Benguela, Angola

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Benguela, Angola

Region: Benguela


Geographic Coordinates: -12.550000, 13.416700
Temperature Range: 18.0°C to 30.0°C (64°F to 86°F)
Climate: Benguela, Angola has a dry and warm climate throughout the year with low precipitation.
Population: 561775
Language: Portuguese

Benguela is a coastal city in western Angola and serves as the capital of Benguela Province. The population of the city is approximately 500, 000 people. It sits on a bay that leads to the Atlantic Ocean, Making it an important port for commercial and industrial activities. The history of Benguela dates back to the 17th century when Portuguese explorers arrived in the area. The city was established as a trading hub for slaves, Ivory, And other goods between Africa and Europe. However, With slavery’s abolition in the 19th century, Benguela’s economy shifted towards agriculture and fishing.

Today, Benguela is known for its beautiful beaches such as Baia Azul (Blue Bay) and Praia da Morena (Morena Beach), Which attract tourists from all over Angola as well as neighboring countries like Namibia and South Africa. The city also has several historic sites that reflect its colonial past such as Forte de Sao Filipe (Saint Philip’s Fortress). In addition to tourism, Agriculture plays a significant role in Benguela’s economy due to favorable climate conditions that allow crops like coffee, Sisal fiber, Cotton maize (corn), Beans among others to thrive.

Fishing also supports local livelihoods with various species caught along Angola’s coastline including tuna fish. Benguela has several universities such as Instituto Superior Politécnico de Benguela(ISPB)and Universidade Katyavala Bwila( UKB). These institutions offer courses ranging from engineering programs to social sciences making it an educational hub not only for Angolans but also international students who come here seeking quality education. The culture of this region reflects a mix of African traditions with Portuguese influences due to colonization by Portugal over four centuries ago.

This can be observed in the local cuisine which features seafood stews made with Portuguese spices and herbs. The city also celebrates several festivals throughout the year such as Carnival which is celebrated in February or March, Marking the beginning of Lent. Benguela is a beautiful coastal city that offers a mix of history, Culture and natural beauty. With its rich colonial past and diverse economy driven by agriculture, Fishing and education it has become an important commercial hub for Angola. Its beaches are breathtakingly beautiful while its universities offer quality education to both local and international students.

Visitors can enjoy delicious cuisine as well as immerse themselves in the vibrant culture of this region during various festivals held throughout the year.



Important Landmarks

  1. Fortaleza de São Filipe – a historical fortress built in the 17th century by the Portuguese.
  2. Praia da Baía Azul – a beautiful beach with crystal clear waters and white sand.
  3. Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Pópulo – a church built in the 18th century with an impressive baroque architecture.
  4. Museu Nacional de Arqueologia – a museum that showcases Angola’s rich cultural heritage and history.
  5. Miradouro da Lua – a viewpoint that offers stunning views of Benguela’s rugged coastline and unique lunar landscape.
  6. Parque Nacional do Iona – a national park located on the border between Namibia and Angola, known for its diverse wildlife such as lions, elephants, zebras, etc.
  7. Praia Morena – another popular beach with calm waters ideal for swimming and sunbathing.
  8. Cidade Alta de Benguela – the old town center of Benguela filled with colonial-era buildings, narrow streets, and colorful markets.
  9. Estádio Municipal dos Coqueiros – A soccer stadium where local teams play their matches.
  10. Porto Comercial De Lobito- A commercial port located on Lobito Bay.

Primary Industries

  1. The major industries and businesses in Benguela, Angola are diverse and include:
    • Fishing
    • Agriculture
    • Mining
    • Manufacturing
    • Tourism
    • Construction
    • Retail trade
  2. Benguela is known for:
    • Its rich fishing grounds that support a significant fishing industry
    • Agricultural activities such as the production of coffee, cotton, fruits, and vegetables
    • Significant mineral deposits such as iron ore and manganese which are mined in the region
  3. Several manufacturing companies operate in the area that produce goods such as:
    • Textiles
    • Cement products
    • Food processing
  4. Tourism is an emerging industry due to:
    • Beautiful beaches
    • Historical sites like Forte de Sao Filipe de Benguela (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  5. The construction industry is rapidly growing due to increasing infrastructure development projects in the area
  6. Finally, there are many small shops and markets that sell a variety of goods ranging from clothing to electronics to household items which make up the retail trade sector

Noteable History

  1. Portuguese colonization: Benguela was founded in the 17th century by Portuguese colonizers who established trade routes for slaves, ivory, and other goods.
  2. Slave trade: Benguela was a major center of the transatlantic slave trade, with thousands of slaves passing through its ports each year.
  3. Revolt of 1849: In 1849, a group of enslaved people in Benguela rebelled against their captors, leading to a violent conflict that lasted several weeks.
  4. Liberation struggle: During the 20th century, Benguela played an important role in Angola’s struggle for independence from Portugal.
  5. Agostinho Neto: One of Angola’s most famous political figures and the country’s first president after independence was born in Icolo e Bengo near Luanda but spent much time in exile in Benguela during his career as an anti-colonial activist.
  6. Chaka Ngola: A legendary king who ruled over the Kingdom of Ndongo (which included present-day Benguela) during the early 17th century.
  7. Francisco José Tenreiro: A renowned poet and writer who was born near Lobito (a town close to Benguela) and is considered one of Angola’s most important literary figures.
  8. Antonio Jacinto: Another prominent Angolan writer and politician who spent time in exile in Portugal before returning to help lead his country to independence; he also served as Minister of Culture after independence until his death from AIDS-related complications at age fifty-four.

Museums and Things To See

  1. Fort of São Filipe: A historic fort built by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
  2. Benguela Museum: A museum that showcases the history and culture of Benguela, including exhibits on slavery, fishing, and local traditions.
  3. National Slavery Museum: A museum dedicated to the history of slavery in Angola and its impact on African societies.
  4. Monumento ao Trabalhador: A monument dedicated to workers in Benguela that is located in a beautiful park with gardens and fountains.
  5. Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Pópulo: A beautiful church built in the 18th century that features stunning architecture and religious artwork.
  6. Casa das Artes de Benguela: An art center that hosts exhibitions, workshops, and cultural events throughout the year.
  7. Praia Morena Beach: One of the most popular beaches in Benguela with white sand beaches and crystal clear waters perfect for swimming or sunbathing.
  8. Lobito Botanical Garden: An expansive botanical garden featuring a wide variety of plant species from around Angola as well as other parts of Africa.
  9. Benguela Railway Museum: A museum showcasing railway heritage which includes old locomotives, carriages, etc.



Cultural Events

  1. Festa da Cidade de Benguela (Benguela City Festival) – This festival celebrates the founding of Benguela and includes music, dance, parades, and cultural performances.
  2. Festival Internacional de Música da Baía Farta (Baía Farta International Music Festival) – This festival brings together musicians from Angola and other countries to perform a variety of musical genres.
  3. Carnaval de Benguela (Benguela Carnival) – This carnival is held annually before Lent and features colorful parades with floats, costumes, and music.
  4. Feira do Livro de Benguela (Benguela Book Fair) – This annual event promotes literacy and reading by showcasing books from local authors as well as international publications.
  5. Semana Cultural da Universidade Katyavala Bwila (Katyavala Bwila University Cultural Week) – This week-long event includes cultural performances, exhibitions, debates, and workshops organized by the university community.
  6. Feira Agropecuária e Industrial de Benguela (Benguela Agricultural and Industrial Fair) – This fair showcases agricultural products, livestock breeding techniques, industrial machinery, technology innovations for farming practices in Angola.
  7. Encontro Nacional dos Escritores Angolanos em Benguela (National Meeting of Angolan Writers in Benguela) – A meeting where writers from all over Angola come together to share their experiences about literature in the country.
  8. Festival Internacional do Peixe e Marisco em Lobito – A seafood festival celebrated annually that attracts visitors from all over the country to enjoy fresh seafood prepared by local chefs along with live music performances.

Cuisine

  • Calulu – a traditional Angolan dish made with fish or meat, vegetables, and palm oil. It is often served with funge (a type of cornmeal porridge).
  • Churrascaria Girassol – a Brazilian-style steakhouse that serves grilled meats and seafood.
  • Restaurante O Pirata – a seafood restaurant located on the beachfront that serves fresh fish and shellfish.
  • Restaurante O Pescador – another seafood restaurant that is known for its grilled lobster.
  • Casa Rosa – a restaurant that specializes in Portuguese cuisine, including dishes like bacalhau (salt cod) and cozido (a meat stew).
  • Cantinho da Tia Graça – a small restaurant that serves traditional Angolan dishes like muamba de galinha (chicken stew) and feijão de óleo de palma (palm oil bean stew).
  • Café Del Mar Benguela – a trendy café/bar located on the beachfront that serves light bites, cocktails, and coffee.
  • Restaurante Quimbas – this restaurant offers both Portuguese & Angolan cuisines at affordable rates which makes it one of the best places to try out local food in Benguela city

  • Parks and Recreation

    1. Praia Morena Park is a beachfront park that offers visitors a playground, picnic area, and sports facilities.
    2. Parque da Baía Azul is a scenic park that features walking trails, gardens, and stunning views of the ocean.
    3. Parque Nacional da Quiçama is a national park located outside of Benguela that provides hiking trails and wildlife viewing opportunities for nature lovers.
    4. Praia do Lobito is a popular beach located just outside of Benguela in the town of Lobito where visitors can enjoy swimming and sunbathing.
    5. Campo de Golf do Clube Náutico da Ilha Azul is a golf course situated on the island of Ilha Azul near Benguela for those who enjoy playing golf.
    6. Centro Cultural Português de Benguela is an arts center that hosts various cultural events including concerts, exhibitions, and theater performances to entertain tourists and locals alike.
    7. Casa das Artes is an art museum featuring works by local artists as well as international exhibits to showcase different forms of art.

    Note: Please be aware that this information may not be up-to-date or accurate due to COVID-19 restrictions or other factors affecting tourism industry in Angola at this time.


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