ETHNIC GROUPS AND LANGUAGES

Angola Table of Contents

Although Portuguese was Angola's official language, the great majority of Angolans (more than 95 percent of the total population) used languages of the Bantu family--some closely related, others remotely so--that were spoken by most Africans living south of the equator and by substantial numbers north of it.

Angola's remaining indigenous peoples fell into two disparate categories. A small number, all in southern Angola, spoke so-called Click languages (after a variety of sounds characteristic of them) and differed physically from local African populations. These Click speakers shared characteristics, such as small stature and lighter skin color, linking them to the hunting and gathering bands of southern Africa sometimes referred to by Europeans as Bushmen. The second category consisted of mestišos, largely urban and living in western Angola. Most spoke Portuguese, although some were also acquainted with African languages, and a few may have used such a language exclusively.

The Definition of Ethnicity
Ethnolinguistic Categories
Ovimbundu
Mbundu
Bakongo
Lunda-Chokwe
Nganguela
Ovambo, Nyaneka-Humbe, Herero, and Others
Hunters, Gatherers, Herders, and Others
Mesticos

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress