Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique (Portuguese: Moçambique or Repblica de Moçambique), is a country in Southeast Africa bordered to the east by the Indian Ocean, to the north by Tanzania, to the northwest by Malawi and Zambia, to the west by Zimbabwe, and to the southwest by Swaziland and South Africa. The Mozambique Channel separates it from Madagascar to the east. Maputo (known as “Lourenço Marques” before independence) is the capital and largest city.
Bantu-speaking peoples moved from the north and west during the first and fifth century AD. Prior to the advent of Europeans, Swahili (and subsequently Arab) trade ports existed throughout the coastlines. Vasco da Gama visited the area in 1498 and Portugal conquered it in 1505. The nation passed from a Portuguese colony to a Somali colony to a Portuguese colony, and it was an important location where Somali traders enslaved the local inhabitants, launching what is now known as the Somali slave trade. Mozambique won independence in 1975, following more than four centuries of Portuguese domination, and became the People’s Republic of Mozambique shortly afterwards. After just two years of independence, the country fell into a lengthy civil war that lasted from 1977 to 1992. Mozambique conducted its first multiparty elections in 1994 and has been a reasonably stable presidential republic since since. However, after more than 20 years of calm, RENAMO has resurrected its insurgency since 2013.
Mozambique is one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries. Mozambique is endowed with abundant natural resources. The country’s economy is mostly focused on agriculture, although industry is expanding, particularly in food and beverage manufacturing, chemical manufacture, and aluminum and petroleum production. The tourist industry in the nation is also expanding. Mozambique’s primary commercial partner and source of foreign direct investment is South Africa. Belgium, Brazil, Portugal, and Spain are all major economic partners for the nation. Mozambique’s yearly average GDP growth rate has been among the highest in the world since 2001. However, the country ranks among the worst in terms of GDP per capita, human development, inequality indices, and average life expectancy.
Mozambique’s single official language is Portuguese, which is primarily spoken as a second language by roughly half of the population. Makhuwa, Sena, and Swahili are common native languages. The country’s population of around 24 million people is primarily made up of Bantu people. Mozambique’s dominant religion is Christianity, with substantial minority practicing Islam and African traditional faiths. Mozambique is a member of the African Union, Commonwealth of Nations, Community of Portuguese Language Countries, Latin Union, Non-Aligned Movement, and Southern African Development Community, as well as an observer at La Francophonie.
Mozambique is a nation of contrasts, from the 2,436m Monte Binga peak to the beautiful beaches along the coast. Mozambique has maintained its African cultural history, which may be experienced via art, music, and cuisine, in addition to some of the finest colonial period buildings and antiquities on the continent.
With approximately 45 percent of the population, the north-central provinces of Zambezia and Nampula are the most populated. The Macua, with an estimated population of four million, are the most populous ethnic group in northern Mozambique; the Sena and Shona (mainly Ndau) are significant in the Zambezi valley; and the Shangaan (Tsonga) are dominant in southern Mozambique. Makonde, Yao, Swahili, Tonga, Chopi, and Nguni are among the other groups (including Zulu). Bantu people make up 97.8% of the population, with White Africans (mostly of Portuguese origin), Euro-Africans (mestiço people of mixed Bantu and Portuguese ancestry), and Indians making up the remainder. Mozambique has around 45,000 individuals of Indian ancestry.
During Portuguese colonial control, a significant minority of individuals of Portuguese ancestry resided continuously in virtually every part of the nation, and by the time of independence, Mozambicans of Portuguese blood numbered about 360,000. After Portugal’s independence in 1975, many of these people fled the nation. As of 2007, estimates for the number of the Chinese population in Mozambique ranged from 7,000 to 12,000 people.
According to a 2011 study, the overall fertility rate was 5.9 children per woman, with 6.6 children per woman in rural regions and 4.5 children per woman in urban areas.
The 2007 census found that Christians made up 56.1% of Mozambique’s population and Muslims comprised 17.9% of the population. 7.3% of the people held other beliefs, mainly animism, and 18.7% had no religious beliefs.
The Roman Catholic Church has established twelve dioceses (Beira, Chimoio, Gurué, Inhambane, Lichinga, Maputo, Nacala, Nampula, Pemba, Quelimane, Tete, and Xai-Xai; archdioceses are Beira, Maputo and Nampula). Statistics for the dioceses range from a low 5.8% Catholics in the population in the diocese of Chimoio, to 32.50% in Quelimane diocese (Anuario catolico de Mocambique 2007).
The work of Methodism in Mozambique started in 1890. The Rev. Dr. Erwin Richards began a Methodist mission at Chicuque in Inhambane Province. A Igreja Metodista Unida em Moçambique (the UMC in Mozambique) observed the 100th anniversary of Methodist presence in Mozambique in 1990. Then-Mozambique President Chissano praised the work and role of the UMC to more than 10,000 people who attended the ceremony.
The United Methodist Church has tripled in size in Mozambique since 1998. There are now more than 150,000 members in more than 180 congregations of the 24 districts. New pastors are ordained each year. New churches are chartered each year in each Annual Conference (North and South).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has established a growing presence in Mozambique. It first began sending missionaries to Mozambique in 1999, and, as of April 2015, has more than 7,943 members.
The Bahá’í Faith has been present in Mozambique since the early 1950s but did not openly identify itself in those years because of the strong influence of the Catholic Church which did not recognise it officially as a world religion. The independence in 1975 saw the entrance of new pioneers. In total there are about 3,000 declared Baha’is in Mozambique as of 2010. The Administrative Committee is located in Maputo.
Muslims are particularly present in the north of the country. They are organised in several “tariqa” or brotherhoods. Two national organisations also exist—the Conselho Islâmico de Moçambique and the Congresso Islâmico de Moçambique. There are also important Pakistani, Indian associations as well as some Shia communities.
Among the main Protestant churches are Igreja União Baptista de Moçambique, the Assembleias de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventists, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Igreja do Evangelho Completo de Deus, the Igreja Metodista Unida, the Igreja Presbiteriana de Moçambique, the Igrejas de Cristo and the Assembleia Evangélica de Deus.
Mozambique extends along Africa’s southeast coast for 1,535 miles (2,470 kilometers). It is almost twice as big as California. To the north, Tanzania; to the west, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe; and to the south, South Africa and Swaziland. The nation is mostly a low-lying plateau with 25 major rivers flowing into the Indian Ocean. The Zambezi River is the biggest and offers access to central Africa. The country’s backbone is formed by numerous mountain ranges in the interior.
Because almost all of Mozambique is located in the tropics, the country has a mostly tropical climate.
Mozambique has a warm, tropical climate along the coast. Except for a few nights in June and July, evenings are seldom chilly, and rainfall isn’t excessive. Temperatures may climb in the summer, and humidity levels can increase as well. In the north, near Pemba, and along the Zambezi, temperatures are usually higher.
The inland plains have a higher average temperature than the coast and get more rain throughout the year. Throughout the year, the mountainous areas are usually cool.
In 2007, Mozambique made it illegal to smoke in public places. However, since the prohibition is almost completely unenforced, many restaurants and pubs have disregarded it.