Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Embassy Angola does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED LUANDA CITY AS BEING A CRITICAL-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Please review OSAC’s Angola-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
Angola, the seventh largest country in Africa, is approximately twice the size of Texas with slightly fewer inhabitants. The country’s geography is marked by a diverse collection of savannahs, forests, plains, jungles, mountains, and desert. Authorities continue to improve their capacities; however, the country’s worsening economic situation and associated criminality remain a serious threat to safety and security in Angola.
According to official police statistics, crime increased in 2016. The Embassy also observed an increase in crime in Luanda, with a significant increase in the category of kidnapping for ransom. The primary criminal threat to the expatriate community in Luanda remains robbery. Assaults and carjackings, sometimes escalating to homicide, have been recorded throughout Luanda. Violence is more common after dark, though care should be taken at all times to avoid becoming a victim. Travel in groups when possible and try to include at least one person capable of communicating in Portuguese.
When in your residence, use all security devices and shut/lock (double lock, if possible) doors when you are inside. If you have a safe haven, sleep there with the doors locked. Do not investigate suspicious noises yourself; send your guard or call for help. Be alert when you depart/arrive. Criminals will often observe and gather information on their target before acting. Use a peephole viewer before opening the door/gate. Keep keys secure and in a safe place. Do not leave valuables lying around. Use secure storage for valuables and store expensive items when you go away. Lock doors and remove keys to areas that you consider off-limits. Take great care in hiring domestic staff, guards, and drivers, and avoid temporary help whenever possible. You should always be notified before workers arrive. Do not allow them to be unsupervised; limit their exposure to your property as much as possible. Exercise care regarding what you discuss and with whom.
While Internet penetration continues to increase, Angola has not had major issues with cybercrime. Occasionally, the Embassy learns of scams involving the theft of phone credits or identities via cellular or Internet networks. Threats against cyber infrastructure appear minimal. RSO is unaware of any serious attempts to improperly infiltrate private or government networks.
Other Areas of Concern
U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from entering the wooded area directly in front of the U.S. Embassy and are specifically prohibited from walking the “Serpentine” (Rua Nehru) area leading from the U.S. Embassy to the Marginal (Avenida 4 de Feveriero) area after dark. Many expatriates and local nationals have been assaulted and robbed in both of these areas. No areas of Luanda are off-limits to U.S. Embassy personnel in vehicles, though staff traveling outside of Luanda must inform the RSO before departing. Depending on their itinerary, satellite phones, dig out equipment, and/or emergency beacons are provided. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from driving outside of Luanda after dark.
Certain areas of Angola, particularly in the southern provinces, continue to suffer from landmines and unexploded ordinance, but demining efforts continue to decrease the threat. Progress continued in 2016 with a goal of being landmine-free in 2025. The Embassy urges travelers to use caution in the provinces of Benguela, Huila, Huambo, Bie, and Cuando Cubango, all of which have a higher number of landmines and unexploded ordinance than other areas of the country.
Americans living in or planning to visit Angola’s far northern enclave province of Cabinda should be aware of threats to their safety outside of Cabinda City. In 2008 and 2009, armed groups specifically targeted and attacked expatriates; these armed attacks resulted in the rape, robbery, and murder of a small number of expatriates. Following these attacks, the government increased its security presence in the region. Private sector representatives in the Cabinda area continue to report a heavy security presence by Angolan forces.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
The principal safety threat is vehicle accidents. Serious accidents in Luanda are less common than in the provinces. Traffic accidents increased throughout Angola in 2016. This is attributable to unpredictable roads that were once new but now affected by stretches of potholes, inexperienced drivers, increased traffic, and continued abuse of alcohol while driving.
Due to ongoing economic challenges, the majority of road improvement projects outside Luanda have ceased. Luanda remains a congested city for driving during peak traffic hours. Improvements in traffic flow are likely due to increasing economic stress (fewer vehicles) and infrastructure modernization. Very few intersections have functioning traffic signals, and those that do are sometimes ignored. Potholes are common, particularly outside of the central business district and off of main roads. Vendors and other pedestrians regularly dart in/out of traffic. These and other hazards complicate driving.
In general, road conditions outside of Luanda slowly declined in 2016. Major routes, particularly to the south, feature gas stations and other roadside services; however, the road surface is pitted and suffers from large potholes. While some off road-type driving should be expected on any journey of significant distance, travel between major cities is manageable with a four-wheel drive vehicle. Travel on secondary roads, however, often requires additional equipment to manage unpaved and sometimes nearly impassable roads.
The government continues with its robust efforts to enforce national traffic and safety laws, including vehicle inspections, enforcement of speeding laws, and public awareness campaigns to promote safe driving. Officials regularly will request a bribe from drivers, including expatriates. Drivers are encouraged to have all of their paperwork in order so that they can better resist such requests.
For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices” or “Road Safety in Africa.”
Public Transportation Conditions
Use of public transportation, other than reputable taxis, is highly discouraged. Many vehicles are poorly maintained, and petty crime aboard crowded buses can be a problem.
In 2016, the RSO inspected several local taxi services and, in consultation with other Embassy offices, determined that Morvic (tel. 946 493 118), Transcoop (tel. 924 306 677), Divisao (tel. 923 696 156), and Universal (tel. 942 641 476) are acceptable for use by Embassy personnel.
The Transportation Security Administration regularly inspects Luanda International Airport (LAD). Security remains adequate and cooperation between Angolan and international security partners in aviation security is regular. The government anticipated the opening of a new international airport in 2017; however, due to the country’s economic situation, the opening may be delayed.
Other Travel Conditions
Angola received cruise ship visits in 2016, a reflection of the country’s success in marketing its historic and ecological sites. Angolan police have provided, in cooperation with security representatives from cruise lines, appropriate protection for visitors. Travelers on a cruise ship should closely heed security guidance from their ship’s security team and Angolan authorities.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED LUANDA CITY AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Frente para a Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda, FLEC) is the only known, local group that has employed terrorist tactics in the country. Its precise composition and numbers are unknown.
- In December 2014, FLEC elements ambushed an army patrol, killing one solider and seizing munitions.
- In January 2010, FLEC attacked a visiting Togolese national soccer team, killing three and injuring nine. FLEC called the killings a mistake, stating their actual target had been the Angolan forces guarding the team.
These incidents, while small in overall numbers, have occurred with little/no warning.
Regional terrorist threats (Boko Haram, AQIM, al-Shabaab) are a concern but have never carried out an attack in Angola. The government takes the threat of terrorism, including the danger of attacks from transnational groups (al-Qa’ida), seriously. The Embassy works closely with Angolan and other partners to collect information about threats and to disseminate that information to the U.S. community as quickly as possible.
Some anti-American and anti-Western sentiment exists but is rarely expressed openly. U.S. government facilities and U.S. private sector organizations have not typically been targeted by protestors. No demonstrations took place near the Embassy in 2016.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED LUANDA CITY AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Demonstrations occur infrequently in Luanda. The Constitution and law protect freedom of speech and assembly, but security forces regularly impede demonstrations before they start. The law requires any group to notify the provincial government before a public demonstration takes place. The provincial government may request the group postpone or cancel the demonstration if it deems the demonstration to be disruptive to public peace or in conflict with another public event. Sometimes administrative requirements (a prohibition on protesting near a government building) have been used to stifle public dissent. Protestors have been arrested and detained for marching and gathering in public places without receiving consent. While most authorized, large public gatherings have a neutral or pro-government tone, opposition protests have sometimes taken place. Many gatherings and most demonstrations are accompanied by police, ostensibly for the security of all parties. When a demonstration takes place that the government deems disruptive, the police response is usually swift and effective. It is prudent for expatriates to avoid any large gatherings and be mindful of the possibility of violence surrounding demonstrations. Several marches occurred in the Avalade and Nelito Solares neighborhoods of Luanda in 2016. On three occasions, confrontations with police resulted in injuries to several demonstrators.
Some parts of Luanda are vulnerable to flooding and fires.
A drought has resulted in crop failures throughout much of the south, beginning in 2013. The government continues to address this concern.
Luanda is an increasingly modern city with consumer services ranging from upscale hotels to fast food outlets. However, rural development outside of major provincial cities has lagged, and visitors should plan on being self-sufficient when traveling to certain areas.
Angola’s oil-based economy presents a host of economic espionage targets for malicious actors. Ongoing vigilance is prudent.
Angolan constitutional and statutory protections against government searches are less rigid than those in the U.S. As travelers, Americans are subject to investigation by authorities, who are often curious about foreign visitors.
Personal Identity Concerns
In late-2013, there were purported statements made by some members of the government that practitioners of Islam were not welcome in the country. The government later clarified that these statements were inaccurate, noting that certain religious groups lacked the required number of adherents to register as an officially recognized religious organization. Government action against illegal immigration is sometimes misconstrued as against Islam. However, the leader of the largest Muslim community in Luanda stated that his community does not feel threatened by police actions and that Muslims in Angola are allowed to worship freely.
- In December 2014, the government rounded-up hundreds of illegal aliens, an action that some attempted to characterize as heavy-handed. The Embassy observed some of this operation and saw no evidence of impropriety.
- In 2016, there was another roundup of illegal aliens and again, there was no evidence of impropriety.
Traditional narcotics violence is largely absent. However, many petty crimes are committed by criminals who are under the influence of drugs, usually alcohol.
Kidnapping increased in 2016, particularly kidnapping-for-ransom, which has been rare in recent years.
- 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 late 2015, there was an alleged, but difficult to document, increase with a series of kidnapping for ransom’s targeting Chinese nationals.
Angola’s police continue to improve their capacities, though their service is challenged by issues of corruption, resources, and training.
Police are not always proactive or responsive to reports of crime or requests for assistance. Also, English language ability is limited. Avoid confrontations with the police.
Unauthorized photography of certain sites (government buildings, similar locations) might result in fines/arrest. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report “Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.”
Travelers are required to carry identification. To avoid the risk of theft or confiscation of original documents, U.S. citizens are encouraged to keep their passports in a secure place and carry a certified copy of their passport and visa/immigration document with them. For short-term visitors, passports should be carried. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy can prepare certified copies of American passports at no charge for individuals who are registered with the Embassy. For longer-term travelers, the Ministry of External Relations (Ministério das Relações Exteriores) issues identification cards. If questioned by local authorities, provide the certified copies of ID documents as proof of identity and citizenship. When traveling between provinces, police often require original identity documents and have reportedly detained expatriates for providing certified copies of originals in lieu of original documents.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
Detained individuals have the right to request the detaining officer’s name and badge number. Angolan officers are trained in this requirement and have generally complied with such requests.
Crime Victim Assistance
Police: 113 or 222-332-301
Fire: 115 or 222-323-333
In the event of an emergency during business hours (7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Mon-Thurs, 7:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Friday), U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy by calling (244) 222-641-000 to reach the Consular Section. In the event of an emergency outside of business hours, U.S. citizen should contact the U.S. Embassy by calling the Duty Officer through the afterhours emergency number: (244) 923 404 209; if the first afterhours contact number is not available, please call (244) 923- 640-154 or (244) 222 64 1112.
Angola’s Ministry of Interior administers the National Police, Diplomatic Police, Border Police, and other police agencies.
Angola’s Ministry of Finance oversees the country’s Immigration and Customs authorities.
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.
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
Alvalade Clinic: 222-323-540
Clinica Girassol: 226-698-000
Elf Aquitaine Clinic: 222-352-633/354-511
Luanda Medical Center: 395-869-560 / 944-779-979
Medigroup Mutamba: 222-393-783/395-283
Sagrada Esperanca Clinic: 222-309-360/309-034
For ambulance/nurse and for doctor in Luanda (Avenida Mortala Mohammed, Ilha de Luanda): 923-330-845 In Johannesburg, South Africa: +27-11-54-1100 (24 hours)
Available Air Ambulance Services
International SOS, which also runs an air evacuation service, provides the only reliable local air ambulance service. SOS works on a fee-for-service or subscription basis. The SOS ambulance will transport to the clinic most appropriate for the patient's condition - 923-441-900.
Overseas medical insurance and evacuation insurance are essential for visitors not affiliated with a foreign embassy or major company in country, though there is no legal requirement that travelers carry such coverage.
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
Bottled water is available in hotels and restaurants and should be used. Restaurants frequented by expatriates are generally safe, but visitors should take care and avoid purchasing food from street vendors or facilities with questionable sanitation.
The State Department Medical Office strongly recommends the use of malaria prophylaxes. Angola suffers from high rates of malaria, cholera, intestinal parasites, rabies, and a variety of contagious and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Angola.
OSAC Country Council Information
The Angola OSAC Country Council is active and meets regularly to exchange security information and discuss relevant criminal trends. Membership is open to any American-owned, not-for-profit organization or enterprise incorporated in the U.S., organizations that employ Americans, and foreign missions. For further information on membership, please contact the Angola OSAC RSO co-chair. Please contact OSAC’s Africa team with any questions.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
Embassy Address and Hours of Operation
U.S. Embassy Rua Houari Boumedienne #32 Luanda, Angola C.P. 6468
Business hours: 0730-1730 Mon-Thur; 0730-1200 Friday
Embassy Contact Numbers
Tel: +244-222-64-1000 +244-222-44-5481 +244-222-44-7028 +244-222-44-6224
Point of contact for this report is RSO Duane Gordon.
American visitors are encouraged to register with STEP before arrival in country to facilitate consular assistance should the need arise.
Angola Country Information Sheet