Cabinda (also spelled Kabinda, formerly Portuguese Congo, known locally as Tchiowa) is an exclave and province of Angola, a status that has been disputed by many political organizations in the territory. The capital city is also called Cabinda. The province is divided into four municipalities—Belize, Buco Zau, Cabinda and Landana.
Modern Cabinda is the result of a fusion of three kingdoms: N'Goyo, Loango and Kakongo. It has an area of and a population of 688,285 (2014 census). According to 1988 United States government statistics, the total population of the province was 147,200, with a near even split between total rural and urban populations. At one point an estimated one third of Cabindans were refugees living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; however, after the 2007 peace agreement, refugees started returning home.
Cabinda is separated from the rest of Angola by a narrow strip of territory belonging to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which bounds the province on the south and the east. Cabinda is bounded on the north by the Republic of the Congo, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. Adjacent to the coast are some of the largest offshore oil fields in the world. Petroleum exploration began in 1954 by the Cabinda Gulf Oil Company, when the territory was under Portuguese rule. Cabinda also produces hardwoods, coffee, cacao, rubber, and palm oil products, however, petroleum production accounts for most of Cabinda's domestic product. Cabinda produces of crude oil per day. Cabinda Oil is associated with Sonangol, Agip Angola Lda (41%), Chevron (39.2%), Total (10%) and Eni (9.8%).
In 1885, the Treaty of Simulambuco established in Cabinda a protectorate of Portugal and a number of Cabindan independence movements consider the occupation of the territory by Angola illegal. While the Angolan Civil War largely ended in 2002, an armed struggle persists in the exclave of Cabinda, where some of the factions have proclaimed an independent Republic of Cabinda, with offices in Paris.
Portuguese explorers, missionaries and traders arrived at the mouth of the Congo River in the mid-15th century, making contact with the Manikongo, the powerful King of the Congo. The Manikongo controlled much of the region through affiliation with smaller kingdoms, such as the Kingdoms of Ngoyo, Loango and Kakongo in present-day Cabinda.
Over the years, the Portuguese, Dutch, and English established trading posts, logging camps and small palm oil processing factories in Cabinda. Trade continued and the European presence grew, resulting in conflicts between the rival colonial powers.
Through the Treaty of Simulambuco in 1885 between the kings of Portugal and Cabinda's princes, a Portuguese protectorate was decreed, reserving rights to the local princes and independent of Angola. Cabinda once had the Congo River as the only natural boundary with Angola, but in 1885, the Conference of Berlin extended the Congo Free State's territory along the Congo River to the river's mouth at the sea.
Administrative merger with Angola
By the mid-1920s, the borders of Angola had been finally established in negotiations with the neighbouring colonial powers and from then on, Cabinda was treated as part of this colony. The Portuguese constitution of 1933 distinguished between the colony of Angola and the protectorate of Cabinda but in 1956 the administration of Cabinda was transferred to the governor general of Angola. The legal distinction of Cabinda's status from that of Angola was also expressed in the Portuguese constitution of 1971. Yet, when Angola was declared an "overseas province" (Província Ultramarina) within the empire of Portugal in 1951 (in 1972 the name was changed into "State of Angola"), Cabinda was treated as an ordinary district of Angola.
Under Portuguese rule, Cabinda developed as an important agricultural and forestry centre, and in 1967 it discovered huge offshore oil fields. Oil, timber, and cocoa were its main exports by then. The town of Cabinda, the capital of the territory was a Portuguese administrative and services centre with a port and airfield. The beaches of Cabinda were popular among the Portuguese Angolans.
After independence of Angola from Portugal
A 1974 military coup in Lisbon abolished the authoritarian regime established by António de Oliveira Salazar that had been prevailing in Portugal for decades. The new government decided immediately to grant all Portuguese colonies the independence for which nationalist movements had been striving. In Angola, the decolonization process took the form of a violent conflict between the different movements and their allies. In 1975 the Treaty of Alvor between Portugal and National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) reconfirmed Cabinda's status as part of Angola. The treaty was rejected by several Cabindan political organizations which were in favour of a separate independence. Since then, Cabinda has been, on the one hand, a normal Angolan province, but on the other hand, there has been persistent political protest against this status as well as a number of guerrilla actions.