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The largest urban and economic centre of the country and also the main port. It is the third most populous Portuguese-speaking city in the world.


The province

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Luanda (formerly Loanda) is the capital of Angola’s largest city. Situated on the Atlantic coast, it is also the country’s main port and economic centre.

Founded on 25 January 1975 by the Portuguese nobleman and explorer  Paulo Dias de Novais, with the name of São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda, Luanda has a population
estimated at about five million inhabitants, which makes of it the third most populated city in the Portuguese speaking world, only second to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, both

The industries existing in the city include those of transformation of agricultural products, production of beverages, textiles, cement and other construction materials, plastic materials,
metallurgy, cigarettes and footwear. Oil, explored in the vicinity, is refined in the city, though the refinery suffered some damages during the civil war that hit the country from
1975 and 2002. Luanda has an excellent natural port, being coffee, cotton, sugar, diamonds, iron and salt the main exports.

The Luanda inhabitants are mostly members of the ambundu, ovimbundu and bakongo ethnic groups. There is an expressive minority of European origin mostly made up of
Portuguese nationals, and a relevant Chinese community. The most spoken language is Portuguese, but several bantu languages are also spoken, mainly kimbundu. Luanda was the
main city to host the 2010 African Cup of Nations.

The name Luanda comes from the etym Lu-ndandu. The prefix Lu, one of the forms of the plural in the bantu languages, is common in names on the coast region, of river basins and
expanded regions (Luena, Lucala, Lobito) and, in this case, refers to the sandbanks on the seaside. Ndandu means value or trade item and refers to the small dog-whelks gathered on  
Luanda Island and which were the legal tender in the former Kogo kingdom and in most of the western part of Africa, known as zimbo or njimbo.

As the ambundo people would shape the pronunciation of the names of various regions into their way of speaking, by eliminating some sounds, from Lu-ndandu, the term evolved to
Lu-andu. The word, in the process of shaping into Portuguese mode, changed into feminine, as it referred to an island, which resulted in Luanda.

Another version about the origin of the name hint that it comes from "Axiluandas" (sea man), the name given by the Portuguese to the inhabitants of the Island, as when they got
there and were asked what they were doing, they answered “uwanda”, a term that in kikongo vernacular language means working with fishing net.

When the Portuguese arrived in the region that is now the city of Luanda, the site was part of the Ndongo kingdom, a vassal to the Kongo kingdom and was particularly important as it
was a zimbo (a sea conch) producing zone, with currency value.

In response to a request from king Ndambi a Ngola of Ndong, to the Portuguese , in the year 1557, for the sending in of missionaries, three ships departed in 1559 with a Portugal’s king
envoy, Paulo Dias de Novais, and two Jesuit priests, Francisco de Gouveia and Agostinho de Lacerda. On arrival in Barra do Kwanza (mouth of the Kwanza river), the Portuguese
mission was welcomed with hostility and mistrust by the new Ndongo king, Ngola Kiluanje kia Ndambi, who considered them to be Kongo king agents and ordered their arrest. Later
on, on pledge of diplomatic and Portuguese military support, Paulo Dias de Novais was released to return to Portugal.

In his second trip to this region, on 23 September 1574, Paulo Dias de Novais, accompanied by two priests from the Jesus Company, departed from Lisbon and arrived on the Luanda
Island on February 1575. His fleet included two galleons, two  caravels, two brigantines and a galliot. That was the first settlement of the first Portuguese nucleus of settlers: about 700
people that included church officials, merchants and officials, as well as 350 soldiers.

Ngola Kiluanje kia Ndambi had then succeeded to Njinga Ngola Kilombo kia Kasenda, a disciple of priest Francisco de Gouveia who, in his forced stay of about 15 years, had seized
the opportunity to carry out his preaching among Angolans.

On 29 June 1575, Paulo Dias de Novais received a delegation sent by the Ngola to salute him. 

Realising that the Luanda Island would not be the appropriate place for him to stay, he moved inland and founded the  São Paulo de Loanda town on 25 January 1576, and laid the
foundatin stone for the construction of the church dedicated to Saint Sebastian – saint of great devotion for  the Portuguese and onomastic patron of the Portugal’s king – in the site
where the Armed Forces Museum is today.

The choice for the new site for the town was greatly influenced by the existence of a natural port, situated at a bay protected by an Island; of source of drinking water, the Maianga well
water at the then Lagoa dos Elefantes: and the excellent conditions of defence offered by the São Paulo hill, after it was retrieved from the Dutch, called the São Miguel hill, upon
dedication of the existing fortress to São Miguel, the saint of devotion for Salvador Correia de Sá.

Its population made up by the team of Paulo Dias de Novais, including shoemakers, taylors, bricklayers, a physicist and barber and a few other  workmen, experienced difficulty adapting
to the climate and poor accommodation. However, the town expanded toward the "Cidade Alta", in the continuation ofthe São Paulo hill, where civil and religious administration facilities were built. Soldiers and slaves stayed in the "Cidade Baixa", the area of these days Coqueiros.

In 1580, two Jesuit missionaries arrived in Luanda, followed by another two in 1584 and another four in 1593. Despite the difficulties encountered, the first attempts of conversion
yielded considerable results to an extent that in 1590, about 20,000 Christians were said to be there.

On 1 August 1594, a new governor arrived in Luanda. João de Mendonça Furtado replaced D. Francisco de Almeida and his brother D. Jerónimo. He was  accompanied by twelve
orphaned girls, educated in Lisbon. Most of those present saw these girls as the first white women to come to Luanda. They all married settlers.

During that period, the city's economy was based solely on the slave trade, providing huge profits and a high standard of living. This abundance is reflected in many aspects of the city
life, for example, the parties hosted in 1620 to celebrate the beatification of St. Francisco Xavier, which included fireworks.

However, not all were lavish spending at the  time. In 1605, with the increase of the European population and the number of buildings that stretched from Sao  Miguel to the
current Josina Machel hospital, the São Paulo de Luanda town received a charter city and the first municipal town established.

The “Igreja da Misericordia” was built in 1576, followed by the Episcopal See in 1583 at the site of the present Civil Affairs Office to the Presdency of the Republic, as well as the
Jesuits Church, in 1593. The Sao Jose Convent, in 1604, where it is today the hospital, the governor’s palace, in 1609, the “Casa da Câmara”, in 1623 which came to be the Luanda
Appeal Court.

Luanda became from 1627 the administrative centre of the region - which began to be called Angola, but whose size was very limited. For a defence of the city the São Pedro da Barra
Fortes was built in 1618, and the São Miguel de Luanda Fortress in 1634.

This, however, did not prevent its conquest by the Dutch and the dominance of the Dutch West India Company, between 1641 and 1648. Luanda is the largest and most densely
populated city of Angola. Initially designed for a population of around 500,000 inhabitants, it is now an over-populated city. According to recent studies, Luanda is currently the home
to more than five million inhabitants.



The Angolan capital (Luanda) is the country smallest province, with an area of 24,651 square kilometres.


Distance in relation to other cities


Administrative Division

The Luanda province, that recently included the municipalities of Quiçama and Icolo e Bengo, has the municipalities of Luanda, with headquarters in Luanda city; Cacuaco
(Cacuaco); Belas (Kilamba);  Viana (Viana); Cazenga (Tala Hadi); Icolo e Bengo (Catete); and Quiçama (Muxima).

Municipality Urban District
Luanda Ingombota
Belas Talatona
Barra do Kwanza
Cazenga Sofene
Tala Hady
Hoji Ya Henda
11 de Novembro
Cacuaco Cacuaco
Viana Viana
Icolo e Bengo Catete
Bom Jesus
Caculo Cahango
Quiçama Muxima
Cabu Ledo



The province is semiarid tropical climate hot and dry. The annual average temperature of the province ranges between 25 ° C and 26 ° C, with a maximum of 27 ° C, coinciding with the
rainy season. July and August are the cooler months, especially on the coast, where the temperature drops slightly below 25 ° C. The climate is influenced by the proximity of the
sea - Benguela Current - and, although not too hot, it is humid.

In non-urban areas, the most common vegetation is grass and few trees, especially the
baobab (Adansonia digitata)



Its population is estimated at five million inhabitants. Luanda is Angola’s capital city.


Natural Resources

The province is rich in oil, brimston, sal-gema, limestone, mineral salt and bituminous substances.