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With one of the most economically unequal societies in the world, Angola's contrast between the haves and have-nots is one of the biggest causes of culture shock here.
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 the country.
On the other hand, Luanda is an El Dorado-like place for the rich and connected. The pot-holed roads 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 that, within a lifetime, has undergone colonisation, civil war and then massive oil wealth.