2 minute read


Mozambique, country in southeast Africa, bordered on the north by Tanzania, on the northwest by Malawi and Zambia, on the west by Zimbabwe and South Africa, on the southwest by South Africa and Swaziland, and on the east by the Indian Ocean. The capital is Maputo.

Land and climate

Mozambique has an area of 303,075 sq mi (784,964 sq km), mostly fertile low-lying plateau and coastal plain. Of the country's many rivers emptying into the Indian Ocean, the most important, and a source of hydroelectric power, is the Zambezi, some 820 mi (1,320 km) of which flows in. The highest peak is Monte Binga (7,992 ft/2,436 m). The climate is predominantly humid; the interior uplands are cooler.


The Mozambique people are overwhelmingly Bantu-speaking black Africans. Almost half practice native religions but there are sizable numbers of Muslims and Christians as well. Portuguese is the official language.


Mozambique's economy depends principally on agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Principal exports are cashews, seafood, and cotton. Mineral wealth remains underdeveloped and a limited industry engages in food processing and cement and fertilizer manufacturing.


The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama visited the Mozambique coast in 1498, and the first Portuguese settlement was established in 1505. During the next 2 centuries, colonists exploited the native populace for cheap plantation labor and carried on a lucrative slave trade. From the mid- to late-19th century, Portugal expanded its control and private businesses, like the Mozambique Company, were allowed to rule and exploit large areas. After World War II, Mozambique's territory was increased by the addition of land formerly part of German East Africa. Confronted, as in Angola, with active guerrilla movements for independence, dominated by the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), the Portuguese maintained strict control over the native population. After a military coup in Portugal, a decade of warfare in Mozambique ended in 1974 with an agreement for joint Portuguese-Frelimo rule. On June 25, 1975, Mozmbique became the 45th African state to achieve full independence. The establishment of a black African, Marxist regime was followed by nationalization and the flight of most Europeans from the country. Mozambique's fledgling government supported Zimbabwe nationalists during the war in Rhodesia, and, despite ideological differences, maintains strong economic ties with South Africa. In 1990 Mozambique adopted a new constitution, and the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) and the Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) agreed to a limited ceasefire after 15 years of fighting.


Additional topics

21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Mississippian to Mud hen