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Cabinda has been a City since 28th May, 1956. It is 209 m above sea level. The people are of Bakongo origin, composed by the following ethnic groups: Bawoyo, Bacongo, Babaling, Bassundi, Bavili and Bacotche. Cabinda has an area of 7.270 km2, and has four municipalities: Cabinda, Cacongo, Buco-Zau and Belize.

It has an equatorial climate, the average temperature being 25ºC, with an altitude of 209 metres. The mainstay of the province's income is oil and timber.

History - The enclave’s relationship with foreign powers in the 19th century informs much of the current dialogue with central authority in Luanda.

Cabinda gets its name from Mafu-Kabinda, a prosperous trader who represented the interests of the Kongo Kingdom many centuries ago in the area north of the month of the River Congo.

According to local legend, Cabinda gained some autonomy from the Kingdom during a turbulent period in the history of the royal family.

A powerful Bakongo queen, Muam Poenha, angered the king and was therefore expelled from the court at M’Banza Kongo. She fled with her triplets to the kingdom’s Ngoio principality, and married a local nobleman. When he had calmed down, the Kongo king divided up part of his territory between the triplets, and one of these areas, Ngoio, later became Cabinda.

In the 15TH century, the Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão arrived in Ngoio (Cabinda). The Portuguese king, João II, ordered him to mark Portugal’s presence by erecting a large stone monument on the territory. Diogo Cão exchanged gifts with the Kongo King, and the trust that grew between the two men allowed for the development of a strong trading relationship, the principal commodity being slaves.

Cabinda became one of the most important trading stations on the West African coast with slaves being brought from the interior, loaded onto Portuguese vessels and carried across the Atlantic to Europe, Brazil and São Tomé.

European documents surviving from the 16Th and 17Th centuries refer to a thriving port near the mouth of the River Congo, named variously as Cabinda, Cabenda, Kapinda or Kabinda.

Relations between the Portuguese and the Bakongo of Cabinda remained strong for many centuries. In 1758, King Mambuco Puna formalized this relationship by issuing a royal decree declaring that Portugal had exclusive trading rights in the area, banning all other foreigners from conducting commercial activities in Cabinda. The decree stated that the only foreign power recognized by the Kongo King was that of Portugal.

By this period, the British and French had also established trading stations in Cabinda, and British naval ships were anchored at the port. King Mambuco Puna issued an ultimatum to the British, demanding the withdrawal of the battleships because he said he did not recognize them. In turn, the British refused to accept that Portugal had exclusive trading rights in the area. However, Britain began to change its policy towards Portugal once the real scramble for Africa began. Other European powers started to stake claims in the area where the River Congo met the Atlantic ocean, alarming those who already established profitable bases in the region.

Ironically, it was an Englishman with a close relationship to King Leopold II of Belgium who caused great trouble for the Britsh and their territorial ambitions in Africa. He was Henry Morton Stanley, a flamboyant adventurer who made the treacherous journey up from the month of the River Congo to Stanley Pool deep inland, signing treaties with the native population on behalf of the Belgian King. France was also making similar inroads into the heart of Africa. Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza made a similar journey to that of Stanley, travelling inland along the Congo River and founding the town of Brazzaville in what is now Congo-Brazzaville. This not only alarmed Portugal and Britain but also Stanley and the Belgians because de Brazza had planted the French flag just across the river from where the Belgians had staked a claim to Leopoldville, which was to become their future colonial capital.

Britain decided the only way to deal with the French and the Belgians was to strike a deal with Portugal. In 1884, the two countries signed the Treaty of Zaire in London, which recognized Portuguese sovereignty over Cabinda but granted Britain certain privileges in the territory. This angered other European powers anxious for a piece of the African pie, prompting Prince Otto von Bismarck of Germany to hold a conference in Berlin to carve up Africa. Portugal lost out during the Berlin Conference of 1884. The enclave of Cabinda was all that was left of their territorial claims north of the River Congo.

The people of Cabinda were greatly alarmed by the Conference of Berlin, realizing that their future was being decided without any local consultation. In 1885, Cabindan dignitaries assembled in Simulambucco, and prepared a petition requesting Portuguese protection, but insisting upon their territorial integrity and demanding that the authority of regional chiefs be maintained.

In 1887, João de Brissac das Neves Ferreira was installed as the first Portuguese governor in Cabinda. The territory was governed as a separate colony until 1956 when it was incorporated into Angola. From that time on, it came under the direct authority of the Portuguese Governor General of Angola. 

Useful Information
Police: Tel.: (031) 23795
Fire and Ambulance Service:
Tel.: (031) 22333
Central Hospital: Tel.: (031) 24716
TAAG: Tel.: (031) 22400
Porto Tel.: (031) 224464
Angola Telecom: Tel.: (031) 23000

How to get There
By air

Sal, TAAG and Air Gemini, among other companies, fly to Cabinda, whose airport has the second largest runway in Angola, allowing large as well as small planes to land there.

By sea
Through the commercial port of Cabinda.


CABINDA OIL - Block Buster

Cabinda’s Block Zero is one of the World’s most lucrative oil fields, although new offshore discoveries elsewhere are diminishing its net contribution to Angola’s oil production. Cabinda is the goose that laid the golden egg for Angola. The tiny enclave, which is entirely separate from the rest of Angola in geographical terms, seems at times to exist solely for the purpose of producing oil. Angola’s Oil Minister Jose Botelho Vasconcelos stresses how essential Cabinda is for the country’s overall economy, pointing out that the province contributes the majority of the oil revenues that currently make up 42 percent of the gross national product, and 90 percent of the state budget.

In production terms, Cabinda generates about 60 percent of the country’s oil. However, major new deep-sea discoveries off the provinces of Zaire and Luanda mean that, in terms of oil, Cabinda is no longer the only jewel in Angola’s crown. Indeed, with so much attention currently focused on the giant Dahlia and Girasol oil fields in block 17 Cabinda has somewhat faded from the limelight. Still, some of Angola’s most productive oil fields today lie in Block Zero and Block 14 during the late 1990s, the most sensational being the vast Kuito oil field, as well as other large deposits named Benguela, Belize and Landana. Kuito started producing oil in the last quarter of 1999, and by the following year, 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) were being pumped from the field. Block 14 is operated by Chevron Texaco, with a 31 percent interest, through its local subsidiary Cabinda Gulf Oil Company or Cabgoc. The rest of the consortium comprises state oil company Sonangol with 20 percent; Italy’s Agip and TotalFinaElf also have 20 percent; and Petrogal brings up the rear with 9 percent.

However, Cabinda’s other main offshore deposit, Block Zero, is the bedrock of Angola’s petroleum industry. It has been operational for over two decades, and has served as the main supplier of oil to the country. Block Zero’s numerous oil fields are of excellent quality, and it is for this that they are most famous. The enormous block has been divided into three areas, each one subdivided into many different oil fields named after small towns in Cabinda. Original concession rights to Block Zero were granted in 1957, and exploration began soon afterwards. In 1962, large quantities of oil were found in shallow waters, just 10-25 yards from what was then the village of Malembo on the Cabindan coast. Production started in 1968, and since then Block Zero established a single day production record of 510,451 barrels.

The government now reinvests 10 percent of Cabinda’s oil revenues back into the province, and living standards are improving.

Again, Chevron Texaco is the lead operator with a 39,2 percent share; Sonangol has 41 percent; TotalFinaElf has 10 percent; and Agip 9,8 percent. This partnership ratio has existed since the early 1990s. Sonangol previously had a51 percent stake in Block Zero, but sold 10 percent of its share to Elf Acquitaine before the national elections of 1992. Sonangol did not consult Cabgoc about this sale, which resulted in some tension between the two companies.

Inevitably, Chevron Texaco has been deeply influential in the development of the province although the company’s operational base at Malongo terminal is a world apart from the rest of the province. Guarded by private security companies, Malongo is completely sealed off from Cabinda proper. Apart from the oil storage depots and a small topping-type refinery, the complex serves as a residential area for Chevron’s expatriate employees, and most consumable items, including water, are flown in from overseas.

Most of Cabgoc’s expatriate workers, the majority of whom are Americans, have a limited exposure to the real Cabinda. They work according to a five-week-in, five-week-out schedule, leaving Malongo in buses, flying out of the local airport to Luanda, then on the U.S. Last year, the Angolan national airline, TAAG, started a weekly direct fly from Luanda to Houston, an indication of just how close the two petroleum universes have become. Cabinda’s former Governor Amaro Tati is keen to encourage expatriates to stay in Cabinda. “If we had better hotels and other facilities to offer them, I’m sure they wouldn’t spend 35 days working in Malongo and 35 days back home in the U.S,” he says, adding that they have renovated at least one hotel recently. Most local staff does not live within the Malongo settlement, however, and there is some resentment about the differences in living standards. There is also resentment from Cabindans who do not have jobs with Cabgoc. Complaints about oil spills have come from abindan fisherman, who has demanded compensation from  Cabgoc. In general, though, the relationship between Cabgoc and the Cabindan population is nowhere near as tense as in Nigeria, where oil facilities are frequently destroyed by local communities who feel they have been robbed of the natural wealth of their land.

In order to minimize tensions with the local community in Cabinda, chevron has recently contributed to local social development projects. As Amaro Tati explains, “ Together with Chevron we have started to build schools in Luani and Bulo, and low income housing in Miconje.” Cabinda’s education system is, by Angolan standards, fairly advanced, as it already has some degree of tertiary education. This is a result of being the richest province in Angola, as locals enjoy the concrete benefits of the ten percent of oil revenues remitted to the province.


Quite apart from its oil wealth, Cabinda has one of the largest primal rainforests in Africa 

Even before oil was discovered in Cabinda, Portuguese traders and colonialists referred to the area as Porto Rico, or “the Rich Port”, because of its wealth of natural resources. Cabinda was fertile, its vast rainforest could supply rare tropical hardwoods, and the area was rich in gold, diamonds, uranium and phosphates. Cabinda was also called Porto Rico because it was one of the main slave trading ports on Africa’s Atlantic coast. It was a perfect base from which Portuguese and other European traders could access lucrative markets deep in the interior of the continent.

Post-slaves and pre-oil, Cabinda’s economy was based on coffee, cocoa and timber. Coffee and cocoa are still produced in small quantities, as are other agricultural products. If military insecurity could be reduced, and if more investment was forthcoming, Cabinda could feed not only itself but also supply fresh produce to the Cabogc oil complex at Malongo. However, Cabindan farmers lack the financial support to rehabilitate their farms and plantations. According to recent figures issued by the Cabinda branch of Angola’s National Coffee Institute, 15 tons of coffee were produced in 2001, way below the estimated production figure of 500 tons. Mismanagement and war damage were cited as reasons for the pure harvest.

Cabinda’s most impressive natural resource is the Maiombe rainforest, described by locals as “the vegetable sea” due to its impenetrable canopy of luxuriant green vegetation. The forest covers an enormous area, twice the size of some small African countries. Maiombe is often described as “the Amazon of Africa”, hosting a remarkable variety of plant and animal species. Maiombe is especially famous for its butterflies. There are hundreds of species in the forest, many unique to the area. Prized by collectors, specimens of these butterflies can be found in natural history museums throughout the world. What is most beautiful about Maiombe is that the forest grows right down to the sea, with enormous trees bending into the water, waves lapping the greenery as gorillas and chimpanzees whoop from the high branches. Local children swing out from the forest on huge lianas, leaping off into the blue sea.

However, Maiombe is not just an amazing paradise of animals, birds, insects and vegetation. It also has enormous potential as a supplier of tropical hardwoods. There are many precious woods in the forest, including ebony and rare varieties of mahogany. According to official estimates, the forest supplies over 200,000 meters of timber a year for Angola’s construction industry. Concern has been expressed, that without proper care, Maiombe could fall prey to the same type of environmental degradation that has affected parts of the Amazon. Yet it is inevitable with a country at Angola’s stage of development that environmental concerns play second fiddle to pressing economic needs.

If Cabinda is to diversify its economy and become less dependent on oil, it will need significant investment. As former Governor Amaro Tati says, “Some people believe that the only sector worth investing in is oil in Cabinda. But this is not true. We have timber resources and other construction materials. We also have fertile land. Cabinda has so much untapped wealth that it resembles an uncut diamond”.


Nature Reserves
Forest Reserve of Kakongo (Maiombe)
This covers an area of 650 km2 and is flanked to the north by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the east by the River Luali, to the west by the River Inhuca and to the south by the junction of the Rivers Inhuca and Luali.

Forest of Maiombe
The great forest of Maiombe - covering 290,000 hectares, its almost impenetrable forests luxuriant in their rich tones of green. There are some trees 50 metres high and precious woods, such as: Pau Preto (Black wood), Ébono, Sandalo Africano (African sandal ebony), Pau Raro (Rare wood) and Pau Ferro (Iron wood). There is fauna as well as flora in this forest, for example: gorillas, chimpanzees and elephants and an infinity of bird species, some of which are rare and ornamental.

Pântano de Lândana (Lândana Swamp)
This swamp has many types of water birds, being a "Sanctuary" for pelicans and flamingos.

You can navigate along the River Chiloango up to a certain point with small boats. Other important rivers are the Luango, Lucala e Lulondo, Fubo, Nhama, Luali, Lucola.

Water Sports
The lovely beaches of, 10 de Maio Lândana, Malembo, Chinga, Fútila, Melembo, Man. darin Cabassango, Capelo, offer various types of water sports for the tourist to practice.

Main tourist attractions
The Ruins of the Old "Sé Episcopal" (Bishop's Cathedral) XVIth century. Historic areas of Mbanza Congo. The Church of Lândana was built at the beginning of the XXth Century next to the Catholic Mission at Vila (Town) de Lândana.

Cultural tourism
Like the other provinces in the country, Cabinda has some historic sites which were built by the Portuguese colonial power, among which are the People's Palace (Palácio do Povo), the Technical Health School "Former Prison" (Antiga Prisão), the wooden Evangelical Church of Angola, the building built in the Dutch style, now the Sagrada Esperança School, the Provincial Museum of Cabinda, Pedra Grossa, the present-day provincial delegation of the Ministry of Culture.

Religious architecture
If the tourist is interested in religious buildings, the Church of S. Tiago in Lândana is a must. It is next to the catholic Mission. Other important buildings are the Church of Nossa Senhora Rainha do Mundo, in largo P. Bengue and the Immaculate Conception Church (Igreja da Imaculada Conceição), next to the Cabinda Catholic Mission, the Mboca Church, next to the Evangelical Mission of Cabinda and the S. António Church next to the Belize Mission.

Among the Kikongo and Congo peoples who live in Cabinda, there is a wealth of wonderful works of sculpture, in wood, stone and ivory and there are works of great perfection in weaving, using rafia, fibre from the ananaseiro leaf and others.

Scuplture is a frequent decorative feature on tombs, some of these being monumental, making them an interesting tourist attraction, a good example being the tombs of the Kings of Cabinda. The tourist can choose among a great number of artifacts made of iron, ivory or wood (Câmbala, black or white Undianuni). 

Where to stay

Rua Dr. Agostinho Neto; Tel.: (031) 22594

Rua das Mangueiras; Tel.: (031) 24687

Rua irmão Evaristo; Tel.: (031) 22088 – 222705

Bairro Simulambuco; Tel.: (091) 542669


Where to eat

Feira de Popular

Bairro Lombo; Tel.: (031) 22887

Fútiza; Tel.: (031) 235000

B. Amilcar Cabral. 44; Te!.: (031) 22910


CABINDA SOCIETY - Languages Matters 
Be careful what you call people in Cabinda

Some Cabindans complain when people call them fiote, a word that means “black” in the local language. Still, this how most Angolans and old Cabindans continue to refer to people in the language of the province. Cabindan’s younger generation, however, prefers to call themselves and their language Ibinda. The word fiote was first used to describe Cabindans many centuries ago, when Portuguese adventures first arrived in the area. At that time, about seven local dialects were spoken but the Portuguese failed to understand any of them, referring to all of the dialects as fiote because they were the languages spoken by black people.

Another reason why Cabindans do not like being called fiote is that the word was used by the Portuguese to describe everything that was inferior – a bad road would be called a fiote road and bad food would be called fiote food. Today, only one language is spoken in Cabinda – Ibinda – and it was strong links with the Kikongo language, which was widely spoken throughout the region when it was part of the Kongo Kingdom.

However, hardline Cabindan separatists do not see themselves as having any links with the Kikongos, preferring to protect their identity and their culture by presenting themselves as something entirely different. In reality, the language they speak is closely related to Bantu dialects, one of which is kikongo. Society in Cabinda is very hierarchical, based on structures inherited from the Kongo Kingdom. Leaders of liberation movements in the enclave, including Franques, Punas and Mingas come from the Cabindan elite. However, modern Cabindan society is a rich blend of local cultures. Originally a strategic part of the ancient realm of Kongo, Cabindans have since been influenced by populations moving to the area from Congo-Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The borders between Cabinda and the local populations do not really take much notice of them.

Many Cabindans have also moved out of their territory. During colonial times, Cabindans migrated to Pointe Noire, Brazzaville and Kinshasa – towns that were attractive because they were in independent neighbouring countries. Congo Leopoldville (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) became independent in 1960; Congo Brazzaville followed shortly afterwards in 1964.

Due to the population movements, Cabindan society developed into an interesting mix of the modern and the traditional.

To this day, Cabindans still practise Bantu rituals such as initiation ceremonies. The most famous of these is the casa de tinta where young girls are locked in a house for several days, where they are taught the secrets of marital life by older women.

The bodies of the girls are painted whilst they are inside the house. When they emerge from their seclusion, a big festival is held and the initiation is concluded. Shortly after this time, the girls are expected to get married. Christianity has been a central part of Cabindan culture for many centuries, but the people maintain strong animist beliefs. They believe in the spirit world, worshipping deities from the Maiombe forest. Local music, generally played with marimbas and drums, imitates the sounds of forest. Modern music has been influenced by the rhythms of the Congo, especially soukous.

Angolan semba music plays second place. In Cabinda, one is much more likely to hear the sounds of Sam Mangwana, Franco, Tabuley Rochereau and Mbilia Bel than Bonga or other Angolan musicians. If Cabinda cannot get political independence, they will at least listen to music of their own choosing.

Capital: Cabinda; Area: 7.270 sq. km; Population: 100.000 inhab.;City Councils; 4: Cabinda, Cacongo, Buco-Zau, Beliza; Climate: equatorial; Main Products: Agricultural: Coffee, cocoa, palms, mandioc, corn; minerals: petroleum, phosphates, uranium, gold, potassium; others: precious woods.