This is an annual report produced
in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Luanda.
OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline
knowledge of security conditions in Angola. For more in-depth information,
review OSAC's Angola country page for original OSAC reporting,
consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only
to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
The current U.S. Department of
Advisory at the date of this
report's publication assesses Angola at Level 1, indicating travelers should
exercise reasonable precautions with increased caution in urban areas due to
crime. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Luanda
as being a CRITICAL-threat location
for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Angola presents a crime and
safety situation consistent with many developing countries. Angolan National
Police report a steady increase in crime over the past three years. Crimes of
opportunity, such as armed robbery, remain the primary criminal threat to local
Angolans and the expatriate community in Luanda. However, armed assaults and
premeditated home invasions are also on the rise in the capital.
Luanda's crimes are crimes of opportunity, seeking financial gain. Luanda's
high crime rate is due mostly to rising unemployment and an inflated economy.
The most common types of crimes are strong-arm robberies against targets of
opportunity. Muggings often occur, particularly at night throughout the city.
Criminals will often watch banks and ATMs for unsuspecting victims. The
perpetrators are predominantly males between the ages of 17 and 30, operating
in groups of two or more. In 2019, a tactic involving two individuals on a
motorcycle emerged as a common robbery method. In these attacks, a motorcycle
with two riders, a driver and an armed assailant on the back, would follow an
individual from a bank or ATM and rob them at gunpoint. Review OSAC’s report, All That You Should Leave Behind.
In November 2019, the city's
criminal situation came to a boiling point when multiple robberies resulted in
six homicides in four days. All of the victims were foreigners, although police
ascertained that the criminals were targeting large sums of money and not foreigners
specifically. To address the threat, the Angolan National Police flooded the
streets with checkpoints, and seized numerous illegal weapons. The surge
strategy proved effective, as the number of attacks by gunmen on motorcycles
The Embassy has observed an increase in crime, specifically
in Luanda. Assault and carjacking, sometimes escalating to homicide, does occur
throughout the capital with some frequency. A large percentage of street crime
goes unreported and does not appear in official police statistics. Overall
crime levels in Luanda remain a concern for locals, U.S. government personnel,
and foreigners, as crime has become more violent. The use of firearms in the
commission of crimes used to be rare, but is becoming more prevalent. Although
the law requires special permission to own or possess a firearm, the
availability of firearms has increased along with their use in crime.
No area in Luanda is immune from
crime. The U.S. Embassy has advised its personnel not to enter the wooded area
directly in front of the Embassy, and discourages them from walking along the
"Serpentine" road (Rua Nehru) leading from the Embassy to the
Marginal (Avenida 4 de Feveriero). Robberies and assaults involving expatriates
and local nationals have occurred in both of these areas. In 2019, three
shootings occurred in the area directly across from the U.S. Embassy building.
Additionally, there have been five armed home invasions within a 2-5 house
radius from U.S. Embassy official housing.
U.S. government personnel
traveling outside of Luanda must inform the Regional Security Office (RSO)
before departing. When traveling overland outside of Luanda, Embassy personnel
travel with off-road recovery equipment and an emergency beacon. Embassy
personnel require special RSO permission to drive outside of Luanda after dark,
mainly due to road safety conditions. Additionally, walking after dark (between
2200 and 0530) in Luanda and its adjoining suburbs is not advisable due to
Those living in or planning to visit the far
northern enclave province of Cabinda should be aware of security and safety concerns
outside Cabinda City proper. Over the past four years, armed groups have
targeted and attacked foreign interests, resulting in robbery, sexual assault,
and murder. Although the government increased its security presence in the
region, the threat of attack still exists.Militant
groups have indicated their intention to continue to conduct attacks on
foreigners and occasionally attack police and Angolan Armed Forces convoys and
The diamond-producing provinces of Lunda North
and South have the potential for civil unrest and crime. There have been
reports of violent incidents against foreigners, who require official
permission and documentation from the government of Angola to travel there.
Failure to meet these requirements may result in detention.
Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud, Taking Credit, Hotels: The Inns and Outs, and Considerations for Hotel Security.
As internet penetration increases globally,
Angola does not deviate from the norm in regard to cyber-intrusions. In 2019,
e-mail scams represented over 70% of attempted cyber intrusions in Angola. The
Government of Angola has introduced legislation to help mitigate cyberattacks,
and implemented a criminal code that defines strict penalties for cybercrime.
Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones: Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Major roads between Luanda and
the provincial capitals are improving, but some road conditions remain poor
while the infrastructure for pedestrians is lacking. Drunk driving is also a
problem. Other hazards include potholes, lack of traffic signals (and lack of
attention to signals), erratic driving habits, excessive speed, pedestrians,
and roaming animals. During the rainy season (November-April) roads and
bridges, already in poor condition, can become impassable and landmines may
become displaced, surfacing outside of known mine fields.
When driving outside of Luanda, other
than on primary roads between major cities, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is
useful. Secondary roads are often unpaved and nearly impassable. Major routes
though are paved in most areas, and feature gas stations and other roadside
Drivers need an international
driving permit or Angolan license to drive, but may use a U.S. license for one
Within and around Luanda, police
set up spontaneous roadblocks to check vehicle documentation. They may also
solicit bribes or request immediate payment of "fines" for alleged
minor infractions. Police and military officials are sometimes undisciplined;
do not challenge their authority. Make sure all vehicle documentation is
available for inspection. Resist paying bribes. Politely ask for a ticket or
for the officer’s name and badge number if they allege no violation. Ask to
contact the Embassy if they do not release you. Remain inside your vehicle with
doors locked and open the window slightly to communicate. Carry color
photocopies of your passport and other identity documents to give to security
or police officials. Report any incident to the U.S. Embassy.
In the event of an automobile
accident, remain at the scene until the police arrive. If a hostile mob forms
or you feel your safety is in danger, leave the scene and proceed directly to
the nearest police station to report the incident. Do not stop at the scene of
an accident where people have gathered, as mobs can develop quickly.
Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and
Evasive Driving Techniques; and
read the State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
Avoid the use of public buses. Avoid all use of public transportation known as
“candongueiros” or “taxistas,” (multi-passenger vans) and hire private
transport from a reliable source. Any form of public transportation is
unregulated, unreliable, and generally unsafe. Many vehicles suffer from poor maintenance. Petty
crime often occurs on crowded buses. In recent years, the U.S. Embassy has
surveyed several local taxi services and, in consultation with other Embassies,
determined that Allo Taxi, Morvic, Transcoop SA,
Divisão, and Universal are acceptable. Taxi services that use an on-demand application are generally
safer because the driver is traceable to the taxi company.
As there is no direct commercial air service to
the United States by carriers registered in Angola, the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Angola’s Civil Aviation
Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
aviation safety standards. Review
OSAC’s report, Security In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Luanda
as being a LOW-threat location for
terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. While there do not appear to be
any international terrorist groups currently active in Luanda, the global
nature of terrorism and developing immigration controls make Angola an
attractive transit point for potential transnational terrorists and criminal enterprises.
The Front for the Liberation of
the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) is the only known local group that has employed
terrorist tactics in the country in the past five years. Its precise
composition and numbers are unknown. These incidents, while small in overall
numbers, have occurred with little/no warning. In recent years, FLEC's methods
have shifted from kinetic attacks to those of a propaganda war. Regional
terrorist threats (e.g. Boko Haram, AQIM, and al-Shabaab) are a concern, but
these groups have never carried out an attack in Angola. The government takes
the threat of terrorism, including the danger of attacks from transnational
groups, seriously. The U.S. Embassy works closely with Angolan authorities and
other partners in the fight against terrorism.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Luanda
as being a MEDIUM-threat location
for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government
interests. There are risks of civil unrest in Luanda. As the Government of Angola increasingly opens civil liberties,
political protests are becoming more prevalent throughout Luanda. Although
these protests have not targeted the U.S. or other foreign interests, they have
on occasion turned violent. Heavy-handed police response complicates the
situation and creates an environment of increased risk to passersby and
adjacent neighborhoods. Often these demonstrations will happen near major
intersections and road junctions, causing traffic delays.
When demonstrations occur in
Luanda, authorities are largely able to maintain control. Angolan law allows
for and protects freedom of speech and assembly. Security forces are generally
on hand when a demonstration takes place, ostensibly for the security of all
parties. The law requires any group to notify the provincial government before
a public gathering can occur. The provincial government may request the group
postpone or cancel the event if the group did not register, or if it deems the
demonstration may disrupt public peace or conflict with another activity.
Sometimes, authorities use administrative requirements (e.g. a prohibition on
protesting near a government building) to stifle public gatherings. Authorities
have arrested and detained protestors for marching and gathering in public
places without authorization.
Authorized large public
gatherings may have a neutral or pro-government tone, but opposition protests
also occur. Both spontaneous and planned civil disturbances and demonstrations,
primarily related to governance and economic issues, do occur.
Maintain security awareness at
all times, and avoid unknown crowds, political rallies, and street
demonstrations, as they create uncertain safety situations. When a
demonstration occurs that the government deems disruptive, police response can
be heavy-handed, resulting in clashes with authorities and arrests. On
occasion, confrontations with have resulted in injuries to demonstrators and bystanders.
Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
Angolans seldom express anti-U.S. sentiment toward
U.S. citizens in Luanda, either official or non-official. U.S. interests are
generally not targets of political violence.
Some parts of Luanda are
vulnerable to flooding and fires. A multi-year drought has resulted in crop
failures throughout much of the south. The government continues to address this
Luanda is an increasingly modern
city with consumer services ranging from upscale hotels to fast food outlets.
However, development in rural areas, outside of major provincial cities, has
lagged. Travelers should understand the degree of self-sufficiency needed in
the areas they will visit when traveling, as the level of infrastructure
development varies greatly outside of Luanda.
Cellular phones are the norm, as
landlines are non-existent. It is possible to purchase a SIM card locally and
use a U.S.-compatible cell phone. The major cellular providers are Angola
Telecom and Unitel.
Angola's oil-based economy
presents a host of economic espionage targets for malicious actors.
Angolan constitutional and
statutory protections against government searches are less rigid than those in
the United States.
ATMs dispense local currency only,
and frequently malfunction or run out of cash. A limited number of hotels and
restaurants accept credit cards.
Criminals target women driving or walking by
themselves. Statistics on prosecutions for violence against women are not
available. Authorities do not prosecute most rape cases. Domestic violence
counseling centers, shelters, and various treatment centers and free legal
assistance are available to abused women. According to a survey conducted by
the country’s National Statistics Institute, one in every five women suffers
domestic physical violence “frequently or from time to time,” and 31% of women
between the ages of 15 and 49 report experiencing domestic violence at some
point in their lives. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for female travelers.
There are no legal restrictions on same-sex
sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI+ events in Angola, although it is
not socially acceptable. The National Assembly passed a new penal code in 2019
that decriminalizes same-sex sexual relations and makes it illegal to
discriminate based on sexual orientation. At year’s end, the penal code
remained unpublished. Local NGOs report that LGBTI+ individuals face violence, discrimination,
and harassment. The government, through its health agencies, has instituted a
series of initiatives to decrease discrimination against LGBTI+ individuals. Discrimination
is rarely reported to authorities; when reported, LGBTI+ individuals assert
that sometimes police refuse to register their grievances. Review the State
Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+ travelers.
Religious leaders continued to criticize the
2018 decree that led to the closure of more than 2,000 places of worship and
the registration requirements under the new religion law. Several also
complained that the government did not recognize theology training completed
abroad. Political leaders from the ruling and opposition parties – citing
public opinion – called for increased government action against churches that
committed financial fraud and religious groups that condoned practices that
they said violated human rights or cultural norms. Some religious leaders
acknowledged a perception that the majority-foreign Islamic community allegedly
posed a cultural and security threat. Jewish and Ismaili Muslim religious
minorities, mostly concentrated in the business sector, report no issues
concerning religious freedom, and state they have good relations with
high-level government officials. Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice, and
the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based travelers.
Major hotels have ramps. Persons with
disabilities face limited access to transportation, public buildings, hotels,
and communication accommodations. There are few sidewalks and no curb cuts, and
most buildings lack elevators. Review the State Department’s webpage on
security for travelers with disabilities.
Angola is a transshipment point
for cocaine destined for Western Europe and other African states, particularly
Kidnappings decreased in 2018 and 2019, particularly
those involving ransom, which were more common in previous years. In 2017,
kidnappers took and killed a famous female Angolan journalist. In 2016, there
were several high-profile kidnappings-for-ransom and even a daylight murder of
a Portuguese national who resisted being abducted by the kidnappers. In 2015,
there was an alleged, but difficult to document, increase with a series of
kidnappings-for-ransom targeting Chinese nationals. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
Avoid taking any
firearms or ammunition into Angola. Anyone caught entering Angola with firearms
or ammunition may face severe penalties, including prison time. Read the State Department’s webpage on customs and import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into
or out of other countries.
Certain regions of Angola, particularly provinces
in the south and east, suffer from landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) as a
legacy of Angola’s civil war. The United States continues to support demining
efforts to decrease this threat. The Angolan government has pledged to work
towards its goal of being landmine-free by 2025. Use particular caution outside
major cities in Benguela, Bie, Cuando Cubango, Huila, Huambo, and Moxico
provinces, all of which have active demining known areas that contain high
numbers of landmines and UXO.
officials is illegal and can lead to expulsion from the country. Angolan
authorities confiscated the U.S. passports of a family for several weeks after
they complained to immigration officials about the time it took to process
their visas and passports at the airport. Review OSAC’s report, Lèse
Majesté: Watching what you say (and type) abroad.
It is illegal to take pictures or
use binoculars, maps, or GPS near government buildings, military installations,
and key infrastructure. Authorities could confiscate your photographic
equipment, and fine, detain, and/or arrest you. Do not take photos of people
without their permission. Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.
Foreigners must always carry
identification. If possible, U.S. citizens should carry a certified copy of
your passport and visa/immigration documents to avoid the risk of theft or loss
of original documents.
The emergency line in Angola is 113. Angolan Police continue to improve. Although professional
shortcomings still exist, 2019 has seen a dramatic drop in police corruption
and reports of graft. Police often set up checkpoints to verify vehicles are
properly registered and have the required insurance documents. These
checkpoints also help deter criminal activity in the local area. English-speaking
police are rare, and language skills outside of Portuguese are very limited.
In most cases of police
interaction, being respectful to the officer will go a long way in ending the
stop. Detained individuals have the right to request the detaining officer's
name and badge number. Angolan officers receive training in this requirement,
and generally comply with such requests.
The national police, controlled
by the Interior Ministry, are responsible for internal security and law
enforcement. The Criminal Investigation Services (SIC), also under the Interior
Ministry, are responsible for preventing and investigating domestic crimes. The
Expatriate and Migration Services and the Border Guard Police, in the Interior Ministry,
are responsible for migration law enforcement. The state intelligence and
security service reports to the presidency, and investigates sensitive state
security matters. The Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) are responsible for external
security but also have domestic security responsibilities, including border
security, expulsion of irregular migrants, and small-scale actions against FLEC
separatists in Cabinda. The government has mechanisms to investigate and punish
abuse and corruption. Security forces are generally effective, although
sometimes brutal, at maintaining stability.
Medical facilities and services do
not always meet international standards. Adequate care for serious medical
emergencies is limited to Luanda, where there are several well-staffed and
equipped private clinics. Some of these facilities offer 24-hour service with a
general practice physician and specialists on call.
Find contact information for available medical
services and available air ambulance services on the Embassy's Medical
Overseas medical insurance and
evacuation insurance are beneficial for visitors not affiliated with a foreign
embassy or major company in Angola. However, there is no legal requirement that
travelers carry such coverage. Review OSAC’s report, Medical
Evacuation: A Primer, and the State Department’s webpage on insurance overseas.
Angola requires proof of Yellow
Fever vaccination to enter the country. The State Department Medical Office
strongly recommends the use of malaria prophylaxis. Angola is fighting ongoing
outbreaks of measles and vaccine-derived polio. Seasonal cholera and dengue
outbreaks are common, and rabies is endemic. Angola is on the WHO list of
high-burden countries for tuberculosis. Malaria is also endemic in Angola; 4%
of global deaths from malaria in 2018 occurred in Angola. The CDC offers
additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Angola.
The number of new HIV infections appears
to be rising in Angola, contrary to the decreasing number globally.
Use bottled water whenever
possible. Most major hotels and restaurants will offer bottled water.
Restaurants expatriates frequent are generally safe, but avoid purchasing food
from street vendors or facilities with questionable sanitation. Review to
OSAC's report, I'm
Drinking What in My Water?
Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Traveling with Medication, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council Information
The OSAC Country Council in
Luanda meets on an ad hoc basis. Interested private-sector security managers
should contact OSAC's Africa team with
any questions or to join.
US Embassy Contact Information
Rua Houari Boumedienne #32 Luanda, CP 6468
Business hours: 0730-1730 Monday-Thursday; 0730-1200 Friday
Before you travel, consider the following