In addition to the capital Luanda, Angola's main destinations for visitors lie along the coast, such as the small colonial-built town of Namibe. However, with the reconstruction of roads and rail links like the Benguela railway, it's becoming easier to travel into the interior of the country and search out places off the beaten track. After the devastating impact of the long civil war in Angola, tourists are a welcome sight to locals, because they signal a return to normality.

Cangandala National Park

Though the smallest of Angola’s national parks, Cangandala attracts visitors because it is home to the rare Angolan giant sable antelope (Palanca Negra), which has become a national symbol. These endangered animals are only found in the north of Angola. Some of the antelope are being captured from Luando Special Reserve and taken to protected enclosures within the Cangadala park.

Poverty

Across the rest of the world, absolute poverty has halved over recent decades, but in Africa it has barely fallen.

About two-fifths of the population of sub-Saharan Africa survive week by week on what someone in the UK earns from just one hour's work on the minimum wage.

Climate

Africa is a massive continent, with a range of climates. Some regions are hot and dry, like the Sahara, Kalahari and Namib deserts. Other parts are wet or covered in tropical rainforest. Conditions also vary by altitude, from the dry salt pans of the Danakil Depression (one of the lowest points on earth) to the snowcaps (at certain times) of the highest mountains. Weather-wise, Africa has it all!

Children

Around one in six children born in sub-Saharan Africa don't live to see their fifth birthday and life can be tough for those who do.

What are the common challenges facing African children and how do their lives compare with those of children in the UK?

Lobito

Track links the Benguela railway to the port of Lobito, where large container ships can load and unload cargo. It was at this port, that the first ship carrying 30,000 tonnes of materials for the reconstruction of the Benguala railway docked in 2006, at the start of the rebuilding project.

Games & Sport

Africa is home to arguably the oldest-recorded games and sports. While some are only known through archaeology, modern-day games and sports such as Mancala/Mankala and Nubian wrestling are very much alive today.

Of course, new sports have come along to claim the attention of Africans. You may have heard of one - it's called football.

Health

Africa has a high number of communicable diseases, which place a huge burden on healthcare systems. The vast majority of malaria cases and HIV/AIDS-related deaths occur in Africa; these two diseases currently represent the greatest threats.

With low investment in healthcare and a severe shortage of medical staff, many countries struggle to meet the health needs of their people.

DR Congo Map

Explore DR Congo

Click the map points and find out more about some of the country's key towns, rivers and wildlife areas, many of which have National Park status.

History

The first humans are thought to have lived in Africa and powerful African empires formed from the medieval age onwards.

However, today's African nations were shaped by the European powers who colonised this vast continent. Having gained their independence, many African countries are still coming to terms with the legacy left by their colonisers.

Development

‘People are the real wealth of a nation.’ This is the belief of the United Nations, whose Millenium Development Goals provide a framework for improving the lives of millions.

It helps when nations are peaceful, stable and growing economically. But where even the poorest countries focus on health, education and creating fairer societies, more Africans have the chance of a better life.

Geography & Wildlife

With its varied geography and diverse habits, the African continent is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. Though famous for its 'big game' animals, Africa has huge numbers of fish, mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and insect species, as well as many tree, plant and flower species.

Quissama National Park

Close to Luanda, the Quissama (Quiçama) National Park is the reserve most geared to tourists. With its variety of habitats, from floodplains and grasslands to shorelines scattered with baobab trees, the park has a range of wildlife, with populations growing again. Animals here include elephants, antelopes, eland, wild boar and waterbuck. Along the shoreline, turtles use the beaches to lay their eggs.

Zambia Map

Explore Zambia

Find out about some key places in Zambia, such as Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Benguela Railway

Started in 1903, construction of the Benguela railway running west to east through Angola took nearly 30 years to complete. The line was built to take copper loads from Africa’s interior, linking to the southeastern region of the DR Congo and to Ndola, the trading centre of the northern mining region of Zambia (click on Zambia to see Ndola). With over 1,300 kilometres of track, the railway is currently being rebuilt to Luau on the Angolan border and is due to be finished in 2012.

Namibia map

Explore Namibia

Find out more about Namibia’s unique conservation areas and the history behind some of its towns and cities.

Zimbabwe map

Explore Zimbabwe

Find some of the key cities, sites of interest and national parks on this map of Zimbabwe.

Namibe

The small coastal town of Namibe was relatively untouched by the war. It’s colonial buildings, fortresses and churches remain sites of interest. The Church of Sao Tiago, perhaps the most famous, was built during the 19th century, in a style which copies the older 16th century churches. Namibe has pleasant beaches, though these are too cold for sunbathing in winter. However, naturalists and conservation experts visit at this time to study the region’s whale and dolphin populations – see Geography & Wildlife.

Botswana Map

Explore Botswana

Find out about some of Botswana’s key attractions, such as the Okavango Delta and other places of interest, such as the capital city, Gaborone.

Luanda

Home to 5 million people, Luanda is Africa’s fourth largest city (after Cairo, Lagos and Kinshasa). Built on a harbour, the capital has sandy beaches, where the wealthy belong to beach and sports clubs. However, there are also vast slum areas – see Food & Daily Life. With its international airport, Luanda acts as the base for tourists to explore the country. The capital has sites of cultural interest, such as museums, historic Portuguese-built churches (dating from the 1600s) and Fort São Miguel, built at the turn of the 17th century for the slave trade. Luanda is also renowned for its music clubs and nightlife.

Agriculture & Famine

A quarter of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished and famines can impact whole regions.

Land is available to grow more food locally, but investment is needed in  technologies such as irrigation for land to be used effectively. Farmers must also adapt to climate change if they are to feed the continent's rising population.

Malanje

In a village west of Malanje, called Pungo Andongo, there are strange black boulders scattered across the dry plains. The place also has a stone ‘footprint’. Around 85 kilometres (53 miles) north of the city, the Kalandula Falls are over 100 metres deep and 400 metres wide, making them one of the largest and most impressive waterfalls in Africa.

Foods

Africa has some of the most distinctive cuisines and flavours in the world. Food varies widely, but there are commonalities across regions. Depending on what's grown locally, dishes are also influenced by the traders, immigrants and rulers who settled across the continent. Arab, Asian and European elements blend in with traditional African cooking.

Women

A woman’s status varies by country and region across Africa. In many parts, women struggle against inequality in laws, education, pay and domestic responsibilities.

Women’s health is also at risk from traditional practices such as early marriage. But with better education, girls can make more informed choices, leading to the greater development of African nations.

M’banza Congo

M’banza Congo (meaning ‘City of Congo’) was the capital of the ancient Congo Kingdom and had well over 50,000 inhabitants in the sixteenth century. Under the Portuguese, it became known as São Salvador (changing its name back in 1975 after independence). The town sits on a flat-topped mountain, looking out over valleys. Visitors today can still see the remains of the sixteenth century Portuguese cathedral and artefacts from the Kongo kingdom in a museum built on the site of the king’s residence.

Angola map Luanda Malanje Lobito Namibe M’banza Congo Cangandala National Park Quissama National Park Zambia Map Zimbabwe map Botswana Map Namibia map DR Congo Map Benguela Railway