Safety in Angola
Expats are commonly concerned about the degree of personal safety in Angola, and the worry comes well-warranted in light of the country’s war ravaged past and the present high levels of violent crime. Though 27 years of intense civil strife officially came to an end in 2002, desperate poverty, widespread disease, shattered infrastructure and land mines littered throughout the countryside still continue to create very real concerns.
Crime in Angola
The "resource curse", a development term used to describe the pattern of demise that accompanies resource rich countries and the disparity of wealth that follows, has instigated a culture of banditry and armed hold-ups in many of the provincial areas of Angola.
Even safety in the more developed capital city of Luanda is a concern. Muggings and robberies can happen at any time, and expats are strongly advised against travelling alone at night or travelling through areas that have a potentially dangerous reputation. Walking after dark should be avoided.
Areas popular with foreigners are often targets, thus expats should be especially cautious when moving between nightspots on the Ilha do Cabo and when perusing marketplaces. Other high risk areas for crime in Luanda include Serpentine, Sembezanda and the Roche Pinto slum area located south of the city.
Most international organisations operating in Luanda have strict safety regulations for their employees; these should be adhered to. In the same vein, most of these companies provide safe, secure accommodation and workplaces monitored by 24-hour guards.
Terrorism and conflict in Angola
In January 2010, the Togo national football team was attacked and fired upon while travelling by bus in the northern Cabinda region. The group claiming responsibility was known as the Front for the Liberation of Enclave of Cabinda.
This group and others in this province have made clear their intentions to continue their attacks on foreigners; a low number of kidnappings were recorded between 2007 and 2010. Due to the insecurity in the region, a number of foreign governments advise their nationals against travel to the Cabinda enclave.
With the exception of the area outside of Cabinda city though, the threat of terrorism and conflict in Angola is low.
Protests in Angola
Protests and demonstrations take place occasionally in Angola. Despite the country's oil wealth, the majority of the population continue to live in extremely poor conditions, and these have been catalysts for protests. Several small protests against President Eduardo dos Santos have taken place recently in Luanda.
Road safety in Angola
While major networks between Luanda and lesser urban centres are improving, road conditions are still poor and four wheel drive is a necessity for travel between provinces. Furthermore, it is highly recommended to do so in the company of a convoy, or at least two other vehicles. Spare tyres and replacement parts should be accounted for.
Driving is especially dangerous during the rainy season from November to April. Roads can be washed away by floods, and bridges and tunnels risk destruction and can leave travellers stranded for considerable amounts of time.
Landmines left over from the civil war also remain an on-going concern in a number of rural areas of Angola. Landmine clearance projects are still underway and areas with suspended landmines are usually clearly marked; these warnings should be heeded. Expats should stick to main roads and avoid driving off the beaten track as much as possible.
Driving to the northern and southern Lunda provinces of Angola should be done only in the most essential situations. These are diamond producing areas and the Angolan government is extremely sensitive about entrance and exit. Failure to produce proper documentation can result in detention.
Most expats living in Luanda have drivers who bring them to or from their destination of choice. Taxis and public transport are informal institutions for the most part, and are rarely used by foreign nationals.
If you are an expat who opts to drive your own vehicle, it's best to be suspicious of slow-moving cars or those that try and coerce you into pulling over; these are often pretexts for robbery or hijackings.