Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Angola

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ANGOLA, a name that is employed to designate at least three different, although partly coincident, portions of the west coast of Africa. It is often applied to the whole coast-line, from Cape Lopez de Gonsalvo, in lat. 44 S., to St Felipe de Benguela, in 12 24 S.; the Portuguese consider that the entire country lying between the Zaire or Congo and lat. 18 S., and stretching for a considerable but somewhat indefinite distance into the interior, over which they assert that their authority extends, ought to be called Angola ; lastly, the name is by most British geographers and travellers applied to that part of the preceding territory which lies between 8 20 and 9 30 S., and which nearly corresponds to the Portuguese sub-government of Angola. The natives, whose practice seems to harmonise with the third of these applications of the word, also call the country Dongo. With the exception of a flat, sandy, barren plain, that extends from the coast for a considerable distance inland, Angola, using the word in its most restricted sense, is mountainous and well- watered. Its chief rivers are the Coanza, which bounds it on the north, the Danda, which bounds it on the south, and the Benga. Most of the country is very fertile, pro ducing palms, citrons, oranges, lemons, bananas, tamarinds, mangroves, and sugar canes in great abundance. Nor is the fauna less extensive ; all the animals common in inter- tropical Africa are found in Angola, as well as some peculiar to the district ; while the sheep, the cow, and the horse have been imported from Europe. Of its mineral productions, lead, sulphur, petroleum, and iron are plenti ful ; and gold, silver, and copper are said to exist in the interior. Gum, wax, and ivory, are now the most im portant articles of trade ; but formerly the principal traffic was in slaves. The heat is usually moderate, and the climate comparatively mild and salubrious. The religion of the natives of Angola is Fetichism ; they believe implicitly in their priests, who pretend to bestow rain, favourable winds, and other blessings upon those Avho have propitiated them by liberal gifts. In criminal cases much use is made of what our ancestors called " the judgments of God." The accused is made to swallow poison, to take in his hand burning coals, or to undergo tests of a similar nature, and, unless he escapes unhurt from these trials, is pronounced guilty; of course the priests contrive that those whom they wish to absolve should suffer no harm. The native huts are formed merely of straw or dried leafy plants, in tertwisted upon a framework of stakes ; containing no aperture for the admission of light, they form not so much dwelling-houses, as dens for sleeping in, while the tenants spend the day and receive company in an open space in front that is covered with a slight roof. The population of Angola is estimated at about 250,000, of whom about 2000 are Europeans. Angola was discovered by the Portuguese under Diego Cam in 1484; and since that time, with the exception of a short period, from 1G40 to 1G48, during which the Dutch attempted to expel them, they have maintained their possession of the country undis turbed by other European powers. It cannot be said, how ever, that they have done much during this long rule either to develop the resources of the country or to improve the condition of its people ; and, while they permitted an active slave trade to be carried on, their influence must have been much more injurious than beneficial. St Paul de Loando, at which the governor resides, is the chief town. They possess a few forts in the interior, but over the greater part of the country their authority is hardly felt.