The seventh largest country in Africa, Angola is located in southwestern Africa between Zaire and Namibia. The largest city and capital is Luanda. Portuguese colonization began in the 16th century and was for centuries limited to coastal settlements and trading posts. In the 19th century, European settlers slowly and hesitantly began to establish themselves in the interior. As an overseas territory, Angola was a part of the Portuguese mail service and became independent on November 11, 1975, as the People’s Republic of Angola. That same year, Angola descended into an intense civil war that lasted until 2002. It has since become a relatively stable unitary presidential republic.
The first stamps of Angola date from 1870 — six values using the common colonial design of the Portuguese crown. New values and colors appeared periodically through 1885. In 1886, a series of nine stamps featured an embossed silhouette of Luis I, followed in 1893 and 1898 by depictions of Carlos I. As with the other Portuguese colonies, the 1910s in Angola were philatelically complex with multiple overprints and surcharges applied to the existing stamp stocks. The Ceres series of 1914 outlasted the instability with new stamps being added as late as 1926 for a total of 40 different types.
The first commemorative stamps marked the visit of President António Óscar Carmona in 1938, featuring a set of three stamps portraying a marble column surmounted by the Portuguese arms. A set of ten released in 1948 commemorated the 300th anniversary of the recovery of Angola. Two definitive series — one in 1951 consisting of 24 designs picturing native birds and another in 1953 portraying native animals — are notable as early stamps printed in full color. Today’s stamp, Scott #370 is from the latter series, released on August 15, 1953 and perforated 12½. The 2 angolar multicolored stamp pictures a black rhinoceros.
The 1950s and 1960s saw additional long sets of stamps featuring coats of arms, portraits of natives, local churches, etc. The first stamp of the independent nation of Angola appeared on November 11, 1975. Initially, the stamp program was conservative with 20-30 stamps issued each year but beginning in the mid-1990s, a large number of designs have been released each year, eventually joined by adhesive labels inscribed “Angola” but not authorized by postal authorities and not valid for postage.