Angola

Angola, which has been through more than its fair share of hard times, is a bit of a tricky beat to walk for travellers. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, so to speak, the country violently gained independence from Portugal in 1975 only to find itself overcome by an even bloodier civil war that raged on until 2002. And while one can say things are better than they have been, they are still a very long way away from being good. Travel warnings abound for certain areas (see marquee above), and a visitor would do well to keep their eyes about them everywhere else in the country thanks to an increase in crimes like pick-pocketing and straight up robbery. The bigger danger, however, lies beneath; unexploded landmines, a 'gift' of 30 years’ worth of conflict, pepper the countryside making it dangerous for everyone. The wealth of the country’s mineral and petroleum reserves have most assuredly not trickled down to the vast majority of the population, and even less – it seems – has been spent on infrastructure and social well being. That said, keeping safety in mind, we don’t believe Angola is a total write-off. Because it hasn’t been overly developed as a tourism destination, what you see here is what you get: authentic Angola. That means everything from the food to the art to the dancing is real, not put on or adapted to tourist tastes. You may need to be more intrepid or seasoned to make the most out of a trip here, but for those who do, the rewards will surely be memorable. ~ Samantha McDonald-Amara


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 Full name: Republic of Angola

 Population: 18.06 million (CIA, 2012)

 Capital: Luanda

 Largest city: Luanda

 Area: 1.247 million sq.km. (481,469 sq. mi.)

 Major languages: Portuguese, Bantu,  Other African Languages

 Major religions: Indigenous Beliefs, Roman  Catholic, Protestant

 Monetary unit: Kwanza

 GDP per capita: US $5,900

 Internet domain: .ao

 International dialling code: +244

 Source: CIA World Factbook