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Mozambique (mōˌzəmbēkˈ), officially Republic of Mozambique, republic (2015 est. pop. 25,303,000), 302,659 sq mi (784,090 sq km), SE Africa. It borders on the Indian Ocean in the east; on South Africa and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) in the south; on Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi in the west; and on Tanzania in the north. Maputo is the capital and largest city.

Land and People

The Mozambique Channel separates the country from the island of Madagascar. Mozambique's c.1,600 mi (2,575 km) coastline is interrupted by the mouths of numerous rivers, notably the Rovuma (which forms part of the boundary with Tanzania), Lúrio, Incomati (Komati), Lugela, Zambezi (which is navigable for c.290 mi/465 km within the territory), Revùe, Save (Sabi), and Limpopo. South of the Zambezi estuary the coastal belt is very narrow, and in the far north the coastline is made up of rocky cliffs. Along the northern coast are numerous islets and lagoons; in the far south is Maputo Bay. The northern and central interior is mountainous; Monte Binga (7,992 ft/2,436 m), the country's loftiest point, is situated at the Zimbabwean border W of Beira. About one third of Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) falls within Mozambique's boundaries; Lake Chilwa (Lago Chirua) is at the border with Malawi. Much of the country is covered with savanna; there are also extensive hardwood forests, and palms grow widely along the coast and near rivers.

In addition to the capital, other cities include Beira, Moçambique, Nampula, Pemba, Quelimane, Tete, Angoche, and Xai-Xai. The principal ethnic groups are, in the north, the Yao, Makonde, and Makua; in the center, the Thonga, Chewa, Nyanja, and Sena; and in the south, the Shona and Tonga. Small numbers of Swahili live along the coast. People of European, mixed African and European, and South Asian descent make up less than 1% of the population.

About 40% of the inhabitants of Mozambique are Christian (Roman Catholic and Zionist Christian), while about 18% follow traditional religious beliefs, and another 18% are Muslims (most of these living in the north). Although Bantu languages are widely spoken, Portuguese is the official language.


In 1990, Mozambique was estimated to be the world's poorest nation; since then, the country has been in transition toward a more market-oriented economy and the prospect of raising its standard of living. Mozambique remains an overwhelmingly agricultural and poor country, however, with the majority of its workers engaged in traditional subsistence cultivation of such crops as cassava, corn, coconuts, potatoes, and sunflowers. The principal cash crops are cotton, cashews, sugarcane, tea, sisal, citrus, and tropical fruits. Cattle and goats are raised, but their numbers are kept low by the tsetse fly. There are forestry and fishing industries, including prawns. The country's mineral wealth has not been determined fully; however, titanium, zircon, petroleum, and natural-gas deposits have been developed by foreign investors and are now exported. There are also significant coal deposits, which are being developed more extensively, as well as hydropower. Many citizens work abroad in South African mines.

Mozambique's industrial sector includes the processing of raw materials (mostly food, cotton, and tobacco) and the production of chemical fertilizer, aluminum, petroleum products, textiles, and glass. Electricity from the giant Cahora Bassa hydroelectric project (located on the Zambezi near Tete) is exported to South Africa. A smaller hydroelectric plant is situated at Chicamba Real (near Beira) on the Revùe River. The economy is also reliant on foreign aid.

Mozambique has a substantial trade imbalance, although export earnings have increased in recent years. The principal imports are machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, fuel, chemicals, metal products, food, and textiles; chief exports are aluminum, prawns, cashews, cotton, sugar, citrus, timber, and bulk electricity. The Netherlands and South Africa are the country's main trading partners. Mozambique also derives income from handling foreign trade for nearby countries; goods are shipped on rail lines that terminate at the ports of Maputo, Nacala, Lumbo (near Moçambique), and Beira. A toll road that opened in 1998 carries goods from South Africa's industrial north to Maputo.


Mozambique is governed under the constitution of 1990. The president, who is head of state, is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by a prime minister, who is appointed by the president. The unicameral legislature consists of the 250-seat Assembly of the Republic, whose members are popularly elected for five-year terms. Administratively, Mozambique is divided into 10 provinces and the capital city.


Early History and Portuguese Influence

Bantu-speakers began to migrate into the region of Mozambique in the middle of the 1st millennium A.D. From 1000, Arab and Swahili traders settled along parts of the coast, notably at Sofala (near modern Beira), at Cuama (near the Zambezi estuary), and on the site of present-day Inhambane. The traders had contact with the interior, and Sofala was particularly noted as a gold- and ivory-exporting center closely linked with—and at times controlled by—Kilwa (on the coast of modern Tanzania).

In 1498, Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese navigator en route around Africa to India, visited Quelimane and Moçambique. Between 1500 and 1502 Pedro Álvares Cabral and Sancho de Tovar, also Portuguese explorers, visited Sofala and Maputo Bay. In 1505, the Portuguese under Francisco de Almeida occupied Moçambique, and Pedro de Anhaia established a Portuguese settlement at Sofala. The Portuguese also set up trading stations N of Cabo Delgado (near the mouth of the Ruvuma), but their main influence (especially after 1600) in E Africa was in the Moçambique region.

Between 1509 and 1512 António Fernandes traveled inland and visited the Mwanamutapa kingdom, which controlled the region between the Zambezi and Save rivers and was the source of much of the gold exported at Sofala. Soon after, Swahili traders resident in Mwanamutapa began to redirect the kingdom's gold trade away from Portuguese-controlled Sofala and toward more northern ports. Thus, Portugal became interested in directly controlling the interior. In 1531, posts were established inland at Sena and Tete on the Zambezi, and in 1544 a station was founded at Quelimane.

In 1560 and 1561 Gonçalo da Silveira, a Portuguese Jesuit missionary, visited Mwanamutapa, where he quickly made converts, including King Nogomo Mupunzagato. However, the Swahili traders who lived there, fearing for their commercial position, persuaded Nogomo to have Silveira murdered. Between 1569 and 1572 an army of about 1,000 Portuguese under Francisco Barreto attempted to gain control of the interior, but Barreto and most of the soldiers died of disease at Sena. In 1574, an army of 400 men under Vasco Fernandes Homen marched into the interior from Sofala, but most of the men were killed in fighting with Africans.

In the late 16th and early 17th cent. the official Portuguese presence in the interior was limited to small trading colonies along the Zambezi. At the same time Portuguese adventurers began to establish control over large estates (called prazos), which resembled feudal kingdoms. They were ruled absolutely and often ruthlessly by their owners (called prazeros); Africans were forced to work on plantations, and considerable slave-raiding was undertaken (especially after 1650). Some of the prazeros maintained private armies, and they were generally independent of the Portuguese crown to which they were theoretically subordinate.

From about 1628 the Portuguese gained increasing influence in Mwanamutapa, and they became intimately involved in the civil wars that led to the demise of that kingdom by the end of the 17th cent. Mozambique was ruled as part of Goa in India until 1752, when it was given its own administration headed by a captain-general. Although the Portuguese helped introduce several American crops (notably corn and cashew nuts) that became staples of Mozambique's agriculture, the impact of their presence on African society was mainly destructive.

Colonial Struggles and Portuguese Domination

From the mid-18th to the mid-19th cent. large numbers of Africans were exported as slaves, largely to the Mascarene Islands and to Brazil. In the 1820s and 1830s groups of Nguni-speaking people from S Africa invaded Mozambique; most of the Nguni continued northward into present-day Malawi and Tanzania, but one group, the Shangana, remained in S Mozambique, where they held effective control until the late 19th cent. From the mid-19th cent. to the late 1880s the mestiço Joaquim José da Cruz and his son António Nicente controlled trade along the lower Zambezi. Thus, when the scramble for African territory among the European powers began in the 1880s, the Portuguese government had only an insecure hold on Mozambique. Nevertheless, Portugal tried to increase its nominal holdings, partly in an attempt to connect by land its territory in Mozambique and in Angola (in SW Africa).

Portuguese claims in present-day Zimbabwe and Malawi were strongly opposed by the British, who in 1890 delivered an ultimatum to Portugal demanding that it withdraw from these regions. Portugal complied, and in 1891 a treaty establishing the boundaries between British and Portuguese holdings in SE Africa was negotiated. Beginning in the 1890s and ending only around 1920, the Portuguese established their authority in Mozambique by force of arms against determined African resistance. Between 1895 and 1897 the Shangana were defeated; between 1897 and 1900 the Nyanja were conquered; in 1912 the Yao were pacified; and in 1917 control was established in extreme S Mozambique. In the 1890s several private companies were founded to develop and administer most of Mozambique. In 1910 the status of the territory was changed from province to colony.

After the 1926 revolution in Portugal, the Portuguese government took a more direct interest in Mozambique. The companies lost the right to administer their regions, and at the same time the government furthered economic development by building railroads and by systematically forcing Africans to work on European-owned land. Portuguese colonial policy was based on the egalitarian theory of “assimilation”: if an African became assimilated to Portuguese culture (i.e., if he was fluent in Portuguese, was Christian, and had a “good character”), he was to be given the same legal status as a Portuguese citizen. In practice, however, very few Africans qualified for citizenship (partly because there were inadequate educational opportunities), and they were directed to work for Europeans or to grow export crops.

In 1951 the status of Mozambique was changed to “overseas province” in a move designed to indicate to world opinion that the territory would have increased autonomy; in a similar move in 1972, Mozambique was declared to be a “self-governing state.” In both instances, however, Portugal maintained firm control over the territory. Between 1961 and 1963 several laws (one of which abolished forced labor) were passed to improve the living conditions of Africans. At the same time, many African nations were becoming independent, and nationalist sentiment was growing in Mozambique.

The Struggle for Independence

In 1962 several nationalist groups were united to form the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), headed by Eduardo Mondlane. The Portuguese adamantly refused to give the territory independence, and in 1964 Frelimo initiated guerrilla warfare in N Mozambique. In 1969, Mondlane was assassinated in Dar es Salaam; he was succeeded by Uria Simango (1969) and by Samora Moisès Machel (1970). By the early 1970s, Frelimo (which had a force of about 7,000 guerrillas) controlled much of central and N Mozambique and was engaged in often fierce fighting with the Portuguese (who maintained an army of about 60,000 in the territory).

In 1974 the government of Portugal was overthrown by the military. The new regime (which favored self-determination for all of Portugal's colonies) made an effort to resolve the conflict in Mozambique. Talks with Frelimo resulted in a mutual cease-fire and an agreement for Mozambique to become independent in June, 1975.

Upheaval in the New Nation

In reaction to the independence agreement, a group of white rebels attempted to seize control of the Mozambique government but were quickly subdued by Portuguese and Frelimo troops. As black rule of Mozambique became a reality (with Machel as president) and as increased racial violence erupted, there was an exodus of Europeans from Mozambique. As the Portuguese left, they took their valuable skills and machinery, which had an adverse effect on the economy. Frelimo established a single-party Marxist state, nationalized all industry, and abolished private land ownership. Frelimo also instituted health and education reforms.

Mozambique became a base for the nationalist rebels of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), a move that angered Rhodesia and South Africa. In 1979, Rhodesia invaded Mozambique, destroying communications facilities, agricultural centers, and transportation lines; many civilians were killed in the attacks. After Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) obtained majority rule in 1980, the Mozambique National Resistance Movement (MNR or Renamo), a powerful dissident group financed in part by South Africa, waged guerrilla warfare against Frelimo.

In addition to the chaos created by economic and political conditions, Mozambique was foundering under the weight of a large and inefficient bureaucracy. In the 1980s, Machel cut the size of the government and began to privatize industry. In 1984, Mozambique signed a nonaggression pact (the Incomati accord) with South Africa; the terms of the pact prohibited South African support of Renamo and Mozambican support of the African National Congress. Mozambique accused South Africa of violating the accord, and fighting continued between the government and Renamo throughout the 1980s. In 1986, Machel was killed in a plane crash and succeeded by Joaquim Chissano.

In 1992, Mozambique suffered from one of the worst droughts of the century and from the widespread famine that ensued. Renamo rebels, who controlled most of the rural areas, blocked famine relief efforts. Civil war and starvation killed tens of thousands, and more than a million refugees fled the country. In 1992, Frelimo and Renamo signed an accord ending the civil war. In multiparty elections held in 1994, with the presence of UN peacekeepers, Chissano, the Frelimo candidate, won the presidency, and his party secured a slight majority in parliament.

The Chissano government had begun repudiating Marxism in the 1980s, pledging itself to develop a market-oriented economy. In the 1990s it privatized a number of state-owned companies and made progress in cutting inflation, stabilizing the currency, and stimulating economic growth, and by the end of the decade it had largely recovered from the civil war, although widespread poverty remained a problem. The Dec., 1999, elections were again won by Chissano and Frelimo, but the Renamo presidential candidate, Afonso Dhlakama, denounced the results as fraudulent and called for a recount; foreign observers, who were denied access to the final vote tabulation, expressed concerns about the vote-counting process. The supreme court denied (Jan., 2000) Dhlakama's request for a recount, stating that Renamo had failed to provide evidence of ballot fraud. In February and March, 2000, the Limpopo and Changane river valleys in S Mozambique experienced severe flooding as a result of heavy rain from a cyclone (hurricane); an estimated one million people were affected. The results of the elections led Renamo to boycott the national assembly for much of 2000, and protest demonstrations in November resulted in scattered violence in central and N Mozambique.

The presidential and legislative elections of Dec., 2004, were won by Frelimo, whose presidential candidate, Armando Guebuza, a millionaire business executive, won nearly 64% of the vote. Dhlakama and Renamo again accused Frelimo of fraud. International observers said there were widespread problems including presumed fraudulent totals in some strongly Frelimo districts but that the irregularities were not enough to have altered the overall result of the voting. The country's Constitutional Council also criticized the election commission's handling of the vote count.

Guebuza and Frelimo won the 2009 elections by even larger margins against an opposition divided between Renamo and the Mozambican Democratic Movement. Both opposition parties denounced the results and accused the ruling party of fraud. In 2013 rising tensions between the government and Renamo led to threats from Renamo leaders and attacks beginning in Apr., 2013, that were blamed on Renamo. The attacks led to military operations against Renamo in response, including an attack against Dhlakama's base in October. By Sept., 2014, however, a cease-fire was signed, and Dhlakama and Renamo participated in the October elections.

Although Frelimo won a majority of the national assembly seats, its majority was significantly reduced and both opposition parties gained seats. Filipe Nyusi, the Frelimo candidate, won the presidency, with 57% of the vote. Renamo again leveled accusations of fraud, and subsequently boycotted parliament for month in early 2015. Tensions between the government and Renamo soon revived, with Dhlakama making recurring threats to seize control of six northern and central provinces, and conflict between the two sides resumed in 2015. In late 2016 a truce, subsequently extended indefinitely, was established. Dhlakama died in 2018; his successor, Ossufo Momade, signed a permanent cease-fire in July, 2019, and a peace accord the next month. Meanwhile, an Islamist insurgency began in N Cabo Delgado prov., in the northeast, in 2017, and attacks occurred with increasing frequency in 2019 and 2020.

In Mar., 2019, a tropical cyclone devastated Beira and caused widespread flooding in central Mozambique. Some 2 million people were affected, and some 200,000 homes damaged or destroyed; several hundred were killed. In the aftermath of the storm, the affected region also experienced a cholera outbreak. A second cyclone, in April, devastated areas in N Mozambique, especially on the coast and offshore islands.

National elections in Oct., 2019, were marred irregularities and fraud, and international and local observers criticized the results. Nyusi was easily reelected, defeating Momade and receiving more than 70% of the vote, a margin that many observers questioned after Frelimo won 51% of the vote in the 2018 municipal elections. Frelimo also won majorities in provinces that historically have been Renamo strongholds, and won more than two thirds of the seats in the national assembly. In Aug., 2020, Islamist insurgents in N Cabo Delgado prov. seized and held Mocímboa da Praia and its port; by early 2021, some 400,000 had been displaced by the fighting and dozens were killed.


See M. D. D. Newitt, Portuguese Settlement on the Zambesi: Exploration, Land Tenure, and Colonial Rule (1973); A. and B. Isaacman, Mozambique (1983); B. Munslow, Mozambique: The Revolution and its Origins (1983); B. Egero, A Dream Undone: The Political Economy of Democracy 1975–1984 (1987); J. E. Torp, Mozambique (1989); A. Vines, Renamo: Terrorism in Mozambique (1991).

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



(Mozambique; People’s Republic of Mozambique), a state in southeastern Africa. It borders on Tanzania to the north, the Republic of South Africa and Swaziland to the south, and Malawi, Zambia, and Southern Rhodesia to the west. It extends eastward to the Indian Ocean. Area, 783,000 sq km; population, 8.5 million (1972, estimate). The administrative center is the city of Maputo (formerly Lourengo Marques). It is divided into ten provinces.

Mozambique is a republic. Under the present constitution, which went into effect on June 25, 1975, the president is the head of state and of the government, and executive power is vested in the National Assembly, which consists of 210 deputies.

Natural features The total length of the coastline is about 3,000 km. North of the city of Mozambique the coast is indented by many small bays; the shores are low but rocky and steep. Coral reefs and sandbars make navigation difficult. In the south the shores are low, flat, and swampy in places. The ports of Beira and Maputo have good natural harbors. The northern part of the country is occupied by the plains of the East African plateau (Mount Namuli, 2,419 m), which descends in steps from west to east toward a narrow coastal lowland. In the west, between the Zambezi and Save rivers, the border with Southern Rhodesia runs along a ridge of the Inyanga fault scarp, with elevations of more than 1,000 m (Mount Binga, 2,436 m, the highest point in Mozambique). The volcanic Lebombo Mountains rise south of the Save, along the border with the Republic of South Africa. The Gorongosa Mountains (1,856 m) stretch in front of the Inyanga scarp. Much of eastern Mozambique is occupied by the rolling and swampy coastal Mozambique lowland (width, 80–400 km).

Most of Mozambique’s territory is composed of Lower and Middle Proterozoic metamorphic and granitized rocks of the Mozambican system, which are synchronous with the shales and quartzites of the Umkondo system that are developed along the northeastern edge of the Rhodesian massif on the right bank of the Zambezi River. The Precambrian foundation of Mozambique was split into blocks by fractures in the late Paleozoic period. The submerged blocks correspond to the Urema trough (the southern continuation of the East African Rift Valley), the Zambezi and Limpopo grabens, and the Mozambique depression. The platform cover that is localized within the Mozambique depression is represented by the Upper Carboniferous Dwyka tillites, the Lower Permian coal-bearing Ecca series, the Upper Permian-Triassic red Beaufort series, the Triassic molasse-like and then aqueous deposits of the Stormberg series and basalt lavas, and the mainly marine deposits of the Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Cenozoic periods. In the Mozambique depression in the south of the country, the Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Cenozoic strata are more than 3.5 km thick. The most important minerals are coal (total reserves, 700 million tons), deposits of which are associated with the Ecca series (coal basins on the Zambezi River near the city of Tete, at Lake Nyasa, and in the valley of the Limpopo River); uranium and iron ores; asbestos; phosphorites; and mica and gold, which are confined to Precambrian rocks. In the east of the country there are deposits of ores of beryllium, niobium, tantalum, and lithium, which are associated with pegmatites. There are also bauxite deposits in the region of Tete.

The climate of the northern part of Mozambique is subequatorial; that of the southern part, a tropical trade-wind climate. In the Mozambique lowland the average temperature is 26°–30°C in January and 15°–20°C in July. On the plateau the temperature is 3°–5°C lower in both winter and summer. The annual precipitation ranges from 750–1,000 mm on the plateau and in the southern part of the Mozambique lowland to 1,500 mm or more in the northern part of the lowland and on the windward slopes of the East African plateau, the Inyanga scarp, and the Lebombo Mountains.

The major rivers are the Zambezi, Limpopo, Save, and Ruvuma, which are deep and navigable in the lowland. The eastern shore of Lake Nyasa (Malawi) and Lake Chilwa are in Mozambique.

Vegetation consists of sparse forests on the northern tableland, moist savanna in the northern part of the coastal zone, and park savanna south of the Zambezi. Along the banks of the large rivers there are evergreen fringing forests with fine wood, such as ebony, Persian parrotia, and rosewood.

The fauna is rich and varied. Many animals that live only in preserves and national parks in other parts of southern Africa are found in the wild in Mozambique. Among them are the African elephant, antelope, zebra, rhinoceros, lion, leopard, jackal, and hyena. The forests are inhabited by monkeys. There are many snakes and birds and an abundance of insects, including gnats, mosquitoes, and termites.

The large Gorongosa National Park is in Mozambique.


(geologic structure and mineral resources)

Population More than 98 percent of the population consists of peoples of the Bantu language family. The northern part of Mozambique is inhabited by eastern Bantu peoples—the Makua (Makwa) and Lomwe, Malawi, Yao, Makonde, and Swahili. In the southern part live the southeastern Bantu peoples—the Thonga, Mashona, Zulu (Shangana), Angoni, and Swazi. There are about 220,000 Europeans, Asians, Arabs, and mulattoes (as of 1970).

The official language is Portuguese. About 80 percent of the inhabitants profess traditional local beliefs, and most of the rest are Christians or Muslims. The official calendar is the Gregorian calendar.

In the period from 1963 to 1970, the annual population increase was 3.1 percent. The average population density is about 11 per sq km (as of 1972); it is highest in Maputo Province. The economically active population numbers 2,248,000 (1970), of whom 72 percent are engaged in agriculture and 3 percent in industry. The urban population accounts for 5.7 percent of the total (1970). The major cities are Maputo (population 384,000 in 1970, including suburbs), Beira (85,000 in 1968, including suburbs), and Quelimane (20,000 in 1968).

Historical survey The first inhabitants of Mozambique were Bushmen and Hottentots. They were later displaced by tribes of the Bantu language family, who had moved in from the southern Sudan and who engaged mainly in livestock raising and farming. The population had known from ancient times the techniques of mining gold and iron and copper ores.

Early class states arose in Mozambique in the late first and early second millennia A.D.; the largest of them was Mwene Matapa. Arabs began their penetration of Mozambique in the eighth century; they founded numerous trading stations on the East African seaboard and tried to consolidate their economic and political influence in the region. In 1498, Vasco da Gama’s Portuguese expedition made a stop in Mozambique en route to India. In the early 16th century the Portuguese, attracted by reports of Mwene Matapa’s wealth, landed on the coast and moved into the interior of the country. They built a fort at Sofala in 1505 and the fortress of Mozambique in 1508. Their attempts to penetrate deeper into Mozambique encountered the stubborn resistance of the Karanga people, who inhabited Mwene Matapa. In 1629 the Portuguese forced the ruler of Mwene Matapa to sign an oppressive treaty, in which he acknowledged himself to be a vassal of the king of Portugal.

In the 17th and 18th centuries the Portuguese colonialists conducted a brisk slave trade in Mozambique, exporting slaves to Brazil to work on sugar plantations. In 1752, Portugal’s possessions on the East African seaboard, which up to that time had been administered by the viceroy of Portuguese India, were made a separate colony, and a separate colonial administration headed by a captain general was set up in Mozambique. In 1781 the Portuguese built the fortress of Lourengo Marques, which became the administrative center of the colony in 1897.

In the early 19th century the Portuguese controlled only the fortresses and trading stations on the seaboard. Their attempts to establish effective control over the interior regions led to a long war with the African state of the Vatua, which was founded in the early 19th century between the Limpopo and Púngwè rivers. The ruler of the state, the general and diplomat Gungunhana, inflicted several defeats on the colonialists in 1894–95. In late 1895 the Portuguese succeeded in breaking the resistance of the Vatua and capturing Gungunhana. The armed struggle continued for about two more years. Gungunhana is revered as a national hero in Mozambique.

In the early 20th century, after conquering the interior regions of Mozambique, the Portuguese colonialists introduced forced labor. In 1909, Portugal signed a convention with the South African authorities on the recruitment of Mozambique’s local population for work in the coal and gold mines of the Transvaal. After World War I, at the division of German East Africa, the territory south of the Ruvuma River (called the Quionga, or Kionga, triangle) was made part of Mozambique.

Portugal’s economic weakness opened the way for the penetration of Mozambique by other foreign capital (mainly British before World War II and North American after the war). The Companhia de Mozambique, which was founded in 1891 with broad participation of foreign capital and in which the Portuguese government owned 10 percent of the stock, received exclusive rights to the exploitation of the Manica e Sofala region (present-day Beira and Vila Pery provinces). After the war, foreign monopolies were in control of the production of sugar, sisal, cotton, tobacco, coffee, and peanuts and the construction of railroads and ports. In 1948 the Gulf Oil Company (USA) concluded a contract with Portugal and opened a branch in Mozambique. At the same time, Portuguese monopoly capital began a more active penetration of Mozambique’s economy. Cotton became the leading Portuguese import from Mozambique.

In 1920 a group of African students from Mozambique formed a patriotic organization, the African League, in Lisbon. The African Association, the Association of the Native-born of Mozambique, and other organizations that set for themselves the goal of struggle against colonialism were founded later. Large-scale actions by the proletariat took place: there was a strike of transportation workers and longshoremen in 1925, strikes of longshoremen and workers in Lourengo Marques in 1949 and 1951, and disturbances among plantation workers in Muedas Macondes in 1960.

An armed uprising broke out in Mozambique on Sept. 25, 1964. It was headed by the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), a patriotic party consisting of the peasantry, as well as the urban workers and the revolutionary intelligentsia, that was founded in 1962 under the leadership of E. Mondlane. Mondlane was assassinated in 1969, and Samora Machel became party leader in 1970. In the armed struggle against Portuguese troops, FRELIMO raised its own army and inflicted several defeats on the colonialists. At first the party operated in the two northern districts of Cabo Delgado and Niassa, but in 1968 it opened military operations in Tete District. In 1972–73, FRELIMO carried out several successful military operations near the dam that was under construction in Cabora Bassa, and also in Niassa and Cabo Delgado districts. Although by late 1972 the Portuguese had deployed an army of 70,000 men in Mozambique, and although they received aid from NATO, the Republic of South Africa, and Southern Rhodesia, they suffered heavy losses. By early 1973, FRELIMO controlled more than one-fourth of the country’s territory, with a population of more than 1 million. FRELIMO has set up bodies of people’s power in the liberated territories and is carrying out social and economic transformations that are in the basic interests of the people of Mozambique. After the overthrow of the fascist dictatorship in Portugal (Apr. 25, 1974), the Provisional Government of Portugal took steps toward a political settlement in Mozambique.

On Sept. 7, 1974, representatives of the Portuguese government and FRELIMO signed an agreement in Lusaka (Zambia) setting a date for the proclamation of Mozambique’s independence. A provisional government consisting of FRELIMO and Portuguese representatives was formed.

The People’s Republic of Mozambique was declared independent on June 25, 1975. FRELIMO chairman S. Machel became the first president of the sovereign state. Mozambique’s government, which consists of members of FRELIMO, has advanced an extensive program of profound social and economic reforms in the interests of the people. The foreign policy of the government enunciates the pursuit of nonalignment and the struggle against imperialism, colonialism, and racism, and also the strengthening of cooperation with socialist countries.

The government’s revolutionary democratic program enjoys wide popular support. However, the imperialist states of the West, the Republic of South Africa, and Southern Rhodesia have continued their provocations in an attempt to exert political and military pressure on the People’s Republic of Mozambique.


Economy Mozambique is an agrarian country whose economy was, until 1975, dominated by foreign capital. Since 1975 the structure of the economy has been changing gradually. The land and mineral resources have been declared the property of the nation. Until 1975, agriculture accounted for about 45 percent of the gross national product. Agricultural land makes up 60 percent of Mozambique’s territory; 3.4 percent of this is occupied by plowland and orchards, and more than 56 percent by meadows and pastures. A considerable portion of the agricultural area is irrigated. The farms that belonged to foreign companies and European planters produced the bulk of the agricultural commodities. The main export crops grown on plantations are sugarcane (56,000 ha; 370,000 tons of raw sugar in 1972); coconut palm, on the lower course of the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers, in the coastal zone, and south of the Zambezi up to the mouth of the Save River (412,000 tons of coconuts in 1972; 68,000 tons of copra in 1972, first place in Africa); tea, in the northwest (15,400 ha; 19,500 tons in 1972; fourth place in Africa, after Kenya, Uganda, and Malawi); and sisal, in all regions (50,000 ha; 24,000 tons in 1972). For export, the Africans grow cotton (364,000 ha; 44,600 tons of raw cotton in 1972) and gather cashew nuts (200,000 tons in 1972; second place in the world after India). The main consumption crops are cassava (440,000 ha, 2.1 million tons in 1972), maize, peanuts, and sorghum.

The development of animal husbandry is hampered by the widespread occurrence of the tsetse fly. Cattle (2.2 million head in 1972), goats (900,000 head), sheep, and pigs are raised on European plantations, mainly in Maputo, Gaza, and Tete districts. The procurement of round timber was 8.4 million cu m in 1971. There is fishing, mainly in the coastal waters (10,400 tons in 1971).

The manufacturing industry accounts for only about 14 percent of the gross national product. The main branches are petroleum refining and the processing of agricultural goods. The mining industry is poorly developed. The minerals produced are coal (336,000 tons in 1972, in Tete Province and northwest of Beira), bauxites, uranium and beryllium ores, salt (29,000 tons in 1971), and asbestos (1,400 tons).

In 1971, electric power output was 551 million kilowatt-hours, about one-half of which was produced by hydroelectric power plants; about one-fourth of the electric power is transmitted to Southern Rhodesia, and about one-tenth to the Republic of South Africa. The international consortium ZAMCO, which includes companies of the Federal Republic of Germany, France, the Republic of South Africa, and Portugal, is building the large Cabora Bassa Hydroelectric Power Plant on the Zambezi River (1974). An oil refinery in Maputo, which uses imported oil, produced 729,000 tons of petroleum products in 1971, most of which was exported to the Republic of South Africa. The major enterprises for processing agricultural products are factories for processing cashew nuts (eight of them belong to the Anglo-American Corporation; there are also large factories in Inhambane and Vila de Joao Belo), four sugar refineries, and flour mills. Mozambique has plants producing peanut oil, cotton-ginning plants, breweries, a tobacco-curing factory, wood-products, furniture and plywood production, and a cement plant (468,000 tons in 1972). Several enterprises are under construction: a pulp and paper plant in the region of Vila Pery (1974), a large textile factory in the city of Nampula, and a sugar refinery in the region of Dondo.

The country has 3,700 km of railroads and 38,400 km of highways (1972); the Maputo-Beira highway was under construction as of 1974. The main ports are Maputo (freight turnover, 12.9 million tons in 1971) and Beira (freight turnover, 2.56 million tons). The Zambezi, Limpopo, Save, Lurio, and Ruvuma rivers are navigable. There are international airports in Maputo, Beira, and Lumbo. Mozambique’s transportation system is used to a considerable extent for transit of foreign-trade cargo of the Republic of South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Malawi, and Swaziland. Transit and transportation services (including the export of labor) account for a considerable part of the gross national product.

Export goods include cashew nuts (21.5 percent of total export value in 1971), cotton (14.2), sugar (14.9), petroleum products (7), tea (6), copra (5), timber and lumber, and sisal; among import goods are machines and equipment (20 percent of total import value in 1970), transportation equipment (15), food and beverages (14), textile products (11.5), metals and metal products (11), and petroleum.

Mozambique’s main trade partners (as of 1971) were Portugal (38 percent of the exports and 27 percent of the imports) and the Republic of South Africa (9.5 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively). Since the declaration of independence, the geography of foreign trade has changed. The republic’s trade partnership extends to socialist countries, including the USSR. The monetary unit is the Portuguese escudo.


Medicine and public health In 1965–70 the average annual birthrate was estimated at 43.3 per thousand, and the death rate, 22.9 per thousand. Infant mortality is high (92.5 per thousand live births). The average life span is 41 years. Pathology is dominated by infectious diseases, particularly malaria, which exists throughout the country and affects more than 50 percent of the children, and by intestinal infections (dysentery and epidemic hepatitis). Tuberculosis, leprosy, and urinary and intestinal schistosomiasis are also common. Cases of smallpox are recorded every year. In the middle course of the Zambezi and in the north of the country are prime sites of Rhodesian trypanosomiasis; its carriers (tsetse flies) are absent only south of the Save River. The most frequent helminthiases are ancylostomiasis and ascaridiasis; in addition, rural inhabitants are often affected by several types of parasites simultaneously. These factors, as well as an insufficiency of protein in the diet, explain the predominance among neoplasms of primary cancer of the liver.

In 1968 the country had 989 medical institutions, with 13,000 beds, or 1.8 beds per thousand; the institutions are concentrated mainly in the cities, whereas the rural areas have virtually no hospital services. Outpatient services are provided in the cities by polyclinic divisions of hospitals and, in rural areas, by public health centers and stations. In 1969 there were 502 doctors (one doctor per 14,000 inhabitants), of whom 253 worked in state services. There were 169 pharmacists and about 2,300 secondary medical personnel.

Secondary medical personnel are trained in Mozambique.


VETERINARY SERVICES. Mites and tsetse flies spread disease among farm animals. Trypanosomiasis, rickets, piroplasmosis, theileriasis, and helminthiases are causing great damage to animal husbandry and retarding its development. Veterinary service is organized only near big cities. Veterinary and sanitation control is implemented in some slaughterhouses. Mozambique has 54 veterinarians (1972) and a veterinary research center.

Cultural affairs and scientific institutions As a result of the colonial regime, more than 95 percent of the population is illiterate (according to 1970 data). Europeans and Africans study in separate schools. Compulsory education of children between the ages of seven and 13 has been introduced for the Europeans. The school system for them is the same as in Portugal: the six-year primary school is followed by the seven-year secondary school (five plus two years). Africans are essentially admitted only to a five-year primary school; the majority study for two years at “adaptation schools” (escolas de adaptação). An insignificant proportion of Africans enter a five-year secondary school (two plus three years). Instruction in the African schools is in Portuguese. In the 1970–71 academic year there were 613,900 students in all schools, including more than 10,000 in secondary schools. Vocational training is provided by schools that admit primary school graduates; the course of study is three to six years. In the 1968–69 academic year there were 14,200 students in vocational schools. Maputo is the site of a university (founded in 1962), which had more than 2,000 students in the 1972–73 academic year.

In the liberated areas of Mozambique, a great deal of attention is devoted to education and the training of national cadres; work on the elimination of illiteracy has been expanded, and schools for African children are being set up.

Maputo is the site of the National Library (founded in 1961; more than 95,000 holdings), the Municipal Library (more than 8,000 holdings), and the Alvaro de Castro Museum (founded in 1911), which has collections of exhibits on ethnography and natural history.


Maputo is also the location of the Mozambique Institute of Scientific Research (founded in 1955), which has departments of biology, geography, and geology, and also an astronomical and meteorological observatory (founded 1907), the Cotton Research Institute (founded 1962), the Public Health Institute (founded 1955), and the Geology and Mining Service (founded 1930; in the early 1970’s most of the prospecting was done by geologists from the Republic of South Africa).

Press and radio In 1972 there were about 12 periodicals in Mozambique. The most important daily Portuguese-language newspapers are Diário (founded 1905; circulation, 12,000), published in Maputo; Diário de Moçambique (founded 1950; circulation, 12,000), the organ of Catholic circles, published in Beira; Noticias da Beira (founded 1915; circulation, 10,000), published in Beira; Noticias (founded 1926; circulation, 27,000), published in Maputo; and A Tribuna (founded 1962; circulation, 15,000) published in Maputo.

FRELIMO publishes the Portuguese-language magazine A voz da Revolucão and the English-language bulletin Mozambique Revolution.

The Mozambique Radio Club, a private service under government control located in Maputo, broadcasts programs in Portuguese, English, and African languages.

Literature The folklore of the peoples of Mozambique, although rich in genres and languages, has been little studied; however, it has influenced many writers. The first manifestation of Mozambique’s cultural and social consciousness was journalism, which began at the turn of the 20th century as a reaction against the Portuguese colonialists’ policy of assimilation. O Brado Africano, a weekly published by the African Association, is marked by an anticolonialist orientation. Its contributors have included the brothers João and José Albasini and the journalist E. Dias—the founders of Mozambican literature—and, in the 1960’s, the progressive journalist D. Aruca. The weekly publishes material in Portuguese and Chironga.

Fiction originated in the second decade of the 20th century. There were two distinct trends in fiction: a procolonialist trend, which is far removed from the pressing problems of the country’s life (its representatives are mostly writers of Portuguese extraction), and a truly popular anticolonialist trend. The latter includes João Albasini’s prose work Book of Sorrow (1925). The pro-Portuguese works include B. Camacho’s Wild Tales (1934) and many novels by Rodrigues Júnior (born 1902). Early Mozambican poetry was characterized by exoticism and imitation of Portuguese models (F. Ferrerinha, first quarter of the 20th century). The first important Mozambican poet with a clearly pronounced anticolonialist orientation was R. de Noronha (1909–43).

After World War II (1939–5), realistic tendencies and the desire to reflect important aspects of reality gained strength in literature; this is characteristic of the poems of J. Craveirinha (born 1922). The theme of the poetry of Noémia de Sousa (born 1927) is proud and unsubdued Africa. The poetry of M. dos Santos (born 1929), a leader of the national liberation movement, is marked by a passionate journalistic quality and revolutionary and anticolonialist enthusiasm. The collection of short stories Godido by J. Dias (1926–49), in which he called on the Mozambicans to throw off slavish humility and submission to fate, was published in 1952. L. Bernardo Honwana (born 1942) presented a truthful portrayal of daily life in the collection of short stories We Killed Mangy Dog (1964).

At the present time, poetry occupies the dominant place in literature. The main theme of the works of A. Guebuza (born 1935), J. Rebelo (born 1940), and S. Vieira (born 1941) is the reordering of the sensory world. Mozambican writers tend to write more often in local languages of the Bantu group or in pequeno portugues, which is a Mozambican variety of Portuguese.


Architecture and art Two types of construction predominate in Mozambican popular dwellings. On the coast there are rectangular houses on frames of poles braided over with twigs and smeared with clay, with gabled roofs covered with grass. In the interior regions there are round frame houses with a central pole; the roofs are either conical and covered with straw and reeds or cup-shaped and covered with grass. The main types of Mozambican decorative and applied art are wood carving, weaving from twigs, and the making of calabashes.


[Khazanov, A. M.] Politika Portugalii v Afrike i Azii. Moscow, 1967.
Sheinis, V. L. Portugal’skii imperializm v Afrikeposle vtoroi mirovoi voiny. Moscow, 1969.
Mondlane, E. Bor’ba za Mozambik. Moscow, 1972. (Translated from English.)
Vzgliadom serdtsa. Moscow, 1961.
Zdes’ i trava roditsia krasnoi. Moscow, 1967.
Riauzova, E. A. Portugaloiazychnye literatury Afriki. Moscow, 1972.
Poeziia Afriki. Moscow, 1973.
Junod, H. P. Bantu Heritage. Johannesburg, 1938.
Andrade, M. de. Antologia da poesia negra de expressão portuguesa. Paris, 1958.
Andrade, M. de. Literatura africana de expressao portuguesa: Poesia. Antologia temdtica. Algiers, 1967.
Poetas de Mozambique. Lisbon, 1960.
Margarido, A. Poetas de Mozambique: Antologia. Lisbon, 1962.
Rodrigues, J. Poetas de Mozambique. Lourenco Marques, 1965.
Craveirinha, J. Chigubo. Lisbon, 1964. [16–1228–2; updated]



(Mozambique), a city in Mozambique. Population, 12,500 (1960). It is a port on the Mozambique Channel, situated on a coral island. Cotton, sisal, oil seeds, and timber are exported through Mozambique; the freight turnover was 300,000 tons in 1969. The city was founded in 1508.

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


Official name: Republic of Mozambique

Capital city: Maputo

Internet country code: .mz

Flag description: Three equal horizontal bands of green (top), black, and yellow with a red isosceles triangle based on the hoist side; the black band is edged in white; centered in the triangle is a yellow five-pointed star bear­ing a crossed rifle and hoe in black superimposed on an open white book

National anthem: “Moçambique nossa terra gloriosa!” (Mozambique, our Glorious Land - first line of chorus)

Geographical description: Southeastern Africa, bordering the Mozambique Channel, between South Africa and Tan­zania

Total area: 309,494 sq. mi. (801,590 sq. km.)

Climate: Tropical to subtropical

Nationality: noun: Mozambican(s); adjective: Mozambican

Population: 20,905,585 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: African (Makhuwa, Tsonga, Lomwe, Sena, and others) 99.66%, Europeans 0.06%, Euro-Africans 0.2%, Indians 0.08%

Languages spoken: Emakhuwa 26.1%, Xichangana 11.3%, Portuguese 8.8% (official; spoken by 27% of population as a second language), Elomwe 7.6%, Cisena 6.8%, Echuwabo 5.8%, other Mozambican languages 32%, other foreign languages 0.3%, unspecified 1.3%

Religions: Roman Catholic 23.8%, Muslim 17.8%, Zionist Christian 17.5%, other 17.8%, none 23.1%

Legal Holidays:

Day of Peace and ReconciliationOct 4
FamilyDec 25
Heroes' DayFeb 3
Independence DayJun 25
New Year's DayJan 1
Revolution DaySep 25
Victory DaySep 7
Women's DayApr 7
Workers' DayMay 1
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic in SE Africa: colonized by the Portuguese from 1505 onwards and a slave-trade centre until 1878; made an overseas province of Portugal in 1951; became an independent republic in 1975; became a member of the Commonwealth in 1995. Official language: Portuguese. Religion: animist majority. Currency: metical. Capital: Maputo. Pop.: 19 183 000 (2004 est.). Area: 812 379 sq. km (313 661 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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