over the coast-line, from its present southern limit as far north as Ambriz (7° 50' S.) has been undisputed save between 1640 and 1648, during which time the Dutch attempted to expel the Portuguese and held possession of the ports. Whilst the economic development of the country was not entirely neglected and many useful food products were introduced, the prosperity of the province was very largely dependent on the slave trade with Brazil, which was not legally abolished until 1830 and in fact continued for many years subsequently.
In 1884 Great Britain, which up to that time had steadily 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 in England and Germany, was not ratified. Agreements concluded with the Congo Free State, Germany and France in 1885-1886 (modified in details by subsequent arrangements) fixed the limits of the province, except in the S.E., where the frontier between Barotseland (N.W. Rhodesia) and Angola was determined by an Anglo-Portuguese agreement of 1891 and the arbitration award of the king of Italy in 1905 (see Africa: History). Up to the end of the 19th century the hold of Portugal over the interior of the province was slight, though its influence extended to the Congo and Zambezi basins. The abolition of the external slave trade proved very injurious to the trade of the seaports, but from 1860 onward the agricultural resources of the country were developed with increasing energy, a work in which Brazilian merchants took the lead. After the definite partition of Africa among the European powers, Portugal applied herself with some seriousness to exploit Angola and her other African possessions. Nevertheless, in comparison with its natural wealth the development of the country has been slow. Slavery and the slave trade continued to flourish in the interior in the early years of the 20th century, despite the prohibitions of the Portuguese government. The extension of authority over the inland tribes proceeded very slowly and was not accomplished without occasional reverses. Thus in September 1904 a Portuguese column lost over 300 men killed, including 114 Europeans, in an encounter with the Kunahamas on the Kunene, not far from the German frontier. The Kunahamas are a wild, raiding tribe and were probably largely influenced by the revolt of their southern neighbours, the Hereros, against the Germans. In 1905 and again in 1907 there was renewed fighting in the same region.