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Expats are often concerned about their personal safety in Angola – which is warranted in light of the country’s war-ravaged past and present high levels of crime. Though years of intense civil strife officially came to an end in 2002, there are still concerns around poverty, disease, shattered infrastructure and landmines dotted throughout the countryside.
Crime in Angola
Muggings and robberies are common in Luanda, as well as in provincial areas, and expats are advised against travelling alone at night or travelling through areas that are known to be crime hotspots.
Areas popular with foreigners are often targeted, so expats should be especially cautious when moving between nightclubs on the Ilha do Cabo and perusing Luanda’s marketplaces. Other high-risk areas in Luanda include the Serpentine road, Sembezanda and the Roche Pinto slum area south of the city.
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
Several political groups in the northern Cabinda province have targeted foreigners in the past and there have been a number of kidnappings in recent years, as well as the much publicised 2010 attack on the Togolese national football team. Although there have been no recent significant incidents in the region, due to the insecurity, a number of foreign governments advise their nationals against travelling to the Cabinda enclave, 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 developments.
Road safety in Angola
While major networks around Luanda are improving, road conditions are still poor and a four-wheel drive vehicle is needed for longer distances – which should be done with at least two other vehicles. 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.
Landmines left over from the civil war are also an ongoing concern in rural Angola. Landmine clearance projects are still underway and areas with suspected landmines are usually clearly marked. Expats should stick to main roads and avoid driving off the beaten track as much as possible. Expats 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.
Driving to Angola’s northern and southern Lunda provinces should only be done if absolutely necessary. The Angolan government is extremely sensitive about entering these diamond-producing areas, and failure to produce the right documentation can result in detention.
Most expats living in Luanda have private drivers. Taxis and public transport are mostly informal, and are rarely used by foreign nationals.
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