Food & Daily life

Rich and poor, side by side

Around two-fifths of Angolans live in rural villages, where houses are traditionally of wattle and daub construction, with thatch roofs. Life here follows ancient patterns, since few rural communities have running water or electricity.

Vertical slums

In some places, Luanda’s poor have taken over blocks of half-built flats. Many stories high, these abandoned construction sites are now the home for multiple families on every floor, each having sectioned off their own space to live.

The majority of Angolans now live in urban areas, with over a quarter of the population (5 million people) residing in the capital, Luanda. Many fled there as refugees during the civil war – see History and Politics.

The capital is booming thanks to the wealth brought by Angola’s offshore oil deposits – see Economy & Industry. Warehouses, offices and homes are being built everywhere and in wealthy parts, shops offer all kinds of luxury goods and consumer brands.

Local villagers in Angola

Behind the new buildings and skyscrapers lie vast slum areas. Millions of the city’s poor live here in tiny houses with tin roofs and no electricity or running water. Known as musseques, these slums stretch for hours along the highways of Luanda.

Costly and coastal food

Inflationary journey to market

In the countryside, a box of one hundred mangos sells for around 10 dollars. By the time the fruit has reached Luanda, a single mango can be 5 dollars. This means a basic meal for two people can easily cost around 50 dollars. Local beer remains exception to the high food prices, with bottles at less than a dollar.

Food and other items are extremely expensive in Luanda. This is mainly because four-fifths of supplies are imported. Even local goods are costly in the capital, with prices having to cover payments made to officials at checkpoints along the roads.

Luanda has a rich cuisine, which draws from both European and African influences. With its coastal location, seafood is extremely popular, with prawns and white fish such as tilapia used in many recipes.

Meat is also prized, with chicken, beef and pork most commonly available.

Angolan staples

A popular imported food

Beans and vegetables are sometimes served with rice, which is imported into Angola.

Across the country as a whole, the main staple is funje, a thick polenta-like food made from cassava/manioc flour or from cornflour (when it's called pirao).

These starchy staples are often served with palm oil beans and vegetables.

In rural areas, where chickens and goats are kept on small-holdings, meat from these animals will be served on special occasions, often with a bean sauce.