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Benguela (Angola)

Last modified: 2022-10-22 by bruce berry
Keywords: benguela | angola |
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image from this site. See also:

Benguela - background

"Benguela (Săo Felipe de Benguela, formerly spelled Benguella) is a city in western Angola, south of Luanda, and capital of Benguela Province. It lies on a bay on the Atlantic Ocean of the same name.

Benguela was founded in 1617 by the Portuguese under Manuel Cerveira Pereira, 8th Governor of Angola (1604-1607).  It was long the centre of an important trade, especially in slaves to Brazil and Cuba.  Ships have to anchor about a mile off the shore, in 4 to 6 fathoms (7 to 11 m) and transfer loads to smaller boats which use five or six jetties in the town. However, the nearby deep-water sheltered harbour of Lobito is a much larger port.

Benguela is Angola's second most famous city and self-appointed cultural capital.  It is a charming muddle of low-rise apartment blocks and sputtering motorcycles that weave deftly between Benguela's famous crimson acacia trees.

The Benguela Railway was built in the early 20th century to connect the city and Lobito to the interior, and it achieved great success when it was linked to the Copperbelt of Katanga (in the DR Congo) and Zambia. Due to the civil war in Angola which followed independence in 1975 and last until 2001, this railway is no longer operating. Only the short distance of 30 km between Benguela and Lobito remains operational. In the last two years, rehabilitation of the railway between Benguela and Huambo has commenced.

In 1983 Benguela had a population of 155,000. During the civil war the city of Benguela increased its population due to refugees from the countryside. While the colonial part of the city consists of relatively good quality houses, most of the refugees are living today in slum areas."

The city flag is shown in a photo here and again here.
Valentin Poposki, 12 July 2008

Benguela - municipal flag

The municipal flag has the municipal badge (or Arms) in the centre with a background of sky blue and medium blue in the typical Portuguese gyronny pattern .
Ron Lahav, 12 July 2008

This is an Angolan flag, not a Portuguese one. While it does follow the Portuguese vexillological tradition with the gyronny pattern, I suspect it's a purely Angolan creation (or perhaps evolution from a previous colonial Portuguese flag), because Portuguese flags would hardly be allowed with such un-heraldic choice of colours. 

image by Valentin Poposki, 07 Sept 2020

The symbol in the centre also does not follow in the traditional Portuguese heraldic tradition and appears to be a purely Angolan, despite having some continuity from the Portuguese arms of the city which was a silver elephant on a gold background (see Wikipedia).

The words in the scroll (inverted in the photo) read "CIDADE DE BENGUELA", i.e., "City of Benguela".
Jorge Candeias, 17 July 2008

scan by Bruce Berry, 20 July 2008

This stamp from pre-independence Angola shows the municipal arms of Benguela with a shield comprising a red elephant against a gold background which is different from that shown on Wikipedia as indicated by Jorge above.
Bruce Berry, 20 July 2008

It is common that Portuguese civic flag backgrounds are taken from the the field and charges of the shield of the municipal, but I'd add a few comments:

Only basic colours and metals are used: No regular flag in the Portuguese civic heraldic/vexillological system has a background, gyronny or quarter filled with any other such pattern, which appear also relatively seldom in the shields.

I also note that solid black flag backgrounds, while apparently acceptable, seem never  to have been used in Portuguese civic heraldic/vexillological system.
António MARTINS-Tuválkin,
27 July 2008