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Six of the Bantu languages were selected as national languages: Chokwe, Kikongo, Kimbundo, Mbunda, Oxikuanyama, and Umbundu.
Many people are able to understand one or more of the national languages, but some forty languages are spoken. The political culture is highly militarized, and in both the National Union for the Total Liberation of Angola (UNITA) and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) many symbols stem from the military tradition.
It is difficult to obtain reliable information because the war precludes research in many areas. Angola is a country of 482,625 square miles (approximately 1.25 million square kilometers) in western Africa, south of the Equator.
There are great variations in climate and geography, including rain forests in the north, drier coastal lands, the fertile central highlands, sandy soils in the east, and desert zones in the Kunene (Cuene) and Kuando Kubango provinces.
Through a slow and halting process that met with much local resistance, the Portuguese attempted to expand their control over the interior of the country and enforce a colonial system with taxation and forced labor.
After the installation of autocratic rule in Portugal, repression in the colonies became even worse than in the past.
Despite a high annual growth rate, in the beginning of 2000 the population was estimated at 12.6 million.
The oil-rich enclave of Cabinda lies north of the Zaire river. Because of the ongoing war, it is difficult to obtain reliable population figures.
For centuries the communities in this area were affected by the Atlantic slave trade.
Portuguese, mestiço, (person of mixed descent) and African merchants and middle men sold millions of slaves who were transported to the Americas on Dutch and Portuguese vessels.
The word "Angola" derives from the title used by the rulers of the Ndongo state.
The title ngola was first mentioned in Portuguese writings in the sixteenth century.
Apart from large rivers such as the Zaire, Kwanza (Cuanza), Kunene, Kubango (Cubango), Zambezi, and Kuando, there are many smaller rivers, some of which are not perennial.