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(lo͞on`də), ethnic group of central Africa. The Lunda speak a Bantu language and now live in S Congo (Kinshasa), E Angola, and N Zambia. In the 16th cent. Lunda living near the upper Lulua and Kasai rivers assimilated political ideas from the Luba (especially regarding divine kingship and bureaucratic administration) and formed a kingdom ruled by the mwata yamvo, or king. The kingdom grew powerful, partly through trade (especially for firearms) with the Portuguese in Angola, and by the 18th cent. had expanded to include most of the area between the Kwango and Luangwa rivers. At the same time, dissident Lunda migrated eastward; some of them founded the kingdom of the Mwata Kazembe, centered near the Luapula River, which was a flourishing trading state in the period from the late 18th to the early 19th cent. Both kingdoms declined with the establishment of European rule in the late 19th cent.


See J. Vansina, Kingdoms of the Savanna (1966).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a state that took shape during the 15th to 17th centuries in the Congo River basin (near the sources of the Kasai, Sankuru, and Zambezi rivers) and dissolved by the end of the 19th century. The Lunda people constituted its ethnic base. The state was headed by a ruler (Mwata Yamvo), who shared his authority with his coruler wife (Lukonkesha). A council of the upper aristocracy, which selected the rulers’ heir, enjoyed considerable power.

The Lunda state reached its apogee in the second half of the 17th century; its borders enclosed territory from the sources of the Cuanza and Kwango rivers on the west to Lake Mweru in the east. Vestiges of the clan-tribal order coexisted among the Lunda with a slaveholding social order, and feudal social relationships had begun to form. The military commanders (Kazembe) became hereditary rulers of conquered regions, paying tribute to the Mwata Yamvo. The Lunda state carried on trade with the coastal and central regions of Africa. It declined in the 18th century. Wars with the Chokwe at the end of the 19th century completed the ruin and dissolution of the state.


McCulloch, M. The Southern Lunda and Related Peoples. London, 1951.
Byvang van den. “Notice historique sur les Balunda.” Congo, 1937, vol.1, no. 4; vol. 2, no. 2.



a plateau in Central Africa, in the countries of Zaïre and Angola. It is composed of Paleogene and Neocene continental sandstones and sands occurring horizontally on a Precambrian crystalline basement. The central part of the plateau, which forms the divide between the Kasai and Zambezi rivers, is a flat plain at elevations of 1,300-1,600 m, with considerable marshes in some places. In the north the plateau descends in steps to the Congo depression, and in the south it slopes gently to the Kalahari depression. The climate is a hot subequatorial one with wet summers. The plateau is covered by open woodlands; on the northern slope there are high-grass savannas with fringing forests. Rich deposits of diamonds and deposits of manganese ore (Kisanga) are worked in the Kasai river basin.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.