Angola Table of Contents
A government soldier is fitted for a prosthesis at a
hospital in Huambo.
Courtesy International Committee of the Red Cross (Yannick Müller)
Persistent internal and external conflict have wrought havoc on Angola. The human cost has been awesome and tragic. It was estimated that as a consequence of war, between 60,000 and 90,000 people had died, and 20,000 to 50,000 persons had become amputees as of 1988 (see Effects of the Insurgency , ch. 2). From 1975 to 1988, almost 700,000 people were forced to flee their rural homes for relative safety in displacement camps or in burgeoning cities and towns, where they suffered gross deprivations in the absence of basic services. About 400,000 Angolans became refugees in neighboring states. Moreover, in 1986 some 600,000 people needed nutritional assistance.
The Angolan economy was also ravaged by wartime destruction and the heavy defense burden. Iron production virtually stopped, diamond mining and timber harvesting were severely curtailed, and smuggling siphoned off needed export earnings. Economic sabotage and attacks on infrastructure by UNITA and South Africa damaged or destroyed hundreds of facilities and made development impossible. The destruction attributed to South African military actions alone was estimated at US$20 billion. Devastation of the once-prosperous agricultural sector was forcing the government to import about 80 percent of its food requirements in the mid-1980s, at a cost of US$250 million to US$300 million annually. It was only because of oil production in relatively secure Cabinda Province that the country could pay the high cost of defense and keep itself from total economic ruin (see Background to Economic Development; Structure of the Economy , ch. 3).
Military recruitment placed a growing burden on the Angolan population. According to statistics published by the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), the number of soldiers per 1,000 people increased from five in 1975 to more than seven in the 1980s, which ranked Angola fifty-seventh among 144 countries in 1985. Any reckoning of the military burden borne by the Angolan people, however, must also take into account UNITA's armed forces. And because both FAPLA and UNITA expanded considerably in the late 1980s as the internal war intensified, the number of combatants per 1,000 people was actually twenty (based on 1988 population and combined armed forces estimates), a figure that moved Angola's global ranking into the top fifteen.
Data as of February 1989