Angola’s recent existence has been characterised by protracted warfare, both before and after its independence in 1975. After independence it fell almost immediately into a civil war which effectively lasted until 2002.
The colonial period (of more than 400 years) created remarkably little of lasting benefit to the country as a whole, and the Portuguese’ departure in 1975 left behind miniscule levels of technical and administrative training or capacity. The first government of the newly independent Angola adopted a Marxist ideology and began the process of building a new country. The only part of the economy which remained largely untouched by the turmoil was the oil industry. While the country embarked on a radical Marxist experiment, oil production continued to follow a fully capitalist model – funding the country’s radical political shift.
The church, meanwhile, made a significant contribution to health and education in the latter part of the 20th century, and while much of its infrastructure and service was damaged through the ravages of the protracted civil war, it continues to provide an important contribution to those sectors.
The economy is almost entirely dependent on income from offshore oil, with some further income from diamond mining in the north-east of the country. The national reconstruction programme since 2002 has been based on expected income from these sources. Results include a restoration of the national road network and more universities. However a plunge in the oil price has led to major cutbacks in health and education, along with vital fuel subsidies.
These changes have exacerbated the already poor state of the health system. The country has battled outbreaks of yellow fever and malaria during 2015 and 2016, with reports in 2017 of the Zika virus having reached the country.