Benguela. I. A country on the W. coast of Africa, the possession of which is claimed by Portugal. (See Angola.) Its limits are not well defined, but it is commonly described as lying between lat. 9° and 16° S. and lon. 12° and 17° E., and extending from the river Coanza on the north to near Cape Negro on the south. The land along the coast is low and flat, but it rises in a series of terraces toward the interior, and further back into mountains of considerable height. The low ground near the coast, especially during the rainy season, is extremely unwholesome. On the high ground and among the mountains the air is pure and healthful. Numerous rivers descend from the mountains; of these the Copororo or Rio San Francisco, the Cuvo, and the Longa are the most important. Sulphur, copper, and petroleum are found in the mountains, and also gold and silver in small quantities. Vegetation is luxuriant, and both tropical fruits and European vegetables grow well. Hyaenas and lions venture down to the city of Benguela. Elephants, buffaloes, zebras, antelopes, and other animals are found. Cattle are not raised to any great extent. The inhabitants belong to the Congo race, and use the Bunda language.
They are naturally harmless, but have become brutalized where they have come in contact with the Portuguese slave traders. Their religion is a form of fetishism. The chief towns are Benguela, Caconda (in the interior), Novo Redondo, and Mossamedes. Mossamedes is the residence of the governor of South Benguela, and was founded in 1840. It is favorably situated and prosperous. II. Sao Felipe de Benguela, the Portuguese capital of the country, is situated on the coast near the mouth of the river Catumbela, in lat. 12° 33' S., Ion. 13° 25' E.; pop. 3,000. It is so unhealthful that no Europeans can withstand the climate. It is especially fatal to women. The most unwholesome months are March and April, the rainy months, and next to them January and May. The harbor is commodious -and safe, .but difficult of access. Ivory, panther skins, and the other productions of the country are brought into the city, and it is visited occasionally by Portuguese and Brazilian trading vessels. The city was formerly the principal slave market for the trade with Brazil. It is under the jurisdiction of the governor general of Angola, who resides at St. Paul de Loanda.