Angola is among Africa’s largest nations and is situated along the central west coast of the continent. Angola shares its land border with Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, The Republic of the Congo, and Namibia. The border stretches 3,336 miles in total. Like many of Africa’s international land borders, Angola’s international border was first established during the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th Century when European powers divided the continent into colonies. Part of Angola’s territory exists as an exclave known as Cabinda.
The Democratic Republic Of Congo
The DRC is the largest of Angola’s bordering nations and is situated north of Angola. The international border delimiting the two African nations is the longest of Angola’s borders and spans 1,644 miles in length. The border starts at the tripoint connecting the two countries and Zambia, from where it extends west until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the border is attributed to Angola’s province of Cabinda, an exclave that is sandwiched by the DRC and the Republic of Congo. The border was first demarcated in the 19th Century by European colonial powers during the infamous Scramble For Africa. During the demarcation, the DRC was recognized as a Belgium colony while Angola was a Portuguese colony.
The two bordering nations recognize the demarcation of the border, and so there has been no territorial conflicts over the border. However, the border experiences illegal crossings which is a threat to the security of the two countries. Despite having official border crossings and being patrolled by security agencies from the two countries, the border is still porous with thousands of illegals movements being made each year. Smuggling is a big problem faced on the border, with cheap products from Angola finding their way into the DRC. While DRC residents celebrate the availability of cheap Angolan products, the smuggling is a direct threat to the economic well-being of the DRC as its locally manufactured products find it had to compete against the cheap smuggled products from Angola. Angola temporarily closed the border in 2016 when the DRC experienced an outbreak of Ebola. Angola stated its decision to close the border was necessary to contain the spread of the disease.
Zambia is another of Angola’s bordering country and is situated east of the country. The border between the two nations stretches 689 miles in length starting from the tripoint connecting the two countries to the DRC and moving south until the tripoint linking Namibia, Angola, and Zambia. The border was first established in the 19th Century by European colonial powers, with the nations agreeing on retaining the demarcation of the border after gaining independence in the 20th Century. While the border is porous, it has numerous border crossings where border officials monitor cross-border movement. One of these border crossings is Caripande-Chavuma border post which, as the name alludes, connects the Zambian town of Chavuma to the town of Caripande in Angola. The border post is popular among tourists who use it to access the picturesque Chavuma Falls which lie near the border post.
South of Angola lies Namibia, a country with which it shares a land border that spans 886 miles in length. The tri-point connecting the two countries to Zambia represents the start of the border, from where it stretches west until ending at the South Atlantic Ocean. The international border follows the natural course of two major rivers; the Kavango River and the Cunene River. The border was first determined while the two nations were European colonies through many treaties. Both countries agreed to retain the border after gaining independence, and neither country has territorial disputes stemming from the border.
The Angolan Civil War
The border witnessed a surge in cross-border movement in the turn of the 21st century when Angola was engaged in a bloody civil war known as the Angolan Civil War. During the war, thousands of Angolans crossed the border into Namibia between 1999 and 2002 causing a serious humanitarian problem on the bordering region. A significant number of Angolan refugees settled in the Osire camp found near the international border. Many of the refugees would later be repatriated back to their home country after the civil war ended in 2002.
Some of the border crossings found on the Namibia-Angola international border include the Katitwe, Omahenene, Rundu, Ruacana, and Oshikango border crossings. Despite the presence of these border crossings, the border is quite porous and witnesses a high number of border crossings. The security agencies on opposite sides of the border frequently make arrests of people who have made illegal crossings.
The Cabinda Exclave
Angola has an exclave that lies beyond its land border known as Cabinda and makes up the Province of Cabinda. The exclave shares its relatively short land border with two countries; the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Atlantic Ocean bounds the exclave to the west. With an area of 2,810 square miles, the exclave is home to a population of more than 0.7 million people, which translates to a population density of 254 persons per square mile. The region has one of Africa’s largest oil productions, with the production of oil in Cabinda estimated at 70,000 barrels each day. The high oil production is linked to the offshore oil fields on Cabinda which are among the largest in the world.
History Of The Exclave
The exclave was formed as a result of the Treaty of Simulanbuco which was signed by Portugal, then a colonial power in 1885. The treaty granted Portugal sovereignty over the exclave making it part of Portugal’s colony. Cabinda would be recognized as part of Angola after the country gained self-determination from Portugal in the late 20th Century. The exclave’s recognition as part of Angola came after the signing of the Treaty of Alvor in 1975. There has been a secessionist movement ongoing in Cabinda that has been demanding for the self-rule of Angola’s exclave. The Movement for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda has been central in the secessionist movement.
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