The smallest colony of any European nation on continental Africa, Portuguese Congo’s borders were defined by European powers at the Berlin Conference (1884) without any consultation with Africans. It covered an area smaller than Delaware and larger than Rhode Island.
It was cut off from Angola, a much larger Portuguese colony, because Belgium insisted on access to the Atlantic via the Congo River. So, Belgian Congo gained control of a 25-mile coastline on the river’s north side, making it a strange funnel-shaped county.
Too small for Portugal to manage separate colonial oversight, Portuguese Congo was administered by Angola as an exclave province known as Cabinda beginning in the early 1920s. (The capital city is also named Cabinda.) Then, in 1975 when Angola gained independence from Portugal, it was declared an integral part of Angola; disputes about sovereignty ensued. Shortly thereafter, an internationally unrecognized Cabinda government-in-exile opened in Paris.
From 1894 through 1918, Portuguese Congo used standard inscribed Portuguese colonial stamps, beginning with a two series featuring the likeness of King Carlos. When the monarchy was ousted by a republic, these were overprinted ‘REPUBLICA” (1910). The overprints were produced both in Portugal and locally, the latter being sans serif. In 1911, likely because of a shortage, stamps inscribed “Angola” and overprinted “Congo” were used. A change of currency in 1913, from Reis to Escudos, resulted in stamps being issued with new values, as shown in the Ceres and Vasco da Gama series. After 1920, Angolan stamps were used.
During these years Portuguese Congo/Cabinda remained one of the poorest of African nations. Its tropical forest produced some exports -- hardwoods, coffee, cocoa, crude rubber, and palm oil. Extensive offshore oil was discovered in 1967. These shallow and deep-water wells continue to produce sufficiently that, if the proceeds were distributed among Cabindans, everyone would have enough income for an upper-middle class lifestyle. But poverty persists, as does corruption and squabbling about self-determination.
I wonder what Portuguese Congo used for postage due, there being no due stamps listed by Scott. Other Portuguese colonies had postage due stamps in perfusion.
Census: 35 in BB spaces, 36 in supplement pages.
Stamp production for Portuguese Congo continued until 1918, when the stamps of Angola were then used.
Although the enclave is still part of Angola today, because of the reality of being physically separated from Angola proper, as well as the distinct history, the Enclave of Cabinda has had a number of recent separatist movements.
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