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Angola (Portuguese West Africa)

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

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ANGOLA (PORTUGUESE WEST AFRICA) ( see 2.38). - A census taken in 1914 gave the pop. as 2,124,000, but this total was based on figures supplied by the natives for the purpose of a hut tax, and did not include regions over which the Portuguese exercised no authority. In 1920 the pop. was estimated, with greater accuracy, at a little under 4,000,000, or eight persons per sq. mile. There were some 30,000 whites, mostly Portuguese. Loanda (Sao Paolo de Loanda), the capital, had 18,000 inhabitants, of whom a third were whites.

Surveys made since 1909 showed that the part of southern Angola suitable for European colonization was larger than had been supposed and that the plateau, which is free from tsetse-fly, was well adapted to stock raising. Few settlers had been, however, attracted to this region up to 1921 and the development of the whole province was very slow. There was nevertheless an increase in cocoa plantations, chiefly in the Kabinda enclave; coffee, though gathered mainly from wild plants, was also cultivated in the Loanda hinterland and other areas. Rubber was obtained mostly from virgin forest, but ceara, ficus and other trees were planted. Up to 1911 the manufacture of ruin was the leading industry; in that year the factories were closed by Government decree, compensation being given to the factory owners and to the planters who grew sugar and sweet potatoes for the production of alcohol. These planters were encouraged to grow sugar-cane for export, and the output for 1913 was 4,600 tons. Subsequently the industry languished. Fish-curing and whaling are lucrative industries. The whalers are Norwegians and Americans and their headquarters are at Lobito Bay. Forestry and mining are both undeveloped, but the syndicate which since 1908 has worked the Kasai diamond area of the Belgian Congo has also concessions on the Portuguese side, and in 1920 the output of diamonds from Angola was estimated at 120,000 carats.

External trade, owing to high protective tariffs, was mainly with Portugal; in the period of 1910-20 it was valued at from L3,500,- 000 to L4,500,000 yearly, with a tendency for exports to decrease. Rubber, coffee, wax, sugar and palm-kernels, dried fish and whale oil are the chief exports.

Lack of means of transport was a principal cause of the slow progress of Angola. The most important railway (of the standard South African 3 ft.-6 in. gauge), that from Lobito Bay by Benguella across the southern plateau, had reached Bihe, a distance of 323 in. in 1914, when owing to the World War construction stopped. The railway, a British enterprise, was designed to serve the copper mines of Katanga, Belgian Congo, and work on the remaining 480 m. to the Congo frontier began in 1921. A British company acquired large land concessions along the line and started ranches. Farther south a narrow gauge (60 cm.) railway III m. long goes from Mossamedes to the Chala Mts., serving a wheat-growing region with European settlements, including one of South African Dutch. In northern Angola the railway (metre gauge) from Loanda was carried to Malanje (375 m.) and was bought in July 1918 by the Portuguese Government.

Excess of expenditure over revenue continued to be a characteristic of the administration, partly because, except for a hut tax on natives, there was no direct taxation. Revenue was almost entirely derived from import and export duties. Deficits were made good by grants made from Portugal and by transfers from the treasuries of such Portuguese colonies as showed an excess of revenue. Annual revenue averaged, on a rough estimate, L500,000 and expenditure 1700,000. History. - Southern Angola, in 1909 - II, was regarded as a probable choice by the Jewish Territorial Association as a field for colonization, and Portugal enacted land laws with a view to that contingency. But Angola was rejected by the Zionists as a home for Jews. Between 1910 and 1914 chief interest in Angola centred in a very different scheme - the efforts of Germany to include the province in her economic and, ultimately, her political sphere. As far back as 1898 Great Britain had recognized Germany's right to "assist" the Portuguese to exploit southern Angola, but this had not prevented a British syndicate under Mr. Robert Williams from securing the concession for the Benguella (Lobito Bay) railway. On the building of this line from the coast to Bihe over £5,000,000 was spent. A new AngloGerman agreement had been negotiated in 1913-4 and only awaited signature when the World War put an end to the negotiations. The new treaty would have recognized German economic interests as supreme throughout Angola, except in its eastern section ( see Africa: History). Meantime the Germans had pressed the Portuguese, and with some success, to grant them commercial concessions, and had made offers to buy up the British capital (90% of the whole) in the Benguella railway - offers which were rejected.

In southern Angola itself German agents and so-called scientific missions showed much activity. Not only did its highlands present many advantages for European settlement; the Kunene river valley, part of which was in German territory, was inhabited by the Ovambo, of whom some 20,000 were recruited by the Germans for work in the Otavi copper-mines. In 1913 the Portuguese forbade further recruiting in Angola; the Germans replied by presenting estimates to the Reichstag in 1914 for £150,000 towards building a railway from Otavi through the Ovambo country and 22 m. of the railway had been built when the World War began. Though Portugal was at the time neutral several conflicts occurred between the Portuguese and Germans in the frontier district. The surrender of the Germans in SouthWest Africa to Gen. Botha, in July 1915, removed the German menace to Angola and gave the province the British (South Africans) as neighbours on the south.

In an endeavour to break with the tradition that the colonies existed only for the benefit of Portugal the Lisbon Government in 1914 granted them a measure of autonomy. The then governorgeneral of Angola, Senhor Norton de Mattos, had already instituted reforms and in 1913 had created a Department for Native Affairs, which set itself to regulate the employment of natives, including the recruitment of labourers for the cocoa plantations on St. Thome and Principe Islands. The result was some improvement in the conditions of the natives, but the principle of compulsory labour was maintained, and abuses continued. In 1920 Portugal again endeavoured to set its colonial affairs in order. Another autonomy measure was introduced and Senhor Norton de Mattos was again (Oct. 1920) selected to go to Angola, this time as high commissioner with wide powers.

See Angola (including Cabinda ) (London 1920), a British Foreign Office handbook with bibliography; Hugo Marquardsen, Angola (Berlin 1920), a careful study of the geography and people, by the geographer of the Reichskolonialamt; the Anuario Colonial (Lisbon) and the Boletim of the Lisbon Geog. Society. (F. R. C.)

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Angola (Portuguese West Africa)'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​bri/​a/angola-portuguese-west-africa.html. 1910.
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