There are 30,330 km of roads, 21 per cent paved. The road network links
with all neighbouring countries except Tanzania in the north. There is a
new toll road from Maputo to Witbank in the industrial heartland of
The railway network extends to 3,116 km.
Beyond domestic needs, Beira, Maputo and Nacala are important ports for
Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
International airports are Maputo International, 3 km north-west of the
city, and Beira, 13 km from the city.
Mozambique is a member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of
States, African Union, Indian Ocean Rim Association, Non-Aligned
Movement, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Southern African
Development Community, United Nations and World Trade Organization.
Mozambique occupies the eastern fringe of the great southern African
escarpment. The mountains of the interior fall to a broad plateau, which
descends to coastal hills and plain. Rivers generally run west to east.
The coastal beaches are fringed by lagoons, coral reefs and strings of
islands. The extensive low plateau covers nearly half the land area. The
Zambezi is the largest of 25 main rivers.
Tropical and subtropical. Inland is cooler than the coast and rainfall
higher as the land rises. The hottest and wettest season is October to
March. From April to September the coast has warm, mainly dry weather,
tempered by sea breezes. The country is vulnerable to cyclones.
The most significant environmental issues are desertification, pollution
of surface and coastal waters, and persistent migration of people from
the hinterland to urban and coastal areas.
The plateau is savannah – dry and open bushveld and wide stretches of
grassland. There are patches of forest in the western and northern
highlands. Dense subtropical bush characterises the coastal plain.
Forest covers 49 per cent of the land area, having declined at 0.5 per
cent p.a. 1990–2010. Arable land comprises seven per cent and permanent
cropland 0.4 per cent of the total land area.
Mozambique has four national parks. Gorongosa, the biggest, extends to
3,770 sq km. There are also many forest and game reserves harbouring
zebras, water buffaloes, giraffes, lions, elephants and rhinos, and many
varieties of tropical water birds such as flamingos, cranes, storks and
pelicans. Some 179 species of mammals have been recorded, 12 of which
are endangered (2014).
From the 10th century or earlier, Arabs and Indians traded with
populations in the Mozambique area. Portuguese traders took prominence
from the 15th century onwards, vying with Arabs and Swahili people along
the coast in the commodity and slave trades. In time, Portuguese
settlers came, establishing large estates. However, Portuguese control
was fiercely resisted and by 1885, when the colonial powers met for the
Berlin Conference to formalise colonial boundaries, Portugal only
controlled coastal strongholds and a few scattered inland areas. After a
series of military campaigns to subdue the African population, Portugal
auctioned off land concessions. The Mozambique Company, the Niassa
Company and the Zambezi Company, representing largely non-Portuguese
(especially British) capital, established plantations in north and
central Mozambique, using forced local labour. Many Mozambicans from the
south found employment in South Africa’s expanding mining industry.
In 1951 Portugal declared Mozambique to be its overseas province and by
1970 some 200,000 Portuguese settlers – mainly peasant and working class
people – had been brought to the country by the Portuguese government.
Nationalist groups began to form in the 1960s; three banned groups
merged to form Frelimo (Frente de Libertaçâo de Moçambique), which led a
war of attrition to win independence. Frelimo’s first President, Dr
Eduardo Mondlane, was assassinated by the Portuguese in 1969. After the
1974 revolution in Portugal, the new government soon started
negotiations with the liberation movements in the overseas provinces on
self- determination. Mozambique became independent on 25 June 1975. Some
90 per cent of the Portuguese settlers left the country, creating a
Frelimo, under Samora Machel, the country’s first President, came to
power with strong socialist ideals and the aim of rapid development;
initially it made considerable improvements in health and education.
However, authority was rigidly centralised and some policies were
heavy-handed – in particular, the forced creation of communal rural
Civil war broke out in the late 1970s between the government and Renamo
(Resistência Nacional Moçambicana). Renamo was first supported by the
white regime in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and later by South Africa.
Commanding widespread support from the disaffected, Renamo was
especially active in central provinces such as Sofala, Manica and
Zambézia, and later on in the south. Through sabotage, Renamo managed to
destroy much of the country’s economic and social infrastructure: roads
and railways, schools and health centres, houses, shops and factories.
Millions of Mozambicans fled as refugees into neighbouring countries, or
became deslocados (the internally displaced people). More than one
million people were killed. Machel was killed in a mysterious air crash
in 1986 and was succeeded as President by Joaquim Chissano, the former
The new constitution adopted in 1990 introduced into the country a
multiparty democratic system and a free-market economy, thus paving the
way for the peace process. Negotiations mediated by the Italian Roman
Catholic community of Sant’Egidio culminated in a peace agreement in
October 1992; a UN peacekeeping force arrived in July 1993, and
demobilisation of troops began in mid- March 1994. In the multiparty
elections of October 1994 President Chissano was re-elected with 53 per
cent of the votes, his main rival, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama,
securing 34 per cent. In the parliamentary elections Frelimo won 129
seats (44 per cent of the votes), Renamo 112 seats (38 per cent) and the
Democratic Union nine seats (5 per cent).
Mozambique, which had long been interested in Commonwealth membership,
became the Commonwealth’s 53rd member (and the first not to have once
been associated with the British Empire) with the agreement of all the
other members, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in New
Zealand in November 1995.
History of Mozambique
Full Documentary 2017 Ross
Kemp Extreme World - Mozambique
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