Mozambique is located in Southeast Africa 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. It is separated from Madagascar by the Mozambique Channel. The capital and largest city is Maputo (known as “Lourenço Marques” before independence). Mozambique is rich in natural resources, is biologically and culturally diverse, and has a tropical climate. Its extensive coastline, fronting the Mozambique Channel, which separates mainland Africa from the island of Madagascar, offers some of Africa’s best natural harbors. These have allowed Mozambique an important role in the maritime economy of the Indian Ocean, while the country’s white sand beaches are an important attraction for the growing tourism industry. Fertile soils in the northern and central areas of Mozambique have yielded a varied and abundant agriculture, and the great Zambezi River has provided ample water for irrigation and the basis for a regionally important hydroelectric power industry. The country is drained by several significant rivers, with the Zambezi being the largest and most important. The Zambezi is in fact the fourth-longest river in Africa, and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa.
UNESCO Heritage sites in Mozambique includes:
1. Island of Mozambique
lies off northern Mozambique, between the Mozambique Channel and Mossuril Bay, and is part of Nampula Province. Prior to 1898, it was the capital of colonial Portuguese East Africa. With its rich history and sandy beaches, the Island of Mozambique is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Mozambique’s fastest growing tourist destinations. It has a permanent population of approximately 14,000 people and is served by nearby Lumbo Airport on the Nampula mainland. The island was a major Arab port and boat building center in the years before Vasco da Gama visited in 1498.
Mozambique gained independence from Portugal on June 25th 1975.
Soon after gaining independence, followed a sixteen year civil conflict that concluded in 1992. Although, the civil war is over, tension still remains between the ruling Frelimo party and the opposition the former Renamo rebel movement, according the BBC. During the civil conflict era Frelimo was Mozambique’s sole political party. However, multiparty elections was introduced in 1994 and the first president Frelimo and Renamo continue to be the major parties, but there are many others as well. The current president Filipe Nyusi, from the Frelimo party became president on January 2015.
Mozambique has vast natural resources and minerals, but also remained underdeveloped. Although the 1992 resource-development projects has led to an increased investment. Key metallic resources such as high-quality iron ore and the rare and important mineral tantalite (the principal ore of tantalum), of which Mozambique has what may be the world’s largest reserves. Gold, bauxite (the principal ore of aluminum), graphite, marble, bentonite, and limestone are mined and quarried, and sea salt is extracted in coastal areas. Also, Mozambique’s other mineral deposits include manganese, graphite, fluorite, platinum, nickel, uranium, asbestos, diamonds, coal and natural gas. The centerpiece of Mozambique’s energy potential is the Cahora Bassa Dam on the upper Zambezi. Originally, designed in cooperation with South Africa’s national power company to produce electricity largely for South Africa, not Mozambique. Portugal long held the majority share of ownership in the company that operates Cahora Bassa. After much negotiation, an agreement between Portugal and Mozambique that increased Mozambique’s share of ownership to 85 percent was implemented in 2006 and Portugal agreed in 2012 to relinquish its final share of ownership over the next two years. The Cahora Bassa is continent’s fourth-largest artificial lake. Mozambique’s most important exports by value include aluminum, shrimp, and cotton.
The people of Mozambique are ethnically diverse, but ethnic categories are fluid and reflect the country’s colonial history. 99% of Mozambicans descended from such indigenous tribes as the Makua, Tonga, Chokwe, Manyika, and Sau. The Makua people are the largest ethnic group. Portuguese is the official and most widely spoken language of the nation.
With a nearly 500-year presence in the country, the Portuguese have greatly impacted Mozambique’s cuisine and with plentiful fish and shrimps Mozambique’s cuisine is rich. Popular dishes includes: Prawns (grilled or fried shrimp served with Peri Peri sauce, Matapa ( Stewed cassava leaves), Peri Peri Chicken, Prego roll, Chamussas (Savory pastries inspired by the Indian Samosa), Dobrada, Galinha Asada.
When Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975, Mozambican culture was reenergized, and music and dance that had nearly vanished under colonial rule suddenly burst onto the public stage. Dance tunes proclaimed “Down with decadent culture/Long live the Mozambican culture!” Work songs to accompany pounding maize and peanuts and songs promoting the rebuilding of “communal villages” were also extremely popular, according to Smithsonian Folk Ways. The most popular style of modern dance music is marrabenta. Mozambican music also influenced another Lusophone music in Brazil, like maxixe (its name derived from Maxixe in Mozambique), and Cuban music like Mozambique.