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Portuguese Angolan
The Cathedral of the Holy Saviour in Luanda, built by Portuguese colonists in 1628
Total population
~220,000 (2014)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Luanda, Benguela
Portuguese, a small minority having some mastery of Kimbundu, Umbundu, Kikongo, and other Bantu languages
Christianity (predominantly Catholic)
Related ethnic groups
Portuguese people, Portuguese Brazilian, Brazilians, Portuguese Africans

Portuguese Angolans (Portuguese: luso-angolano) are citizens of Angola who are either descended from Portuguese people or Portuguese emigrants permanently living in Angola. The number of Portuguese Angolans precipitously dropped during and immediately after the Angolan War of Independence, but several hundreds of thousands have either returned or emigrated to live in Angola. As of 2022, they make up approximately 0.6% of Angola's population.


Portuguese Angolan writer Pepetela
Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.

In 1482, Portuguese caravels commanded by Diogo Cão arrived in the Kingdom of Kongo. Other expeditions followed, and close relations were soon established between the two states. The Portuguese brought firearms and many other technological advances, as well as a new religion (Christianity); in return, the King of the Congo offered plenty of slaves, ivory, and minerals.

The Portuguese colony of Angola was founded in 1575 with the arrival of Paulo Dias de Novais with a hundred families of colonists and four hundred soldiers. Luanda was granted the status of city in 1605. Many Portuguese settlers married native Africans, resulting in a mixed-race (mulato, later generally called mestiço) population. Angola was declared a formal Portuguese province in the 19th century, but only in the early 20th century did the mainland government allow large-scale white emigration and settlement to Angola and its other provinces.

In 1960, Angola had up to 172,000 Portuguese settlers,[2] who significantly contributed to its economy. The majority of whom came from rural agrarian backgrounds in Portugal, who saw engaging in commerce in Angola as one of the few means of upward social mobility available to them.[4]

As the Angolan war of independence began in 1961, triggering off a late colonial development of Angola, there was an influx of Portuguese military personnel, as well as civil servants and other people.[5] As a consequence, the number of Portuguese living in Angola went up to about 350,000.[6] This number would have been higher, had a significant part of the settlers not left for other countries, especially Namibia, Brazil, South Africa and the United States. While most Portuguese then living in Angola sided with Portugal's efforts to suppress the anti-colonial revolt, a minority sympathized with the nationalist movements, and a few even joined them in their fight. The Angolan author Pepetela is among these. When the Salazar regime in Portugal was abolished by a military coup in Portugal, in 1974, and independence was granted to the colonies by the new government, whites overwhelmingly left Angola after independence in 1975. Most of them went to Portugal, where they were called retornados and were not always welcomed, while others moved to neighboring Namibia (then a South African territory), South Africa or Brazil,[7] or United States. It is estimated that around 250,000 left the country in 1975 and by 1976 only 30,000 to 40,000 remained in Angola.[8]

Among the departed Portuguese civilians, many were only able to take with them a single suitcase, while some were able to dispatch their household goods and even cars by ship. The majority left everything behind.[9] They boarded planes at Luanda's Craveiro Lopes Airport at the rate of 500 a day[clarification needed], but there were not enough flights to cover demand.[10] On arrival in Portugal, those who had been able to draw their savings in Angola could not exchange more than 5,000 Angolan escudos (about US$200) into Portuguese escudos.[citation needed] Back in Angola, the new government gave all remaining Portuguese settlers a few months period to choose between Angolan citizenship or to leave the country. A significant minority of them opted for Angola and some of them actively took part in the Angolan Civil War, generally on the side of the MPLA.

After Angola abandoned in 1991 the socialist regime adopted at independence in 1975, many Portuguese Angolans returned to Angola. Due to Angola's economic boom, which started in the 1990s, an increasing number of Portuguese without previous attachment to Angola have migrated to Angola for economic reasons, most importantly the recent national economic boom.[11] As of 2008, Angola was the preferred destination for Portuguese migrants in Africa.[11] Portuguese nationals numbered an estimated 120,000 in 2011, reaching about 200,000 in 2013.[1]

Notable people

João Teixeira Pinto
Iko Carreira

Notable Angolan people of Portuguese descent include:

Language and religion

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Their native language is Portuguese, which today is the official language and lingua franca of Angola. Their communities existing in Luanda, Benguela and Moçâmedes spoke until the early 20th-century Portuguese mixed with numerous elements from African languages, especially Kimbundu and Umbundu. In the course of the 20th century, due to the waves of new settlers arriving from Portugal, their language became practically identical with European Portuguese. Some Portuguese Angolans have a lesser or greater mastery of one of the Bantu languages – notably Kimbundu, Umbundu, and Kikongo – but their number has diminished dramatically after independence, and hardly anybody now uses an African language as second languages. The vast majority of Portuguese Angolans are Christians, mostly Catholics, although many of them do not practice their religion. A very small number of them are Jews, whose ancestors escaped the Inquisition.

See also


  1. ^ a b "José Eduardo dos Santos diz que trabalhadores portugueses são bem-vindos em Angola". Observatório da Emigração. Retrieved 22 July 2013. …presença de cerca de 200 mil trabalhadores portugueses no país…
  2. ^ a b Bender, Gerald J. (1978-01-01). Angola Under the Portuguese: The Myth and the Reality. University of California Press. p. 228. ISBN 9780520032217.
  3. ^ "Observatório da Emigração".
  4. ^ Bender, Gerald J. (1978-01-01). Angola Under the Portuguese: The Myth and the Reality. University of California Press. p. 233. ISBN 9780520032217.
  5. ^ Contrary to the settlers which often had lived in Angola for two or even three generations, the Portuguese arriving during the last phase of colonial occupation did not become identified with Angola.
  6. ^ Gerald J.Bender & P. Stanley Yoder, "Whites in Angola on the Eve of Independence", Africa Today', 21 (4) 1974, pp. 23 - 37
  7. ^ Portuguese Immigration (History) Archived 2012-05-16 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Bender, Gerald J. (1978-01-01). Angola Under the Portuguese: The Myth and the Reality. University of California Press. p. 236. ISBN 9780520032217.
  9. ^ Kutemba (19 October 2008). "Angola: Sobre a alegria e tristeza de ser um retornado". Global Voices. International. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  10. ^ "MOZAMBIQUE: Dismantling the Portuguese Empire". Time. 1975-07-07. ISSN 0040-781X. Archived from the original on April 30, 2009. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  11. ^ a b [1], Radio Televisão Portuguesa, September 13, 2008