- Bantu speakers migrated to Mozambique in the first millennium and Arab and Swahili traders settled the region thereafter. It was explored by the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, in 1498 and first colonised by Portugal in 1505. In 1885 it became known as Portuguese East Africa.
- In the 1950s, resistance to Portuguese rule began to be expressed. In 1961, FRELIMO (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) initiated an armed campaign against the Portuguese leadership. In June 1975, independence was granted and a Marxist FRELIMO government was installed under President Samora Machel.
- During the 1980s, RENAMO (Mozambique National Resistance) emerged with the goal of overthrowing the FRELIMO regime. Supported by apartheid South Africa, RENAMO waged armed rebel warfare. A crippling civil war erupted which lasted until the cease-fire agreement of 1992.
- The country’s first multiparty election in 1994 was won by Joaquim Chissanó of FRELIMO. In 2005, Arman do Guebuza was elected president.
- Enormous damage was caused by severe flooding in the winters of 2000 and 2001. Hundreds died and thousands were displaced.
- Mozambique is located in south-eastern Africa. It is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest.
- At 801,590 km², it is the world's 35th-largest country. The capital, Maputo, is in the south, near the coast.
- The country is generally a low-lying plateau broken up by 25 rivers that flow into the Indian Ocean. The largest is the Zambezi, which provides access to central Africa.
- The terrain ranges from rain forests and swamps to mountains, grasslands, sand dunes and beaches.
- There are two main seasons: the wet season from November to March and the dry season from April to October.
- The estimated population of Mozambique is 20,905,585, more than two-fifths of which is under the age of 15.
- The population consists of roughly sixty different ethnic groups. Around 3% of the population is European, Indian, Chinese, Pakistani or mestizo (mixed African and European).
- The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, although it is rarely spoken outside the cities. There are many Bantu languages, the most widely used being Swahili, Makhuwa, Sena, Ndau and Shangaan. English is used occasionally in dealings with business people and tourists.
- More than 75% of the population engages in small scale agriculture which suffers from inadequate infrastructure, commercial networks and investment. The main crops are corn, cassava, coconuts, peanuts, cotton, sugar and cashews. The nation cannot meet its food needs and imports large quantities of food.
- Fishing along the coast, particularly for shrimp, accounts for one-third of Mozambique’s exports. Mining and manufacturing account for one-fifth of the gross domestic product. The principle products are coal, beryllium, limestone and salt. The country also manufactures textiles, plastics, beverages, food, cement, glass and asbestos.
- Mozambique’s main export partners are Spain, the United States, Japan and Portugal. Food, machinery, petroleum and consumer goods are imported from South Africa, the United States, Portugal and Italy.
- In recent years, more than 1,200 state-owned enterprises have been privatised. Preparations for the privatisation of the remaining parastatal enterprises, including telecommunications, energy, ports and the railroads, are underway.
- Tourism is Mozambique’s major foreign exchange earner. In 2006, the tourism sector generated revenues of US$144 million.
- Despite a consistent economic growth rate, 50% of the Mozambican population still lives in absolute poverty.
- The official currency of Mozambique is the New Metical (MZN).
Social services and infrastructure
- It is compulsory for all Mozambiquans to attend primary school. However, many children do not attend school because they have to work on their families’ subsistence farms.
- About two-thirds of the population of Mozambique is classified as undernourished by the World Bank. While the government has invested large amounts of money in rebuilding health clinics destroyed in the civil war, a shortage of supplies and trained personnel continue to hamper efforts in the healthcare sector.
- During the civil war, many refugees fled the rural areas to Mozambique’s cities. This led to the building of shantytowns informal settlements, with poor sanitation. Government planners have been trying to combat this trend by building low-cost apartments, but they have been unable to keep up with the growing population.
- The railways are the best-developed transport sector in Mozambique, with links between major ports and neighbouring countries. A road network of 30,400 km exists, of which 5,685 km are paved. Few roads are suitable for trucks and passenger cars.
- Maputo, the leading port, has a multipurpose harbour with loading, unloading and storage facilities. Other ports include Beira, Nacala and Inhambane.
- Mozambique’s productive 2,800 km coastline borders Tanzania in the North and South Africa in the South. Main fishing areas are the Sofala Bank, Inhambane, Vilancos, Chiluane and Beira.
- The main commercial species in Mozambique are deep sea prawns, shrimps, crabs, lobster, squid, octopus, sea-cucumber, sea bream and bivalves.
- Mozambique has a huge diversity of corals and coral communities. For example, around the islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago, one can find more than 100 hard and 27 soft coral species forming spectacular coral reefs that provide a home for more than 2,000 species of fish and six endemic mollusc species. The Bazaruto Archipelago is also home to the world’s last sustainable population of dugongs and important populations of turtles, sharks, dolphins, and the threatened whale shark.
- About 5% of Mozambique’s coastline is protected in marine reserves. In recent years, the government created a new large marine reserve, Quirimbas National Park, a whale breeding ground that is home to more than 400 fish species.
- Mozambique’s marine resources have come under threat from overfishing, harmful fishing practices, an increase in ocean temperature and the development of tourist infrastructure in coastal areas.
- Marine fisheries account for more than 90% of total fish production in Mozambique. Fisheries can be divided into three sectors – industrial, semi-industrial and artisanal.
- Industrial fisheries consist of joint ventures between the government and foreign companies from Japan and Spain. These companies own large, modern fleets and export their products to international markets. The main commercial species targeted by the industrial sector are deep water shrimp (locally called Gamba) and shallow water shrimp (sometimes called prawns).
- Semi-industrial fisheries consist of national companies with up to four vessels. This sector has minimal financial capacity to support vessel upgrading and modernisation and therefore its productivity is relatively poor.
- Artisanal fisheries consist of individual fishers or small groups of fishers who use small boats of between three and eight metres, usually non-motorised, to catch a variety of inshore fish species and crustaceans, using handlines, beach seines and gillnets. Artisanal fishing provides a livelihood for more than 50,000 families.
- Demand for fish products in Mozambique is much higher than domestic supply. Most of the fish harvested by artisanal fishers is for subsistence use or is distributed close to the landing sites.
- The fisheries sector in Mozambique contributes 13% of the country’s export income. The industrial fisheries export to Africa (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe), Asia (Hong Kong and Japan) and Europe (Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom).