Recently, Angola has revived its strong African stature which its ancient kingdoms previously held. The colonised past casts no shadow over Angola, with reformation and new beginnings the sole focus.
Based in south-western Africa, Angola derives its name from the Kimbundu word for king. The country borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Namibia from north to south in the east, whilst also boasting a thousand miles long coastline looking out to the Atlantic in the west. The terrain is varied across the country. It ranges from coastal, tropic beaches to Sub-Saharan desert, all intersected by a complex system of winding rivers. Overall, Angola’s landmass amounts to 480,000 square miles, inhabited by over thirty million people, who mostly speak Portuguese. On the north-west coast is the Angolan capital and port city, Luanda. Recent times have seen Luanda soar to wealth, undergoing a renaissance period of progressive prosperity. Luanda is fast becoming a hub for expat travel, encompassing an environment accommodative of serviced apartment living.
Angola has undoubtedly had a turbulent past. Once a hub for prominent African kingdoms and culture, belonging to the likes of the Kongo and Ndongo, Angola fell victim to colonisation. From the fifteenth century onwards, the Portuguese cast a shadow over the land. They established trading ports and managed the migration of Angolan slaves. Unsurprisingly, the natives were never really impressed with their colonisers, and uprisings became gradually more and more frequent through and beyond World Wars One and Two. The Portuguese resisted granting independence until 1975, leaving Angolan’s to deal with leftover problems. Beset by trouble and difficulty, Angola entered a civil war. Peace was not then truly fulfilled until a final peace accord was signed in 2002. Amity stands to this day, leaving national prosperity and economic progression on the near horizon.
Angola’s fast-growing economy is impressive considering the country’s troubled past. History has been long-forgotten, considering Angola has reported annual average GDP growth of just under ten per cent since the turn of the new millennium. The country’s economy now ranks as the third largest in sub-Saharan Africa. It is important to remember that this is fairly dependent on oil prices. Oil production contributes to around fifty per cent of the GDP and more than ninety per cent of the country export revenue. Moving away from oil dependency has been at the forefront of economic ambition though, supported by stronger performances in agricultural and energy industries, as well as ongoing implementations of diversification-related reforms.
Home to one of Africa’s largest consumer markets and an abundance of natural resources, Angola has untapped business potential. The government is attempting to promote its capacity, highlighting movements towards an open-market economy and approving new private investment and antitrust laws. Entry into the Angolan market is set to become increasingly more open and relaxed. Gaining membership into the World Trade Organization (WTO) also shows intentions of overseas cooperation and obliging foreign relations. Infrastructural projects are also underway, aiming to ease the movements of expats conducting business and staying in Angolan city apartments.
To name a few, Brazilian, Chinese, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, South African, Spanish and Swiss residents are all eligible to enter with just their passports. Otherwise, citizens of the EU, US, Australia and Canada can submit documentation online in advance of travel, granting a pre-approval within 72 hours, that will allow visitors to receive their physical visa upon entry. Of course, visa requirements are diverse across all continents. Therefore, it is worth contacting the national embassy for more information in advance.
Travel and living in Angola often gets a bad rap. Like anywhere overseas, it is always important to keep your wits about you, and Angola is no different. Disrespectful acts could include photographing significant buildings or drinking alcohol freely in public. Trusting you avoid these discourteous acts and respect local customs and religions, there is no reason why a trip to Angola could not be hassle-free. It is recommended though that you always have your passport to hand and consider researching attitudes towards potentially controversial matters before travelling, e.g. homosexuality.
Car hire is a popular alternative to public transport for expats. Driving allows travellers the best chance to navigate city traffic and explore the more untouched locations of Angola. Key to driving here though is to expect the unexpected. For instance, prepare for wandering livestock or sudden change in weather impacting driving conditions. For certain though, all drivers in Angola will require insurance, a driving permit and a valid license. Alternatively, for extra travel ease, travellers could hire an accompanying driver with their car, or rely on numerous taxi operators. These are valid alternatives, considering those who may have concerns over their travel routes and navigation.
Angola’s tourist attractions help attract around 800,000 international travellers and corporates to the country every year. The number of arrivals should increase more, particularly in the capital, Luanda. Particularly popular is the Ilha de Luanda, a spit off the city’s shore. The beach is a tropical playground, surrounded by an expensive yachting lifestyle, fabulous restaurants and a bustling nightlife. The area boasts a luxurious vibe, so make sure you exchange enough of the national currency, the Angolan Kwanza (AOA), to fund your fun. For exchange rates on the Kwanza, visit www.xe.com. Visitors also have every opportunity to learn more about the capital’s past, thanks to a handful of enlightening museums. Whether you visit the Museum of Armed Forces, the Museu Nacional de História or the Museu de Moeda, learning about Luanda’s past is never too far from your corporate accommodation.
Of course, there is more to Angola than its capital. Beyond there are numerous national parks and stunning waterfalls to see. These include the coastal savannah Quiçama National Park along the coast, Ruacanna Falls in the south, Kalandula Falls up north and Cameia National Park in eastern Angola. These destinations all have their own distinctive qualities, accommodating for a range of explorers of Angola. Worth mentioning too is the Zambezi, the fourth-longest river in Africa. People of the Zambezi Valley are dependent on the river’s agriculture, and its beauty attracts a good flow of tourists into the area. Clearly, greenery and wildlife are valuable assets of Angola. They can all be on your doorstep when staying in an Angola serviced apartment.
There is perhaps no better time to travel to Angola, for business or leisure. Modern-day Angola is full of beauty and business opportunity, making the country a top African destination for expats.
Based in the south of Angola’s capital, Luanda, the country’s main and only international airport is named after an important national holiday (February 4th).
Currently under construction in Luanda, set to replace Quatro de Fevereiro, is the new Angola International Airport. The opening has been delayed but is planned for the near future. It will be vital as an alternative gateway to Angola and its capital.
Following the destruction of civil war, Angola’s railways were restored in 2015. Now, there are three railway lines which connect passengers from inner Angola to the Atlantic coast in the west. These railways, functioning in order from the north to south of Angola are Luanda Railway, the Benguela Railway and the Moçâmedes Railway.
The three ticket classes to choose from are the Primeira, Expresso and Tramway, ranking in order priciest to cheapest. There are now also railway connections between Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Development of Angolan bus services are underway, but routes do run through major cities such as Luanda, for reasonable fares.