Nearly three decades of civil war has left much of the country's population living below the poverty line, and despite an expanding national economy and government efforts to develop post-conflict Angola, the picture remains bleak for many Angolans.

With one of the most economically unequal societies in the world, many new arrivals will find that the contrast between the 'haves' and 'have-nots' is one of the biggest causes of culture shock in Angola.


Inequality in Angola

With much of the population living without access to clean water and electricity, or adequate healthcare and schools, inequality is a reality throughout Angola.

That said, for the rich and connected, Luanda is an El Dorado-like place. The pot-holed streets are jammed with an astounding array of expensive cars taking their owners to exquisite restaurants overlooking marinas full of yachts and luxury speedboats. In contrast, the streets are also home to groups of children willing to wash cars in exchange for something to eat, and people scraping together a meagre income to survive.


Language barrier in Angola

Portuguese is the official language and few locals outside of the oil and gas industry are likely to speak or understand English. 

Angolan society is largely closed to foreigners and relationships are, on the whole, restricted to the workplace. Without a good command of Portuguese, attempts at interaction are often unfruitful and making friends outside of the expat community can be challenging.


Managing culture shock in Angola

Expats arriving in Angola will generally react one of two ways: either they retreat into an expat bubble until their contract is over, or they throw themselves into trying to do something to help – volunteering at a local orphanage, organising food distributions or teaching children to read and write.

New arrivals in Angola should come prepared to be challenged – emotionally, psychologically and professionally – and come armed with a good understanding of the complexities and challenges facing a country which, within a lifetime, has undergone colonisation, civil war and then massive oil wealth.