Despite being rich in natural resources, including oil, Angola remains amongst the poorest countries in the world. Much of this is due to a 27-year civil war that engulfed the country since it gained independence from Portugal in 1975. The end of the conflict between the government regime, known as the MPLA, and the insurgent group UNITA came with the death of UNITA's leader Jonas Savimbi. The resource-rich Cabinda province remains a source of a simmering separatist movement. President José Eduardo dos Santos has held his position since 1979.
Angola's culture remains strongly shaped by its colonial history under Portugal; Portuguese remains the official language. In addition, recent literature reflects Angola's experience of official corruption and civil war.Mayombe Pepetela is an influential Angolan writer whose translated works are closely linked to Angola's past and present. Jose Eduardo Agualusa’s award-winning The Book of Chameleons confronts Angola's traumatic history with a deft and light touch. It is, nonetheless, a searing commentary on the collective memories a nation would prefer to forget. Translated into English, it was awarded the Independent Foreign Fiction award in 2007.