Information on the history, climate and geography of Mozambique
The Bantu people settled in Mozambique about 2,000 years ago, setting up the great Mwenemutapa Empire in the centre and south of the country. By about 900 AD trading links had been forged with India, Persia, China and, above all, with the Arab world. Gold was the major lure for these merchants and it was this precious mineral that first attracted the Portuguese to Mozambique, Vasco da Gama landing there in 1498 on his way to India.
The Portuguese set up their first trading post at Sofala in 1505, exporting gold and challenging Arab domination. By the late 17th century ivory had replaced gold as the main export while, some 50 years later, slaves became the major commodity in the history of Mozambique.
Mozambique was governed from Goa until 1752, when it was brought under direct control from Lisbon. As a result of this link with India, numerous Indians trading communities settled in the country, and their influence can still be seen today. Independent Arab trading 'states' survived until the end of the 19th century.
After Portugal's colonial role in Mozambican history was ratified, these trading 'kingdoms' were destroyed leaving the legacy of the Islamic religion in areas where these sultanates had existed. In the early part of the 20th century vast tracts of land were rented to and administered by private companies. Agriculture became the main activity, creating huge numbers of poor, rural black workers, while a policy of white supremacy was pursued.
Repression and exploitation provoked a backlash which led to the growth of the independence movement and the founding of freedom organisations like Frelimo in 1962. Armed struggle led to independence on June 25, 1975. A 17-year-long civil war which then broke out was only resolved in 1992. Multi-party elections were then held in October 1994 with Frelimo emerging as victors. Mozambique, which joined the Commonwealth in 1995, is now building on its stability by promoting foreign investment and tourism.
Geographically, Mozambique covers an area of over 800,000 sq. km, three times the size of Great Britain. Situated to the south east of the African continent, it shares borders with six other countries, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the west, South Africa and Swaziland to the south. The 2,500 km long coastline boasts numerous superb beaches fringed by lagoons, coral reefs and strings of small islands.
The Geography of Mozambique apprises a vast, low, grassland plateau which rises from the coast towards the mountains in the north and west covers nearly half the country's land area. The population is concentrated along the coast and the fertile river valleys. The Zambezi is the largest of the country's 25 rivers. Mozambique is rich in mineral resources such as gold, emeralds, copper, iron ore and bauxite and is currently engaged in oil exploration.
Tropical to sub-tropical Mozambican climate with coastal temperatures high for much of the year while the interior is warm to mild, even in the cooler, dry season from April to September. In the south the hot, humid rainy season is from December to March, farther north this period lengthens by a few weeks. Coastal northern Mozambique climate is occasionally affected by tropical cyclones. It is usually sunny throughout the year.