The history of Angola is complex and multifaceted, shaped by a combination of indigenous cultures, European colonization, and political upheaval.
Before the arrival of Europeans, Angola was home to a variety of ethnic groups, including the Ovimbundu, Ambundu, and Bakongo. These groups were organized into small kingdoms and chiefdoms, with a mix of pastoral, agricultural, and fishing economies.
The first Europeans to arrive in Angola were Portuguese explorers, who landed on the coast in the late 15th century. The Portuguese established trade relations with local leaders, and by the 16th century had established a foothold in the region, primarily for the slave trade. Angola became a major source of enslaved people for the Americas, with an estimated 4 million people taken from Angola between the 16th and 19th centuries.
In the late 19th century, Portugal declared Angola a colony, and began to establish a more formal system of governance. The Portuguese introduced cash-crop agriculture, including coffee and cotton, and built infrastructure such as railways and ports. However, the vast majority of Angolans were excluded from political power and economic opportunities.
In the mid-20th century, a nationalist movement emerged in Angola, calling for independence from Portugal. In 1961, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) launched a guerrilla war against Portuguese rule.
The MPLA emerged as the dominant force in the struggle for independence, and in 1975, Angola gained independence from Portugal. However, the MPLA's victory sparked a civil war, as UNITA and FNLA rejected the MPLA's legitimacy and continued to fight for control of the country.
During the civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 2002, Angola was devastated by violence, displacement, and economic decline. The MPLA, with support from the Soviet Union and Cuba, eventually emerged as the victor, and the country has been ruled by the MPLA ever since.
In recent years, Angola has undergone significant political and economic changes. In 2017.