City Guide: Luanda, Angola - The Traveller


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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

City Guide: Luanda, Angola


Luanda – Capital & Largest City in Angola

Luanda was formerly known as Sao Paulo da Assuncao de Loanda, the capital as well as the largest city in Angola. It is the country’s most famous and important city, major industrial, cultural, urban centre and primary port. It is situated on the coast of Angola with the Atlantic Ocean and is both the chief seaport of Angola as well as its administrative centre.

It is also the capital city of Luanda Province and the third most populous Portuguese speaking city in the world after Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, both in Brazil. Besides it is also the most populous Portuguese speaking capital city in the world ahead of Brasilia, Lisbon and Maputo. It has metropolitan inhabitants of more than 6 million. Luanda is divided into two sections, the Baixa de Luanda – lower Luanda, the old city and the Cidade Alta – upper city or the new city.

The Baixa is located near the port, having narrow streets together with old colonial buildings, though huge new constructions have now covered huge spaces beyond these traditional limits, together with various previously independent centres like Viana have been unified in the city.

Seat of Roman Catholic Archbishop

Luanda is considered to be the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishop and is also the location of several of Angola’s educational institutions inclusive of the private Catholic University of Angola as well as the public University of Agostinho Neto. Moreover, it is also the home of the colonial governor’s Palace and the Estadio da Cidadela, the main stadium of Angola having a total seating arrangement of 60,000.

A totally new satellite city known as Luanda Sul has been built and the capital city of Luanda is constantly growing. The inhabitants of Luanda are mainly members of African ethnic groups, generally Ambundum Ovimbundu and Bakongo. The official and the most extensively used language is Portuguese though many Bantu languages are also used mainly Kimbundu, Umbundu and Kikongo. There is substantial minority population of European origin, particularly Portuguese together with Brazilians as well as other Latin Americans.

A significant community of Chinese has been formed over the last decades and a smaller Vietnamese community. There are few immigrants from other African countries also comprising of small expatriate South African community.

Luanda – Mixed Race

Several people of Luanda are a mixed race of European/Portuguese and native African. Since the mid-2000s, immigration from Portugal seems to have increased owing to the recession and poor economic situation of Portugal. The port of Luanda functions as the largest port of Angola, connecting Angola to the rest of the world. Major expansion work of this port is also in progress. A new port is being developed at Dande around 30 km towards the north.

Luanda is the beginning point of the Luanda railway which goes east to Malanje. Civil war has left the railway non-operative though the railway had been restored up to Dondo and Malanje. In recent years, the population of Luanda had grown tremendously owing to large part to war-time migration to the city that tends to be safe when compared to the rest of the country. In 2006, however, Luanda has envisaged an increase in violent crime especially in the shanty towns which surround the colonial urban central.

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