Tuesday, 13 March 2018
ANGOLA: Luanda Is Paris of Africa But Do Not Give Beggars Money, Illegal To Carry Kwanza To Airport,Don't Go Out At Night Alone,
In recent history, the center of decades of conflict, the start of the 21st century has seen a massive boom in construction in Luanda, where peace and stability have attracted numerous foreign companies to invest in offices in the city.
The government of Angola, getting rich off revenue from oil, diamond, and other natural resources, is also investing heavily in and around Luanda.
This including large social housing high rises to replace slums and existing dilapidated and often bullet-ridden highrises.
Extensive repaving; the construction of several six-lane highways leading out of the city; the reconstruction of railroad lines leading out of the city.
A large new airport currently being constructed outside of town projected to open in 2019.
Luanda, formerly named Sao Paulo da Assunçao de Loanda, is the capital and largest city in Angola, and the country's most populous and important city, primary port and major industrial, cultural and urban centre.
Located on Angola's coast with the Atlantic Ocean, Luanda is both Angola's chief seaport and its administrative centre.
It is also the capital city of Luanda Province, and the world's third most populous Portuguese-speaking city, behind only Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, both in Brazil.
Luanda is the most populous Portuguese-speaking capital city in the world, ahead of Brasilia, Maputo and Lisbon.
The city is currently undergoing a major reconstruction, with many large developments taking place that will alter its cityscape significantly.
Luanda was founded in 1575 under the name Sao Paulo de Loanda by a hundred families of settlers and four hundred soldiers.
Two forts were constructed in the early 17th century and the city became Portuguese Angola's administrative center in 1627. From the late 16th century until 1836, Luanda was port where nearly all slaves bound for Brazil left.
Aside from a brief period of Dutch rule (1640-48), this time period was relatively uneventful, with Luanda growing much like many other colonial cities.
Lunda grew with a strong Brazilian influence as a result of the extensive shipping trade between these Portuguese colonies.
With the independence of Brazil in 1822 and the end of slavery in 1836 left Luanda's future looking bleak, but the opening of the city's port to foreign ships in 1844 led the a great economic boom.
By 1850, the city was arguably the most developed and one of the greatest cities in the Portuguese empire outside Portugal itself and fueled by trade in palm and peanut oil, wax, copal, timber, ivory, cotton, coffee, and cocoa.
Post-emancipation resisted by the Portuguese but enforced by the British forced labour began. Numerous imported crops grew well in the surrounding area to support residents, such as maize, tobacco, and cassava.
In 1889, an aqueduct opened, supplying fresh water and removing the only inhibitor to growth in the city.
The city blossomed even during the Portuguese Colonial War (1961-74), which did not affect the city, and this modern city was even labeled the Paris of Africa in 1972.
After so much success, the city took a turn for the worse in the mid-1970s. While largely untouched during the Carnation Revolution or Angolan independence.
The start of the Angolan Civil War in 1975 scared almost all Angola's population of Portuguese descent out of the country as refugees including the majority of Luanda's population.
This led to an immediate crisis as Angola's African population knew little about how to run or maintain the city.
They were helped a little by skilled Cuban soldiers who were able to help the MPLA government maintain some of the city's basic services.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled fighting in the countryside created slums stretching for miles on all sides of the city.
The city saw some sporadic fighting during the Civil War which left bullet holes in many highrises and government buildings. When peace was reached in 2002, the government began planning to rebuild using oil revenues.
Today Luanda's skyline is dotted with cranes, erecting numerous social housing highrises to replace slums and existing, but grossly dilapidated, 40-plus year old highrises as well as offices for numerous foreign companies operating in Angola.
Just South of Luanda in an area aptly called Luanda Sul, Western-standard housing, many compound style, is being built for the growing expat community.
Major improvements are being made to roads, highways, and the rail system in and around the city but there is yet an overwhelming amount of work to be done.
While certainly still home to a large impoverished population (59%), free housing and the creation of thousands of new jobs each year means that Luanda may in years to come have a bright future ahead.
The climate is largely influenced by the offshore Benguela current. The current gives the city a surprisingly low humidity despite its low latitude, which makes the warmer months considerably more bearable than similar cities in Western/Central Africa.
The city receives an average of 323mm (12.7in) of rain a year, mostly in March and April and no rain from June through October.
However, this is quite variable depending on the strength of the current and the coefficient of variation is 40% there can be a sixfold difference between rain received in the driest of years and wettest of years.
The temperatures are fairly stable year-round, with the coldest months being July (24 max/19 min)and August and the warmest months being January (31 max/25 min) to April.
Luanda is divided into 10 municipalities: Ingombota, Maianga, Sambizanga (centre), Samba, Rangel, Cazenga, (middle ring), Cacuaco, Viana and Kilamba Kiaxi, as well as the municipality of Belas (periphery).
In the center which is Ingombotas and Maianga the oldest colonial town is divided in Baixa de Luanda or lower Luanda, from the port to the fortress, Cidade Alta or upper city, where the presidential palace is.
Ilha do Cabo the peninsula surrounding the bay, with beaches and expensive night-clubs, bars and restaurants.
Behind and above the historic center, central bairros include Maianga and Alvalade (residential) and Miramar (embassies), as well as Kinaxixe and Maculusso, which are characterized by Portuguese apartment blocks.
Further outside the center, the neighborhoods become more informal with self-construction, dotted with 1970s Cuban apartment blocks and new developments. In the south, luxury gated communities (condominiums) predominate.
Luanda Sul is a satellite city of Luanda. A small stream flows in southern Luanda Sul, starting near the Quatro de Fevereiro Airport and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. Luanda International School is in Viana.
The inhabitants of Luanda are primarily members of African ethnic groups, mainly Ambundu, Ovimbundu, and Bakongo.
The official and the most widely used language is Portuguese, although several Bantu languages are also used, chiefly Kimbundu, Umbundu, and Kikongo.
There is a sizable minority population of European origin, especially Portuguese about 260,000, as well as Brazilians and other Latin Americans.
Over the last decades, a significant Chinese community has formed, as has a much smaller Vietnamese community.
There is a sprinkling of immigrants from other African countries as well, including a small expatriate South African community. A small number of people of Luanda are of mixed race — European/Portuguese and native African.
In recent years, mainly since the mid-2000s, immigration from Portugal has increased due to Portugal's recession and poor economic situation.
The population of Luanda has grown dramatically in recent years, due in large part to war-time migration to the city, which is safe compared to the rest of the country.
Luanda in 2006 saw an increase in violent crime, particularly in the shanty towns that surround the colonial urban core.
Around one-third of Angolans live in Luanda, 53% of whom live in poverty.
Living conditions in Luanda are poor for most of the people, with essential services such as safe drinking water and electricity still in short supply, and severe shortcomings in traffic conditions.
On the other hand, luxury constructions for the benefit of the wealthy minority are booming. Luanda is one of the world's most expensive cities for resident foreigners.
New import tariffs imposed in March 2014 made Luanda even more expensive. As an example, a half-litre tub of vanilla ice-cream at the supermarket was reported to cost US$31.
The higher import tariffs applied to hundreds of items, from garlic to cars. The stated aim was to try to diversify the heavily oil-dependent economy and nurture farming and industry, sectors which have remained weak.
These tariffs have caused much hardship in a country where the average salary was US$260 in 2010, the latest year for which data was available. However, the average salary in the booming oil industry was over 20 times higher at US$5,400.
Manufacturing includes processed foods, beverages, textiles, cement and other building materials, plastic products, metalware, cigarettes, and shoes/clothes.
Petroleum found in nearby off-shore deposits is refined in the city, although this facility was repeatedly damaged during the Angolan Civil War of 1975–2002.
Luanda has an excellent natural harbour; the chief exports are coffee, cotton, sugar, diamonds, iron, and salt.
The city also has a thriving building industry, an effect of the nationwide economic boom experienced since 2002, when political stability returned with the end of the civil war.
Economic growth is largely supported by oil extraction activities, although massive diversification is taking place.
Large investment, domestic and international, along with strong economic growth, has dramatically increased construction of all economic sectors in the city of Luanda.
In 2007, the first modern shopping mall in Angola was established in the city at Belas Shopping mall.
Luanda is the starting point of the Luanda railway that goes due east to Malanje. The civil war left the railway non-functional, but the railway has been restored up to Dondo and Malanje.
The main airport of Luanda is Quatro de Fevereiro Airport, which is the largest in the country. Currently, a new international airport, Angola International Airport is under construction southeast of the city, a few kilometres from Viana, which was expected to be opened in 2011.
However, as the Angolan government did not continue to make the payments due to the Chinese enterprise in charge of the construction, the firm suspended its work in 2010.
The port of Luanda serves as the largest port of Angola, and connects Angola to the rest of the world. Major expansion of this port is also taking place. In 2014, a new port is being developed at Dande, about 30 km to the north.
Luanda's roads are in a poor state of repair, but are currently undergoing a massive reconstruction process by the government in order to relieve traffic congestion in the city.
Major road repairs can be found taking place in nearly every neighbourhood, including a major 6-lane highway connected Luanda to Viana.
Public transit is provided by the suburban services of the Luanda Railway, by the public company TCUL, and by a large fleet of privately owned collective taxis as white-blue painted minibuses called Candongueiro.
Candongueiros are usually Toyota Hiace vans, that are built to carry 12 people, although the candongueiros usually carry at least 15 people. They charge from 100 to 200 kwanzas per trip.
They are known to disobey traffic rules, for example not stopping at signs and driving over pavements and aisles. Their stop points, known as paragens are often the places cause significant traffic because they often double park.
There is also a private bus company Transportes Urbanos Rodoviarios de Angola - TURA, working routes in Luanda.
The central government supposedly allocates funds to all regions of the country, but the capital region receives the bulk of these funds.
Since the end of the Angolan Civil War (1975–2002), stability has been widespread in the country, and major reconstruction has been going on since 2002 in those parts of the country that were damaged during the civil war.
Luanda has been of major concern because its population had multiplied and had far outgrown the capacity of the city, especially because much of its infrastructure water, electricity, roads etc. had become obsolete and degraded.
Luanda has been undergoing major road reconstruction in the 21st century, and new highways are planned to improve connections to Cacuaco, Viana, Samba, and the new airport.
Major social housing is also being constructed to house those who reside in slums, which dominate the landscape of Luanda. A large Chinese firm has been given a contract to construct the majority of replacement housing in Luanda.
The Angolan minister of health recently stated poverty in Angola will be overcome by an increase in jobs and the housing of every citizen.
Luanda makes widespread use of an unusual variant of the median U-turn type intersection. This eliminates the need for traffic lights and encourages free flow traffic on many main roads around the city.
The intersection operates by not permitting the left turn at intersections. Angola drives on the right.
A driver entering from a minor road wanting to turn left is required to join the main road traffic and proceed a u-turn and then backtrack in the opposite direction and then make a safe right turn.
This arrangement converts a regular arterial road into a low cost Freeway with simple low cost at-grade interchanges.
Collisions typically associated with at-grade intersections are eliminated. There is no crossing of on-coming traffic with this arrangement.
Traffic lights are not required. No stopping or waiting at the intersection.
A free flow of traffic is achieved.
Reduced fuel consumption from vehicles not being required to accelerate away from a red light as well as reduced wear and tear on vehicles.
Minor road traffic cannot directly cross the intersection. It has to join the main route and make a u-turn and return.
Although traffic is free flowing left turn traffic will encounter the inconvenience of additional travel distance sometimes as far as 2.5 km.
The road surface has additional burden of longer travel distances, but has reduced wear at intersection and from braking.
The u-turn is negotiated from the fast inner lane.
Because of regular tight radius median u-turns the traffic speed is less than can be achieved on a regular freeway.
The Government of Angola takes a bold view of property rights and has been known to relocate property owners at short notice, Where the land is required to make space for the bulged u-turns.
It is unclear whether this intersection design has been in use prior or since the civil war.
The Luanda traffic is notoriously congested with gridlock and so arguably this intersection worsens the situation by lengthening the routes.
Despite the city's very low tourist number, it has a surprisingly large number of international connections, which largely service Angolans living abroad such as Brazil.
But mostly in Portugal and the growing number of firms servicing the oil and diamond industries as well as reconstruction done largely by Chinese workers and Brazilian or Portuguese firms.
A couple of carriers still operate routes based on Cold War alliances to Havana & Moscow.
The city is the hub of national carrier TAAG Angola Airlines, one of just three profitable airlines in Sub-Saharan Africa, which offers flights to 15 Angolan cities.
They offer flights to many cities in West-Central/Southern Africa including daily flights to Johannesburg as well as Douala, Cameroon; Sal, Cape Verde; Bangui, CAR; Kinshasa, DRC; Brazzaville & Pointe Noire in the Congo; Windhoek, Namibia.
More to Sao Tome, Sao Tome and Principe; Lusaka, Zambia; Harare, Zimbabwe, Dubai, Beijing (via Dubai), Lisbon, Paris, and trans-Atlantic flights to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Salvador de Bahia in Brazil.
Aside from TAAG, two Angolan airlines Air Gemini & SonAir serve about a dozen airports each around the country.
International service includes flights to/from: Dubai (Emirates),Frankfurt (Lufthansa), London-Heathrow (BA), Paris-de Gaulle (Air France), Windhoek (Air Namibia), Brussels (Brussels Airlines), Havana (Cubana, seasonal), Moscow (Aeroflot), Beijing (Hainan, via Dubai), Addis Ababa (Ethiopian), Lisbon (TAP Portugal).
Delta Air Lines was to commence weekly flights from Atlanta (via Sal) in June 2009, but delayed its large African expansion until 2010 due to the financial crisis.
TAAG was removed from the EU blacklist in July 2009 and is expected to introduce more flights to Europe in the near future specifically London-Gatwick.
The airline had sought to begin a service to Houston, USA when it received new Boeing 777-200ERs in 2006, but was rejected for its poor maintenance and safety record.
When leaving the country do not take any Kwanza to the airport as it is illegal to try to take Kwanza out of the country; you may be stopped by the fiscal police and receive a heavy fine, all your Kwanza taken and most of your other money or imprisoned.
There are a few short passenger lines, but they are not very safe. Angola once had the most extensive rail network in Africa while under colonial rule.
All but a couple short link fell into grave disrepair during the war for independence and civil war.
It is currently undergoing extensive reconstruction and modernization by Chinese firms and should be restored to its former glory in the early 2010s.
The main road for tourists will be the coastal highway leading north to the DRC and South to Namibia. It is very scenic and in reasonably good repair.
Roads are one of the top priorities in reconstruction efforts, including a handful of six-lane highways leading out of the city. Expect a mix of okay pavement on old highways and a smooth ride on new roads.
The National Bus Service has just re-opened but routes are not organized yet. There are some local services in Luanda and in between cities.
As of 2007, there was a ferry operating from Luanda to the Cabinda exclave, useful to avoid a transit of the DRC. It takes 14 hours and costs $180 including a bike, so you may be better off flying.
The government is currently investing in an expansive a bus system and attract Luandans to use it.
A popular means for locals to get around the city is by mini bus taxis or Candongueiros, easily identifiable by their pale blue and white. Although they are considered dangerous by most expats, locals use them on a daily basis.
During the daytime, until around 8PM, they are a safe, convenient, and usually very fast means of transport in the inner-city. Fares are 100 Kwanzas per trip, except in rain or heavy traffic, in which case the fares are doubled.
Consider to use the Macon Taxi a private taxi company around 20 / 30 USD trip.
Eco Tur also do 4x4 / minibus hire and airport transfers with bilingual drivers.
B Home will provide airport pick ups and are available for hire. Home has offices in Luanda, Angola and in Houston, Texas.
A new company Afri-taxi started operations at the beginning of January 2010, in time for the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament. The company has 150 vehicles in Luanda and a rank at the airport.
The roads in Luanda are generally of okay standard, as is the case on the main routes between cities, but elsewhere road quality greatly decreases.
Don't be surprised if you encounter unexpected problems during the rainy season. In Luanda main streets are paved, but streets in the slums are in disrepair, and most roads have no lines or signals.
As mentioned before, there are improvements being made throughout the city. Congestion is a major problem with lack of public transport and the plethora of minibus taxis.
Places to visit
Bahia de Luanda, the beautiful natural harbor Luanda surrounds, as seen from the fort.
Augostinho Neto Mausoleum. Upon arrival in Luanda, it is impossible to miss the towering obelisk-like structure shooting above the rest of the city.
If you're curious to know what it is and why it is there, it's a mausoleum dedicated to Augustinho Neto, the first President of Angola who helped in Angola's struggle for independence.
Fortaleza de Sao Miguel. Built in 1576, it became the administrative center of Luanda during the early part of colonial rule and was a self-contained city for the early military garrison and an important holding place for slaves.
It contains ornate wall tiles detailing the history of the city along with many relics, such as cannons and the original holding cells for slaves.
National Museum of Slavery or Museu Nacional da Escravatura. 9AM to 6PM. Built in the area where the slaves were held prior to being taken off to the Americas.
The museum building is the Capa de Casa Grande, which is where they baptized slaves prior to sending them off to the Americas.
The museum is worth seeing for the chapel itself and the cannons on the outside. In the center of the chapel is a fascinating stone font, but with no description.
There are a few period objects of real interest such as stocks, a whip, shackles, but the framed prints on the walls are mostly copies from published works, with relatively little accompanying information.
On a mid-week visit there was no evidence of any knowledgeable guide, and no one available to turn on the video flatscreen monitor that seems to be part of the exhibit. Still, the high, windswept location at Morro da Cruz is beautiful.
National Museum of Natural History. A museum filled with thousands of species of animals, including fish, birds, crustaceons, and insects. Many of the displayed animals are endangered, and some are even extinct.
The museum does an impecable job of displaying the large amount of diverse organisms that inhabit and once inhabited this nation.
National Museum of Anthropology or Museu Nacional de Antropologia.
Dedicated to educating people about Angolan history and culture, the National Museum of Anthropology features an impressive array of traditional masks along with art, sculptures, tools, weaponry, jewelry, clothing, and musical instruments. Free.
Fortaleza de Sao Pedro da Barra. A fortress that served a variety of purposes throughout its history. It was originally constructed in the 17th century to protect the area from invaders.
When the slave trade began, it was then used as a keep for the slaves until they were ready to send them away.
Throughout Angola's struggle for independence against Portugal from 1961-1975, the fort housed nationalists who were arrested and then forced into labor camps.
Igreja Nossa Senhora do Populo or Igreja da Se. Considered to be the first Anglican Church, it is one of Luanda's most treasured cultural and historical sites. The current structure dates back to 1482.
Aside from its religious significance, the unique Baroque architecture and the lavish interior attract many visitors.
Igreja da Nazare. A church built in 1664. It is famous for its beautiful altar made of Italian rose marble.
Humbi-Humbi Art Gallery.
Drive down the beautiful bay.
Additionally, you MUST try the Benfica market, which sells everything from perfume to ivory to animal skins and tourist guidebooks. Also take the boat out to Mussulo, the best beach in town.
Walk along the Harbour
Angola is known for its Basketball and Football teams. these are the two most played sports in the country. It has had some success as well in the following: Handball, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Karate, indoors Football, Beach Volley.
Some new sports, such as Kite Surfing and Skating have been making an appearance mostly at the Marginal, Ilha de Luanda and Ilha do Mussulo.
Basketball: there are several open air basketball fields for street basketball at the Marginal.
Football: every Sunday / Saturday you'll be very likely to find locals playing on dead end streets at the Baixa de Luanda, just ask around.
Beach Volley Ball: head to Ilha de Luanda
For good BJJ training resources: try the Angolan BJJ Open Forum where you'll find a full directory of schools, Including the Z1 Academy, run by Lucio Lagarto's black belt and World Pro Champ Sergio Vieira Lopes.
Jobs are mainly available in the oil sector, but also in the increasing number of international Angola based companies which are investing in Angola now that peace and stability are offering great development prospects for the country. It started giving life to every body in the country.
Please note that for some crafts you arerequired to buy stamps in order for it to be cleared at customs. This is compulsory, so make sure you ask before you buy.
Local crafts, they are at extraordinary low prices, check out the Benfica HandCrafts Market just south of Luanda.
Doniel Tomas (Constantino), Maianga Luanda.
Belas Shopping. 9AM to 10PM. Opened in 2007, it is Angola's first shopping mall. It features nearly 100 different shops, a movie theater, a variety of restaurants, and a central square for live entertainment.
Feira de Artesanato, Ilha de Luanda, Calçadao Right at the start of Ilha near casa do desportista all day. For hand made crafts make sure to visit the Handmade Craft Fair or Feira de Artesanato the first Saturday of every month. free.
Majority of restaurants are on The Marginal or on Ilha de Luanda, but you can find other very good restaurants all along town. Be careful; when eating out, do not drink tap water, ask for mineral water instead.
For a proper restaurant prices can be relatively high at $20-$40/plate for average quality; however all over Luanda there are also local restaurants which should have a prato do dia or plate of the day ranging from $7-$15.
Otherwise street food like bbq is very affordable at $1-$5/meal and very flavorsome.
Ilha de Luanda, the western sand strip, is where Luanda's elite go to dine and have fun.
The Belas Shopping mall, situated at the Belas residential area, has a food court with a variety of options from local foods to pizza and burgers.
- Panela de Barro
All restaurants at the Chicala side of Ilha de Luanda.
- Chez Wou Chinese
- Macau Chinese
- Kymbu Estrada Pedro Vandunem Loy, Morro Bento. Very 'New Africa' restaurant, recently featured in TAP Airways in-flight magazine.
- Epic Sana Restaurants
- Hotel Tropico Restaurants
- Cais de Quatro
- Espaço Baia.
- Chill Out (Party)
- Miami (Eat)
- Don Quixote (Disco)
Luanda city is largely influenced by Portuguese culture, - Portuguese beer is widely consumed, although Heineken and Carlsberg make an appearance. Super Bock, Sagres, and Cristal is most consumed, are the most consumed beers from Portugal.
Besides, you may find a broad range of local beers such as Nocal, Cuca the most consumed - especially the excellent draught version, or "fino" in Portuguese and Eka.
Surrounding countries also try to find lucrative market, so don't be surprised when other beer brands are served in local restaurants.
Try Portugalia or Portuguese Beer House at the beginning of the Ilha, or either of the two boat clubs just on the Ilha for a nice sundowner (Clube Náutico and Clube Naval).
Don't forget the excellent Portuguese wines also widely available.
Sindicato da Cerveja, near the Primeiro de Maio avenue.
eden Club, ilha de Luanda. 22h00. Discoteca;Dj licinho bruno AG Clessio dance, semba, house, and salsa. 22usd.
Doo Bahr, Rua Marechal Brós Tito, Edifício Escom, 3º andar.
Accomodation can be sought in these Hotels:
- The Alvalade Hotel
- The Palm Beach Hotel.
- Le Presidente Luanda. A 4 star hotel in the city center. Single $264, double $303.
- Rouxinol Luxury Guesthouse (4 Stars) (Hotel Rouxinol), Beco de Moçambique nº 16, Bairro Cruzeiro. checkin: 12:00; checkout: 14:00. Near the Embassies in Miramar and the Center of Town. $180-400.
- The Tropico Hotel
As far as safety is concerned, Luanda is average among African cities. Don't venture into the slums, period.
Don't go out at night alone. Keep your car doors locked at all times. Violent crime has been on the rise, but it is mostly in the slums.
The colonial part of the city is safe from violent crime; but like most African cities, pickpocketing or muggings are a fact of life.
You will greatly reduce your chances of such if you stay low key: no fancy clothes or car, use a money belt, etc.
The city is an expensive place to live and Angolans have realized that most expats in the city are high-salaried employees from large corporations, so you should especially avoid business attire.
Do not give beggars money; if you do, you will soon have a lot of them surrounding you.
This is Central Africa many police in Luanda are very corrupt. Check for their identity number whicch should be located on an arm band near the shoulder and you may present charges against any abuse.
As a visitor, it's important to carry an authorised photocopy of your passport at all times.
Otherwise, you will get an on the spot fine or worse, courtesy of the police.
Do not carry your original; the police may ask for it and keep it until you pay a fine.