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Expats are often concerned about their personal safety in Angola. Though years of intense civil strife officially came to an end in 2002, there are still concerns around poverty, disease, shattered infrastructure and landmines throughout the country.
Crime in Angola
Muggings and robberies are common in Luanda and in provincial areas, and expats are advised against travelling alone at night or travelling through areas that are known to be crime hotspots. Expats should be particularly vigilant when drawing cash at an ATM, as they are commonly targeted by criminals.
Most international organisations in Luanda have strict safety regulations for their employees, which should be adhered to. In the same vein, most companies provide secure accommodation and workplaces monitored by 24-hour guards.
Terrorism and conflict in Angola
The Cabinda province, located in the north of Angola, is a disputed territory, with a group known as the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) being active in the area. In the past, they have been involved in the kidnapping and killing of foreigners. Although there have been no recent significant incidents in the region, a number of foreign governments advise their nationals against travelling to the Cabinda province as a precaution, although Cabinda city is considered safe enough to visit.
With the exception of Cabinda, 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, most people live in poor conditions, and these have been catalysts for protests. It's best to avoid political gatherings and keep abreast of the latest developments.
Road safety in Angola
While major networks around Luanda are improving, road conditions are still generally poor and a four-wheel-drive vehicle is needed for longer distances. Drivers should make sure they have spare tyres and replacement parts. Driving is especially dangerous during the rainy season from November to April. Roads and bridges can be washed away by floods, which can leave travellers stranded for considerable amounts of time.
Most expats living in Luanda have private drivers. Taxis and public transport are mostly informal, and are rarely used by foreign nationals.
Landmines left over from the civil war are also an ongoing concern in rural Angola. Clearance projects are still underway and areas with suspected landmines are usually expressly marked. Expats should stick to main roads and avoid driving off the beaten track as much as possible. Newcomers who drive their own vehicles should be suspicious of slow-moving cars or those that try and coerce them into pulling over; these are often pretexts for robbery or hijackings.
Note that driving to Angola’s northern and southern Lunda provinces should only be done if absolutely necessary. The Angolan government is extremely sensitive about anyone entering these diamond-producing areas, and failure to produce the right documentation can result in detention.