Luanda | Bengo | Benguela | Cabinda | Kuanza Sul | Namibe | Huíla | Zaire | Uíge | Huambo | Kuanza Norte | Kuando Kubango | Bíe | Lunda Sul | Lunda Norte | Malange | Moxico | Cunene |


Luanda is the capital city of the Republic of Angola. The climate is tropical, with two seasons: the rainy season between January and May and September to December and the dry season between June and August. The average temperature is 25° C. It has an area of 2,257 Km2, where is 1% of the national territory and is 60 metres above sea level.

Two great rivers cross the province of Angola, the River Bengo in the north and the Kwanza, which gave the national currency of Angola its name. These rivers


flow into the Atlantic and have flooded plains at their mouths. The population of the city is estimated at 4 million people, according to non-official data. There are 9 municipalities: Sambizanga, Rangel, Kilamba, Kiaxi, Maianga, Samba, Viana, Cacuaco, Cazenga, and Ingombota.

The great influx of people coming from the countryside during the war, in search of security, saw a huge increase in the population in the city´s suburbs, which are very different from the centre itself. Now, some people are beginning to return to their homes, taking up agriculture as a means of earning a living.

THE ISLAND - Luanda during the day is mostly a working city. However, the Atlantic Coast is showing progressively signs of the past: there is a lot of fish, the level of iodine favours sunbathing, the sand is white and the water is warm. Besides this, some esplanades complete the pleasure. At the end of the day again in the Island, one should not lose the sunset really outstanding. The "Trapalhões" should also be visited for being a real African shopping centre and for its most popular and charismatic restaurant in the city.

Its inhabitants are called Axiluanda (people from Luanda). The Axiluanda consider themselves as pure “caluandas” since the rest of the population is “caluanda” of other origins.

They are fishermen and keep a strong cultural identity that becomes evident in big cultural shows like Carnival or their day-to-day life.




The capital was previously known as São Paulo de Loanda. It was founded by captain Paulo Dias on 25th January, 1575, who disembarked on Ilha do Cabo (Cape Is1e) and found a great number ofloca1 people, among whom he set up the first Portuguese colony, which numbered 700 peop1e.

The following year, recognising that the Isle did not offer the best conditions to use as a base for conquering territory, he moved to the mainland, founding São Paulo de Loanda, 1aying the first stone of the Church of São Sebastião, where the Armed Forces Museum is situated today. Thirty years later, with the influx of the Europeans and the subsequent construction works, the town of São Paulo de

Loanda began to look like a city, stretching from the suburb of São Miguel to the Hospital Maria Pia. The most famous buildings are the Enninda de Nazaré, the Churches of Carmo and Cerca, the Govemment Palace, the Customs House and the Hospital Maria Pia, among others. The mixture of these old and modern buildings gives the city special characteristic.

INTRODUCTION TO LUANDA OF TODAY - One should not forget that Luanda went through several critical situations in the last two decades such as urban war, the migration of technicians, the invasion of the city by rural population and the consequent collapse of infrastructures. Today Luanda is recovering quite well and the first buildings post independence built with every detail, are finally in the market.

HOTELS, RESTAURANTS AND NIGHT LIFE - Luanda has a group of quite good hotels. Here are the best: Meridien Presidente, Tivoli, Tropico (Esta), Continental, Panorama and Costa do Sol. A strong cooking tradition, great number of good cookers, good variety and quality of fish and shellfish, good meat, strong spices and a lot of restaurants make of Luanda a place where eating is a pleasure.

One should try some restaurants such as Farol Velho, Bordão, Roger’s Grill and Cafago in the Island; “Chinese” in Chicala; Clube dos Empresários, Pinto’s, Zero and Tamarindo in Downtown; Cine Loanda, a little further and Arco-Iris in front the quay to Mussulo. There are also the hotels’ good restaurants such as the Presidente, Tivoli, Tropico and Continental.

Night Life was always intense in Luanda. Today that tendency becomes stronger: discos, nightclubs, American bars, pubs, esplanades, etc… New projects became real every month. The beat of the music, the sensuality of the dance, the temperature of the air, the good shellfish, the cold drink together with the experts on having fun give to the nights of Luanda a very special strength. Everything shows that at last in times of peace, Luanda is preparing to be in the continent the Queen of Night.

WALKING, CURIOSITIES AND SPORTS - Walking through Downtown takes us to travel through the city’s history, there where everything began. Besides the mentioned monuments, there is also the National Bank of Angola building – the most amazing example of colonial arquitecture.

In front of it, the splendorous bay and the island. Going to the crafts work market in Benfica is the best opportunity to buy quality items of many origins.

There are several African markets in Luanda of which Roque Santeiro is the biggest of Angola and even one

of the biggest of all Africa: there at open sky everything is sold and everything can be bought. Tennis day and night at Coqueiros, golf near Morro dos Veados and horse riding at Barra do Kwanza road – km 17. Water sports facilities are available at Mussulo.

CARNIVAL - The written proof of the tradition of dancing Carnival in Luanda is dated from the middle of last Century but perhaps a bit older.Carnival as an European origin and ended up taking root in the Caluanda customs and is today the most important cultural event. There is a parade in Marginal avenue that is the official climax of Carnival. The groups are mainly formed in neighbourhoods outside the city according to a certain territory criteria. The most famous groups love “semba or varina” and are basically Axiluanda. One can say that “musseque” makes Carnival in the streets. During 3 or 4 days Luanda lives to the rhythm of Carnival and nothing more. The city climate changes with so many people in the streets at unusual hours and there are may squares with loose music and dances and parties through the yards.

MEANS OF TRANSPORT - The 4 de Fevereiro airport dominates all the air traffic, very intense since all inter-regions circulation of cargo and passengers is still made by air. Now, it is easy and cheap to travel in Angola if logistic is good. The rental of little planes, cargos and helis is also made without great difficulties. One must pay attention to the lack of official individual taxis as well as rent-a-car desks airport. There are some rent-a-car operators, Avis and Equador being the best. One advises a previous reservation since the number of cars is inferior than demand. One also advises the foreign citizen to travel with a driver that knows well the tricks of the city avoiding big losses of time. It is interesting to refer the popular taxi – the Candongueiro – where you pay always the same wherever you go. In fact, many kinds of vehicles are used for this purposal that appeared in time of crisis – a popular solution for the problem of transportation. As far as the harbour of Luanda is concerned, it is going through a plan of reorientation since facilities are being improved and operative efficacy has increased.

Carrying credentials from King D. Sebastião, Paulo Dias de Novais landed at the island of Luanda on 20 February 1575, in command of a fleet of seven ships carrying a hundred families of colonists and 400 soldiers.

The island was actually called Loanda, meaning'flat land' ; it had no mountains, but was composed of sand that shifted in the grip of the tides and the flow of the river Cuanza.There were some libatas - native villages - in the area, which was ruled by a governor (a subject of the King of Congo) who administered justice and oversaw the collection of zimbros, the cowrie shells that were the principal currency of the kingdom of the Congo.

The following year Novais moved to the mainland opposite the island and established the settlement that was to become São Paulo.What attracted Novais to the area was the prospect of controlling the legendary silver mines of Cambambe.

He had a shelteres port in an excellent spot very close to the river Cuanza, the route to the mines.

Whem the dream of silver was over, the place became the departure point of the Kuata! Kuata! wars to capture slaves and the assembly and loading point for the slave ships bound for Brazil.

The Cathedral was construsted in 1583, followed ten years later by the Jesuit Church and in 1604 by the Monastery of São José. In 1605, the Governor, Manuel Cerveira Pereira, conferred the status of city on the settlement of São Paulo, making Luanda the first city to be founded by Europeans on the west coast of sub-Saharan Africa.

Between 1641 and 1648, the city was occupied by the Dutch, from whom it was retaken by troops commanded by Salvador Correa de Sá on 15 August 1648, the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin. Henceforth the city was known as São Paulo da Assunção, the name being changed from São Paulo de Loanda by Correa de Sá to avoid the unfortunate similarity to the name of Holland.

On 6 August 1650, the Senate of the Council Chamber granted a large area of territory to Salvador Correa de Sá in recognition of his military achievements. Work began on laying out the lower part of the city, where the present Cathedral was built in the following year.

The importance of the Luanda-Baia route has led some historians to call the seventeenth century "the cycle of Brazil"; the supply of slaves to the Brazilian plantations was the main reason for the connection. A harsh climate, a poorly designed city; and an ill-assorted population chiefly made of up criminals and degenerates, all made the city unattractive to European settlers.

There was an enormous disparity between sexes, which led to the most racially mixed society in the whole of Africa, a blend of races, customs and cultures that gave the city's population a unique character that has survived and strengthened over the years.

This character is strong enough to impose itself even on outsiders.

By the end of the seventeenth century, Luanda was a small town made up of an upper part, the Cidade Alta where colonial power, the Church, and the bourgeoisie were based, and a lower zone which began in the present-day district of Coqueiros, where a population of ruffians and traders lived mainly from the slave trade. Power and wealth were measured chiefly by numbers of slaves;  a petit bourgeois owned on average fifty shaves, while the aristocracy would frequently have several thousand.

During the governorship of Sousa Coutinho, appointed by the Marquis of Pombal, Luanda's first streets were built, with the two halves of the city finally being linked by paved roads in 1779. In the same period the city saw several large constructions: the Terreiro Público (Public Square), the Customs House, the Wharf, the first Hall of Geometry, and others. Luanda's water supply has been the city's greatest problem since the beginnings of its history.

The first large-scale project was conceived in 1645 by the Dutch, who planned to construct a canal from the river Cuanza to the city. Luanda was supplied mainly by wells such as the 'Maianga Wells', and by water barrels transported by sea from the river Bengo.

Problems with the water supply seriously affected the city's prospects for development; in February 1886 Pinheiro Chagas, Minister of the Crown, stated that "Luanda is still dying of thirst between two rivers, whose waters could have ong ago been pouring along the streets of the state capital".

Finally, on 2 March 1889, 313 years after the city's foundation, Governor-General Brito Capelo opened the sluice-gates and allowed the water of the Bengo to flow along an aqueduct to Luanda.

The population of Luanda was chiefly concentrated between the sea and the Cidade Alta. Its roads were of sand, without pavements were carried by slaves, who frequently stopped in the middle of road to rest. This situation continued right up to the end of the nineteenth century, when the city's streets were finally paved. "All those with discerning judgement note the improvements that have been carried out. Two years ago there were but two public carriages, while now there are many more, for the animals that pulled them used to die of exhaustion on the sandy tracks. This improvement is a result of the great steps taken by the Council Chamber to pave all the streets, squares and lanes. Today we no longer find so many palanquin -carriers lying on the road, as they used to do ono the pleasantly soft sand; now the surface is harder and less comfortable, and the greater number of carriages increases the risk of their being run over"

The unique characteristics of Luanda compared to other African cities led to the bestowal of such epithets as "The Paris of Africa", as it was affectionately called in the 1872 Report of the National Ultramarine Bank, and "Capital of the Ultramarine Princess", as it was known locally in the eighteenth century.

The city's coastal setting, its bay and spectacular views aroused great plans for the capital's development. It had an irregular topography, predominantly of red sand (the musseques) that crumbled into unstable gullies. Large-scale infrastructural work was required to support the considerable development being planned for the city. Nevertheless, streets and neighbourhoods sprang up without the slightest overall plan or geometric design. The resulting difficulties were such that it was impossible to find a contractor able to get a  suitable transport system working in Luanda.

In 1891, together with the last of the palanquins and a number of animal-drawn carts, there was just one "Ripert carriage" that plied betweem the high and te low parts of the city every three hours.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, as the slave trade diminished, there was a significant increase in other trade. In the 1851 Customs records for exports, a great variety of products can be seen: cotton, ginguba oil, palm oil, coffee, lime, wax, leather, copal, cassava flour, and others. After the abolition of slavery, the clusters of native huts on the musseques (red sands) underwent considerable development. They grew without any urban planning and without a trace of infrastructure. In them, negroes from the interior came together with those forced out of the center of the city, which was increasingly being taken over by the ruling classes.

Within a few years, the musseques constituted a city of blacks inside the city of the whites. Popular culture, traditions and values were maintained and thrived there, rapidly leading to the awakenig of a nationalist spirit and the creation of various associations that later became part of the emancipation movement. The foundations of independence were laid in the musseques. At the turn of the century, Luanda was experiencing a new dynamism. New transport links with the interior appeared, by road and rail, that led to increases in trade and exports and the establishment of new factories.

Luanda had become an important commercial hub and the main urban centre of a thriving colony. The end of the slave trade and the introduction of a well-designed education system, without significant discrimination, brougth its inhabitants closer together. A new mentality began to emerge.

In the twentieth century, with developments in education and the later establishment of the Salvador Correia High School, the first of its King in Angola, there was a period of considerable cultural mixing between Europeans, their African-born descendants, and native black Africans. All of them , without discrimination, now had access to the best jobs, those in public administration. The rise of important local families, who still today occupy the highest places in society, occurred at that time. From 1950 onwards, the city grew with astonishing rapidity. The population of the Luanda municipality soon reached 200.000, of whom 70% were black.

Many new districts appeared, including Vila Clotilde, Vila Alice, Praia do Bispo, Miramar, and Quinaxixi, among many others. Civil construction increased apace. From 2700 buildings registered in 1940, the total ten years later reached 7500. The Fundo dos Bairros Operários (Working-Class Neighbourhoods Fund) was established, and new neighbourhoods appeared in the suburbs.

The rise in coffee prices was the main reason for this spectacular development. The highest priority was now given to settling more Portuguese nationals in the colony. In 1970 there were two whites in Luanda to erery five blacks. After the beginning of the armed liberation struggle in 1961, the colonial government found itself compelled to encourage rapid and effective economic growth, by offering substantial incentives to industry. Between 1950 and 1970 more than 1100 new industrial units were set up, 80% of them in the 1960s. Most of thehotels now to be found were built in this period, the biggest - such as the Trópico, the Presidente, the Panorama and the Costa do Sol - during the 1970s.