• Indigenous peoples in Angola

    Indigenous peoples in Angola

    The San, the Himba and their related groups constitute the indigenous peoples of Angola. Although the government of Angola has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the San, the Himba and other indigenous peoples continue to face challenges in terms of lack of social and economic inclusion, and a number of core human rights remain unrealised to them.
  • Peoples

    25,000 peoples, or 0.1 per cent of Angola’s population, belong to the San and Himba peoples
  • Rights

    2007: Angola adopts the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Progress

    2016: Government funding for smaller NGOs working with indigenous peoples is drastically reduced

Indigenous peoples in Angola

The indigenous San peoples of southern Angola are the oldest inhabitants of Angola and southern Africa and are mainly located in remote and inaccessible areas.

Many (mainly in Kuando and Kubango provinces) still live as hunter-gatherers, staying in rudimentary shelters and moving within their ancestral territories, while others have settled in homesteads where they practise agriculture, surrounded by Bantu neighbours, or live in urban communities.

The population of Angola numbers around 24.3 million people and the San are estimated to account for approximately 0.1 percent of that figure. The majority of the San reside in Huíla, Kunene and Kuando Kubango provinces in southern Angola and probably also in Moxico Province in south-western Angola. The exact numbers and location of all San communities is not, however, known.

Situation of indigenous peoples

The San is a small, vulnerable ethnic minority. In Angola, they live in extreme poverty, often in areas that are not yet cleared of landmines. The illiteracy rate among Angolan San is very high and, due to lack of infrastructure, lack of birth certificates and discrimination, few San children attend schools. The mortality rate of the San is very high due to lack of clinics. Even in areas where there are private clinics, San families do not have money to pay for medication and treatments.

No constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples

The new Angolan Constitution that has recently been approved by the National Assembly unfortunately does not foresee a specific policy or law to protect the indigenous peoples of the country.

Legislation concerning indigenous peoples

There are no specific references to indigenous peoples or minorities in the Constitution, nor in other domestic law. The Government of Angola does not recognise the concept of indigenous peoples as affirmed in international law. Despite this, Angola has been a signatory to ILO Convention 107 on Indigenous and Tribal Populations since 1976, albeit with very limited reporting.

Angola has not indicated any interest in considering the ratification of ILO Convention169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, which to all intents and purposes superseded C107 in 1989. Angola became a signatory to ICERD in 2013, and has ratified CEDAW-OP, CRC, ICCPR and CESCR. Despite these ratifications, a number of core human rights remain unrealised in Angola.

Yearly update

Download the 2015 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Angola to read more about major developments and events during 2014.


IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World 2019.

Contact IWGIA

Prinsessegade 29 B, 3rd floor
DK 1422 Copenhagen
Phone: (+45) 53 73 28 30
E-mail: iwgia@iwgia.org
CVR: 81294410

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