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Republic of Mozambique

República Popular de Moçambique

CAPITAL: Maputo (formerly Lourenço Marques)

FLAG: The flag consists of broad stripes of green, black, and yellow, separated by narrow bands of white. Extending from the hoist is a red triangle; centered on the triangle is a yellow five-pointed star upon which is a white book over which are crossed the black silhouettes of a hoe and an AK47 rifle.

ANTHEM: Begins "Viva viva FRELIMO."

MONETARY UNIT: The Mozambique escudo (me), linked until 1977 with the Portuguese escudo, was in June 1980 renamed the metical (mt); it is a paper currency of 100 centavos. There are coins of ½, 1, 2½, 5, 10, and 20 meticais, and notes of 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 meticais. mt1=$0.00005 (or $1 =mt19,445) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is in use.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Heroes' Day, 3 February; Women's Day, 7 April; Workers' Day, 1 May; Independence Day, 25 June; Victory Day, 7 September; Day of Revolution, 25 September; Christmas, 25 December.

TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.


Located on the southeastern coast of Africa, opposite the island of Madagascar, Mozambique (Moçambique), formerly known as Portuguese East Africa, has an area of 801,590 sq km (309,496 sq mi), of which land constitutes 784,090 sq km (302,738 sq mi) and inland water 17,500 sq km (6,757 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Mozambique is slightly less than twice the size of the state of California. The country extends 2,016 km (1,253 mi) nnessw and 772 km (480 mi) esewnw. It is bordered by Tanzania on the n, the Indian Ocean (Mozambique Channel) on the e, the Republic of South Africa on the s, Swaziland, South Africa, and Zimbabwe on the w, and Zambia and Malawi on the nw, with a total boundary length of 7,041 km (4,375 mi), of which 2,470 km (1,535 mi) is coastline.


Mozambique is 44% coastal lowlands, rising toward the west to a plateau 150 to 610 m (5002,000 ft) above sea level and on the western border to a higher plateau, 550 to 910 m (1,8003,000 ft), with mountains reaching a height of nearly 2,440 m (8,000 ft). The highest mountains are Namuli (2,419 m/7,936 ft) in Zambézia Province and Binga (2,436 m/7,992 ft) in Manica Province on the Zimbabwean border. The most important rivers are the Zambezi (flowing southeast across the center of Mozambique into the Indian Ocean), the Limpopo in the south, the Save (Sabi) in the center, and the Lugenda in the north. The most important lake is the navigable Lake Malawi (Lake Niassa); Lake Cahora Bassa was formed by the impoundment of the Cahora Bassa Dam. In the river valleys and deltas, the soil is rich and fertile, but southern and central Mozambique have poor and sandy soil, and parts of the interior are dry.


Two main seasons, one wet and one dry, divide the climatic year. The wet season, from November through March, has monthly averages 2729°c (8184°f), with cooler temperatures in the interior uplands. The dry season lasts from April to October and has June and July temperatures averaging 1820°c (6468°f). The average annual rainfall is greatest (about 142 cm/56 in) over the western hills and the central areas, and lowest (30 cm/12 in) in the southwest.

A severe drought began to affect the central region of the country in 2001. As of 2005, the UN World Food Programme was still offering assistance to those who were most in need in the provinces of Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Manica, Sodala, and Tete, but the program was underfunded and there were an estimated 500,000 people still in need of assistance. Much of the same region suffered a flood in 2000 which affected 300,000 people.


Thick forest covers the wet regions, where there are fertile soils, but the drier interior, which has sandy or rocky soils, supports only a thin savanna vegetation. Extensive stands of hardwood, such as ebony, flourish throughout the country. Mozambique has elephants, buffalo, wildebeests, zebras, palapalas, hippopotamuses, lions, crocodiles, nyalas, and other southern African game species. As of 2002, there were at least 179 species of mammals, 144 species of birds, and over 5,600 species of plants throughout the country.


The civil war combined with natural disasters from flooding and drought have created a life-threatening situation for the nation's people. According to a 1992 UN report, humans were the most endangered species in Mozambique. Other significant environmental problems include the loss of 70% of the nation's forests. The nation lost 7.7% of its forest and woodland between 1983 and 1993 alone. Mozambique has since launched reforestation projects, mostly involving the planting of conifers and eucalyptus.

The purity of the nation's water supply is also a significant issue. Surface and coastal waters have been affected by pollution. Mozambique has 99 cu km of renewable water resources. About 89% of the annual withdrawal is used in farming and 2% for industrial purposes. Only 76% of the nation's city dwellers and 24% of the rural population have access to improved water sources.

In 2003, about 8.4% of the total land area was protected, including the Marromeu Complex, a Ramsar wetland site. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 12 types of mammals, 23 species of birds, 5 types of reptiles, 3 species of amphibians, 21 species of fish, 4 types of mollusks, 1 species of other invertebrates, and 46 species of plants. Endangered species in Mozambique include the green sea, hawksbill, olive ridley, and leatherback turtles.


The population of Mozambique in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 19,420,000, which placed it at number 54 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 3% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 44% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 94 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be 2.2%, a rate the government viewed as too high as it struggled to reduce poverty. The projected population for the year 2025 was 27,556,000. The population density was 24 per sq km (63 per sq mi), with about 60% of the population living in the central and southern coastal provinces.

The UN estimated that 32% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 4.22%. The capital city, Maputo (formerly Lourenço Marques), had a population of 1,221,000 in that year, while Beira had an estimated population of 500,000; Nampula, 314,965; and Nacala, 182,500.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has had a significant impact on the population of Mozambique. The UN estimated that 13% of adults between the ages of 1549 were living with HIV/AIDS in 2001. The AIDS epidemic causes higher death and infant mortality rates, and lowers life expectancy.


Between April 1974 and the end of 1976, an estimated 235,000 of the 250,000 Portuguese in Mozambique fled the country. Famine and war produced another exodus in the 1980s, but this time of blacks. An October 1992 peace agreement left 4.5 million internally displaced and 1.5 million refugees abroad. Of the latter, at the end of 1992, some 1,058,500 were in Malawi; about 200,000 in South Africa, 136,600 in Zimbabwe, 75,200 in Tanzania, 48,100 in Swaziland, and 26,300 in Zambia. By May 1993 about 750,000 people in both categories had returned home. Mozambique traditionally supplies seasonal farm workers to South Africa farmers.

In October 1992, the 16-year civil war ended with a peace treaty. Between 1992 and 1996, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) completed the largest repatriation project it has ever conducted in Africa. Over 1.3 million refugees returned to Mozambique from Malawi; 241,000 returned from Zimbabwe; 23,000 returned from South Africa, and 32,000 returned from Tanzania.

In 2000 there were 366,000 migrants living in Mozambique, including a small number of refugees. In 2004, there were 623 refugees and 4,892 asylum seekers. In that same year 151 Mozambicans applied for asylum in South Africa. In 2005, the net migration rate was an estimated zero, a significant change from 10.7 per 1,000 in 1990. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.


Nearly the total population (99.66%) is made up of indigenous tribal groups, including the Shangaan, Chokwe, Manyika, Sena, and Makua. Overall, there are 10 major ethnic clusters. The largest, residing north of the Zambezi, is the Makua-Lomwé group, representing about 37% of the total population. The Yao (Ajawa) live in Niassa Province. The Makonde live mainly along the Rovuma River. Other northern groups are the Nguni (who also live in the far south) and the Maravi. South of the Zambezi, the main group is the Tsonga (about 23%), who have figured prominently as Mozambican mine laborers in South Africa. The Chopi are coastal people of Inhambane Province. The Shona or Karanga (about 9%) dwell in the central region. Also living in Mozambique are EuroAfricans, accounting for about 0.2% of the population; Europeans, make up 0.06%; and Indians, constitute 0.08%.


Portuguese remains the official language. It is spoken as a first language by only about 8.8% of the population and as a second language by about 27%. Different African ethnic groups speak their respective languages and dialects. The most prominent of these are Emakhuwa, spoken by about 26.1% of the population; Xichangana, by 11.3% of the population; Elomwe, by 7.6%; Cisena, 6.8%; and Echuwabo, 5.8%.


Reports from the National Institute of Statistics state that half of the population does not claim adherence to any religion or creed. However, local scholars claim that most of the population follows traditional indigenous customs and beliefs either exclusively or in conjunction with other religious traditions. Veneration of ancestors plays an important role in traditional customs as do curandeiros, the traditional healers or spiritualists who are consulted for healing, luck, and solutions to problems.

Of the eight million or so who claim religious affiliation, about 24% are Roman Catholic, 22% are Protestant, and 20% are Muslim (though some Muslim leaders claim a much larger percentage of adherents). The strongest Muslim communities are located in the northern provinces and along the coastal strip. Central provinces are predominantly Catholic and the southern regions have the most Protestants. There are also small groups of Jews, Hindus, and Baha'is across the country.

There are over 500 distinct denominations registered with the Department of Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Justice. Registration is required by law and an organization must have at least 500 members in good standing to be registered. However, unregistered groups have been allowed to worship without restrictions. The largest of the African Independent Churches in the country is the Zion Christian Church. Other Christian denominations include Anglican, Greek Orthodox, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Congregational, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Nazarene, Jehovah's Witnesses and other Pentecostal, evangelical, and apostolic organizations. The evangelical Christians are reported as the fastest growing religious groups in the country. Among Muslims, only Sunni and Ismaili communities are registered.

The People's Republic of Mozambique is a secular state. The government guarantees every citizen full freedom of conscience and the right to practice a religion or not. Though church schools and hospitals were nationalized after independence, reports indicate that many of these institutions have been returned to their respective religious organizations. There is a council of bishops, including Catholic and Anglican members, that meets with the president on a fairly regular basis to talk about current issues. The Inter-Religious Forum is an interfaith organization that offers social and disaster relief; members include those from the Christian Council of Mozambique, the Greek Orthodox Church, Muslims, Jews, and Bahai's. No religious holidays are officially observed, though individuals are generally allowed days off for their own religious observances.


Transport networks are of major importance to the economy. Mozambique's landlocked neighborsMalawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Swazilandalong with South Africa are the main users of the Mozambican transport system.

The railways are the best-developed sector, with three good rail links between major Mozambican ports and neighboring countries. By independence in 1975, almost the entire railway system was owned by the state and passed into the hands of the newly independent government. The route system is 3,123 km (1,943 mi) long, all of it narrow gauge, with the single largest user being South Africa. There are six routes that make up the majority of the country's railroads: the Nacala Corridor, connecting Nacala to Malawi (300 km/186 mi); the Sena Corridor, linking Beira, via Dondo, to the coalfields at Moatize (513 km/319 mi) and to Malawi (370 km/230 mi); the Beira Corridor, connecting Beira to Zimbabwe (315 km/196 mi); the Limpopo Corridor, linking Maputo with Zimbabwe (534 km/332 mi); the Resano Garcia line, connecting Maputo to South Africa (88 km/55 mi); and the Goba line, linking Maputo to Swaziland (68 km/42 mi).

The road network in 2002 totals an estimated 30,400 km (18,890 mi), of which 5,685 km (3,533 mi) are paved, but few roads are suitable for trucks and passenger cars. In 2003, there were 58,110 vehicles, including 29,530 passenger cars and 28,580 commercial vehicles.

Maputo, by far the leading port, has an excellent multipurpose harbor, with exceptional loading, unloading, and storage facilities. It is a major outlet for South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and the eastern DROC. Other ports include Beira, Nacala, and Inhambane, which was reopened in 1980 after a 20-year closure. The Mozambican merchant fleet consisted of two cargo ships of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 4,125 in 2005. As of 2004, Mozambique had 580 km (360 mi) of navigable waterways consisting of the Zambezi River to Tete and along Cahora Lake.

In 2004, there were an estimated 158 airports, 22 of which had paved runways as of 2005. Mozambique Air Lines (Linhas Aéreas de MoçambiqueLAM), the state airline, operates both international and domestic services. In 2003, about 281,000 passengers were carried on domestic and international flights. The National Enterprise of Transport and Aerial Labor (Empresa Nacional de Transporte e Trabalho AéreoTTA) also provides domestic service. Maputo and Beira have international airports.


Mozambique's earliest inhabitants were hunter-gatherers, often referred to as Bushmen. The land was occupied by Bantu peoples by about ad 1000. In the following centuries, trade developed with Arabs who came across the Indian Ocean to Sofala. The first Europeans in the area were the Portuguese, who began to settle and trade on the coast early in the 16th century. During the 17th century, the Portuguese competed with Arabs for the trade in slaves, gold, and ivory, and set up agricultural plantations and estates. The owners of these estates, the prazeiros, were Portuguese or of mixed African and Portuguese blood (mestiços); many had their own private armies. Mozambique was ruled as part of Goa until 1752, when it was given its own administration.

Until the late 1800s, Portuguese penetration was restricted to the coast and the Zambezi Valley. The African peoples strongly resisted further expansion, but they were ultimately subdued. By the end of the 19th century, the Portuguese had made boundary agreements with their colonial rivals, the United Kingdom and Germany, and had suppressed much of the African resistance. Authority was given to trading companies such as Mozambique Co., which forced local people to pay taxes and work on the plantations. After the Portuguese revolution of 1926, the government of Portugal took a more direct interest in Mozambique. The trading companies' influence declined, and Mozambique in 1951 became an overseas province of Portugal.

As in other Portuguese territories, African resistance to Portuguese rule grew stronger as the British and French colonies in Africa began to win their independence. Gradually, various liberation movements were formed. On 25 June 1962, these groups united to form the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and elected Eduardo C. Mondlane as its first president. The armed struggle began on 25 September 1964, when FRELIMO guerrillas trained in Algeria went into action for the first time in Cabo Delgado. By 1965, fighting had spread to Niassa, and by 1968, FRELIMO was able to open fronts in the Tete region. By that time, it claimed to control one-fifth of the country. In response, the Portuguese committed more and more troops, military supplies, and military aid funds to the territory. On 3 February 1969, Mondlane was assassinated in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; the acting leader of FRELIMO, Samora Machel, became president of the organization in December 1970.

The turning point in the struggle for independence came with the Portuguese revolution of 25 April 1974. Negotiations between Portuguese and FRELIMO representatives led to the conclusion of an independence agreement in Zambia in September. Mozambique became officially independent at midnight on 2425 June 1975, and the People's Republic of Mozambique was proclaimed in ceremonies on 25 June. Machel, who had returned to Mozambique on 24 May after 13 years in exile, became the nation's first president. He quickly affirmed Mozambique's support of the liberation movement in Rhodesia, and guerrilla activity along the Rhodesian border increased. On 3 March 1976, Mozambique closed its border with Rhodesia, severed rail and communications links, and nationalized Rhodesian-owned property. Because the transit fees paid by Rhodesia had been a major source of foreign exchange revenue, the action aggravated Mozambique's economic ills. During this period, Rhodesian forces conducted land and air raids into Mozambique to punish black nationalist guerrillas based there. These raids ended, and the border was reopened in 1980, following the agreement that transformed Rhodesia into Zimbabwe. However, South African airmen bombed Maputo in 1981 and 1983 in retaliation for Mozambique's granting refuge to members of the African National Congress (ANC), a South African black nationalist group.

The Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO), created in 1976, allegedly by Portuguese settler and business interests with white Rhodesian (Central Intelligence Organization) backing, conducted extensive guerrilla operations in Mozambique during the 1980s. With an armed strength estimated as high as 12,000, RENAMO blew up bridges and cut rail and road links and pipelines. After the loss of its Rhodesian support, RENAMO received substantial aid from South Africa and also had bases in Malawi. Voluntary support for RENAMO within Mozambique was difficult to ascertain, but there was known to be considerable disaffection with the government because of food shortages and resistance by peasants to being resettled onto communal farms. In addition to these political problems, Mozambique experienced widespread floods in 197778 and recurrent drought periodically from 1979, especially in 1992.

On 16 March 1984, Mozambique and South Africa signed a nonaggression pact at Nkomati whereby Mozambique agreed to keep the ANC from using Mozambican territory for guerrilla attacks on South Africa, while South Africa agreed to stop supporting RENAMO. Nevertheless, South Africa continued to aid RENAMO, and as a result, in 1985 Mozambique pulled out of the commission that monitored the nonaggression pact. On 19 October 1986, President Machel and 33 others were killed when their Soviet-built jetliner crashed inside South Africa while returning to Maputo. Mozambican officials accused South Africa of employing a radio beacon to lure the craft off course to its destruction, but an international commission found that the crash was caused by negligence on the part of the Soviet crew. On 3 November 1986, FRELIMO's Central Committee elected Foreign Minister Joaquim A. Chissano president. In 1987, despite the jetliner crash and despite Mozambican claims that RENAMO and South Africa were responsible for the massacre of 386 people in a village near Inhambane, Mozambique and South Africa revived their nonaggression pact. Fighting intensified and hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans fled to Malawi and Zimbabwe.

In 1990, there was movement toward resolving the civil war. There were serious signs in the late 1980s that FRELIMO was moderating its views. At its 1989 Congress, FRELIMO formally abandoned its commitment to the primacy of Marxism-Leninism. The first peace talks in 13 years were scheduled for Blantyre, Malawi, but they broke down just before they were to open. In August, government and rebel leaders concluded three days of talks in Rome. That same month, Chissano announced that FRELIMO had agreed to allow opposition parties to compete openly and legally. Finally in November, government and RENAMO agreed to appoint the Italian government and the Catholic Church as mediators in peace talks.

It took until 4 October 1992 to sign a peace treaty ending the war, but sporadic fighting and new RENAMO demands slowed down the implementation process. Chissano and Afonso Dhlakama, RENAMO's leader, signed an agreement that called for the withdrawal of Zimbabwean and Malawian troops that had assisted government forces guarding transport routes and the regrouping of both government and RENAMO soldiers at assembly points. It called for the formation of a new national army composed of half government and half RENAMO troops. A joint commission of government and RENAMO, along with a small UN monitoring force, and other joint commissioners, the police, and intelligence services were to oversee the agreement's implementation. In addition, multiparty elections were to be held within a year.

Delays troubled the process practically from the start. RENAMO was slow to appoint its representatives to the joint commissions. The UN operation (UNOMOZ) was formally approved in December 1992, but no troops arrived until March 1993, and it was midyear before 6,000 troops were deployed. RENAMO failed to implement the provision for demobilization and all of the provisions regarding freedom of movement and political organization in areas it controlled. New RENAMO demands were put forward almost monthly, and despite direct meetings between Dhlakama and Chissano and an October 1993 visit by UN Sec. Gen. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the delays continued.

Political party activity picked up as efforts to resolve the civil war continued. By the end of 1996, 22 parties were active. In March 1993, government presented a draft electoral law to opposition parties, but not until late July was a meeting convened to discuss it. The opposition parties demanded a two-thirds majority on the National Electoral Commission. After Boutros-Ghali's visit, a compromise (10 out of 21 for the opposition parties) was agreed to. Delays also marked the effort to confine armed forces in designated areas.

Elections first scheduled for 1993 were conducted on 2729 October 1994. On the presidential ballot, Chissano won 53.3% of the vote to Dhlakama's 33.7%. The remainder was split among 10 other contenders. On the legislative ballot, FRELIMO took 44% of the popular vote to RENAMO's 37.7%. FRELIMO had 129 seats and RENAMO, 112. The Democratic Union took nine seats. Dhlakama disputed the fairness of the vote, and the UN observers agreed that it had been less than ideal, but insisted that the announced results were sufficiently accurate. More than 2,000 international observers agreed. Chissano formed the new government on 23 December, with the entire cabinet made up of FRELIMO MPs. Early in 1996, the Chissano government announced that it would postpone municipal elections slated for later that year until 1997. In presidential and parliamentary elections held in December 1999, Chissano defeated Dhlakama by 52.29% to 47.71% while his party took 133 seats against 117 for RENAMO in the parliamentary contest.

The next elections were held on 1 December 2004. In these elections Armando Guebuza, the new FRELIMO candidate, won 63.7% of the votes and the RENAMO candidate, Afonso Dhlakama, got 31.7%. In the parliamentary elections FRELIMO won 62% (1.8 million) of the votes, RENAMO 29.7% (905,000 votes) and 18 minor parties shared the remaining 8%. Under the proportional system, FRELIMO won 160 of the parliamentary seats and RENAMO won 90. The election results were contested by RENAMO and were widely criticized by international observes such as the European Union Election Observation Mission to Mozambique. Nevertheless, although the elections had shortcomings, it was agreed that the shortcomings did not affect the final result in the presidential election which was decisively in favor of FRELIMO. The new FRELIMO president, Armando Guebuza was sworn in as president of the republic on 2 February 2005 without the blessing of Dhlakama and RENAMO. Dhlakama was absent at the inauguration. In spite of the protests over the elections, RENAMO agreed to participate in the parliament and the Council of State. The next presidential and assembly of the republic elections were scheduled for December 2009.

With the return of normalcy to the war-torn country, Mozambique attempted to address the huge problem of the repatriation of the millions of refugees. By 1996, 1.6 million had returned. In 1997, Mozambique had become relatively stable, but remained mired in poverty. International investment, following structural adjustment programs initiated by the World Bank, poured in as the country engaged in a wholesale privatization of formerly state-owned enterprises on a scale unmatched anywhere in the world. In mid-2003, Mozambique was set to benefit from an $11.8 million disbursement from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), following a positive review of its economic performance under the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). Over 70% of the population reportedly lives in poverty, and an estimated 13% of adults between 1549 years old are infected with HIV. Food insecurity also remained an issue for some 600,000 people affected by cyclical droughts and flooding.


The constitution of the People's Republic of Mozambique became effective at midnight on 2425 June 1975. Under the constitution and its revision enacted during 197778, Mozambique was a republic in which FRELIMO was the sole legal party. The president was the chief of state; the president of FRELIMO had to be the president of the republic. He acted on the advice of the Council of State Ministers, which he appointed and over which he presided. He also appointed provincial governors. The position of prime minister was created in a 1986 constitutional revision. The National People's Assembly, with 226 members, was the supreme organ of the state. Elections to the Assembly were held in 1977 and 1986, with the candidates chosen from a single FRELIMO slate.

A revised constitution with a multiparty system of government came into force on 30 November 1990. The name of the country was changed from the People's Republic to the Republic of Mozambique. Governmental institutions remain otherwise unchanged. According to the 1990 constitution, the president is to be elected by universal adult suffrage for a five-year term and might be reelected on only two consecutive occasions. The Assembly of the Republic replaced the People's Assembly. Its 250 deputies are to be elected for five-year terms.


The Mozambique Liberation Front (Frente de Libertação de MoçambiqueFRELIMO), the sole legal political party until 1991, was founded in 1962 by the merger of three existing nationalist parties. Formation of FRELIMO did not mean complete political unity. Splinter groups or organizations began to appear in Cairo, Nairobi, and elsewhere, but none of these splinter organizations ever received the support of the OAU, which gave offcial recognition only to FRELIMO.

In August 1973, five anti-FRELIMO groups formed the National Coalition Party (Partido de Coligação NacionalPCN). The PCN program called for a referendum on the country's future and the restoration of peace and multiracialism. The organized opposition from the Portuguese community took the form of the Independent Front for the Continuation of Western Rule (Frente Independente de Continuidade OcidentalFICO, or "I stay"). FICO called for Portugal to continue the war against FRELIMO. In fact, however, the Portuguese government chose to recognize FRELIMO. After the formation of a provisional FRELIMO government in September 1974, the PCN was dissolved and its leaders detained.

Two years after independence, in 1977, FRELIMO was transformed from a liberation movement into a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party dedicated to the creation of a Socialist state. FRELIMO formally downgraded its ideological commitment at its July 1989 congress. Proposals to broaden party membership and decision making were also adopted. The new constitution in force in November 1990 legalized a multiparty system. Since then, activity has been vigorous. FRELIMO and RENAMO (created in 1976 as a dissident armed force) have been most popular, the latter especially in the central regions. The Mozambican National Union (UNAMO) registered early, and there are several smaller parties, including the Democratic Party of Mozambique (PADEMO) and the Mozambique National Movement (MONAMO). They were gearing up for multiparty presidential and legislative elections in October 1994.

The elections were held on 27 October 1994, and FRELIMO took 129 seats, RENAMO, 112, and the Democratic Union, 9. FRELIMO head Chissano won the presidential election with 53% of the vote to RENAMO's Dhlakama's 33%, with the rest split among 10 candidates.

By 1996, Mozambique had nearly two dozen political parties officially registered with the state. In addition to FRELIMO and RENAMO, the Democratic Union, a coalition of three smaller parties, was founded in 1994. UNAMO, a splinter from RENAMO, ran a strong presidential race, and the Liberal Democrats won almost 2% of the votes in the legislative elections.

In the presidential elections held in December 1999, Dhlakama lost again to Chissano, but gained 14 points over 1994. In the legislative polls RENAMO's 38.81% was only a slight improvement over 37.7% in 1994. This translated to 133 parliamentary seats against 117 for RENAMO in the 250-seat assembly. In September 2000, Renamo-UE member Raul Domingos was expelled from the party, but he continues to hold his parliamentary seat as an independent. In mid-2002 FRELIMO announced that Armando Guebuza would be its candidate in the 2004 elections following Chissano's announcement earlier that he would not stand for a third term.

Chissano and Dhlakama met a number of times over 20012002 to discuss RENAMO's claim that the 1999 elections were rigged. RENAMO threatened to form a separate government in its strongholdthe six central and northern provinces. Barring this radical move, RENAMO leaders have demanded that Chissano name the governors of these provinces from among RENAMO's ranks. But Chissano refused to take such action on constitutional grounds. RENAMO's electoral alliance with 10 small partiesthe RENAMO-Electoral Unionsaid that its own parallel count gave Dhlakama 52% in the presidential race and the coalition 50% in the 1999 legislative polls.

Mozambique is dominated by two political parties (FRELIMO and RENAMO) so much so that it is extremely difficult for anybody to achieve electoral success under the banner of any other party. However, there is a plethora of smaller parties. In the elections held in December 2004, 18 smaller parties, along side FRELIMO and RENAMO, contested in the elections. But expectedly FRELIMO and RENAMO shared 92% of the vote while the other 18 parties got only 8% of the vote. In these elections FRELIMO got 160 parliamentary seats while RENAMO received 90 seats. The new presidential candidate for RENAMO, Armando Guebuza, won 63.7% of the votes while RENAMO's candidate, Afonso Dhlakama, received 31.7% of the votes in 2004.


All of Mozambique outside the capital is organized into 10 provinces, subdivided into 112 districts, 12 municipalities, and 894 localities; the capital city of Maputo is considered an 11th province. Each provincial government is presided over by a governor, who is the representative of the president of the republic and is responsible to FRELIMO and the national government for his activities. Each province also has a provincial assembly, which legislates on matters exclusively bearing on that province. District, municipal, and local assemblies were established in 1977; local elections were held in that year and in 1986. Some 20,230 deputies for 894 local assemblies were elected by adult suffrage at age 18 from candidates chosen by local units of FRELIMO or, in their absence, by other local groups. Deputies of the provincial, district, and municipal assemblies were elected by the local bodies.

Elections were held in 1998 and were scheduled again for October 2003. RENAMO boycotted the first local polling in 1998, accusing the government of fraud. That resulted in a turnout of just 14.4% and a landslide victory for FRELIMO. In the November 2003 local assembly elections turnout was generally low, about 30% of the voters but far better than the turnout in the 1998 elections. The ruling FRELIMO party won in the greater majority of the 33 municipalities. Among the reasons cited for the low turnout in the 2003 local elections and the apathy of voters were an overall lack of trust in political parties, and the perception among voters that their votes would not bring about any changes in the government. Nevertheless, European Union observers declared the local polling free and fair, but warned that a low voter turnout was a matter of concern ahead of the 2004 presidential and assembly vote.


The legal system is based on Portuguese civil law and customary law. The formal justice system is bifurcated into a civil/criminal system under auspices of the Ministry of Justice and a military justice system under joint supervision of the Ministries of Defense and Justice. At the apex is the Supreme Court, which hears appeals from both systems. The provincial and district courts are below the Supreme Court. There are also special courts such as administrative courts, customs courts, fiscal courts, maritime, and labor courts. Local customary courts, part of the civil/criminal system, handle estate, divorce, and other social and family issues.

Since abolition of the Revolutionary Military Tribunal and establishment of the Supreme Court in 1988, those accused of crimes against the state are tried in civilian courts under standard criminal procedural rules.

The 1990 constitution declares the establishment of an independent judiciary, with judges nominated by other jurists instead of designated by administrative appointment. It is the president, however, who continues to appoint the justices of the Supreme Court.

In nonmilitary courts, all criminal defendants enjoy presumptions of innocence, have the right to legal counsel, and the right of appeal; however, the judicial system suffers from lack of qualified judicial personnel and financial resources.


The armed forces in 2005 numbered an estimated 11,200 active personnel. The Army had an estimated 9,000 to 10,000 personnel and was equipped with over 60 main battle tanks, in addition to 166 artillery pieces and other equipment. The Navy had 200 personnel for duty on Lake Malawi. Air Force personnel numbered 1,000; Air Force equipment included a small number of MiG-21 fighters and four attack helicopters. Mozambique had observers in three UN missions in the region. In 2005, the defense budget totaled $116 million.


Mozambique was admitted to the United Nations (UN) on 16 September 1975 and takes part in ECA and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, ILO, IMF, the World Bank, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, and the WHO. The country also belongs to the WTO, the ACP Group, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the African Development Bank, G-77, and the African Union. Mozambique plays a leading role in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Mozambique is a member of the Nonaligned Movement. The country has supported UN operations and missions in East Timor (est. 2002), Burundi (est. 2004), and the DROC (est. 1999). In environmental cooperation, Mozambique is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.


Mozambique, with its agricultural economy and considerable mineral reserves, is a highly indebted, poverty-stricken country. Civil war, ineffective socialist economic policies, and severe droughts plagued Mozambique's economy throughout the 1980s, leaving it heavily dependent on foreign aid. As of 2003, the government had received $8 billion in foreign aid since 1986, representing 17% of GDP. Lack of security outside of major cities and the inability of relief organizations to find safe corridors for the transport of relief supplies only further depressed economic activity. Recent shifts in economic policy toward a market economy and a resolution of the civil war have laid the foundation for an economic recovery helping the economy to grow on average by 4.7% yearly between 1988 and 1998. In 2001, it stood at 13.0% but declined to 7.7% in 2003 and 7.0% in 2005. Main exports are prawns, cashew nuts, and cotton.

The poorly trained workforce and other factors constrain growth. The use of outdated data collection systems, geared more to a state-managed economy, means that the increasing vitality of the private sector tends to go unmeasured. The return of rain after the worst drought on record in 1992 and continuing peace meant that many Mozambicans were able to farm their lands again, making them less dependent on food aid. The 1992 peace accords, which halted the 16-year civil war, brought much needed relief from military activities.

In 2000, some of the worst flooding in the history of the country had killed and displaced many citizens, deterring economic well-being. Approximately 80% of the population is employed in agriculture, mostly on a small-scale, subsistence level. Longer term prospects for growth are encouraging, but highly dependent on good weather and a stable political situation. The country experienced double-digit GDP growth in the late 1990s. A value added tax was introduced in 1999, improving the government's capacity to collect revenue, the country witnessed inflows of capital in the early 2000s, and the exchange rate was stable. Although inflation was low, interest rates were high in 2002. The financial sector has been liberalized, and trade is following along that path. The government's privatization program has been one of the most successful in Africa. In 2000, Mozambique received debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative run by the World Bank and the IMF.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Mozambique's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $25.6 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $1,300. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 7%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 7.8%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 24.2% of GDP, industry 41.2%, and services 34.6%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $69 million or about $4 per capita and accounted for approximately 1.6% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $1,033 million or about $55 per capita and accounted for approximately 25.1% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Mozambique totaled $3.340 billion or about $178 per capita based on a GDP of $4.3 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 2.6%. It was estimated that in 2001 about 70% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


In 2000 (the latest year for which data was available), Mozambique's workforce was estimated at 9.2 million. As of 1997 (the latest year for which data was available), agriculture accounted for an estimated 81% of the labor force, with industry and commerce accounting for 6%, and services 13%. Unemployment that same year was estimated at 21%.

The law provides for workers to organize and join unions, although less than 1% of the workforce are union members. The vast majority of those unionized are in larger urban areas where industries are located. There is a constitutional right to strike, with the exception of government employees, police, military personnel, and employees of other essential services. There are two labor federations. The law protects the right of workers to engage in collective bargaining, and prohibits antiunion discrimination.

The minimum working age is 15 but many children work on family farms or in the informal urban economy. The minimum wage for industrial employment was set at $30 per month in 2002. The agricultural minimum is $20 per month. Neither of these minimums provide a living wage, and most workers earn more or engage in additional labor or family farming to supplement their earnings. The legal workweek is 44 hours. The government has enacted health and environmental laws to protect workers, but these provisions are ineffectually enforced.


During the 1980s and early 1990s, Mozambique's agricultural sector was barely functional due to a combination of manmade and natural causes. The prolonged drought of 1981 to 1984 was followed by the floods and cyclone of 1984. By 1986, a famine emerged from renewed drought and civil war. Drought continued into 1987, followed by floods and locusts in 1988. Normal rainfall came in 1990, only to be followed by renewed drought in 1991 and 1992. In some regions food production declined by 80%, and in 1992 the food deficit reached a record 1.3 million tons. Normal rains returned in 1993, but the ongoing food relief requirement, exclusive of war refugees, was put at 1 million tons in 1994. Good rains and harvests helped the Mozambican economy grow by 5% in 1995 and 1996. By 1999, agricultural production was 5.5% higher than during 198991. By 200204, crop production was up 4.6% from 19992001.

Only about 5.8% of Mozambique is under cultivation at any one time, and more than two-thirds of the land is not exploited in any way. Nevertheless, agricultural pursuits support over 80% of the population and provided about 26% of the GDP in 2003. Since independence, there has been a serious decline in agricultural production, attributed to the collapse of rural transport and marketing systems when Portuguese farmers and traders left the country. In the 1980s, state farms received the bulk of agricultural investment, but the yields were poor.

Mozambique's major cash crops are cashew nuts, cotton, copra, sugar, tea, and cassava, and its major food crops are corn and sorghum. Crop production in 2004 included cassava, 6,150,000 tons; sugarcane, 400,000 tons; coconuts, 265,000 tons; sorghum, 314,000 tons; peanuts, 127,000 tons; corn, 1,248,000 tons; bananas, 90,000 tons; oranges, 14,000 tons; grapefruits, 13,000 tons; cashew nuts, 58,000 tons; rice, 201,000 tons; cotton fiber, 25,000 tons; sunflowers, 11,000 tons; cottonseed, 24,000 tons; and tobacco, 12,000 tons. Mozambique is a net importer of food; in 2004, the trade deficit in agricultural products was $218.6 million.


Animal husbandry is an underdeveloped sector in the Mozambican economy. A lack of credit, deadly epizootic diseases, and other diseases carried by the tsetse fly make a commercially viable animal husbandry industry almost impracticable for the African traditional farmers, who predominate in this sector. In 2005 there were an estimated 1,320,000 head of cattle, 392,000 goats, 180,000 hogs, and 125,000 sheep. The number of chickens was estimated at 28 million; ducks, 670,000. Beef and veal production was estimated at 38,100 tons; poultry meat, 36,300 tons; cows' milk, 60,400 tons; and hen eggs, 14,000 tons. Mozambique must import substantial quantities of meat and livestock products.


In 2003, commercial fishery production was 89,696 tons, of which lobsters and prawns were primarily for export. The potential catch is estimated at 500,000 tons of fish and 14,000 tons of prawns. South African trawlers are allowed to fish in Mozambican waters in return for providing a portion of their catch to Mozambique. In 2003, exports of shrimp and other seafood were valued at $86.9 million. The European Union and Japan have each entered into agreements designed to help develop the fishing industry.


Wood production is from natural forests and is almost entirely consumed by the local rural populations for fuel and construction. Forests constitute an estimated 30.6 million hectares (75.6 million acres). The timber industry is centered along the Beira Railroad and in Zambézia Province, where sawn and construction timber are produced for the nearby South African market. The timber cut was approximately 18 million cu m (635 million cu ft) of roundwood in 2004, with about 93% burned as fuel. Sawn wood production was 28,000 tons in 2004.


Mozambique's rich mineral deposits remained largely undeveloped. With the end of the civil war, efforts have been under way to revive the economy, with the minerals sector playing an important role. In 1999, mining accounted for less than 1% of GDP. In 2003, Mozambique produced bauxite, beryl, marine salt, cement, gravel and crushed rock, marble (block and slab) limestone, sands and tantalite. Zambézia, Nampula, and Tete provinces had large deposits of columbite, tantalite, beryl, semiprecious stones, feldspar, kaolin, and coal. Manica Province produced copper and bauxite. Also known to occur were deposits of diatomite, fluorspar, guano, gypsum, iron ore, limestone, manganese, mica, nepheline syenite, perlite, phosphate rock (resources of 274 million tons), rare earths, silica sand, precious and ornamental stones (agate, amethyst, aquamarine, emerald, garnet, jasper, morganite, rose quartz, tigereye, and tourmaline), and titanium. Resources of heavy-mineral sands totaled 14 billion tons containing 300 million tons of ilmenite, as well as zircon and rutile.

Production of bauxite was in 2003 totaled 11,793 metric tons, up from 9,119 metric tons in 2002. Marble, production in 2003 totaled 452 cu m of block, down from 453 cu m in 2002, while slab output in 2003 totaled 10,227 sq m, up from 9,980 sq m in 2002. Gold was also produced in 2003, all by artisanal miners. Official production of gold in 2003 totaled 63 kg, up from 17 kg in 2002. Limestone, gravel and crushed rock, marine salt, sands and granite were also produced in 2003. Mozambique's only graphite mine closed in 1999, because of a tax dispute. Mozambique's gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have grown by 7.1% in 2003, according to the International Monetary Fund.


Mozambique, as of 1 January 2005, had neither proven reserves of crude oil nor refining capacity, but it did have reserves of natural gas and coal.

As of 1 January 2005, Mozambique had natural gas reserves of 4.5 trillion cu ft. In 2003, natural gas output and consumption each came to 2.12 billion cu ft. Recoverable coal reserves have been placed at 234 million short tons, but additional reserves in the country's Moatize mines in the northwestern part of the country have been estimated at 2.4 billion short tons.

Mozambique is totally reliant upon imports of refined petroleum products. In 2004, imports and demand for refined oil each averaged 11,000 barrels per day.

Mozambique's electric power sector is heavily based upon hydroelectric generation. As of 1 January 2003, installed capacity was put at 2.392 million kW, with hydropower accounting for 91% of capacity, with the remaining capacity based on conventional thermal fuels. Electric power output in 2003 totaled 15.14 billion kWh, with consumption that year at 10.46 billion kWh.


Manufacturing is centered mostly in food processing and beverages. Food, beverages, and tobacco processing account for 62% of all manufacturing. Industry is concentrated around the larger cities of Maputo, Matola, Beira, and Nampula. Mozambique's industrial sector is primarily centered on the processing of locally produced raw materials, such as sugar, cashews, tea, and wheat. Brewing and textile production emerged in the 1980s, along with cement, fertilizer, and agricultural implement manufacturing. Other industries make glass, soaps, oils, ceramics, paper, tires, railway equipment, radios, bicycles, and matches. Major investments in aluminum processing, steel production, mineral extraction, fertilizer, and sugar production have been planned.

Economic reforms of the early 1990s promoted private ownership of industry and brought about a significant decline in the number of parastatals; from 1990 to 2000, over 1,200 smaller businesses had been divested, and 37 large enterprises had been privatized. Only 11 large state-owned companies remained, including the national airline, telephone, electricity, insurance, oil and gas exploration, port and rail, airports, water supply, and fuel distribution companies. Government policy now supports the development of private enterprise fully.

The construction sector showed strong growth in the early 2000s, as projects to rebuild roads, bridges, schools, clinics, and other basic infrastructure were underway. There are considerable natural gas reserves, both onshore and offshore, but they have yet to be fully developed. Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique are planning to establish a 10,000 barrels per day joint fuel refinery in Mozambique, funded by Iran. In addition, the economy is set to benefit from a second-generation of comparatively smaller megaprojects, such as the Moma titanium mine in Nampula province scheduled to start production in late 2006.


Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, founded in 1962, has faculties of agricultural sciences, biology, engineering, mathematics, medicine, veterinary science, and sciences. Maputo also has the National Directorate of Geology, the Cotton Research Institute, the National Institute of Health, and the Meteorological Service. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 42% of college and university enrollments. In 2002, Mozambique's high technology exports totaled $2 million, or 3% of its' manufactured exports.


The cities of Maputo, Beira, and Nampula are the main centers of commercial life, where it is estimated that 50% of all imported products are consumed. Maputo and Beira are trading centers and ports of entry. There is not a well-established distribution system for local or imported goods. Many local manufactures will sell or distribute their products on their own. Larger retailers will import high columns of goods and sell the excess to other smaller retailers. National distribution of regional products has been hindered by a poor transportation system. However, as of 2005, trading and distribution were still the primary business activities. A 17% value-added

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 703.1 1,063.4 -360.3
Areas nes 420.4 232.9 187.5
South Africa 107.6 428.5 -320.9
Zimbabwe 37.1 9.0 28.1
Japan 29.2 6.9 22.3
Portugal 28.2 90.1 -61.9
Spain 26.9 20.4 6.5
Malawi 10.3 10.3
Netherlands 7.1 9.4 -2.3
United States 6.8 19.2 -12.4
China, Hong Kong SAR 5.2 5.2
() data not available or not significant.

tax applies to most goods. Credit cards are not widely accepted.

Business hours are 8:30 am to noon and 2 to 5 pm, Mondays through Fridays, 8 am to 12 noon on Saturdays.


There is a considerable amount of unofficial trade along the borders as well as unreported fish exports to Asia. In April 1997, Mozambique began a three-year contract with Crown Agents, a private British company, to take responsibility for the regulation of foreign trade in order to reduce smuggling and corruption.

Traditionally, shrimp accounted for the largest portion of Mozambique's export revenues (26%). Other exports included electric current (23%), fruits and nuts (15%), cotton (7.3%), and sugar (2.1%). However, in 2004 the major exports ranked by importance were aluminum, which earned $915 million, electricity ($102 million), shrimps ($91 million), tobacco ($40.9 million), and sugar ($38.2 million).


Mozambique has traditionally had a balance-of-payments deficit and relies heavily on imported consumer and capital goods. Imports have risen steadily since 1987, substantially increasing the current account deficit. In recent years, the merchandise import-export ratio has been as low as 1:4. Mozambique is taking steps to improve its trade balance, however, by increasing the production of locally manufactured and agricultural goods. By the early 2000s, exports had risen over 40% since 1996. A faster rise in export earnings has been hampered in part by bankruptcies in the cashew processing industry, and poor prices for the sale of electricity generated by the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric dam (resulting from contracts negotiated by the colonial government over 20 years). But as of the early 2000s, prospects for an increase in exports appeared positive.

In 1999, Mozambique qualified for $3.7 billion in debt service relief under the IMF/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. (The amount was subsequently augmented to $4.3 billion.) This debt relief improved the country's balance of payments. Prior to the HIPC approval, Mozambique owed $8.3 billion in foreign debt. HIPC reduced the eligible debts held by participating creditors by 90%, or close to $3 billion.

The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that in 2005 the purchasing power parity of Mozambique's exports was $1.782 billion while imports totaled $2.24 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $458 million.


The Mozambican branch of the defunct Portuguese National Overseas Bank was nationalized without compensation. By a decree of 23 May 1975, it was reconstituted as the Bank of Mozambique (Banco de MoçambiqueBM). Functioning as a central bank, it served as the government's banker and financial adviser, and as controller of monetary and credit policies. It was also an issuing bank, a commercial bank, and the state treasury; the bank managed Mozambique's external assets and acted as an intermediary in all international monetary transactions.

In 1978, the government nationalized four of the five remaining commercial banks (the Banco Standard Totta de Moçambique remained private). In that year, a second state bank, the People's Investment Bank, was created and given responsibility for supervising a building society, the Mozambique Credit Institute (the industrial bank), and the National Development Bank.

After 1992, the government's economic reform program began to tackle the financial sector. Foreign banks were allowed to invest in Mozambican financial institutions, in 1994 interest rates were deregulated, and in 1995 the commercial activities of the central bank were assumed by a newly created institution, the Banco Comercial de Moçambique (BCM). By 1997, the government had privatized the BCM and the BPD (Banco Popular de Desenvolvimento). These banks were joined by Banco Português do Atlántico (BPA), Banco de Fomento e Exterior (BFE), and Banco Internacional de Moçambique (BIM), whose main shareholder is the Banco Comercial Português (BCP).

In 2001, along with the central Bank of Mozambique, there were eight banks operating in Mozambique, including the dominant BCM (owned by Banco Portugues Mello), BIM (owned by Banco Commercial Portugues), BPD (renamed Banco Austral after its sale to Southern Berhad Bank of Malaysia), Banco Standard Totta (55% owned by Banco Totta and Acores of Portugal, and 40% owned by Standard Bank of South Africa), Equator Bank (owned by Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank), Banco de Fomento do Exterior (branch of a Portuguese bank), Uniao Comercial de Bancos (a Mauritian bank), and Nedbank (South African).

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $486.2 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits,

Current Account -515.6
   Balance on goods -347.9
     Imports -1,228.2
     Exports 880.2
   Balance on services -244.3
   Balance on income -165.7
   Current transfers 242.4
Capital Account 270.7
Financial Account 372.8
   Direct investment abroad
   Direct investment in Mozambique 336.7
   Portfolio investment assets 5.0
   Portfolio investment liabilities
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets -77.1
   Other investment liabilities 108.2
Net Errors and Omissions -92.6
Reserves and Related Items -35.3
() data not available or not significant.

and money market mutual fundswas $1.1 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 33.64%. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 9.95%.


In 1977, all insurance companies were nationalized and Empresa Moçambicana de Seguros was established as the sole state insurance enterprise. This company continued functioning through 1999.


The government's role in the economy has diminished during the past decade as the country has recovered from civil war. Preparations for privatization of many state-run industries and utilities had begun as of 2002, and the tax code has been revised.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that Mozambique's central government took in revenues of approximately $1 billion and had expenditures of $1.9 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$899 million. Total external debt was $966 million.


Under Portuguese rule, taxation and tax collection were full of inequities and corruption at all levels of government. In 1978, after independence, much higher and more progressive taxes were introduced. These included an income tax on wages, salaries, and other benefits. As of 2005, Mozambique had a standard corporate tax rate of 32%. However, income derived from the breeding and agricultural sectors was subject to a 10% rate for the period 2003 through 2010. Capital gains and branch offices are taxed at the corporate rate. Dividends, interest and royalties are subject to a 20% withholding tax. A value-added tax (VAT) with a standard rate of 17% (as of 2005) is charged on most goods and services. Exemptions from VAT include basic foodstuffs, medicines and pharmaceuticals, books and journals, bicycles, agricultural inputs and fishing implements, waste disposal, burial and cremation services.


Both import and export licenses are required for all goods. The average nominal customs tariff rate was reduced from 18% to around 10% in 1996, and remained in effect as of 2005, although duties on imported goods ranged from 030%, depending upon whether it is a primary, intermediate, or consumer good. Mozambique does not use import quotas. The country chaired the Southern African Development Community (SADC) from 1990 to 2000, and houses its Communications Commission (SATCC) in Maputo.


The liberalizing of Mozambique's economy began with the initiation of its economic recovery plan (ERP) in January 1987. Included in the program were measures to stimulate the private sector, an effort reinforced in 1990 by further legislation. In June 1993, the investment code was reformed to put foreign and local investors on an equal footing with respect to fiscal and customs regulations. The parastatal sector has been progressively privatized, with only 11 large state-owned industries left in 1999. As the bulk of state-owned enterprises has already been privatized, there are currently no plans for additional major sales.

Certain tax incentives are available to encourage direct foreign investment, including a 5080% reduction in taxes. The flow of capital is liberal. Regulations issued in 1999 established an Industrial Free Zone Council, which approved the first free zone enterprise in Maputo, MOZAL, an aluminum smelter. Companies in the free zone must engage in nontraditional industry and export at least 85% of production.

In 1998, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow to Mozambique totaled about $235 million, up 365% from 1997. FDI inflows peaked at $382 million in 1999 then fell to $139 billion in 2000. In the period 1998 to 2000, Mozambique's share of world FDI inflows was almost twice its share of world GDP, a considerable improvement on its performance 1988 to 1990, when its share of FDI flows was only 30% of its share of world GDP. In 2001, FDI inflow was a near-record $225 million. However, the country's FDI inflows declined from $225 million in 2001 to $155.3 million in 2002.

The leading sectors for foreign investment in Mozambique have been industry, agribusiness and fishing, finance, and tourism. The driving force behind the country's FDI inflows had been the mining and some processing industries. Put together, they had drawn global TNCs giants into the economy. In recent years, these TNCs have not invested in any major projects. Many projects in the pipeline have not been operationalized.

FDI outflows are yet to reach a significant volume. Inward FDI stock had been dramatic in its growth, rising from just $42 million in 1990 to over $1.5 billion in 2002. Outward FDI stock showed a similar pattern, but the volume was less than $1 million at the end of 2002. Portugal, Mauritius and Italy provided about 78% of the total FDI inflows to the country in 1999. Portugal is a key investor in Mozambique, contributing an average of 41% of the inward FDI flows in 1998 and 1999. Other, major foreign investors include South Africa, Great Britain, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands.


The government of Mozambique has abandoned its postindependence preference for a socialist organization of society, which it had tried to effect through the creation of cooperatives, state farms, and industries. In cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mozambique was reforming its economy and preparing for a post-civil war period of economic growth. Progress has been slow, however, as parastatals continue to control the telecommunications, electric power, transportation, and fuel sectors of the economy. Growth sectors include agriculture and related processing industries, transportation, and mining.

In 1999, Mozambique's eligible debts were reduced by 90% by the IMF, World Bank, the Paris Club, and other multilateral lending agencies under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. The country also hoped for 100% debt relief from the United States and gained complete debt cancellation from the United Kingdom. Debt stood at $8.3 billion before 1999 and $5.7 billion after reforms. A variety of infrastructure development projects have been carried out, including a road and railway from Maputo to Johannesburg.

The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that the economic expansion Mozambique experienced between 20002005 will continue for the next few years boosted by overall macroeconomic stability, policy reforms and continuing strong donor support against a background of broad-based expansion across most sectors of the economy, including agriculture, transportation, and tourism sectors. Over 1,200 state-owned enterprises were privatized, most of them small. In 2003, Mozambique was operating under a three-year $76 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement with the IMF. Floods in 2000 and food shortages in 2002 curtailed economic development. However, the outlook for the agricultural season in Mozambique for 2005/06 was more positive, with normal to above-normal rains forecast for the country. As a result, the government expects cereal production to grow by 6% in 2005/06, rebounding strongly from a 5% drop in production during the 2004/05 growing season.


Foreign aid is used in assisting Mozambican Labor and Social Welfare Ministries with building infrastructure to benefit the most disadvantaged groups in the country including disabled and abandoned children. The country is upgrading employment and professional training centers.

Despite government rhetoric and constitutional provisions mandating equal rights for both sexes, legal and social discrimination against women is pervasive. Women may not work outside of the home without the husband's permission. Inheritance rights, furthermore, strongly favor men over women. Tradition and custom lead many families to withdraw their daughters from school at an early age. Sexual harassment in the workplace is prevalent. Domestic violence against women, including beating and spousal rape, is widespread. Women believe that their husbands have the right to beat them. Child prostitution persists, and there is continuing abuse and exploitation of street children in urban areas.

Human rights abuses have been in decline, but there is evidence of systemic police brutality. Prison conditions are poor and, in some cases, life threatening.


Almost all health care services are provided by the government's National Health Service. The army maintains its own health posts and two hospitals. Traditional healers continue to play a significant role. All medical products must be registered with the Ministry of Health and, due to currency constraints, Mozambique is entirely dependent on bilateral and multilateral donors for its drug needs. Only 39% of the population had access to health care services. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 3.5% of GDP.

In 2004, there were an estimated 2 physicians, 21 nurses, 1 dentist, and 2 pharmacists per 100,000 people. The shortage of medical supplies and trained personnel has remained severe throughout Mozambique. Immunization rates were as follows: tuberculosis, 84%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 61%; polio, 61%; and measles, 70%. The government pays no vaccination costs.

As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 36.4 and 25.1 per 1,000 people. Only 6% of married women ages 1549 years used contraception as of 1999. Of all births in 199396, 20% were underweight. In 2005 the infant mortality rate was estimated at 130.79 per 1,000, one of the highest in the world. The maternal mortality rate in 198995 skyrocketed to 1,500 per 100,000 live births; as of 1998, the rate was 1,100.

Since 1982, South African destabilization of Mozambique has caused children's health to suffer. War has lead to the closure of 48% of the primary care network. The war has displaced over three million people and accounted for an estimated 500,000 childhood deaths between 198188. In addition, there were approximately 1.1 million civil war-related deaths between 1981 and 1992. Estimated average life expectancy was only 40.32 years in 2005.

Mozambique has a very serious AIDS problem. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 12.20 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 1,300,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 110,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


In 1997, there were about 3,540,700 housing units nationwide to serve about 3,634,581 households. The average household had 4.3 people. At last estimate, more than 60% of housing units were constructed of woven straw, about 15% of cane and wood sticks, and nearly 10% of bricks and concrete. Approximately 65% of all households used well water, nearly 20% river and spring water, almost 10% piped outdoor water, and less than 5% piped indoor water. Nearly 96% were without electricity, and over half had no toilet facilities.


The education system in Mozambique has slowly been rebuilt after the civil war, which destroyed at least 50% of primary schools. In 1990, private schooling was reintroduced. Education is compulsory for seven years, but in practice, most students do not study for the full compulsory period. Primary school covers these first seven years. This is followed by five years of general secondary education or five years of technical school. The academic year runs from August to June.

Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 55% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 12% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 52.4% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 67:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 27:1.

Eduardo Mondlane University is established at Maputo. The objective of the government is to promote the spread of education at all levels through democratization guided by the state. In 2003, about 1% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 46.5%, with 62.3% for men and 31.4% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 2.4% of GDP, or 12.3% of total government expenditures.


The National Library of Mozambique, founded in 1961, contains 110,000 volumes. There is a small public library system. The principal museums in Maputo are the Museum of Natural History, founded in 1911, specializing in natural history and ethnography; the Freire de Andrade Museum (minerals); and the Military History Museum. Beira and Nampula have general museums; Manica has a natural history museum; and Isla da Inhaca, near Maputo, has a museum of marine biology. The National Museum of Ethnology is in Nampula.


Postal and telecommunications services are government-operated. In the larger cities, telephones are automatic. In 2003, there were an estimated five mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 12,700 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 23 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Radio Moçambique, the official radio service, broadcasts in Portuguese, English, Afrikaans, and local languages. TV Mozambique is the government-owned television service. Several private stations are operational, including about 40 community radio and television stations that are partially subsidized by the government and UNESCO. As of 2001, there were 12 AM and 17 FM radio stations (about 14 were privately owned) and 1 national television station. In 2003, there were an estimated 44 radios and 14 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 4.5 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 3 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There was one secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

In 2002, major daily newspapers included Notícias (circulation 33,000), and Diario do Moçambique (16,000). Both papers are representative of the ruling party, as is the weekly publication Domingo (25,000). There are a number of smaller independent publications.

The constitution, the 1991 Press Law, and the 1992 Rome Peace Accords provide for free expression, including free speech and a free press; however, though some improvements were reported, the government has restricted some press freedoms.


The Mozambique Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1980, is located in Maputo. Only a small percentage of the nation's workers belong to unions. There is a national teacher's union.

FRELIMO has emphasized mass organizations, such as the Organization of Mozambican Women and the Organization of Mozambican Youth. Scouting programs and active chapters of the YMCA/YWCA are available for youth. There are also several sports associations promoting competitions for amateur athletes.

There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society, Habitat for Humanity, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, UNICEF, and Caritas.


Prior to independence, tourism, mostly from South Africa and the former Rhodesia, was a very important activity. However, concern for security in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s due to the political situation left the tourist industry at a mere fraction of its previous levels. Civil stability and economic prospects have improved and tourism has been steadily growing in Maputo, although it is still limited in other areas.

The coastal town of Pemba offers the third-largest natural bay in the world with white sand beaches and coral reefs that can be easily reached by most swimmers. Diving and water sports are popular in this town. The northern half of Mozambique Island, which has a number of old churches and mosques, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

All foreign nationals need visas, which must be obtained prior to traveling. Yellow fever immunizations are required if traveling from an infected country.

Approximately 726,100 tourists visited Mozambique in 2003. Hotel rooms numbered 6,899 with 13,601 beds and an occupancy rate of 14%.Visitors stayed in Mozambique an average of two nights.

In 2004, the US Department of State estimated the cost of staying in Mozambique at $242.


Eduardo C. Mondlane (192069) was the first president of FRELIMO. His successor, and later the first president of independent Mozambique, was Samora Moïsés Machel (193386). Joaquim Alberto Chissano (b.1939), foreign minister since independence, succeeded Machel as president in 1986; he served until 2005 and was succeeded by Armando Guebuza (b.1943).


Mozambique has no territories or colonies.


Azevedo, Mario. Historical Dictionary of Mozambique. [computer file] Boulder, Colo.: netLibrary, Inc., 2000.

Azevedo, Mario, Emmanuel Nnadozie, and Tome Mbuia Joao. Historical Dictionary of Mozambique. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2003.

Chingono, Mark F. The State, Violence and Development: The Political Economy of War in Mozambique, 19751992. Aldershot, England: Avebury, 1996.

Ciment, James. Angola and Mozambique: Postcolonial Wars in Southern Africa. New York: Facts on File, 1997.

Else, David. Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. Oakland, Calif. Lonely Planet, 1997.

Hall, Margaret. Confronting Leviathan: Mozambique Since Independence. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1997.

Harmon, Daniel E. Southeast Africa: 1880 to the Present: Reclaiming a Region of Natural Wealth. Philadelphia, Penn.: Chelsea House Publishers, 2002.

Landau, Luis. Rebuilding the Mozambique Economy: Assessment of a Development Partnership. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1998.

McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Newitt, M. D. D. A History of Mozambique. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.

Rotberg, Robert I. Ending Autocracy, Enabling Democracy: The Tribulations of Southern Africa, 19602000. Cambridge, Mass.: World Peace Foundation, 2002.

Waterhouse, Rachel. Mozambique: Rising from the Ashes. Oxford: Oxfam, 1996.

Zeilig, Leo and David Seddon. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.

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Republic of Mozambique
República de Moçambique



Located in southeast Africa, Mozambique has a total area of 801,590 square kilometers (309,493 square miles)an expanse which is slightly less than twice the size of the state of California. The coastline of the country, which spans 2,470 kilometers (1,535 miles) along the entire eastern frontier, borders the Mozambique Channel and the Indian Ocean. To the north of Mozambique lies Tanzania, to the northwest Malawi and Zambia, to the west Zimbabwe, and to the southwest South Africa and Swaziland. Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, is situated at the pointy southern tip of the country's territory, not far from the South African and Swaziland border.


From 1975 to 1998, the population of Mozambique grew at an average annual rate of 2.6 percent, increasing substantially from approximately 10.5 to 18.9 million. With a current annual growth rate of 1.7 percent, the population should reach 25.2 million by 2015. In order to restrain this growth, the government announced a population control policy in 1997. Among other things, the plan seeks to disseminate information on different forms of birth control. One of the major impediments, however, is that most people in rural areas must have large families in order to have more workers to till the family plots. According to a 1997 census, approximately 70.8 percent of the population live in rural areas, where poverty is rampant and birth control limited.

The current birth rate in Mozambique is 37.99 births per 1,000 persons, while the death rate is 23.29 deaths per 1,000 persons (2000 est.). The high death rate reflects, in part, a growing HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Health Minister Aurelio Zihao, for example, estimated that approximately 250,000 Mozambicans died as a result of AIDS in 1999, though most of these deaths were not registered as HIV/AIDS related. Zihao states that the major causes behind the HIV/AIDS epidemic are poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, and the low status of women. The educational campaign sponsored by the Health Ministry targets vulnerable groups, such as soldiers, long-distance truck drivers, students, poorly educated women, street children, migrant mineworkers and their wives, and prostitutes. The government at large has been criticized for not taking an active role in the HIV/AIDS campaign.

With 43 percent of the population aged 14 years and younger, 54 percent aged between 15 and 64 years, and only 3 percent aged 65 years and over, the population of Mozambique is relatively young. A young population may offer opportunities in terms of an expanding labor force and thus a potentially expanding economy. If economic decline accompanies labor force growth, however, the results will be higher unemployment and exacerbated poverty.

Approximately 99.66 percent of the Mozambican population belong to one of the many indigenous (local) ethnic groups, such as the Shangaan, Chokwe, Manyika, Sena, and Makua. Europeans comprise a marginal 0.06 percent of the population, while Euro-Africans and Indians respectively account for 0.2 percent and 0.08 percent. In terms of religion, 50 percent of Mozambicans are adherents of indigenous religious systems, 30 percent are Christians, and 20 percent are Muslims. The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, though most Mozambicans express themselves primarily in one of the numerous local languages that are spoken.


Although the Portuguese participated in the trading networks of southeastern Africa as early as the 16th century, they did not establish hegemonic (total) colonial dominance over the territory that now comprises Mozambique until the early 20th century. By the mid-1920s, the Portuguese succeeded in creating a highly exploitative and coercive settler economy, in which Africans were forced to work on the fertile lands taken over by Portuguese settlers. African peasants mainly produced cash crops designated for sale in the markets of the colonial metropole (the center, i.e. Portugal). Major cash crops included cotton, cashews, and rice. The little industrial development that did occur throughout the 1950s and early 1960s was based primarily on British and South African capital.

In 1975, a coup in Portugal led to the overthrow of the fascist dictatorship that governed the nation, and thus an end to the colonial wars that raged in the various Portuguese African colonies since the early 1960s. Mozambique became an independent nation and the Frente de Libertacao de Mocambique (FRELIMO), the socialist guerrilla organization that had fought the colonial war against Portugal, assumed power. Over the next several years, FRELIMO pursued numerous socialist policies, including nationalization of land and large industries, centralized planning, and heavy funding for the educational and health sectors. At the same time, the government encouraged the large network of cantinas (tiny shops), which were owned by Portuguese settlers, to remain in the hands of the private sector . The exodus (mass departure) of the Portuguese following independence facilitated the takeover of the cantinas by Mozambicans. Unfortunately, the exodus, which totaled 250,000 Portuguese, also led to a huge loss of professionals, productive machinery, and skilled workers.

By the early 1980s, Mozambique became what Joseph Hanlonauthor of Peace Without Profit: How the IMF Blocks Rebuilding in Mozambique called a "Cold War battlefield." The term refers to the situation in which socialist Mozambique was forced to fight a lengthy civil war against a counterinsurgency movement of opportunistic Mozambicans named RENAMO, funded and directed by the neighboring capitalist economies of South Africa and Zimbabwe. (The cold war was defined by animosity between capitalist and socialist world powers, and though there was never an outright military conflict between the former and the latter, each respectively funded counterinsurgency movements against governments they disfavored.) The racist governments of South Africa and Zimbabwe feared that a successfully ruled African socialist system might send a message of revolution and self-rule to blacks in contemporaneous white-ruled African countries, such as their own. Under the socialist paranoia of the Reagan administration, the United States also provided support to RENAMO, which sustained a brutal civil war against FRELIMO until a Peace Accord was signed in October 1992.

According to Hans Abrahamsson and Anders Nilsson, authors of Mozambique The Troubled Transition: From Socialist Construction to Free Market Capitalism, RENAMO's methods of recruiting soldiers consisted mainly of coercing peasants to join their forces through threats, torture, and killing. RENAMO's war against the government led to the death of more than 1 million Mozambicans, not to mention a total loss of the economic and social gains that had been achieved in the late 1970s. In 1989, UNICEF estimated that the country's GDP was only half of what it would have been without the war.

The political pressure of the ideologically charged civil war, in conjunction with the excruciating need for aid and funds to finance imports, compelled FRELIMO to negotiate its first structural adjustment package (SAP) with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1986 (commonly referred to as the Bretton Woods Institutions or International Financial InstitutionsIFIs). The series of SAPs that followed thereafter, required privatization of major industries, less government spending, deregulation of the economy, and trade liberalization . The SAPs, therefore, have essentially focused on the implementation of an unfettered free market economy.

Today, the economy of Mozambique continues to be dominated by agriculture. Major exports include prawns, cotton, cashew nuts, sugar, citrus, copra and coconuts, and timber. Export partners, in turn, include Spain, South Africa, Portugal, the United States, Japan, Malawi, India, and Zimbabwe. Imports, such as farm equipment and transport equipment, are capital goods that are worth more than agricultural products, hence Mozambique's large trade deficit . The country also imports food, clothing, and petroleum products. Import partners include South Africa, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, the United States, Japan, and India. In the past several years, the value of imports outweighed the value of exports by 5 to 1 or morea factor that obliges Mozambique to depend heavily on foreign aid and loans by foreign commercial banks and the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs). In 1995 alone, Mozambique received $1.115 billion in aid. In 1999, the total external debt stood at $4.8 billion. Fortunately, in the same year significant economic recovery did occur, as the real GDP growth rate reached 10 percent.


The legislative branch of the Mozambican government consists of a unicameral Assembly of the Republic, whose members are elected by popular vote to serve 5-year terms. The executive branch includes an elected cabinet and both a president, elected by popular vote to serve a 5-year term, and a prime minister, appointed by the president. Judges of the Supreme Court are also appointed by the president.

Since independence, Mozambique has been governed exclusively by FRELIMO. The ruling party formally abandoned its Marxist ideological orientation in 1989 and a new constitution in 1990 provided for multi-party elections and a free market economy. RENAMO entered the political life of the nation as a legitimate political party following the UN-negotiated peace accord in 1992. Despite its ignominious (shameful) political origins, RENAMO has been able to draw upon strong internal dissatisfactions with FRELIMO, caused by extreme poverty and unemployment, to garner a considerable amount of support from the local population. Since the establishment of the peace accords and subsequent development of RENAMO from a military force into a political party, there is little ideological difference between the 2 major parties, with both adhering to a free market and pluralistic orientation. In the most recent elections of 1999, FRELIMO won 133 of the 250 seats in the Assembly. In the same elections, RENAMO formed a coalition with several smaller parties, each of which did not respectively receive the 5 percent of the popular vote needed to win parliamentary seats by themselves, thereby acquiring the 117 remaining Assembly seats. Since 1986, the FRELIMO leader Joaquim Alberto Chissano has presided as president. Presidential elections are scheduled to be held in 2004.

The vast majority of government revenue comes from taxation. In 1999, for example, tax revenue accounted for a total of 92.4 percent of government income14.0 percent derived from taxes on income and profits, 58.6 percent from taxes on goods and services, and 16.9 percent from taxes on international trade ( tariffs ). Businesses in Mozambique are taxed at rates of 35 percent, 40 percent, or 45 percent on annual net profits, depending upon their size. In terms of income tax , there are 4 tax brackets in Mozambique. All those that make less than Mt600,000 are exempted from taxation, persons who make between Mt600,001 and Mt2,400,000 are taxed at 10 percent, those that make between Mt2,400,001 and Mt9,600,000 are taxed at 15 percent, and all those that make more than Mt9,600,001 are taxed at 20 percent. All goods and services with a few exceptions, such as medical services and drugs, are taxed at a rate of 17 percent. Although the income taxation system is progressive, the high taxation on goods and services is retrogressive as it affects the poor much more than the rich, who can afford to pay such fees. Moreover, in addition to the general taxes on goods and services, there are also certain excise taxes levied on specific products, such as alcohol and fuel. Excise taxes are set at 20 percent, 35 percent, 50 percent, and 75 percent, depending upon the particular product.


Infrastructure in Mozambique is generally poor and inadequate, especially in the many areas heavily affected by the war. The country has approximately 30,400 kilometers of highways, 5,685 kilometers of which are paved. Large sections of the remaining 24,175 kilometers of highway are virtually impassable during the rainy season. The World Bank is currently implementing an $850 million program to rebuild the road network, along with the coastal port system.

In addition to the road network, there is a total of 3,131 kilometers of railway, as well as 170 airports, although only 22 have paved runways (est. 1996). Major rail lines connect to South Africa, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. The latter 2 countries are dependent upon railway links with Mozambique since they are landlocked and must access Mozambican ports to send exports and receive imports.

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Mozambique 3 40 5 N/A 0 N/A 1.6 0.09 15
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
South Africa 32 317 125 N/A 56 3.5 47.4 33.36 1,820
Tanzania 4 279 21 0.0 1 N/A 1.6 0.05 25
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Recently, the Caminhos de Ferro de Mocambique (CFM), a government parastatal that formerly had monopolistic control of all ports and the railway, announced a private management concession to be awarded for management of the central railroad system. The system includes a link from Beira to Zimbabwe and the Sena line. The latter, which is critical to the development of the Zambezi River as it facilitates the export of cooking coal from Moatize in Tete Province, is in complete disrepair. As much as $500 million may be needed to reconstruct the Sena line.

There are a total of 6 ports and harbors in Mozambique, with the largest being the port of Beira. The port came under the control of the Dutch company Cornelder in 1999 following a joint venture concession with the CFM, and has undergone considerable reparation in recent years. Unfortunately, the port has suffered a decline in business activity due to the failing Zimbabwean economy. Moreover, the selling of ports and other means of production and infrastructure to foreign companies means that large portions of profits will be exported out of the country. At the same time, however, the country is in a bind because it does not have the money to pay for reparations and renovations itself (hence the privatization of the Sena line). Additionally, as Joseph Hanlon emphasizes in his book Peace Without Profit, there is also a considerable amount of pressure being exerted upon Mozambique to privatize by the IFIs.

Mozambicans consume a total of 1.018 billion kWh of electricity, 385 million kWh of which are imported from abroad. A full 75 percent of internal electricity production comes from hydro, while the remaining 25 percent is derived from fossil fuel. Located exclusively in the major cities, there is no electricity in the smaller towns and villages. The parastatal Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM) maintains a monopoly on the management of the backbone of the national grid. The EDM, which also controls the water supply system, however, has recently awarded a concession for the private management of the water supply system in 5 major cities. Privatization of the water supply can lead to decreased accessibility, as there is no governmental guarantee of fair pricing. As such, if rates to access water increase, the poor will have to cut their water intake.

Privatization has also characterized recent developments in the telecommunication sector, which has traditionally been monopolized by the government-owned national telephone company (TDM). The introduction of legislation legalizing the privatization of the telecommunication sector in 1999 led to the transformation of the TDM into a public enterprise with 100 percent of the shares owned by government. The government is currently selecting a strategic private investor to whom it can sell a 30 percent share, with the most likely candidate being the Portuguese firm Telecom. In 1999, there were only 4.0 telephone mainlines per 1,000 people, a dismal contrast to the United States where there were 640 mainlines per 1,000 people in 1996.


Like most African countries, the economy of Mozambique was decisively shaped in the colonial period. As Allen Isaacmanauthor of Cotton is the Mother of Poverty: Peasants, Work, and Rural Struggle in Colonial Mozambique, 1938-1961 states, the Portuguese relationship with Mozambique was determined by its need for a large labor force to produce raw materials. Consequently, Portuguese colonial policies coerced peasants into exporting agricultural products to the mother country, while preventing them from developing their own forms of manufacturing and industry. Today, the Mozambican economy remains structurally locked into the position of agricultural exporter, with the manufacturing sector holding a limited, albeit increasingly important, economic role. With increased urbanization, the service sector has become the most important contributor to GDP, though the vast majority of Mozambicans continue to labor in the agricultural sector of the economy.


In 1998, the agricultural sector engaged approximately 81 percent of the Mozambican labor force and contributed 34 percent of GDP. Mozambique's major agricultural products include cotton, cashew nuts, sugarcane, tea, cassava, corn, rice, tropical fruits, beef, and poultry. Agricultural exports include prawns, which are a type of shellfish similar to large shrimp, cashews, cotton, sugar, copra (a coconut product), citrus, coconuts, and timber.

As part of FRELIMO's socialist legacy, all land is owned by the state. The latter, in turn, leases parcels of land to individuals and companies for up to 50 years, with an option to renew. The system is designed to protect the small family farm sector, which provides employment for 90 percent of the agricultural population. According to the IMF Country Report Number 01/25, 98.9 percent of the rural poor in Mozambique own land, with an average of 2.5 hectares per household. Many small holder farmers can only produce enough for subsistence (survival) purposes, while others are able to produce a surplus to sell on the market. Land tenure is a highly politicized issue and it is unlikely that FRELIMO will privatize land ownership any time soon. Estate production is confined mostly to the sugar sector, though there are some large agro firms maintaining commercial operations of cotton, copra, citrus, and maize production.

Though the vast majority of Mozambicans work in the production of cash crops, prawns from the fishing industry have become the country's single most important export (1998 est.). According to the U.S. Department of State FY 2000 Country Commercial Guide, prawns, which comprise 40 percent of all export revenue, have contributed an average of $70 million per year to the economy over the past several years. Commercial fisheries involved in catching and exporting prawns usually boast large-scale operations, many of which are foreign-owned. A small amount of local unlicensed fishers also engages in selling prawns, though the government is seeking to crackdown on such illegal operations.

Until very recently, cashews were Mozambique's most important agricultural export. Indeed, throughout the colonial period, Mozambique was the world's leading cashew producer. Although cashews continue to play an essential role in the economy, with exports increasing, for example, from 33.4 thousand tons in 1994 to 58.7 thousand tons in 1998, the cashew sector has suffered severely from declining prices on the international market. International prices for agricultural products are determined by world supply and demand in a given year, factors over which Mozambican farmers have no control. In January 2001, international prices for cashews plummeted to US$2/lb., their lowest level in over a decade.

Cotton-producing farmers have also been seriously affected by declining international prices in recent years. Cotton, which is currently Mozambique's third most important agricultural export, reached a post-war peak production of 117,000 tons in the 1998 crop season. One of the major factors promoting increased cotton production was the advent of the out-grower scheme, in which large agro-industries provided small farmers with advice and productive inputs and bought their crops. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit's April 2001 Country Report, a sharp fall in international prices in 1999 led to a 52 percent decline in cotton production as many small holder producers exited the market. On the positive side, production in 2001 is estimated to rebound significantly to 80,000 tons or more, though there is no telling how stable production will remain, given the inherent instability of international agricultural pricing.

International pricing is not the only factor that affects the stability of the agricultural sector. Weather conditions are a second, albeit just as important, element determining productive output. In 2000, for example, production of cornMozambique's most important crop produced for domestic consumptionfell to 1,019,000 tons from 1,246,000 tons the year before. The productive decline related largely to devastating floods, which lasted from January to March. Conversely, debilitating droughts also frequently afflict the country, and 2 crippling droughts in the post-war period alone led to severe declines in agricultural production. Such weather imbalances lead to oscillating (fluctuating) patterns of production, which, in addition to destabilizing export revenue, severely restrict the country's ability to gain self-sufficiency in food production. Further exacerbating the problem, only 4 percent of all land in Mozambique is arable. As a result of these problems, the country must import large amounts of rice and wheat every year.


Although only 6 percent of the Mozambican labor force is engaged in the manufacturing sector, industry accounted for 18 percent of GDP in 1998. Major industries in Mozambique include food, beverages, chemicals (fertilizer, soap, paints), petroleum products, textiles, cement, glass, asbestos, and tobacco. Virtually all manufacturing is located in the major urban areas of Maputo, Beira, and Nampula.

The value of the manufacturing sector as a whole has increased impressively throughout the past several years. In 1995, for instance, the sector was valued at Mt2,059,608, whereas this figure more than doubled to Mt4,584,352 in 1999. The food-processing and beverage industries have been of paramount importance to this increase, with each respectively growing in value from Mt573,660 and Mt348,064 in 1995, to Mt1,189,610 and Mt1,604,142 in 1999.

As the U.S. Department of State's Background Notes on Mozambique points out, most manufacturing industries have either recently been privatized or are currently undergoing privatization under the guidance of the SAPs. While the World Bank and the IMF argue that privatization will lead to increased efficiency since enterprises formerly-dependent upon government subsidies will have to become viable competitors, Mozambicans generally lack the credit necessary to purchase such enterprises and replace their highly outdated equipment. Consequently, foreign firms rich in capital have taken over many enterprises, though they have not always been successful in revamping productivity. Indeed, the inability to increase the productivity of many manufacturing industries prompted several multi-national companies, including the Portuguese Barbosa e Almeida, which took over parts of the glassmaking industry, to recently sell shares back to the Mozambican government. On the whole, however, the record of foreign takeovers has been more or less positive for the investors.

In 2000, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Mozambique, which is mostly in the manufacturing sector, equaled $730 million. South Africa and Portugal, respectively accounting for 63 percent and 14 percent of all FDI, are the largest foreign investors. The United States, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong are also significant investors. Major U.S. firms with a strong market presence in Mozambique include Coca-Cola and Colgate-Palmolive.

A second development that has severely affected the manufacturing sector is trade liberalization. While liberalization may offer Mozambican industries increased access to foreign markets, it may also force them to compete with more efficient foreign counterparts in the domestic economy. The so-called recent "cashew wars" exemplifies this latter possibility. The metaphorical wars centered on the elimination of tariff barriers blocking the exportation of unprocessed cashews. Such tariffs have existed in order to ensure protection for industries involved in processing cashewshigh tariffs on exportations of unprocessed cashews means that cashews will inevitably be processed before leaving the country. The World Bank, however, has argued that the cashew-processing industry is inefficient and that it must face competition from abroad. As part of its SAP, the World Bank forced Mozambique to begin phasing out tariffs in 1996, despite the protests of the government, the World Bank's major adversary in the cashew wars. The results of the liberalization process were disastrous. According to the Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), a United Nations humanitarian information unit, by 2000, half of the cashew-processing industry's 12,000 workers were laid off, while 10 of the largest cashew-processing factories were closed due to a lack of supplies. The cashew-processing sector, which, in 1987, accounted for 31 percent of Mozambique's export earnings and employed about 25 percent of the country's workforce, has diminished in annual productive capacity from an average of Mt200,000 during the 1980s, to a current low of Mt50,000.

Despite some natural reserves of coal and titanium, mining in Mozambique is negligible. The one exception is the massive Mozal aluminum smelter outside of Maputo, which reached a full production capacity of 250,000 tons per year in December 2000. Mozal, a subsidiary of the South African company Billiton, employs 1,000 Mozambicans and represents the country's largest economic project to date. Mozal has created beneficial spillover effects (positive links) in the Mozambican economy, mainly in the form of new port facilities needed to handle the import of alumina and export of aluminum ingots. Once more, however, the profits earned by Mozal are lining the pockets of foreigners rather than the Mozambican populace. In his book, Peace Without Profit, Joseph Hanlon maintains that many observers are referring to the escalating foreign domination of the economy as the "recolonization" of Mozambique. On February 13, 2001, workers at the Mozal smelter, angered at the superior terms offered to foreign managers, engaged in an illegal one-day strike.


Accounting for approximately 48 percent of GDP, the service, or tertiary sector, is the most valuable area of economic activity in the Mozambican economy. Approximately 13 percent of the labor force is engaged in the service sector (est. 1998), though this figure does not take into consideration the many people that work in the informal sector . The largest contributor to the service sector is business, which constituted 19.5 percent of GDP alone in 1999. The business class consists of a small elite, whose main activities are trading and distribution. Other important service activities include finance, tourism, transport, communication, and retail . The latter, which includes a small number of restaurants and stores in the urban centers, is dominated by small-scale street vendors, many of whom form part of the informal sector. Informal sector activities include carpentry, motor vehicle repair, tailoring, hawking , and selling various fruits, vegetables, and other commodities. Recent studies, such as those conducted by researchers of the Centro de Estudos Africanos of the University Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique, indicate that informal activity has increased substantially as a result of SAP-related cuts to the social sector, unemployment and rising food prices. Unfortunately, the burden caused by these developments has been shouldered unequally by women, who have taken the responsibility of ensuring the survival of the family. In 1994, as much as 75 percent of all women in Maputo were forced to participate in the informal sector in order to earn their chief incomes. Such women make as little as $0.20 a day, plus food.

As a result of the destruction caused by the civil war, there is a massive lack of shops and service activities in the rural areas. Moreover, the rebuilding of the retail sector in the rural areas has been slowed by a banking sector that is reluctant to provide capital to prospective entrepreneurs with very few assets. Though there are many international donor agencies funding rural service-related income-generating projects, the pace of reconstruction remains protracted (delayed).

On the whole, tourism is a relatively marginal component of the Mozambican economy. Indeed, restaurants and hotels accounted for a meager 1.2 percent of GDP in 1999a slight increase from 1995, when they constituted 0.7 percent of GDP. At the same time, however, there is a strong potential for the development of the tourism sector, given the country's long coastline with superb beaches, the existence of several attractions of historical interest, and the great diversity of flora and wildlife.


There are a total of 8 banks in Mozambique, in addition to the central bank, the Bank of Mozambique. All of these banks, many of which were controlled by the government prior to mid-1990s, are now part of the private sector. The Banco Comercial de Mocambique (BCM), which has a considerable presence across the country, dominates commercial banking. The government controlled BCM until 1996, when it was sold to a consortium led by the Portuguese Banco Portugues Mello. The government still retains a 49 percent share in the BCM, though it plans on selling its shares. Despite these plans, the government was forced to authorize the issuing of $39 million in treasury bills as part of an effort to recapitalize the BCM, along with the Banco Austral, to prevent each from becoming insolvent. Both banks have large loan portfolios that have proved unrecoverable. The Banco Austral, Mozambique's second largest bank, was sold to a consortium led by Southern Berhad Bank of Malaysia in 1997, though the government retains a 40 percent share, which it also plans on selling.

With a share capital of $30 million, the Banco Internacional de Mocambique (BIM) is the third largest bank in the country. In January 2000, the Banco Comercial Portugues, the parent company of BIM, acquired Grupo Mello, the parent company of BCM. Consequently, 2 of the largest banks in Mozambique are now controlled by 1 bank in Portugal. Other important banks include the Portuguese-owned Banco Comercial e de Investimento and the Portuguese-South African Banco Standard Totta.

In addition to the network of banks, there are also several investment agencies operating in the Mozambican financial market, including the International Finance Corporation and the Commonwealth Development Corporation. Moreover, in 1999, a small stock exchange was established in Maputo with the assistance of the Lisbon stock exchange.


Like most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Mozambique's international economic transactions are based on the exportation of agricultural commodities in exchange for capital goods. Since the international terms of trade accord higher value to the latter, Mozambique routinely suffers from a balance of payments deficit, hence, in part, its constant need to borrow money from the IFIs and wealthy foreign governments. The balance of trade deficit varies widely, depending upon, among other things, the market success of agricultural export commodities in a given year (as we have seen, this, in turn, depends on both weather conditions and international commodity prices). In 1995, for instance, the deficit stood at $552.7 million, while this figure increased dramatically to $930.9 million in 1999. In 2000, the gap between the value of imports vis-á-vis exports increased even more, with the latter outnumbering the former by more than 5 to 1.

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Mozambique
Exports Imports
1975 .198 .411
1980 .281 .800
1985 .077 .424
1990 .126 .878
1995 .168 .784
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

Mozambique's principal exports include prawns, cashews, cotton, sugar, copra, citrus, coconuts, and timber. The value of exports designated to the wealthy countries of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, decreased considerably throughout the second half of the 1990s, dropping from $60.7 million in 1995, to $37.3 million in 1999. This decrease in export value, reflects, in large part, declining terms of trade and the market exit of peasant producers resulting therefrom (as was recently the case in the cotton sector). Conversely, the value of exports designated to African countries, mainly South Africa and Zimbabwe, increased somewhat during the same periodfrom $23.6 million in 1995, to $26.2 million in 1999. Increased trade between the countries of southern Africa has been facilitated by a rehabilitation of transportation infrastructure in Mozambique. With 16 percent of exports reaching the South African market, that country is Mozambique's second largest export partner, second only to Spain (17 percent).

Mozambique's chief imports include food, clothing, farm equipment, petroleum, and transport equipment. The value of imports from the OECD countries has also decreased considerably, falling from $46.7 million in 1995, to $27.2 million in 1999. This precipitous decline may reflect increased trade diversion (a redirecting of trade) towards South Africa, which increased its share of imports designated to Mozambique from $25.9 million in 1995, to $57.2 million in 1999. In 2000, South Africa accounted for 55 percent of all Mozambican imports.

As part of the country's structural reforms, the Mozambican government has promoted significant trade liberalization in recent years, simplifying its tariff structures and applying an average tariff of 13.8 percent to countries accorded most-favored nation status. Mozambique's tariffs are among the lowest import duties in southern Africa. While the international financial institutions and Western governments in general tend to support trade liberalization, it may have negative effects for a country like Mozambique that depends on agricultural exports in exchange for higher value-added capital imports. If Mozambican manufacturing firms cannot compete with their foreign counterparts, reduction of trade protection measures, such as tariffs, will simply lead to the retardation of the Mozambican industrial sector. The disastrous effects of tariff reduction on the cashew-processing industry is a case in point. The results of such negative developments might be further entrenchment of the agricultural sector in the economy, and thus the prolonging of the unequal trading patterns that sustain the country's severe balance of trade deficit. In such a context, it is hardly likely that Mozambique will benefit from the pro-trade idea of specializing in exporting products it produces comparatively better than other nations, and in importing those that it does not.

Mozambique is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC)a regional trading agreement among 14 countries in southern Africa designed to lower tariff barriers between member countries. While it is difficult to justify completely free trade between wealthy and poor countries since they cannot compete from a level playing field, some argue that free trade between developing countries can be beneficial. The argument is based mainly on the idea that free trade between developing countries enables them to benefit from economies of scale in a more equitably competitive context. Still, more relatively developed countries, such as South Africa in the SADC, the most powerful economy in all of Africa, might benefit disproportionately due to their more competitive positioning.


SAP-induced reforms in 1992 instituted a free floating exchange rate policy in Mozambique, with the value of the metical thereafter being determined by its supply and demand in international money markets. Prior to the reform, the Mozambican government followed a fixed exchange regime in which the metical was pegged to the U.S. dollar at a specific rate, subject to alterations only to rectify substantial distortions (severe imbalances between the market value of the metical against the U.S. dollar and the official value of the metical against the U.S. dollar).

Since the introduction of the free floating exchange regime, the metical has consistently depreciated vis-á-vis the U.S. dollar, meaning it takes increasingly greater quantities of meticais to equal the value of 1 U.S. dollar. In 1995, the exchange rate averaged Mt9,024.3 per US$1, with the rate depreciating to an average of Mt12,775.1 per US$1 in 1999, and an average of Mt13,392.0 per US$1 in 2000. The EIU expects that the rate will average at Mt16,225 per US$1 in 2001, and

Exchange rates: Mozambique meticais (Mt) per US$1
Jan 2001 17,331.0
2000 5,199.8
1999 12,775.1
1998 11,874.6
1997 11.543.6
1996 11,293.8
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

Mt17,280 per US$1 in 2002. The substantial devaluation that occurred in 2001 reflects, in large part, a weakening economy affected by flooding and declining agricultural productivity.

While currency depreciation may be positive for the exporting sectors of the Mozambican economy, since less foreign money is needed to buy Mozambican exports which thereby renders them more attractive, it has the adverse effect of increasing the prices of imports. Imports become more expensive since more meticais are needed to purchase them. For a food-importing nation like Mozambique, increases in the prices of essential imports, such as wheat, can have negative consequences on the poorest segments of the society, who cannot afford to pay increased prices. In their zeal for export-led economic growth, however, the IFIs, which routinely apply pressure on sub-Saharan governments to continuously devalue their currencies, fail to take this negative affect into account.


Though the vast majority of Mozambicans live in abject poverty, a small elite consisting of traders, politicians with business ties, foreign managers, and professionals working in the financial sector enjoy a life of luxury in the urban centers. This elite has benefited from the privatization and liberalization reforms associated with the SAPs, as they have largely displaced the state in the ruling positions of the economy. Unfortunately, policies such as the liberalization of the foreign exchange market, which enables business executives to easily acquire foreign currency, have increased the propensity of the elites to buy most of their commodities from sources abroad. Indeed, the Mozambican elite is particularly notorious for spending its money on the importation of luxury goods, rather than reinvesting in and supporting the local economy. As Joseph Hanlon notes, the elite travel extensively and identify more with the wealthy of western countries than they do with the Mozambican poor.

In contrast to the tremendous wealth of the small elite, the majority of Mozambicans find it difficult to provide for their basic needs. The United Nations Development

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Mozambique N/A 166 115 144 188
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
South Africa 4,574 4,620 4,229 4,113 3,918
Tanzania N/A N/A N/A 175 173
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Mozambique
Lowest 10% 2.5
Lowest 20% 6.5
Second 20% 10.8
Third 20% 15.1
Fourth 20% 21.1
Highest 20% 46.5
Highest 10% 31.7
Survey year: 1996-97
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population andis ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

Program 's (UNDP) human development index (HDI) listings, which arranges countries according to their overall level of human development, ranks Mozambique 168th out of a total of 174 nations. The HDI, a composite index (one that assesses more than one variable) that measures life expectancy at birth, adult literacy rate, school enrollment ratio, and GDP per capita , is indicative of a country's general social and economic wellbeing. As such, Mozambique's HDI ranking demonstrates that the country is one of the least developed in the entire world.

Although there are no recent statistics for public expenditure on education, UNDP statistics on support for the health sector indicate that the Mozambican government has considerably reduced its already meager health expenditure. In 1990, for instance, the government spent 3.6 percent of GDP on the health sector, whereas this figure dropped to 2.1 percent in 1998. Such cuts reflect socalled austerity measures induced by the SAPs, designed to decrease government spending to "free" revenue for debt-servicing . Comparatively, the United States spent 6.5 percent of GDP on health in 1998. The vast majority of Mozambicans, for their part, spend their meager incomes on the basic necessities of life, such as food, rents, clothing, fuel, and transportation. As a result of a declining economy and a deepening of poverty, however, Mozambicans consume somewhat less food calories on a daily basis then they did thirty years ago. In 1970, the average Mozambican consumed 1,896 calories, with this figure declining to 1,832 calories in 1997. Americans, in contrast, consumed on average 2,965 calories in 1970 and 3,699 calories in 1997. This is not surprising, considering the increase in the gross national product (GNP) per capita has been grossly outweighed by mounting inflation in the past 10 years. The UNDP estimates that the annual growth rate in GNP per capita between 1990 to 1998 was 3.5 percent, while the average annual rate of inflation during the same period was 41.1 percent. Fortunately, inflation stabalized at 3.8 percent in 1998, though the GNP per capita in purchasing power parity (adjusted to compensate for the different pricing of goods and services in Mozambique in relation to the United States) the same year leveled at a paltry US$740.


In 2000, the total working population of Mozambique was estimated at 8 million. Since most Mozambicans work in the uncertain conditions of the agricultural sector, however, only 17 percent of this total earn regular wages. In terms of gender differences in the division of labor, women tend to work overwhelmingly in service-based activities, particularly in the informal sector. Furthermore, women tend to suffer from a double work-day, being forced out of economic necessity to engage in income-earning activities during the day, and then being responsible for the domestic household tasks at night.

There are 2 major trade union federations in Mozambique, collectively representing approximately 200,000 workers and 13 unions. The largest federation, the Organization of Mozambican Workers (OTM), was established following independence. The OTM was directly controlled by the government until 1994, at which time it officially declared itself free of any political party affiliation. Legislation passed in 1991 broke the OTM's legal monopoly over trade union activity. Immediately thereafter, a separate federation, the Free and Independent Union of Mozambique (SLIM), was established by 3 OTM-breakaway unions.

The Constitution permits workers to strike, with the exception of government employees, police, military personnel, and employees engaged in other essential services (which include sanitation, firefighting, air traffic control, health care, water, electricity, fuel, post office, and telecommunications). Numerous strikes have occurred over the past several years, many of which, according to the U.S. Department of State, are centered on issues related to privatization, salaries, and increases in wage levels. In accordance with the 1991 Labor Law, there are no known instances of employers seeking retribution against striking workers.

Children under the age of 16 years are prohibited from working in the wage economy. Since there is such a high adult unemployment rateestimated at 50 percentthere are few violations of this law. Children often work on family farms and in the informal sector, however, in order to financially assist their parents. The harsh reality is that if children do not engage in activities to assist their parents in generating income, the family will not have enough money to eat.

Although Mozambique has a minimum wage, which averaged at $40 per month in 2000, it is not adequate to support even a small family of 3. Consequently, most workers rely on earning additional income in the informal sector, in addition to growing corn and vegetables on small plots of land for personal consumption. The legal limitation of a workweek for workers in the non-agricultural sector is 44 hours, while employees are entitled to 1 rest day per week. Despite detailed legally defined health and safety standards, reports indicate that violations of such standards are commonplace. In 1995 alone, 524 major accidents occurred in the building, timber, and mining sectors.


11TH CENTURY. Arab and Swahili traders settled along the coast of present-day Mozambique. The Kiswahili language developed as the most used language for trade between the newcomers and the Bantu inhabitants of the interior. Sofala became a particularly important gold and ivory exporting center.

16TH CENTURY. Following Vasco da Gama's visit to Mozambique in 1498, the Portuguese began extending their influence along the coasts of East Africa. Though they succeeded in establishing their commercial dominance on the coast of Mozambique, their presence in the interior was severely limited. Portuguese traders engaged in selling gold, ivory, and slaves.

17TH CENTURY. Several Portuguese adventurers eventually founded feudal kingdoms in the interior, where they created large estates called prazos on which Africans were forced to work. Though the prazeros the owners of the estateswere theoretically subordinate to the Portuguese crown, they ruled their kingdoms ruthlessly and autonomously.

1752. Mozambique became a separately administered Portuguese territory, under the head of a captain-general.

1820s. The Portuguese were displaced from southern Mozambique by groups of Nguni-speaking people from South Africa, though they still retained nominal colonial control.

1880s. The ignominious scramble for Africa commenced among the European powers, and Portugal's claims to Mozambique were officially recognized. The British and the Portuguese subsequently established treaties demarcating colonial zones in southern and eastern Africa.

1890-1920. Portugal forcefully established its hegemony over the entire Mozambique region in a series of wars against the African populace. Thereafter, a coercive economy was established in which Africans were forced to labor on lands taken over by whites in the production of export crops.

1950-1975. Throughout the 1950s, a nationalist anti-colonial sentiment developed, eventually crystallizing in the united-front movement called FRELIMO. The latter commenced a guerrilla war against the Portuguese in 1964, which, in conjunction with a coup d'etat in Portugal that placed an anti-colonial regime in power, enabled Mozambique to achieve independence in 1975 under the leadership of Samora Machel. A massive exodus of Portuguese settlers followed, leaving the country with a complete lack of professional expertise and productive machinery.

1975-1992. FRELIMO implemented a socialist economy based on extensive nationalization of industry, state-controlled land reform, and a heavily supported social sector. By the 1980s, Mozambique became a "Cold War battlefield" in which RENAMO, a counter-insurgency organization funded by the racist regime in South Africa, waged war against the government. After much destruction and the complete dissolution of the economy, a truce was implemented between RENAMO and FRELIMO in 1992. The former subsequently became a legitimate political party and was integrated into a newly created multi-party democratic system.

1990s. Under the leadership of Joaquim Chissano Machel's successorFRELIMO abandoned its Marxist orientation. The World Bank and the IMF, which had established limited control over Mozambique as early as 1984, fully imposed their structural adjustment programs , emphasizing mass privatization, trade liberalization, currency devaluation, foreign investment, and stabilization policies. Though a certain amount of economic growth has occurred throughout the "SAP era," there has also been an increase in poverty and a foreign take-over of the economy.


The economic and political trends that have characterized Mozambican development since the peace accords of 1992 are symptomatic of the larger trends that have prevailed throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa. In the main, SAPs have failed to solve the longstanding problems of unemployment, mass poverty, balance of payments deficit, insecure informal employment, debt, inequality, and lack of access to essential social services. In many cases, these problems have actually been exacerbated by inappropriate policies, such as reckless privatization and trade liberalization. Although the country experienced a considerable rate of growth throughout the 1990s, much of this growth has disproportionately benefited a small minority of business elites, and can be attributed to the termination of the civil war and the massive increase in foreign investment. As for the latter factor, it is debatable how beneficial a role FDI will play in the development of the Mozambican economy.

Politically, the cessation of the civil war and the more or less successful integration of RENAMO into the political system represents a positive development. If the economic situation as experienced by the vast majority of the Mozambican populace continues to deteriorate, however, the sustainability of the democratic process might be jeopardized. Already, the U.S. State Department has warned that political unrest and discontent are increasing in the country. The IMF and World Bank's recently touted Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiativewhich substantially reduces the debt and debt-servicing obligations of severely poor nationsis a first step in the reformation of the largely negative role that the IFIs have played in sub-Saharan economies. It will take much more than this initiative, however, to dramatically alter the course of development of African countries. True development will not occur until free-market panaceas (cure-alls) are discarded and a more contextual development schemeone which possibly includes a strong role for the stateis promoted by the international community.


Mozambique has no territories or colonies.


Abrahamsson, Hans, and Anders Nilsson. Mozambique, The Troubled Transition: From Socialist Construction to Free Market Capitalism. London: Zed Books, 1995.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Mozambique, Malawi, April 2001. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, April 2001.

Hanlon, Joseph. Peace without Profit: How the IMF Blocks Rebuilding in Mozambique. London: Villiers Publications, 1996.

Integrated Regional Information Networks (United Nations humanitarian information unit). Mozambique: Government Commits US$47 million to Reviving the Cashew Sector .<>. Accessed August 2001.

International Monetary Fund. IMF Staff Country Report, Mozambique: Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix .<>. Accessed July 2001.

Isaacman, Allen. Cotton is the Mother of Poverty: Peasants, Work, and Rural Struggle in Colonial Mozambique, 1938-1961. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1996.

Khapoya, Vincent B. The African Experience. New Jersey:Prentice Hall, 1998.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Human Development Report 2000. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook 2000: Mozambique .<>. Accessed July 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Mozambique .<>. Accessed July 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2000 Country Commercial Guide: Mozambique .<>. Accessed July 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Mozambique Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996 .<>. Accessed July 2001.

World Bank Group. Mozambique: Competitiveness Indicators .< e40068dc2f?opendocument>. Accessed July 2001.

Neil Burron




Mozambican metical (Mt). There are 100 centavos in 1 Mt. Coins include denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, and 5,000 meticais and notes of 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, and 100,000 meticais.


Prawns, cashews, cotton, sugar, citrus, copra and coconuts, and timber.


Food, clothing, farm equipment, petroleum, and transport equipment.


US$18.7 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$300 million (1999 est.). Imports: US$1.6 billion (1999 est.).

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Mozambique
Region: Africa
Population: 19,104,696
Language(s): Portuguese
Literacy Rate: 40.1%
Number of Primary Schools: 4,167
Compulsory Schooling: 7 years
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 1,415,428
  Secondary: 185,181
  Higher: 7,143
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 60%
  Secondary: 7%
Teachers: Primary: 24,575
  Secondary: 5,615
  Higher: 915
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 58:1
  Secondary: 38:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 50%
  Secondary: 5%
  Higher: 0.2%

History & Background

The Republic of Mozambique (República de Moçambique ) is situated on the southeast coast of Africa. Washed by the warm Agulhas current that comes all the way across from Western Australia along the equator, Mozambique's beaches on the Indian Ocean were long the attraction of numerous tourists who flocked there from neighboring countries. The capital, Maputo (formerly Lourenço Marques ), situated on Delgoa Bay, is the country's chief port. Probably hunters and gatherers, ancestors of the Khoisan peoples, lived in what is now Mozambique since about 4000 B.C., and Bantu-speaking people settled there before A.D. 100. Before the fourth century A.D., the southward and eastward migrations of iron-working Bantu peoples absorbed these original nomadic peoples. During the eighth century A.D., Arab merchants settled on the Mozambican coast trading in gold, ivory, and slaves. In 1497 the Portuguese navigator Vasco Da Gama landed on the coast of Mozambique, and in 1505 Portuguese settlers occupied the Muslim settlement on the Ilha de Moçambique, making it a slave-trading center and part of its maritime empire. The Portuguese brought gold from the mines on the Zimbabwe plateau to India to purchase the spices that ensured Portugal's prosperity during the sixteenth century. In 1884, when Africa was divided among various European powers, Angola on the Atlantic Ocean and Mozambique on the Indian became recognized as Portuguese colonies.

During the early years of Portuguese activity and expansion into the African interior towards the Kingdom of Munhumutapa, which assured the supply of gold and slaves, the Roman Catholic Church, too, gained access to the region. In 1561 the Jesuit missionary Gonçalo de Silveira baptised the Munhumutapa Negomo. Silveira was later accused of being a spy for the Portuguese and was killed. The Jesuits, however, continued to be missionaries and an educational presence in the area until they were expelled from Portuguese territory in 1759; the Jesuit school at Sena, the depot established on the trade route between the coast and Tete, had to be closed, thus terminating the cultural ties the prazeros (originally Portuguese recipients of land leased from the Portuguese crown who later became Africanized) had with Portugal.

During the 1780s the prazeros expanded slaving operations in Mozambique, and by 1790 approximately 9,000 slaves were being exported each yearprimarily to Brazil, but also to Yao and to Swahili traders who worked the Indian Ocean markets. This figure rose to 15,000 slaves per year during the 1820s and 1830s. The slave trade became Mozambique's most important business and resulted in the depopulation especially of the coastal areas. The slave trade drew to an end only after the publication of reports on the conditions in Mozambique by the missionary-explorer David Livingstone. A decree of total abolition was published in 1878.

Despite the abolition of slavery, Africans were forced to work long hours with very little pay for the Portuguese colonists. Often food was withheld so people were compelled to work. Cotton and other cash crops, grown for sale to the Chartered Companieswhich had been granted concessionary rights to develop land and natural resources, forced labor, and the sale of labor to other parts of Africaresulted in the retardation of development in Mozambique. The construction of the railroad linking the port of Beira with the present-day Zimbabwe, the settling of Portuguese families, and the building of schools and hospitals did not benefit the African population at all. Neither education nor health-care was available to those who were not Portuguese. A massive flight to the neighboring colonies resulted in further depopulation.

In 1891 a treaty establishing the boundaries between British and Portuguese holdings in southeast Africa was negotiated and, in 1910, the status of Mozambique changed from that of Portuguese province to Portuguese colony. In 1962 several nationalist groups united to form the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique or FRELIMO) under the leadership of Eduardo Mondlane, who was assassinated in Dar es Salaam in 1969. After 1964 FRELIMO initiated guerrilla warfare in northern Mozambique and by the early 1970s controlled much of northern and central Mozambique. In June 1975, a year after a military coup overthrew the government in Portugal, Mozambique became an independent nation. The exodus of Europeans after independence brought about a tremendous brain drain. FRELIMO established a single-party socialist state and instituted health and education reforms. Many of those who disagreed with the new direction taken in Mozambique formed the Mozambique National Resistance Movement (RENAMO or MNR). The actions of RENAMO led to a 16-year war that killed millions and destroyed 50 percent of the primary schools in the rural areas and several teacher-training centers. Since the Peace Accord signed in 1992, specific rehabilitation and restructuring programs attempt to make education more available at all levels.

Political, Social, & Cultural Bases of Education During Colonialism: During the more than 300 years of nominal and actual colonization, Mozambique was seen primarily as a source of trade with Europe and of cheap labor for the European plantations, the construction of ports and roads in Mozambique, and the mines in South Africa. During the time of Portuguese colonialism, the Bantu-speaking peoples were forced to work on European-owned land. Colonial policy, based on the egalitarian theory of assimilation, stated that if an African was fluent in Portuguese, was Christian, and had a good character, he was to be given the same status as a Portuguese citizen. Very few Africans qualified for citizenship, mainly because educational opportunities were inadequate or non-existent. In fact, the colonial powers had no interest in educating the Mozambican indigenous population beyond their usefulness to the needs identified by the authorities. Consequently, little effort was made to provide meaningful education.

There were a very limited number of schools scattered along the coast; attendance was minimal. By 1900 only 1,195 African and mulatto children attended schools. Approximately 607 of these were in missionary schools, 146 in government schools, 412 in municipal schools, and 30 in private institutions. By 1909 there were 48 primary schools for boys and 18 for girls, the great majority run by missionaries, along with some trade and agricultural schools. Reports compiled during the 1920s by the High Commissioner to Mozambique, Brito Camacho, by the African Education Commission under the auspices of the Phelps-Stokes Fund and the foreign mission societies of North America and Europe, had nothing positive to say about education in Mozambique. Education deteriorated even further when the Salazar regime came into power in Portugal in 1926 and made it almost impossible for anybody who was classified as indigenous to obtain education, instruction, and Christianity, as well as the distinction to be reclassified as civilized and thus be assimilated and given the rights of Portuguese citizenshipthe criteria for which was the almost unobtainable school certificate. This state of affairs was ironic and racist as late as 1966, when 90 percent of the African population was found to be illiterate. It was also found that 40 percent of white settlers from Portugal were illiterate.

The Salazar Era & Education: Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, the Portuguese dictator who ruled Portugal from 1932 to 1968, was intent on repressing opposition in Portugal's African colonies. Thus, the programs of state-sponsored schooling established by the Salazar regime created a schooling system available for the children of settlers. This was a duplication of the primary and secondary schooling system operating in Portugal, directed by the Ministry of National Education in Lisbon, which included within it a Department of Overseas Education. Until the 1950s enrollment was small. Between 1954 and 1956, with the influx of settlers from Portugal, enrollment increased by 30 percent, and it tripled by 1964. These schools were open only to "assimilated" Africans and, as late as 1954, only 322 Africans were enrolled in the government primary schools. By 1954, there were 71 primary schools, 12 elementary professional schools, 2 government technical schools, 1 government high school, and no government teacher training institutions in the public schooling system.

Schooling for Africans denied more access than it created and failed more students than it passed. The first stage, a three-year rudimentary education, was designed "gradually to lead the 'Indigenous' from savage life to civilization. . . ." It included subjects such as Portuguese language, arithmetic, history and geography of Portugal, design and manual work, physical education and hygiene, moral education, and choral music. The six-year primary school program, which led up to entrance to secondary school, was fraught with enormous hurdles and age restrictions, making it almost impossible for African students to succeed. Unlike in South Africa where the Roman Catholic Church was perceived as an agency of social justice and transformation, the Catholic educational missions in Mozambique were very much an instrument of the Portuguese government's strategy of nationalization. From the 1940s to the 1960s, Roman Catholic missions, which worked in close collaboration with the Portuguese government, expanded their field of operation dramatically from 296 missions in 1940 to 2,000 in 1960. In these schools Africans were taught mainly by rote, their chief focus being the Catechism. By contrast, the Protestant foreign missions, which were accused of validating African languages and culture and encouraging education for Africans in a way to give them a tendency to be "uppity," were viewed with great suspicion by those in authority and declined from 41 in 1940 to 27 in 1960.

After 1964, with the forming of FRELIMO, the launching of the armed struggle for national independence, and the change in the Portuguese economy, Salazar's colonial educational policies came under review. Primary school was made compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 12; secondary schools were expanded and technical schools were created. Agricultural education was stressed. General studies offered during the 1960s later became the Faculty of General Studies, which was then designated as part of the university.

FRELIMO, the Liberation Struggle, & Education: In Mozambique, as in countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, and Somalia, a national mass literacy campaign was undertaken soon after the revolutionary movement began enjoying widespread popular support; in this case FRELIMO acceded to power. The incoming FRELIMO government declared that education was a right for all people and that all education should serve and defend the interests of the majority, the workers and peasantsthose who had been most disadvantaged by the discrimination and elitism of the previous centuries. Adult literacy projects were a means to mobilize the people in the liberated areas, to bring new freedom to people who had long been derided for their ignorance yet had been prevented from access to the educational system. Despite its association with the oppression of the colonizers, and because of its potential to unite diverse populations, Portuguese became the language of the liberation struggle. New knowledge and increased access to education empowered the Mozambican people to fight for their liberation.

After the beginning of the armed struggle in Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique in 1964, a network of "bush schools" was established and, by 1967, more than 10,000 children were enrolled in FRELIMO primary schools. In the years that followed, teachers set up schools in other provinces, carrying on FRELIMO's vision, which saw education not as the creator of a national elite, but as a means to serve the people. By 1974 more than 20,000 children were enrolled in the four-year primary school program in the various provinces. More than 300 people were enrolled in the fifth to eighth year classes and training courses for primary teachers that had been running since 1972, and more than 100 students were doing postsecondary level courses abroad on FRELIMO scholarships.

The transitional government established on September 25, 1974, set up countrywide Dynamizing Groups that were to provide literacy activities throughout the country. Literacy, defined here as the ability to read and write Portuguese, was seen as the primary means to liberate the creative initiative of the Mozambican people and empower them to attain complete independence and work towards national reconstruction. In 1975 the transitional FRELIMO government identified an illiteracy rate of about 90 percent. By the end of the 1990s, illiteracy rates were estimated at 60 percent. Unfortunately, Mozam bique's move to greater freedom and prosperity through education was beset by obstacles resulting from its geopolitical position in southern Africa; the effects of racial capitalism; the hostility of members of the international community to its socialist option; and the concerted challenge to its attempts to free the creative energies of its people through education.

Rhodesia, South Africa, RENAMO, & Education: During the war between the white regime and both the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in Zimbabwe, the former British colony of Rhodesia, the people of Mozambique, (especially those in the Tete province, the area in northern Mozambique wedged between Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi) were drawn into the conflict. When Samora Machel's FRELIMO party came to power, he had established a government based on the principles of scientific socialism and committed himself to actively engaging in the elimination of white minority governments. The white government in Rhodesia, which once regarded the neighboring government as an ally, now saw it as an enemy, especially when Mozambique provided a haven to ZAPU and ZANLA forces and the base for guerrilla operations against the country. Zimbabwe's military strikes and hot pursuit operations into the Tete province were devastating not only for ZANU and ZANLA camps but also for the villages that were inhabited by civilian refugees seeking to escape the fighting.

The situation in Tete was compounded by South Africa's political and economical interest in the region. The giant hydroelectric complex at the Cahora Basa Dam on the Zambezi River had been constructed by a consortium largely financed and assisted by the South African government in Pretoria. The Cahora Basa scheme provided electrical power for South Africa that sold some of it back to users in southern Mozambique, especially Maputo. Supported by right-wing elements in the United States, both the Rhodesian and South African regimes supported the Mozambican National Resistance (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana, also known as RENAMO), made up of dissidents opposed to FRELIMO and Portuguese people who had fled Mozambique when FRELIMO came to power.

The Education of Refugees & Displaced People: The effects of war, terrorism, torture, and other atrocities committed in the area were horrendous, especially on education. Many fled to neighboring Zambia where they were held in refugee camps. One such refugee camp was Ukwimi. Members of the International Catholic Child Bureau worked with teachers and children in eight preschools in different villages within the Ukwimi Settlement. Both the children and the teachers had witnessed the most horrendous killings, which affected both teaching and learning. Teachers were first taught how to come to terms with their own distress and then, using the mechanisms of Mozambican culture, to devise methods to help the children cope with their memories, with the loss of family members and of their homeland, and with the pain they had seen inflicted on others or had experienced themselves. Teachers were then taught to move away from the rigid rote system they had used before and to adopt new methods of teaching, involving the children in the learning process. Primary school teachers accompanied their pupils through a similar process, with the one difference that here the teachers were Zambian nationals who first had to learn to understand the concept of stress and recognize its symptoms. In 1994 the Ukwimi refugees repatriated to Mozambique, bringing their newfound knowledge and confidence back to a country where education plays a vital role in addressing the need for reconstruction of personal lives and societal structures.

Since the 1992 Peace Accord, more than 1 million other refugees from neighboring countries have been repatriated and reintegrated into Mozambique. Of these, there are thousands of adolescents who were once functionally literate in Portuguese but have now lost the ability they once had to read and write. Thousands of other returnees were born in refugee camps and are preliterate, which means unable to read and write and too old to be integrated into the preprimary and lower primary educational mainstream.

Distance education programs sponsored by the Mozambican government, the UNDP, the World Bank, and the government of the Netherlands attempted to train unqualified primary school teachers to improve the quality of education, to cope with the influx of nationals of school age returning from exile from neighboring states, and to enable them to be part of the reconstruction of a country whose political experience had led to the devastation of the fabric of life for the majority of its people.

Modern Mozambique: Today Mozambique remains one of the world's economically poorest countries. There is mass illiteracy in a primarily agricultural economy based on farming. The high international debt by which Mozambique has to service the exorbitant interest rates imposed on foreign loans made by the international banks and the restructuring demands made by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund call for priority to be given to financial needs rather than to the immediate survival needs of the country's population; this affects the country's ability to provide essential health and education services. In the year 2000, despite devastating floods that destroyed roads and 140 school buildings in three flooded provinces, Mozambique had to pay $62 million to foreign creditors, and only $32 million of the budget was set aside for education. In a country of 16 million people where 11 million live below the poverty line and 10 million people do not have adequate drinking water, the education sector can only be revived with the recovery of the agricultural sector, as well as with investment in the country and in the infrastructure; this will provide the resources and the expertise the government needs to put into effect its will to reform the education system.

Children's rights and welfare are a priority of the Mozambican government; however, many children are in trouble. Although more than 1,000 new primary schools were opened during 1999, they were overcrowded and often parents had to bribe teachers so that their children could be given a place in school. The 1997 census estimated that 50 percent of children aged 6 through 10 are in primary school, and only a fraction of these go on to secondary school.

Girls have less access to education than boys above the primary level, and about 76 percent of females over 15 years of age are illiterate. Girls made up 42.0 percent of students in grades 1 through 5, 40.0 percent of students in grades 6 through 10, and 48.4 percent in grades 11 and 12. Outside the main cities, secondary schools are fewer and, where boarding is required for attendance, the number of female students drops significantly, especially when local residents, who blame schoolgirls for immoral behavior in the community, demand the exclusion of girls from dormitories.

An estimated 3,000 street children live in the Maputo metropolitan area, and during 1999 NGOs and the government took some steps to protect and reintegrate them into families or other supervised conditions. One NGO, the Association for Mozambican Children (ASEM), opened two alternative learning centers for more than 900 children who were not able to return to their regular schools after being expelled from their homes or because they had left school to work. ASEM was supplied with textbooks by the government. The Maputo City Social Action Coordination Office, through its program of rescuing orphans and assisting single mothers who head families of three or more persons, offered special classes in local schools to children of broken homes. Other NGO groups sponsor food, shelter, and education programs in all major cities. In May 1999 an Africa-wide conference on child soldiers was held in Maputo. The "Maputo Declaration" called for an end to the use of child soldiers, for pressure to be placed on nations in violation, and for the reintegration of child soldiers into civil society.

Language Policy: No one indigenous African linguistic group in Mozambique ever gained control over the whole territory. This process was cut short by the double colonization imposed by the Portuguese and the English. Furthermore, the forms of colonialism were such that as there was no widespread education for African people, no one European language became predominant. Criticism of the Portuguese included a denunciation of their inability to use Mozambique's indigenous languages. However, in the early 1960s FRELIMO decided to adopt Portuguese as the language that would unite nationalist freedom fighters with different language backgrounds in the national independence struggle. This decision was made as there are at least four major Bantu languages, possibly eight, spoken in Mozambique. The four major languages are Makua, Tsonga, Nyanja-Sena, and Shona; the four minor languages are Makonde, Yao, Copi, and Gitonga. Kiswahili, Shangaan (or Tsonga), Zulu, and Swazi are also spoken. People in neighboring countries share all these languages. In order to unite a country with such a linguistically diverse population, Portuguese, which is the mother-tongue of only 3 percent of the nations citizens, has today been declared the official language of the Peoples' Republic of Mozambique and is thus the medium of communication in administration, religion, and education. It is also the language of literacy that was used even during the period of armed struggle (1964-1974) for national independence when FRELIMO spearheaded adult literacy activities. Thus, in Mozambique, literacy is equated not with the ability to read in the mother tongue, but to be in command of Portuguese and English, the language of the former colonial powers, and the languages of communication with the outside world. In many multilingual countries the mother tongue or a local vernacular are the medium of instruction during the first school years, and there is a shift to the national or official language only in later years.

In Mozambique, however, Portuguese is the exclusive medium of instruction from first grade onwards and is also a subject in primary and secondary education. English is a compulsory subject at the secondary level, and English for Academic Purposes is also a compulsory subject in the first two years of most courses administered by the Department of English of the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM). The Bantu languages are taught only at the UEM. Since 1993 the National Institute for Education Development has been carrying out a bilingual project, which involves using a Bantu language as a medium of instruction in the initial years of primary schooling and gradually making the transition to Portuguese. Even though Portuguese is the national and official language, cultural policy is working towards the valorization of Mozambican indigenous languages and their increased inclusion in the educational process. This move does not, however, deny the fact that Mozambican Portuguese is becoming a language in its own right and that several Mozambican novelists and short-story writers have put Mozambique on the map of Portuguese literature, similar to what has happened to English in India or English in South Africa.

Educational SystemOverview

School age Mozambicans (ages 5 through 24 years) make up more than 50 percent of the country's total population. Although primary education is compulsory and free, the national educational system is not yet capable of absorbing all who should be attending primary education (grades one through seven). The government is making concerted efforts to rehabilitate and expand the educational infrastructures and to train staff with a view to responding to the needs and challenges in education.

About 150,000 students attend night classes, technical and professional schools, adult education programs, and private education. There are about 50,000 pupils in primary and secondary private schools (about 2 percent of the number who are studying in the public sector). Approximately 800,000 students attend Higher Education institutions, and of these about two-thirds attend the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo. There are 36 teaching weeks in the school calendar. The medium of instruction is Portuguese, and Portuguese is also taught as a subject. Education in Mozambique is under the jurisdiction of the National Education System (Sistema Nacional de Educação or SNE).

Preprimary & Primary Education

General Survey: Preprimary and primary education is taught in three stages: a preprimary creche, for ages 1 to 5, and Jardim Infantil, for ages 5 and 6; a lower primary level (EP1), for ages 7 to 11, from grades 1 to 5, with approximately 2,180,334 students in 1997; and a higher primary level (EP2), for ages 12 and 13, consisting of grades 6 and 7, with approximately 199,126 students in 1997. While this policy can often not be enforced due to financial and other constraints, both EP1 and EP2 are compulsory. The EP1 pupils are mainly rural; most EP2 students are semi-rural, studying mainly in district seats.

CurriculumExaminations: Eight subjects are taught in EP1 and EP2 (grades 1 through 7). Portuguese is taught for 12 hours per week in grade 1; 11 hours per week in grade 2; 10 hours per week in grades 3 and 4; 9 hours per week in grade 5; 6 hours per week in grade 6; and 5 hours per week in grade 7. Mathematics is taught for 6 hours per week in grades 1 through 5 and for 5 hours per week in grades 6 and 7. Natural sciences is taught for 2 hours per week in grades 3 and 4 and for 3 hours per week in grade 5. Biology is taught for 3 hours per week in grade 6 and for 4 hours per week in grade 7. Geography is taught for 2 hours per week in grade 5 and for 3 hours per week in grades 6 and 7. History is taught for 2 hours per week in grades 4 and 5 and for 3 hours per week in grades 6 and 7. Aesthetics and working education is taught for 2 hours per week in grade 1; 3 hours per week in grades 2 through 5; and 4 hours per week in grades 6 and 7. Physical education is taught for 2 hours per week in grades 1 through 6 and for 3 hours per week in grade 7.

At the end of EP2, students have three options: to proceed to secondary education; to proceed to an elementary technical/vocational education; or to enter basic technical/professional education from which they can move on to middle elementary technical and vocational education. At this stage students also have the option of choosing vocational schools in education.

Repeaters & Dropouts: According to the Ministry of Education, the average pupil-teacher ratio in primary education is 50:1; the dropout and repetition rates are in the region of 20 percent. The quality of education is further aggravated by overcrowded classrooms, insufficient quantities of schoolbooks and teaching materials, and the inadequate professional training of teachers. Their poor living conditions and lack of access to sources that would help them deal with the issues facing the country before they are asked to take responsibility for their students' educations are also problems. Other reasons for the high dropout rate are problems with the official language, migration of families, and poverty of families.

Although public primary education is free and compulsory, less than 50 percent of school-age children attend classes. Because of financial and other constraints, the government has been unable to enforce this policy. Even though the minimum working age is 18-years-old and children younger than 15 are not permitted to work, children not in school frequently are employed in the agricultural and casual labor sectors, increasingly in construction jobs and in the informal labor sector. Often children younger than 15 work alongside their parents or independently in seasonal harvests or commercial plantations where they are normally compensated with school supplies and books rather than money.

Secondary Education

General Survey: Secondary education (ESG) is taught in two cycles: ESG1 and ESG2. The first cycle (ESG1) lasts for 3 years and is for those aged 14 to 16, or grades 8 to 10; it had approximately 58,048 students in 1997. The second cycle (ESG2) lasts 2 years and is for those aged 17 and 18, or grades 11 and 12; it had approximately 7,037 students in 1997. There are only 82 public secondary schools nationwide, of which only 18 offer classes through grade 12. The medium of instruction is Portuguese, and both Portuguese and English are compulsory school subjects.

Curriculum-Examinations: Eleven subjects are taught in ESG1 and ESG2. Portuguese is taught for 5 hours per week in grades 8 through 10 and for 4 hours per week in grades 11 and 12. English is taught for 3 hours per week in grades 8 through 10 and for 3 to 5 hours per week in grades 11 and 12. Mathematics is taught for 5 hours per week in grades 8 through 12. Biology is taught for 3 hours per week in grades 8 through 10 and for 4 hours per week in grades 11 and 12. Physics is taught for 3 hours per week in grades 8 through 10 and for 4 hours per week in grades 11 and 12. History is taught for 2 hours per week in grades 8 through 10 and for 4 hours per week in grades 11 and 12. Geography is taught for 2 hours per week in grades 8 through 10 and for 4 hours per week in grades 11 and 12. Chemistry is taught for 3 hours per week in grades 8 and 10 and for 4 hours per week in grades 11 and 12. Drawing is taught for 2 hours per week in grades 8 through 10 and for 3 hours per week in grades 11 and 12. Physical education is taught for 2 hours per week in grades 8 through 12. French is taught for 4 hours per week in Grades 11 and 12.

At the end of ESG1 students have the following options: to enter ESG2, the pre-university, academic education cycle; to proceed to teacher training; or to proceed to the adult pre-university cycle from which they will be able to proceed to Higher Education institutions. ESG1 students attend school in provincial capitals and major provincial districts, and ESG2 students can only do their schooling in certain provincial capitals.

Higher Education

Types of Higher Education Institutions: Public & Private: Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) is a public institution based in Maputo. Under the new Africanization policy of the Portuguese education authorities, general studies were offered from the early 1960s on. Later the faculty of general studies was designated as a university and, in 1970, a faculty of economics was added. Thus, the UEM was created in 1962 under the name Estudos Gerais. Later it was designated the University of Lourenço Marques; in 1976 it received its current name. The UEM enrolls 3,712 students, almost one-third of the nation's college students, and is provided with 23 percent of the government's education budget, along with 39 percent of the contributions to the nation's education system from outside donors.

The Pedagogical University (UP) is also a public institution based in Maputo, created in 1986. It has established branches in the cities of Beira and Nampula. The Pedagogical University is particularly involved in the pre-service training of teachers for secondary education. The Higher Institute of International Relations (ISRI) is the third public institution that was created in 1986. It, too, is based in Maputo. There are three private institutions of higher education. The first is the Higher Polytechnic University Institute (ISPU), created in 1996. It is based in Maputo and has branches in the town of Quelimane. The second private institution is the Catholic University of Mozambique (UCM), which was founded in 1997 and is located in Beira. The third private higher education institution, also in Maputo, is the Higher Institute for Science and Technology of Mozambique (ISCTEM). It was founded in 1997 and offers both full-time and part-time study up to the master's degree level. In February 2001 it opened a new campus in the center of Maputo. The Mussa Bin Bique University is to be set up in the town of Angoche in the Nampula Province in northern Mozambique, just south of Cabo Delgado, and will primarily be a cultural center for the teaching of Arabic.

Courses, Semesters, & Diplomas: Higher education encompasses the 19 to 24 years age group and is designed to take 6 years, or 12 semesters, of study. Those who have completed the adult education cycle also have access to higher education. Depending on the combination of courses taken in school, those receiving an education at Eduardo Mondlane University can be divided into three groups that take a certain combination of courses: Group A's general subjects include Portuguese, English, French, history, and geography; university courses to which access is available include linguistics, Portuguese, law, history, French, diplomacy, English, geography, psychology, pedagogy, and economics. Specific subjects for Group A are English, biology, and mathematics. Group B's general subjects include Portuguese, English, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biology; university courses to which access is available include geology, agronomy, medicine, veterinary science, biology, chemistry/biology, and physical education. Specific subjects for Group B are geography and biology. Group C's general subjects include Portuguese, English, mathematics/physics, drawing, and chemistry; university courses to which access is available include engineering, architecture, physics and chemical sciences, mathematics, and physics. There are no specific subjects in this group.

English and Portuguese are compulsory subjects administered at the UEM. English is a compulsory subject in the first two years of most courses, administered by the Department of English. French is an optional subject (either French or English) in the social sciences course at the UEM, and it may be reintroduced at the Faculty of Arts. The Bantu languages Emakhuwa and Xichangana are taught at the UEM in linguistics (four semesters) and history (one semester) degree courses.

Nonformal Education

Adult Education: Students who are 15 years or older who have not been through the usual system of education can be accommodated in the adult literacy program (Ensiono Primáro de Adultos Alfabetização), which also has two levels. As is the case with students completing EP2, students who have completed the second level of adult literacy education may proceed to an elementary technical vocational education or to enter basic technical professional education from where they can move on to middle elementary technical and vocational education. At this stage students also have the option of choosing vocational schools in education. Or they may proceed to adult secondary education. From here they have the options offered to traditional ESG2 students.

Adult students who have completed the first two levels of adult literacy education have an option not available to traditional students. They may join the accelerated pre-university cycle (Ensino Pré-Universitário Icelerado). This form of education has its roots in the Mozambican liberation struggle when, due to the brain drain and the lack of education of the majority of the people, the maximum access to education had to be provided in the shortest possible time. Accelerated Training for Workers (Centros de Formação Acelerada para Trabalhadores or CFATs) is the Mozambican government's attempt to move beyond basic literacy training to a place where adults could advance their educational potential and as soon as possible make a contribution towards meeting the needs of the emerging nation. In the Centers, academic attainment is raised to the equivalent of grade four in primary schooling. The next step is to raise the level of academic achievement to the equivalent of grade six of primary schooling. Each step can be completed in a fraction of the time, often six months. After completing the accelerated pre-university cycle, adult students may proceed to the higher education level and to possible teacher training courses.

Distance Education: As is the case in most African countries, large land areas, long distances between cities, and the remoteness of large numbers of the population make it necessary for many people to obtain education, especially higher education, through distance education. In distance education there is, thus, not always a clear distinction between nonformal and formal education. In Mozambique the difficult state of distance education is exacerbated by the extreme poverty of the country's population, the high illiteracy rate, and the devastation caused by years of political strife, first internal and then because of being drawn into the political struggles taking place in the then Rhodesia and South Africa. In the early 1980s, the government successfully trained 1,200 unqualified primary school teachers in attempting to cope with the return of the country's nationals from neighboring states. The Ministry of Education then expanded the service to provide education to the wider community. This expansion led to the founding of the Instituto de Aperteiçoamento de Professores or IAP, which took over the responsibility for distance education from the National Institute for Development of Education (INED). INED had, until then, been responsible for introducing new teaching methodologies, including distance education. Funded by the Government of Mozambique and sponsored by the World Bank, the IAP is to provide a nationwide service and support the Ministry of Education in its efforts to collaborate with neighboring countries. It is hoped that despite language differences, regional cooperation will accelerate the development of distance education in the country, bringing in new ideas, the exchange of information, and workshops and seminars that will add to the professional skills of Mozambique's educators.

Through printed course material and through radio, IAP offers a full range of secondary school subjects and the teaching of social sciences, mathematics, and Portuguese. Other institutions involved in distance teaching are the Departamento de Ensino à Distância, which uses printed course material, radio and face-to-face tuition to raise the academic level of primary teachers and to improve their teaching skills and the Instituto de Communicaçao Social which through the medium of radio, a journal called O Campo, and television, makes nonformal education available to peasant farmers and other people living in rural areas.

Global Access: By the end of 1999, all African countries except Eritrea, Somalia, and Libya had local Internet access, with South Africa leading the number of Internet Service Providers and the number of computers connected to the Internet. There is, however, much concern that the English language does not only dominate the global information infrastructure but also that its content almost exclusively targets the needs of users in the United States and the United Kingdom. A 1999 survey of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has shown that Africa generates only 0.4 percent of global content. If the South African contribution is excluded, the figure is merely 0.02 percent. As there are so few African content developers, there is a growing realization that African academic and research institutions and governments need to make a real effort to rectify the imbalance.

They need not only to publish the academic research done on the African continent, which is presently only available in the sponsoring institutions, but also to develop materials that will allow African and other users to access indigenous languages on the Internet. There is much valuable work being done at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, especially in the areas of language development and language policy, as well as in education. This is a country whose very structure has been destroyed but whose people nevertheless have, time and again, found the will to create a new reality. This new reality could benefit the global discussion in these fields and could enhance the perception in Mozambique that its highest public academic institution has the capacity to produce and publish the information and the research done by its faculty and students. Similarly, while the foreign languages (English, Portuguese, French) spoken in Africa are well-represented on the Internet, little has been undertaken to advance African indigenous languages through this medium. There is no reason why a country like Mozambique whose people speak various Bantu languages, several of which are official and national languages in neighboring countries, should not publish language materials produced in at least some of these languages. Yet, the poverty that puts education beyond the reach of most of the people of Mozambique means that access to the Internet is far beyond the feasible reality available to those who belong to the 80 percent of the world's population that has never heard a dial tone, let alone seen a computer.

Teaching Profession

Training & Qualifications: In 1975, to combat the teacher shortage caused by the leaving of qualified teachers after independence, 10 Primary School Teacher Training Centers (PSTTCs) were created, one in each province. In the course of the years, the content of the training courses was adapted to meet the developing needs of education. On leaving the Center, the new teachers are authorized to teach EP1 (grades 1 through 5). The duration of the course is three years. The Ministry of Education plans to increase the entrance level to grade 10 (from grade 7) and to shorten the time of training to 2 years. In 1978 a Teachers' Training and Education School (TTES) began to function in Maputo. Here teachers for EP2 are trained. To be qualified to teach EP2 (grades 6 and 7), a teacher needs to pass grade 10 and receive three years of training. The Teachers' Upgrading Institute (IAP) is also undertaking teacher training and in-service training, as is the Pedagogical University that specializes in pre-service training of secondary education teachers. The Ministry of Education intends to arrange the Integrated Pedagogical Zones and start in-service training programs by means of radio, lessons, and in-service materials.


As is the case in many African countries, Mozambique's economic structures have been disrupted by the effects of neo-colonialism, famine, war, irreversible environmental damage, and more recently, the impact of the AIDS virus and the devastation caused by floods in 1999. This has contributed to the dislocation of millions of people and has had an effect especially on women and children and on education. The situation has been exacerbated by the international debt which, because of exorbitant interest rates, keeps growing. Thus, despite its demonstrated commitment to education, Mozambique is forced to pay more than twice the amount to service the debt than it does on education and health care. Cancellation of the international debt, not merely a moratorium on debt repayments, is vital if Mozambique is ever to have even the slightest possibility of finding its feet educationally. Despite several hundred years of colonization and debilitating wars (both internally, and as a result of foreign interference), the FRELIMO government in Mozambique has devoted a large part of its energies to education. Despite the chaos left by five centuries of humiliation and exploitation, the Mozambican people and the Mozambican government have made tremendous efforts to build a new nation. There is an urgent need for international organizations, NGOs, and non-profit organizations to provide practical and financial support that has no strings attached with regard to imposing on Mozambique the philosophical option it chooses to educate its citizens. There is an equally urgent need for the international community to take co-responsibility for a country which, beginning from the times of the slave trade and continuing with the modern export of cash crops that (at the expense of much needed food crops) are grown for consumption in the developed world, has contributed so much to the prosperity and affluence of certain parts of the world yet has suffered so much in return.


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Karin I. Paasche

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Republic of Mozambique

Major City:

Other Cities:
Beira, Moçambique, Nampula, Quelimane, Tete


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated April 1993. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


The area of what is now MOZAMBIQUE has been inhabited for 6,000 years. Historic and picturesque, it is the site of the original settlement by Portuguese explorers in their quest for a trade route to India in the 15th century. Its boundaries were determined in 1894, and it became an official colony in 1907. Eleven years of guerrilla operations finally forced negotiations with the Portuguese Government, and independence was achieved in June 1975. Until 1990, Mozambique remained a socialist, one-party state shrouded by an ongoing civil war. Its first multi-party democratic elections were held in 1994.



Maputo is an attractive, modern city with wide, tree-lined avenues, high-rise buildings, and one of the best harbors on the continent of Africa. It still reflects the characteristics of a former Portuguese city: pastel houses with graceful balconies, sidewalk cafes, parks, and bustling vehicular traffic.

In the outskirts, however, the visitor feels that he is truly in Africa in passing through the Caniçoa heavily populated area with self-made houses surrounded by high cane fences, outdoor markets, small cultivated plots, public water fountains, and numerous winding dirt roads.

The city of Maputo is on the western shore of Delagoa Bay, formed by the confluence of five rivers, in the extreme southern part of the country. Its climate is subtropical, with an average rainfall of 31 inches, most of that coming during the October-to-April summer. Daytime temperatures in Maputo often reach the upper 90s, and rise even higher during occasional short periods of hot north winds.

As Lourenço Marques, Maputo superseded the city of Moçambique as Portuguese East Africa's capital city in 1907. The estimated population of the Maputo area is over 3 million.


Most English-speaking children of school age have been privately instructed by their parents via correspondence courses. The American International School of Mozambique offers American curriculum education from kindergarten through grade eight. Correspondence courses are available for grades nine through twelve. An International School operates in Maputo, but it is government-supervised, and the standards are low. The beginning classes, however, are improving and many people enroll their children. Some foreign diplomatic missions have their own schools, but instruction is in their particular languages, and non-nationals are discouraged from enrolling.

South African, English-language secondary schools have comparatively high scholastic standards. They differ, however, from the better American public high or preparatory schools, in that they are based on the British system. American students often find it difficult to adjust to the differences in curriculum, discipline, and general atmosphere.

Waterford-Kamhlaba School in Mbabane, Swaziland, is a multiracial, coeducational, secondary school based on the British O-level/A-level system. A number of American diplomats and missionaries in southern Africa have found the school satisfactory for their children, both scholastically and socially.

Recreation and Entertainment

The principal sports in Mozambique are fishing, boating, golf, tennis, and swimming. There are excellent beaches north of Maputo, but those in the bay area of the city are polluted. Swimming at unprotected beaches is discouraged because of sharks. No hunting is permitted anywhere in the country.

The Gorongoza Game Park, about two-and-a-half hours by car from the seaport city of Beira, is one of the most pleasant and best-stocked game reserves in Africa. Occasional tours are organized to the park. The Maputo game reserve is about a three-hour drive from the capital. It is considerably smaller and more limited in variety, but has elephants, hippos, and white rhinos. Roads in both parks are unpaved and require four-wheel-drive vehicles. Small parks with children's playgrounds can be found throughout Maputo.

The city has several movie theaters which show some American, British, French, Italian, Russian, and Indian films with Portuguese subtitles. Most films are "B" class and several years old.

There are several good restaurants, many of which specialize in the grilled prawns and piri-piri (hot spiced) chicken, which have become strong favorites of foreigners. Others feature Portuguese, Italian, and Chinese cooking. Some have orchestras, but dancing is discouraged in Maputo. Bars usually serve only beer.

The capital city's Hotel Polama is considered the most elegant in East Africa. Built in the 1920s, it retains an unmistakable style in spite of Mozambique's strained economy.


There are several other cities in Mozambique, but most of them are small and do not usually attract English-speaking business people or travelers. Some diplomatic missions are in operation throughout the country.

BEIRA , which is capital of the Manica and Sofala districts on the southeastern coast of the country, is a principal port for central Mozambique, and for the landlocked nations of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Principal exports passing through Beira are ores, tobacco, food products, cotton, hides, and skins. Canneries and processing plants opened at Beira in the early 1980s. Because of its position on the Indian Ocean, and its broad and beautiful beaches, it has become a popular resort. Beira's metropolitan area population is close to 300,000.

The city of MOÇAMBIQUE , in the north, is on a small channel island in the Indian Ocean. It once was the capital of Portuguese East Africa. Moçambique is an important commercial center and has good harbor facilities.

NAMPULA , also in the northern part of the country, is situated on rail and road routes, and is the center of a greater area with a population of more than 200,000.

QUELIMANE is a seaport town of about 11,000 on the Quelimane River in Zambezia Province. Founded in 1544, it is one of the oldest cities in the country. It was established as a Portuguese trading station and later became a slave market during the 1800s. Sisal plantations were organized by German planters in the beginning of the 20th century. The major industry for the city is fishing, but corn, sugar, and tea are also exported. One of the world's largest coconut plantations is located here.

TETE , the capital of the western province of Tete, is situated on the Zambezi River, 50 miles from the Zimbabwe border and 270 miles northwest of Beira. The city was founded in 1531 by the Portuguese and was long a headquarters for traders, gold prospectors, and slave raiders. The climate and soils of the surrounding Angonia Highlands favor some cattle raising and the cultivation of cassava and sorghum. Today, Tete is a trade center with coal mines located nearby at Vila Moatize. There are deposits of bauxite, gold, manganese, and titanium in the area. Of note in the city is the cathedral, built in 1563. It has a population of about 105,000.


Geography and Climate

Mozambique has an area of 303,769 square miles, almost twice the size of California. It is bounded on the north by Tanzania; on the west by Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe; on the south by the Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of Swaziland; and on the east by the Indian Ocean. Its 1,737-mile coastline stretches along the Indian Ocean from the mouth of the Rovuma River in the north to Ponta de Ouro in the south.

Topographically, Mozambique is made up mainly of flat coastal lowlands, rising in the west to a plateau 800 to 2,000 feet above sea level, and on the western border to a higher plateau (6,000 to 8,000 feet). Mountains in the north reach heights of over 8,000 feet. Africa's fourth longest river, the Zambezi, divides Mozambique in half. Many varieties of game are found in the interior, among them lion, elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, leopard, baboon, and gazelle.

The climate in the plains and along the coast is generally warm and humid; the mountainous areas tend to be cooler and drier. The hot rainy season lasts from October-November to April-May. The rest of the year is comparatively moderate, except for the decidedly cool winter months of June and July, particularly in the south and the higher altitudes. The rainfall is uneven and unpredictable; periodic droughts and floods occur.


Mozambique's population of about 20 million is mainly Bantu-speaking and is divided into 10 ethnic groupings. The Ronga, Changane, and Chope tribes inhabit the south; the numerous and widespread Macua are in the north and center; the Maconde are in the northeast along the Tanzanian border; and the Ajaua (Yoa) and Nyanja live along Lake Niassa. About 15,000 to 20,000 Portuguese citizens still reside in the country, as well as smaller numbers of descendants of immigrants from other European countries and the subcontinent of Asia.

Portuguese is the official language and the only language of instruction and information. African Mozambicans have mastery of a number of indigenous tongues, and many have learned English while working in Zimbabwe and South Africa or while in exile with FRELIMO in Tanzania and Zambia. In the northern coastal area, which has experienced considerable Arab influence, Swahili is widely spoken.

Although most Africans continue to practice traditional religions, there are many Muslims (especially in the north) and Christians (both Catholic and Protestant). Christian missionaries have been active throughout the country; many of the latter were affiliated with English and American churches. Freedom of worship is assured under the constitution.


Historically, Mozambique lies at the southern edge of Arab influence along the East African coast; the Arabized town of Sofala was the southernmost port from which the annual monsoon permitted an easy return by sail. First visited in the late 1480s by the intrepid Portuguese traveler, Pero da Covilhña, Mozambique entered modern history when Vasco da Gama ventured here on his historic voyage to India in 1498.

Sofala, the first Portuguese settlement, dates from 1505, but the administrative and commercial capital of the area was soon established on the fortress island of Mozambique. Besides being an important way station on the route to India, Mozambique was also a source of gold (real as well as legendary). Trading posts, fortresses, and precarious settlements soon were established up the Zambezi River (at Sena and Tete), along what was hoped would become a secure trading route to the fabled African kingdom of Monomotapa. During its early history, Mozambique was also a source of slaves at various times, although never to the extent of other Portuguese possessions in West Africa.

Maputo, the capital, developed slowly as a minor trading post after the mid-1700s. At the end of the 19th century, it attained economic and strategic importance as the rail outlet to the mining area of the Transvaal in what is now the Republic of South Africa. After 1875, Maputo developed rapidly as a port, railhead, and commercial center.

In 1890, the Portuguese abandoned claims to the hinterland between Mozambique and Angola, which in effect established the boundaries of present-day Mozambique. A series of military campaigns effectively secured Portuguese occupation of the territory, previously limited to a few coastal forts and trading stations. During much of the early 20th century, the central and northern parts of the territory were administered by chartered companies. In 1907, the capital was moved from Mozambique Island to Lourenço Marques (renamed Maputo after independence in 1975).

Mozambique's pre-independence status was varied. For many centuries, it was a dependency of the Portuguese viceroy in India, and later it was considered an integral part of Portugal. In 1961, full Portuguese citizenship rights were extended to all Mozambicans. In 1964, the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) launched a guerrilla campaign aimed at forcing the Portuguese Government to grant independence and majority rule to Mozambique. From 1964 to 1974, FRELIMO soldiers carried out military operations in the provinces of Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Sofala, and Manica. FRELIMO was supported politically and materially by several neighboring independent African states and by the Organization of American States.

Shortly after the April 1974 coup in Lisbon, FRELIMO ended its military campaign against Portugal. A transition government was established in September 1974, following negotiations in Lusaka (Zambia) between FRELIMO and the Portuguese Government. Mozambique became an independent country on June 25, 1975.


Following independence from Portugal in 1975, Mozambique adopted a one-party Marxist political system with FRELIMO serving as the sole legal party. Samora Moises Machel was selected as the country's first president. As president of the FRELIMO party, Machel served as chief of the armed forces and was given authority to annul the decisions of provincial, district, and local assemblies. In October 1986, Machel was killed in a plane crash and succeeded by Joaquim Alberto Chissano.

Under Chissano's leadership, Mozambique has experienced dramatic political changes. In July 1989, FRELIMO abandoned its commitment to Marxism-Leninism. Also, a new constitution was adopted in November 1990. This document abolished FRELIMO's status as sole legal party, authorized the creation of opposition political parties, and introduced a Bill of Rights including the right to strike, freedom of the press, and the right to a fair trial. Since 1990, opposition political parties such as the Liberal Democratic Party of Mozambique (PALMO), the Mozambique National Union (UNAMO), and the Mozambique National Movement (MONAMO) have been created.

Mozambique's legislative branch consists of the 250-member Assembly of the Republic. Members are elected by universal suffrage to five-year terms. The president is also elected by universal suffrage to a five-year term, and may only be reelected to two more consecutive terms.

The country is divided into ten administrative provinces, with the city of Maputo under the administrative direction of a city council chairman.

The flag of Mozambique consists of 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 AK47 rifle and hoe in black superimposed on an open white book.

Arts, Science, Education

Mozambique has an adult literacy rate of about 42 percent. Theoretically, schools were integrated under the Portuguese administration, although in practice it was difficult for Africans to get more than a rudimentary education. This was particularly true outside the cities where few secondary educational facilities existed.

After independence, the Mozambique Government nationalized all schools in the country and banned the system of private tutors. About half of the country's primary schools were destroyed during the civil war. In 1990, private schooling was reintroduced. The educational ladder remains basically the same as under the Portuguese, with five years of primary education followed by two years of preparatoria, then a secondary, a commercial or industrial course (three years) or a lyceu, the five-year traditional college preparatory course. The government is seeking to expand educational opportunities for all Mozambicans.

The Eduardo Mondlane University (called University of Lourenço Marques until independence) was established in 1967. The university, located in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of the city, offers courses in agronomy, economics, engineering, liberal arts, medicine, science, and veterinary medicine.

Mozambique possesses considerable talent in its poets, novelists, artists, and sculptors. Many of their works depict political themes. Periodic exhibitions of local and foreign artists are sponsored by the government, and art objects are available for hard currency only in government-supervised stores.

Several foreign embassies have brought native dance troupes to Mozambique as part of their cultural programs. Traditional art, mostly African masks, rough leather goods, tourist items, beads, metal trinkets, and wood carvings are hawked in the cities, as are some excellent black wood sculpture produced by the Makonde in Mozambique's northern areas.

A Museum of Natural History, a Money Museum, and a Museum of the Revolution exist in Mozambique. The National Library in Maputo is open and houses an extensive collection. The National Gallery of Art has a limited collection of sculpture, artifacts, and paintings. Mozambique also has a school of photography that holds occasional exhibits, a National Institute of Cinema that produces mostly political documentaries, and a National Dance Company that gives regular performances.

Commerce and Industry

Mozambique is underdeveloped and has a largely agricultural economy. A major source of income is derived from its ports and railroads.

Maputo, a busy regional port, is a natural transit point for the South African Transvaal and Swaziland. Beira is an important outlet for Zimbabwe and Zambia, and the port of Nacala in the north serves Malawi and other central African countries.

Major economic problems face the country. About one-third of Mozambique's land is suitable for agriculture, but only some 4 percent is under cultivation at any one time. Most of the rural population is engaged in subsistence farming; corn and manioc are the principal crops. Livestock is found primarily in the south and far north where the tsetse fly is not prevalent. Mozambique, the principal cashew producer of the world, exports about $65 million worth of that crop annually. Other important products are copra, cotton, sugar, tea, sisal, timber, and vegetable oil. Since independence, agricultural production has dropped precipitately, affecting export earnings and domestic food supplies. Civil war and recurrent droughts have seriously affected the economy.

Although Mozambique is famous for its shrimp (prawns), the fishing industry remains small and undeveloped, and much of the catch is taken by foreign ships fishing outside territorial waters.

Local industrial production is mainly confined to processing agricultural products. Some industries exist, including assembly plants for transistor radios, railroad cars, and truck bodies; and manufacturing plants for furniture, plastic goods, metal containers, shoes, cosmetics, soap, cigarettes, and beer. Mozambique also has large cement and textile factories. Manufacturing is centered in Maputo and Beira.

Various parts of Mozambique are believed to be rich in a number of minerals, but production thus far has been small. Coal, gold and gem-stones are all important mineral commodities. Other products are colombo-tantalite, copper, fluorite, microlite, and bentonite. A natural gas field has been discovered at Pande, south of the Save River. All mineral rights in Mozambique belong to the government, which issues concessions for prospecting and mining.

There is a considerable amount of unofficial trade along the borders as well as unreported fish exports to Asia. In the mid-1990s, an estimated $50 million in gold and $50 million in gemstones were being smuggled out of the country annually. In 1997, the Mozambican government contracted a private British firm to take responsibility for the regulation of foreign trade in order to reduce smuggling and corruption.

Mozambique's Chamber of Commerce, Camara de Comericio de Moçambique, is located at Rua Mateus Sansñao Mutemba 452, CP 1836, Maputo; telephone: 491970; telex: 6498.


Roads and railroads in Mozambique have historically concentrated on linking the coastline with bordering countriesMalawi, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. The major rail connections are from Maputo to Swaziland and South Africa, from Beira to Zimbabwe, and from Nacala to Malawi and Zambia.

Roads in general are in poor condition. Paved roads from Maputo to Beira and from Chimoio to Tete and Cahora Bassa have been completed, and a new program to connect Beira by paved roads to Quelimane and Nampula and places farther north is underway. Mozambique has over 4,700 kilometers (2,900 miles) of paved roads and 27,000 kilometers (17,000 miles) of dirt and gravel roads, but many of the latter are impassable during the rainy season.

Efforts are being made to improve north-south road connections and to construct rural feeder road systems. Overland rail or road travel to or from Mozambique or within the country is discouraged due to poor conditions. Travel at night outside of major cities is hazardous.

The Mozambican airline, LAM, provides domestic service to Beira, Lichinga, Nampula, Pemba, Quelimane, and Tete.

Bus service exists between many of the main population centers throughout the country, but bus trips can be long, hot, and crowded. Bus schedules are very erratic.

Local bus service in Maputo is poor and buses are usually overcrowded. Taxis are extremely scarce, but are sometimes available at stands near the major hotels and in downtown areas. They are impossible to obtain during rush hours, and no taxis serve the international airport of Maputo. Fares are metered and are lower than in the U.S.; special hourly sight-seeing rates can be negotiated. Tipping is permitted and is usually 10 percent of the fare.

For those employed by foreign firms, or on official government duty in Mozambique, a private car is a necessity, since car rental service is limited. New Japanese and French automobiles are now appearing on the streets of Maputo. Small, used, foreign vehicles can be bought at varying prices (expensive by U.S. standards).

Since traffic moves on the left throughout southern Africa, right-hand-drive vehicles are generally used.


Long-distance telephone connections within Mozambique, to nearby countries, and worldwide are fair; service is sometimes slow. Maputo's automatic dial system usually works reasonably well but, sometimes, lines are overloaded during business hours. Satisfactory telegraph service is available to all points, although extremely expensive.

International airmail service is usually reliable, but slow. Letters take from two to three weeks to reach the U.S. east coast.

Maputo has a few radio stations; all broadcast in Portuguese. One is FM, (operating from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.) and presents mainly local news, classical, and light musical programs. Reception of Voice of America (VOA) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) news is usually good on shortwave, as are stations from South Africa and nearby countries.

Television service, on a limited basis, served some 68,000 receivers in 1995. It is also possible to receive TV broadcasts from Swaziland and South Africa. All use the PAL system.

Maputo has two daily newspapers, a Sunday paper, and one weekly magazine (Portuguese). There are a few other magazines and periodicals. All papers report primarily domestic news. International news reflects Mozambique's foreign policy preferences. One daily newspaper, also in Portuguese, is published in Beira.

Time and Newsweek are not available from local bookstores. Practically no English-language books can be obtained locally, except for those of a technical or scientific nature.


Shortly after assuming power in 1975, the FRELIMO government nationalized all medical practice, facilities, and services. This action led to a serious deterioration of the country's limited medical care and facilities, including the exodus of the vast majority of its qualified medical personnel.

Hospitals in urban areas, primarily in Maputo and Beira, are seriously overcrowded, doctors and medical staff are overworked and often minimally trained, emergency cases frequently do not receive prompt attention, and sanitary conditions are often substandard. Beyond the two major urban centers, medical facilities and care decrease in quality or are nonexistent. Dental and eye care in all areas are deficient.

Obtaining even the most routine medical assistance is generally time-consuming. Application for services is highly bureaucratized, and long waiting lines are the norm.

Hospital equipment is often inoperative because of the lack of maintenance and/or spare parts. In some cases, there are no trained medical technicians to operate the equipment. Pharmaceutical supplies and drugs are constantly in short supply, and even the most common medications often are unavailable. Routine laboratory work can be done, but is often of low quality and dubious validity. Emergency ambulance services are theoretically available, but are unreliable because of a severe shortage of vehicles.

In all but the most routine medical cases, American diplomatic personnel or businessmen and their families seek medical attention outside of Mozambique, generally in South Africa or Swaziland. Both of these neighboring countries' facilities are about four hours away by car. The facilities offered in Nelspruit, South Africa, approximate care most likely to be found in a small American city. However, Johannesburg/Pretoria, the largest metropolitan area in South Africa, is about eight hours by car from Maputo or a one-hour flight (flights are scheduled only twice weekly). Both have a full range of quality medical services and facilities. Medical care in Swaziland is fair.

Mozambique has the usual variety of tropical diseases such as malaria, filariasis, typhoid fever, bilharzia, tick fever, and infectious hepatitis; nevertheless, Maputo is a clean city and is relatively free of such illnesses. Flies, ticks, mosquitoes, ants, cockroaches, and parasitic worms are present, but well-controlled, in the better residential areas. Living in Maputo should present no real threat, provided immunizations are complete and up-to-date and prudence is exercised.

The water in Maputo (and in a number of the northern cities) is unsafe to drink; boiling and filtering are recommended. Most buildings in the city's center are connected to a central sewage system, but some outlying districts still use septic tanks.

Garbage is collected regularly, efficiently, and noisily at night in residential areas.

Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is widespread throughout the country; it is extremely dangerous to wade, swim, and wash in fresh lakes, ponds, puddles, or streams.

Cholera is endemic in practically all areas of Mozambique and has been most severe in the central and northern provinces. A serious outbreak occurred in Maputo in 1980, killing at least 12 persons. The epidemic was contained, however, and no additional fatalities from cholera in the Maputo area have been reported. Nonetheless, the disease remains a potential threat, even in the capital area. Visiting Americans should take the following precautions: drink only bottled or boiled and filtered water; treat locally purchased fruit and vegetables (including purchases from South Africa and Swaziland where cholera is also prevalent) in a permanganate solution before consumption; observe the strictest sanitary practices; and avoid designated, unsafe, local beach areas.

Persons subject to hay fever, asthma, rheumatism, and arthritis may find the climate uncomfortable and should follow appropriate treatment. Respiratory ailments such as colds, bronchitis, and influenza are common. Inoculations against typhoid, yellow fever, polio, and hepatitis are essential, and anti-malarial medication should be started before leaving for Mozambique.

Clothing and Services

Americans find that suitable clothing is not available in Maputo. However, South Africa and Swaziland have a fairly good selection for all. Light cotton clothing is needed for the hot, humid summer; medium-weight garments are required for the cool, relatively dry winter.

Women need a reasonable number of dresses in Maputo, as sun and frequent laundering are hard on clothes. Slacks and pantsuits are frequently worn. A medium-heavy coat is handy for travel to South Africa and Swaziland during winter, when temperatures drop below freezing in the higher altitudes. Cardigan sweaters and shawls are useful on chilly mornings and evenings, even those days with surprisingly hot mid-days.

Sportswear is generally conservative, although bikinis are seen at the beach and around swimming pools. White dresses are worn for tennis, and slacks or Bermuda shorts for golf.

Men's clothing is usually simple. Suits and ties are not always required for business, and often bush jackets or leisure suits are worn in offices. Official calls require coat and tie. Shorts and sport shirts are worn for informal occasions.

A fair selection of children's clothing is available in South Africa, and prices are reasonable. Styles and sizes of shoes, however, are limited. Boys under 12 usually wear shorts.

Most basic services are available in Maputo, and are of fair to good quality. Tailors are quite skilled for repair work. There have been serious shortages of food items, with supplies erratic and unpredictable, and Westerners on extended stays often travel to Swaziland and South Africa for groceries. Tourists, of course, encounter no difficulties, as they use the services of restaurants and hotel dining rooms.


Most Americans enter Mozambique by air from Johannesburg, Lisbon, or Paris. Direct connections are also available to Mbabane, Harare, Dares-Salaam, Berlin, Luanda, Lusaka, Rome, and Moscow.

Visas can be obtained through the Mozambican Embassy in Washington, its Mission in New York or by applying directly by cable with pre-paid response to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Maputo at least six weeks in advance. A valid passport is also required.

Pets can be imported only if there are accompanying health and vaccination certificates. The veterinary record must state that there have been no cases of rabies within a radius of 50 miles from where pets have resided for the previous year.

In Maputo, religious services in English are conducted only at the Anglican Church. Other places of worship include Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches, a Jewish synagogue (Portuguese and Orthodox rites), Buddhist and Hindu temples, and a mosque for two Muslim sects.

The time in Mozambique is Greenwich Mean Time minus two hours.

The Mozambique unit of exchange is the metical, which is divided into 100 centavos. No foreign currency may legally be imported into the country.

The metric system of weights and measures is used.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Feb. 3 Heroes' Day

Mar.(2nd Mon) Commonwealth Day

Apr. 7 Women's Day

May 1Worker's Day

June 25 Independence Day

Sept. 7 Lusaka Agreement/Victory Day

Sept. 25 Armed Forces Day

Nov. 10Maputo City Day

Dec. 25 Family Day


The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Azevedo, Mario Joaquim. Historical Dictionary of Mozambique. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1991.

Christie, Iain. Samora Machel: A Biography. Highlands, NJ: Humanities, 1989.

Egero, Bertil. Mozambique: A Dream Undone. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1988.

Finnegan, W. A Complicated War. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992.

Hanlon, Joseph. Mozambique: The Revolution Under Fire. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities, 1990.

James, R.S. Mozambique. Places &Peoples of the World Series. New York: Chelsea House, 1988.

Magaia, Lina. Dumba Nengue, Run For Your Life: Peasant Tales of Tragedy in Mozambique. Translated by Michael Wolfers. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1988.

Sachs, Albie. Running to Maputo. New York: HarperCollins, 1990.

Torp, Jens Erik. Mozambique. New York: Pinter Publishers, 1989.

Urdang, Stephanie. And Still They Dance: Women, Destabilization & the Struggle for Change. New York: Monthly Review Press. 1988.

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Piri-Piri Sauce .............................................................. 66
Pãozinho (Portuguese Rolls) ........................................ 67
Maize Porridge............................................................ 68
Sandes de Queijo (Baked Cheese Sandwich) ............... 68
Matata (Seafood and Peanut Stew) ............................. 69
Malasadas (Doughnuts) .............................................. 69
Filhos de Natal (Christmas Fritters) .............................. 70
Bolo Polana (Cashew Nut and Potato Cake) ................ 71
Sopa de Feijao Verde (String Bean Soup)..................... 72
Salada Pera de Abacate (Tomato and Avocado Salad) . 73
Lemon and Herb Salad Dressing.................................. 73


Located on the southeastern coast of Africa, Mozambique has an area of 309,496 square miles (801,590 square kilometers), slightly less than twice the size of the state of California. Mozambique is 44% coastal lowlands. The most important rivers are the Zambezi, the Limpopo, the Save (Sabi), and the Lugenda. The most important lake is Lake Malawi (also called Lake Niassa).

Thick forest covers the wet regions, but the drier interior has little vegetation. As with the dense forest elsewhere in the world, Mozambique has lost 70% of its forests. Wild animals, such as elephants, buffalo, wildebeests, zebras, hippopotamuses, lions, crocodiles, and over 300 varieties of birds, roam the country. In some areas there are problems with the purity of the water supply.


Some of the earliest inhabitants of present-day Mozambique were small groups of hunter-gatherers, often called Bushmen. These nomadic groups traveled from one place to the next in search of seasonal fruits, vegetables, roots, and seeds. To supplement their primitive diet, the groups would also follow herds of wild animals such as impala (an African antelope) and buck, killing them with poisonous bows and arrows. Permanent settlements were never established because agriculture (cultivating land to produce crops) was not practiced.

Around a.d. 300, Bantu-speaking Africans from the north introduced the practice of agriculture to Mozambique. The Bantu, who were primarily farmers and ironworkers, migrated to present-day Mozambique in search of farmable land. Over the next several hundred years, agricultural systems were established to collectively grow maize (similar to corn) and other grains.

Arab merchants, who arrived in sailing ships called dhows, set up some of the first trading posts in the 700s. They brought with them various items, including sal (salt), essential in preserving foods such as meat. In 1498, a Portuguese explorer named Vasco da Gama landed at Mozambique on his voyage to India, quickly establishing Portuguese ports and introducing foodstuffs and customs to the Mozambican culture.

Ruling for nearly 500 years, the Portuguese greatly impacted the cuisine of Mozambique. Crops such as cassava (a starchy root) and cashew nuts (Mozambique was once the largest producer of these nuts), and pãozinho (pronounced pow-zing-yo; Portuguese-style bread rolls) were brought in by the Portuguese. The use of seasonings such as onions, bay leaves, garlic, fresh coriander, paprika, chili peppers, red sweet peppers, and wine were introduced by the Portuguese, as was sugarcane, maize, millet, rice, sorghum (a type of grass), and potatoes. Prego (steak roll), rissois (battered shrimp), espetada (kebab), pudim (pudding), and the popular inteiro com piripiri (whole chicken in piri-piri sauce) are all Portuguese dishes commonly eaten in present-day Mozambique.

Piri-Piri Sauce


  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 sprigs parsley, chopped (or 2 Tablespoons dried parsley)
  • 1 cup butter or oil


  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a saucepan and heat on low for 5 minutes before serving.
  2. Serve with cooked shrimp. Piri-piri may also accompany chicken, seafood, and most meats.

Pãozinho (Portuguese Rolls)


  • 10 cups flour (approximately 5 pounds)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup margarine
  • 1½ teaspoons shortening
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 3½ to 4 cups lukewarm water


  1. Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup of the water with ½ teaspoon sugar added. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until bubbly.
  2. Place in a large bowl and add enough flour to make a batter.
  3. Cover the bowl with a cloth and blanket and let stand until it forms bubbles and looks lumpy.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well, kneading well until smooth, about 10 minutes. Add more flour if dough is too soft.
  5. Cover again with cloth and blanket and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size.
  6. On a floured board, using about cup dough for each bread roll, shape into round balls and let rest on a cloth dusted with flour.
  7. After all rolls are shaped, beginning with rolls that were shaped first, flatten each with palm of hand, making an indent in the middle with the side of your hand, then fold in half.
  8. Lay each roll on the cloth with open side down.
  9. Let rolls rest for 5 minutes. While rolls are resting, preheat oven to 500°F.
  10. Place rolls on baking sheet with open side up and lightly brush with milk.
  11. Bake in oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Makes about 24 rolls.


The cuisine of Mozambique revolves around fresh seafood, stews, corn porridge (maize meal), arroz (rice), millet (a type of grain), and mandioca (cassava). Meats such as bifel (steak) and frango (chicken) are often accompanied by beans, cassava chips, cashew nuts, coconut, batata (potatoes), and a variety of spices, including garlic and peppers (a Portuguese influence). Seasonal fruta (fresh fruit; Mozambique's papaya and pineapples are known as some of the juiciest in the world), puddings made of fruits and rice, and fried balls of flour paste (similar to doughnuts), most often accompanied by Mozambican chá (tea), make a delicious ending to any meal.

In the mornings for pequeno almoço (breakfast), tea and coffee are commonly sold with sandwiches made of ovos (egg) or fresh peixe (fish), or a slightly sweetened bread-cake. The pequeno almoço is usually light, however, as the main meal of the day is normally almoço (lunch) at midday.

Those who work in cities and towns often purchase almoço from food stalls (also called tea stalls), which are located on roadsides, bus stations, and markets around town. Pregos (steak sandwiches), burgers, fried chicken, meat stews, and rice are typical fare available from the stalls. Fresh seafood from off the coast of Mozambique is abundant and is considered some of the most delicious food available. It is sold nearly everywhere from street stalls to city restaurants, though it is more available near the coast. Fresh fish, prawns (similar to shrimp), calamari (squid), crab, lobster, and crayfish are often served with arroz (rice) or batata fritas (fries, known as chips). Matata, a seafood and peanut stew, is a typical local dish. Rice topped with sauce, spicy stew, fresh fruit (such as pineapples sprinkled with sugar and cashew nuts), and posho (maize porridge) are common lunches for children. Toasted cheese sandwiches (sandes de queijo ), commonly sold at stalls, and chips (fries) are other favorites.

Aside from the widely served coffee and tea, adults may enjoy locally brewed beer made from maize, a Mozambican staple food. The thick and sweet drink is often drunk from a common pot and shared by everyone present on special occasions. Madeira, a Portuguese wine that is popular in Mozambique, was extremely popular in America during the colonial erait was a favorite of George Washington and was used to toast the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Children often prefer such beverages as carbonated soft drinks and fresh fruit juices, which are sometimes imported from the country of South Africa.

Maize Porridge


  • 4 cups water
  • 2½ cups white cornmeal


  1. Bring 3 cups of the water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Combine 1½ cups of the cornmeal with the remaining 1 cup water.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  4. Cook for about 5 minutes, slowly adding the remaining cup of cornmeal.
  5. When the mixture is very thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, transfer to a serving bowl or plate.
  6. Use a spoon to shape the mixture into a round ball (you may also use wet hands).
  7. This stiff porridge is popular throughout Africa and is typically used to scoop up sauces and food from plates.

Serves 6 to 8.

Sandes de Queijo (Baked Cheese Sandwich)


  • 1 Portuguese roll (a soft white dinner roll may be substituted)
  • 2 to 3 slices cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices ham (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Slice the roll in half, but do not cut all the way through.
  3. Open the roll and place 2 to 3 slices of cheese on top of the bottom half.
  4. Add ham slices if desired (ham often accompanies cheese on sandwiches in Mozambique).
  5. Close the roll and place on a cookie sheet in the warm oven.
  6. Bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

Serves 1.

Matata (Seafood and Peanut Stew)


  • 1 cup onions, finely chopped
  • Olive oil (vegetable oil may be substituted)
  • 4 cups canned clams, chopped
  • 1 cup peanuts, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • 1½ pounds fresh, young spinach leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked white rice


  1. Sauté onion pieces in a small amount of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until onions are softened, but do not brown them.
  2. Add the chopped clams, peanuts, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, and a pinch amount of red pepper (it is spicy).
  3. Over low heat, simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add spinach leaves.
  5. Cover tightly; as soon as leaves are withered, matata is ready to be served.
  6. Serve over cooked white rice.

Makes 8 servings.

Malasadas (Doughnuts)


  • 1 package yeast
  • cup and 1 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon and cup sugar
  • 2 pounds flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cream
  • cup butter, melted
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • Oil, for frying


  1. Dissolve the yeast in the cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar; stir. Let stand until foamy (several minutes).
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the cream and water.
  3. Beat the 8 eggs in separate bowl.
  4. Add the beaten eggs and melted butter in with the rest of the ingredients to the flour mixture.
  5. Add the dissolved yeast mixture and stir well to form a soft dough.
  6. Cover and put in a warm place. Let stand until double in size, about 1½ hours.
  7. Drop by spoonfuls into deep, hot oil and fry until light brown.
  8. Remove, using a slotted spoon, and drain on a rack with paper towels.
  9. Coat with sugar, if desired.

Makes 5 dozen small doughnuts.


The religions practiced by the people of Mozambique are Islam, Christianity, and African indigenous beliefs. This is a result of the various cultures that have dominated the country throughout its history. Arab traders introduced the religion of Islam, the dominant religion of their Middle Eastern origins. The Portuguese, led by explorer Vasco da Gama, made one of their missions to spread the idea of Christianity on their voyage to India at the end of the 1400s (bringing spices and various riches back to Portugal was the other mission).

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, roughly 60 percent of the population practiced a form of traditional indigenous religion, 30 percent are Christian, and about 10 percent are Muslim. Some Christians and Muslims also choose to practice their traditional indigenous beliefs.

The strong Christian presence throughout the country makes Christmas a very special time. Portuguese songs are rehearsed, costumes are designed for children participating in Mozambican celebratory dances, and decorations are made to hang on Christmas trees. A dove (symbolizing peace) and a cross form Mozambique's logo for the Christian Council and is often found on trees during Christmas time each year. Those who can afford a nice holiday meal will often have an entrée of meat, accompanied by rice, a vegetable, fresh fruit, and fancy pastries or cakes for dessert. Those closer to the coast will usually eat garlic shrimp or other seafood delicacies. The very poor often receive a food donation of rice, oil, and beans from various organizations. Christmas Day is also called Family Day in Mozambique.

Secular (non-religious) holidays are also widely celebrated throughout the country. Often on these days, families and close friends gather together to enjoy a large meal. Some of these days include New Year's Day on January 1, Independence Day on June 25, and Maputo City Day in Maputo on November 10. On such special occasions, bolo polana (a cashew nut and potato cake) is a Mozambican favorite.

A Typical Christmas Meal

Chicken (with piri-piri sauce or marinade)

Chips (French fries)




Filhos de natal (Christmas fritters)

Filhos de Natal (Christmas Fritters)


  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ¼ cup warm milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons brandy (may substitute 2 teaspoons vanilla)
  • ½ cup hot water
  • Oil, for frying


  1. Beat the 5 eggs in a bowl.
  2. Warm the milk in a microwave, and dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.
  4. Add the yeast mixture, beaten eggs, and brandy or vanilla to the flour mixture.
  5. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).
  6. Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover with a cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 2 hours).
  7. Punch down on the dough and roll out onto a floured board (with a rolling pin) until about ¼-inch thickness.
  8. Cut into ½-inch wide and 2-inch long strips.
  9. Fry in hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes until crisp and golden brown, then drain on paper towels.
  10. Dissolve the honey in hot water and drip the fritters in the mixture until coated.
  11. Serve either hot or cold.

Serves 6 to 8.

Bolo Polana (Cashew Nut and Potato Cake)


  • 3 medium-sized (1 pound) boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 3 quarter-pound sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups roasted, unsalted cashews, finely chopped in blender or nut grinder
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon peel, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange peel, finely grated
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites


  1. Boil the potatoes uncovered until they are soft enough to be easily mashed with a fork (about 15 minutes). Drain and return to the cooking pot.
  2. Thoroughly mash the potatoes with a fork or potato masher (or electric mixer). Set aside to cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  4. Grease well the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform cake pan. Dust the pan evenly with flour. Turn pan over and tap on surface to remove excess flour.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the 3 sticks of softened butter and 2 cups of sugar together using a wooden spoon or electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the potatoes, cashews, and lemon and orange peels; mix well.
  7. Add the egg yolks one at a time and continue to stir until well blended.
  8. With a whisk or electric blender in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff.
  9. Slowly and gently mix the egg whites into potato mixture, using a spatula.
  10. Pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  11. Bake for about 1 hour, or until top is brown. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cake onto a wire rack.
  12. Serve cake while it is slightly warm or at room temperature.

Makes one 9-inch round cake.


The midday meal is typically the main meal of the day for Mozambicans. However, jantar (dinner) may be the main meal for those who can afford to feed guests on special occasions. Traditional African customs often combine with those influenced by the Portuguese, making for a unique dining experience.

The Portuguese influence is felt most often in the dinner's arrangement. Unlike the custom in many African countries, dinner is usually presented on a table with accompanying chairs, rather than having the guests seated on the floor. An embroidered tablecloth and napkins will likely adorn the tabletop, along with individual plates, eating utensils (many African countries prefer eating with the hands), and Portuguese wine.

The most commonly served food largely reflects that of African origins, with Portuguese wine and piri-piri (hot pepper relish) being major exceptions. Soup is a popular appetizer eaten before the main meal, often consisting of a popular vegetable such as corn, squash, or green beans. A ladle is used to transfer the soup into decorative soup bowls. Salads, such as tomato and avocado, are served with the main entrée (usually without bread). Fresh seafood, meat, poultry, or matata (seafood and peanut stew) served with rice is most commonly served as the main dish. Condiments (such as piripiri, cashews, and coconut milk) and other spicy sauces may accompany the dish. Those with less money often stick to more simple staples, such as corn porridge and beans.

Dessert, usually fresh fruit, pudding, or small pastries (such as fried dough) is normally eaten in a more casual, relaxed atmosphere (such as a living room). Tea, coffee, and wine are usually offered to the guests while enjoying conversation and Mozambican music.

Sopa de Feijao Verde (String Bean Soup)


  • 1 cup instant mashed potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1½ quarts boiling water
  • 1 can (6-ounce) tomato sauce
  • 1 package frozen green beans, thawed and cut into thin slices


  1. Combine the instant potatoes, onion powder, water, and tomato sauce in a saucepan over medium heat; stir well and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the sliced green beans to the potato mixture in the saucepan.
  3. Simmer until the beans are cooked.
  4. Serve in bowls or large soup plates.

Makes 8 cups.

Salada Pera de Abacate (Tomato and Avocado Salad)


  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 avocados, pitted and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon and herb dressing (see recipe)


  1. Distribute and arrange the chopped lettuce, tomato, and avocado slices on 8 salad plates.
  2. Top with lemon and herb dressing (other salad dressing may be substituted).

Serves 8.

Lemon and Herb Salad Dressing


  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed


  1. Beat all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and serve over salada pera de abacate (see recipe).


About two-thirds of the population of Mozambique is classified as undernourished by the World Bank. This means they do not receive adequate nutrition in their diet. Of children under the age of five, about 16 percent are underweight, and over 20 percent are stunted (short for their age).

A campaign to provide Vitamin A supplements to all Mozambican children under the age of five years was launched at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In cooperation with organizations such as the National Agricultural Research Institute and UNICEF, the country's Health Ministry distributed Vitamin A-rich sweet potatoes with orange pulp to local children. Vitamin A will be administered to these children every six months during their normal check ups to prevent blindness. In addition, iodine deficient children under the age of 14, who may experience malfunctioning of the brain and central nervous system, will be provided with iodine capsules.

As the twenty-first century began, an outbreak of Cassava Brown Streak Disease threatened the cassava crop, a Mozambican staple, according to the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) Network.



Briggs, Phillip. Guide to Mozambique. Old Saybrook, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 1997.

Else, David. Malawi, Mozambique & Zambia. Victoria, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd., 1997.

Hultman, Tami. The Africa News Cookbook. New York: Viking Penguin Inc., 1987.

Slater, Mike. Globetrotter Travel GuideMozambique. London: New Holland Ltd., 1997.

Southern Africa, 2nd ed. Victoria, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd., 2000.

Web Sites [Online] Available (accessed March 30, 2001).

Cooking Around the WorldMozambique. [Online] Available (accessed April 10, 2001).

Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) Network. [Online] Available (accessed April 6, 2001).

Getaway to Africa. [Online] Available (accessed April 5, 2001).

Mozambique: Menus & Recipes from Africa. [Online] Available (accessed April 6, 2001). [Online] Available (accessed April 9, 2001).

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Mozambique (country, Africa)

Mozambique (mō´zəmbēk´), officially Republic of Mozambique, republic (2005 est. pop. 19,407,000), 302,659 sq mi (784,090 sq km), SE Africa. It borders on the Indian Ocean in the east; on South Africa and 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 and natural-gas deposits are being developed by foreign investors. 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, glass, and asbestos. 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 AD 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; Renamo again leveled accusations of fraud. Filipe Nyusi, the Frelimo candidate, won the presidency, with 57% of the vote.


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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Official name: Republic of Mozambique

Area: 801,590 square kilometers (309,496 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Binga (2,436 meters/7,992 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern

Time zone: 2 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: Not available

Land boundaries: 4,571 kilometers (2,840 miles) total boundary length; Malawi 1,569 kilometers (975 miles); South Africa 491 kilometers (305 miles); Swaziland 105 kilometers (65 miles); Tanzania 756 kilometers (470 miles); Zambia 419 kilometers (260 miles); Zimbabwe 1,231 kilometers (765 miles)

Coastline: 2,470 kilometers (1,535 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


Mozambique is located on the southeast coast of Africa between the countries of Tanzania and South Africa, with an eastern coastline on the Mozambique Channel. The country shares land borders with six nations. With a total area of about 801,590 square kilometers (309,496 square miles), the country is slightly less than twice the size of California. Mozambique is administratively divided into ten provinces.


Mozambique has no outside territories or dependencies.


Between the months of November and March, temperatures are usually between 27°C and 29°C (81°F and 84°F) throughout most of the country, though temperatures are lower in the interior uplands. Between April and October, temperatures are cooler, averaging between 18°C and 20°C (64°F and 68°F).

The wet season runs from November through March, when 80 percent of all rainfall occurs. Rainfall is lowest in the southwest portion of the country, which receives an annual average of 30 centimeters (12 inches). It is highest near the western hills and the central areas near the Zambezi River, as well as along the central coast, where annual averages are between 135 and 150 centimeters (53 and 59 inches).


Mozambique is a topographically diverse nation. The Zambezi River divides the country into distinct northern and southern halves. The north is known for its mountainous regions and plateaus, notably the Livingstone-Nyasa Highlands, the Shire (or Namuli) Highlands, and the Angonia Highlands in the northeast. The westernmost regions are particularly mountainous, giving way to plateaus and uplands as one travels eastward. South of the Zambezi are the more fertile plains, most notably in the area surrounding the river. In the center of the country are uplands, marshes, and coastal lowlands. Inland areas are dry and thus do not support much vegetation. By area, the country is approximately 44 percent coastal lowlands, 26 percent higher hills and plateaus, 17 percent lower plateaus and hills, and 13 percent mountains. Mozambique is located on the African Tectonic Plate and experiences little or no tectonic activity.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

Bordering Mozambique to the east is the Mozambique Channel, which is a strait in the Indian Ocean that separates Africa from the island of Madagascar. The channel is approximately 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) long, and at its widest point, it stretches more than 950 kilometers (600 miles). This area is particularly susceptible to cyclones. Many coral reefs line the channel, attracting large numbers of divers from around the world. Coral islands also exist in the channel.

Sea Inlets and Straits

Several bays dot the coastline, including (from south to north) Delagoa Bay, Sofala Bay, Fernão Veloso Bay, and Pemba Bay.

Islands and Archipelagos

Mozambique has many small offshore islands along its coastline. Mozambique Island (Ilha de Moçambique), located 3 kilometers (2 miles) off the coast of the Nampula province, is a small but culturally significant island. Formerly a Portuguese colonial capital, this 2.5-kilometer- (1.5-mile-) long and 0.6-kilometer- (0.4-mile-) wide island is accessible via a mainland bridge. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated the island a World Heritage Site.

Inhaca Island, located 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from Maputo, is a 12.5-kilometer(7.8-mile) long and 7.5-kilometer(4.7-mile) wide island known for its sandy beaches and ideal diving and fishing locations.

The Bazaruto Archipelago, also known as the Paradise Islands, is located 10 kilometers (6 miles) off the country's coast and was formed from sands deposited by the Limpopo River thousands of years ago. Santa Carolina, Bazaruto, Ibo, Benguerra, and Magaruque are the most popular islands in the archipelago, boasting clear blue waters, sandy beaches, palm trees, coral reefs, crocodiles, many species of tropical fish, and other tropical wildlife such as the samango monkey. The region was declared a national park in 1970.

Coastal Features

The expansive coastlines of Mozambique are jagged, with numerous bays and beaches. The coastal areas are ideal for the cultivation of rice, maize, sugar cane, and cashews. The coastal waters are rich in prawns, one of the country's leading exports. Fishermen often frequent the coastlines, as small and large fish are abundant.

Located in the southeast of Mozambique, Tofo (sometimes Tofu) and Barra Beaches are known for their sand dunes, mangroves, and palm groves, as well as for their tropical wildlife, including parrots and monkeys. Wimbi Beach is particularly notable for its coral reefs, a favorite among snorkelers. Its white coral beaches, lined by palm trees, provide an ideal tropical setting. The beaches of Mozambique are well preserved, and wildlife thrives, including humpback whales, turtles, flamingoes, dolphins, and manta rays.

Some notable points along the coast are Timbué Point and Lipobane Point. Cape Delgado is located near the northernmost point of the coast.


Three lakes in northern Mozambique form part of the border with Malawi: Lake Malawi, Lake Chiuta, and Lake Shirwa.

Navigable Lake Malawi (also known as Lake Nyasa) borders Mozambique and Tanzania. The lake has an incredible 29,600 kilometers (11,400 square miles) of surface area, about one-third of which is situated within Mozambique's territory. Its deepest waters, which reach a maximum depth of 706 meters (2,316 feet), are found in this part of the lake.


Mozambique is rich in rivers, with twenty-five of them throughout the country. Many of these rivers flow out from the western highlands to the Indian Ocean or to the Mozambique Channel in the east. Water flow tends to fluctuate, owing to the rainy and dry seasons. The rivers overflow between January and March, while they slow to a trickle between June and August.

The longest and most important river is the Zambezi River, with a total length of 2,650 kilometers (1,650 miles). It flows southeast across the heart of Mozambique into the Indian Ocean; historically, this river has been the principal means of transport between inland central Africa and the coast. Its waters make the soil in the land surrounding it some of the most fertile land in the country. From the Maravia Highlands downstream, the valley is low-lying and has a very gentle slope, with an elevation of less than 152 meters (500 feet). Upstream, the river enters a narrow gorge; this constriction prompted the construction of the Cahora Bassa Dam.

The Limpopo River in the south flows through Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa. It is fed mainly by the Changane River and drains the Limpopo Basin. It is susceptible to serious flooding, the effects of which are compounded when cyclones occur in the wet months. Also particularly notable is the Save (or Sabi) River in the center of the country, which, along with the Búzi and Revué Rivers, drains the southern Mozambique Plain. In the northeast draining the Mozambique Plateau are the Lugenda River, the Messalo River, the Lúrio River, and the Ligonha River.

Much of the area around the mouth of the Zambezi and south to the lower reaches of the Pongo River and its tributary, the Mucombeze, is marshy, hindering north-south communications and promoting the spread of disease. Mangrove swamps are common near the coast of the Sophala and Zambezia provinces. These wetlands provide excellent conditions for many marine species, most notably prawns.


There are no desert regions in Mozambique.


Low-lying areas close to the major rivers in Mozambique are particularly fertile and support a variety of plants and trees, including lemon, orange, lychee, and mango.

Much of southern and central Mozambique that is inland from the coastline suffers from poor, sandy, infertile soil. Little vegetation other than dry scrubs can be supported on this land.

Approximately two-thirds of the land supports woodland vegetation. Most of Mozambique's forested areas are located along plateaus and contain the miombo forest type: dry, deciduous trees of varying heights. The northernmost regions, as well as those surrounding the mouth of the Zambezi River, are the richest in woodland. Tropical forests are also prevalent, with lush vegetation and African game species such as zebras, wildebeests, and even elephants; mangroves, however, are relatively rare and are found near coastal regions.

The area in northeastern Mozambique between the Lúrio and Ligonha Rivers contains some of the most magnificent vertical granite rock faces in all of Africa; consequently, it is a favorite rock-climbing destination. Rolling hills are commonly found east of areas with particularly mountainous terrain. Vegetation is sparse in these savannahs and this land does not support many crops.


Mountainous regions in Mozambique are found throughout the western end of the country. Most mountain peaks rise from plateau regions, although many mountains are isolated in the landscape. The Great Rift Valley, which starts in Jordan near Syria, terminates in Mozambique near Beira at Sofala Bay. A wide variety of animal species, including lions, reside in this area.


Mozambique lies at the southern end of the Great Rift Valley, which is a massive fault system that stretches over 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles) from the Jordan Valley in Israel to the middle of Mozambique at about Sofala Bay. In general, the Great Rift Valley ranges in elevation from 395 meters (1,300 feet) below sea level at the Dead Sea to 1,830 meters (6,000 feet) above sea level in south Kenya. The western branch contains the troughs and rivers that have become part of the African Great Lakes system. A large number of volcanoes lie along this rift, which was created by the violent underground collisions between the African Plate (Nubian) to the west and the Eurasian, Arabian, Indian, and Somalian Plates to the east. There are no active volcanoes located in Mozambique, however.

The country shares with Zimbabwe the Chimanimani Mountain Range, which contains Mozambique's highest peak, Mount Binga (2,436 meters/7,992 feet). Alluvial gold has been extracted from these mountains.


There are no major canyons or caves in Mozambique.


There are many plateaus of varying elevations throughout the northwestern portion of Mozambique, which generally increase in elevation as one travels westward. These plateaus help support many farmers, providing land on which to grow cash crops as well as feed for livestock.

The province of Niassa, bordering Lake Malawi in northern Mozambique, is the largest and highest in the country. The Lichinga Plateau, which reaches elevations of up to 1,500 meters (4,920 feet), covers 25 percent of Niassa. The entire province has an average elevation of 700 meters (2,296 feet). The plateau is a heavily wooded savannah, with dry and open woodland areas covered with acacia trees. On the other side of the Lugenda River is the Mozambique Plateau. This plateau is similar to the Lichinga, though lower in elevation. It reaches from the center of the country all the way to the Indian Ocean.

The Angonia and Maravia Highlands, in northwest Mozambique on the Zambia border, are some of the most fertile lands in all of Mozambique. Crops such as peaches, apples, and potatoes are grown in this area.


The Cahora Bassa Dam, the largest hydroelectric power dam in Africa, powers the capital city of Maputo and provides electricity for parts of South Africa and Zimbabwe as well. The dam is built along the upper part of the Zambezi River and has formed a very large reservoir. During the wet seasons, heavy rains from Zambia and Zimbabwe cause significant water flow along the Zambezi River, so that often the reservoir of the Cahora Bassa begins to swell, threatening the structure of the dam. When this occurs, one or more of the gates of the dam are opened, releasing water downstream that then tends to flood areas along the river. During some particularly dry seasons, however, the water level in the Zambezi River drops so low that parts of the river become impassable.



Darch, Colin. Mozambique. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1987.

James, R. S. Mozambique. New York: Chelsea House, 1988.

Lauré, Jason. Mozambique. Chicago: Children's Press, 1995.

Slater, Mike. Mozambique. London: New Holland, 1997.

Waterhouse, Rachel. Mozambique: Rising from the Ashes. Oxford: Oxfam, 1996.

Web Site

Mozambique: Welcome to Our Beautiful Country. (accessed June 18, 2003).

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Mozambique
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 19,371,057
Language(s): Portuguese (official), indigenous dialects
Literacy rate: 42.3%
Area: 801,590 sq km
GDP: 3,754 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 1
Number of Television Sets: 67,600
Television Sets per 1,000: 3.5
Number of Radio Stations: 41
Number of Radio Receivers: 730,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 37.7
Number of Individuals with Computers: 60,000
Computers per 1,000: 3.1
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 30,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 1.5

Background & General Characteristics

Mozambique, formerly Portuguese East Africa, is located in East Africa, just across from the island of Madagascar. Mozambique is bordered by South Africa (south); Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and South Africa (west); Tanzania (north); Malawi and Zambia (northwest); and the Indian Ocean (east). Its capital is Maputo, which was called Lourenco Marques during the days of Portuguese colonial rule.

In 2002 Mozambique's population was almost 20 million people. It is expected to reach 33.3 by 2025 and soar to 47.8 million by 2050. More than 96 percent of the population is made up of black Africans, with smaller groups of Portuguese, Asians, and mulattos (mixed racial descent). Although Portuguese is the official language, there are also many African languages spoken throughout the country.

The Portuguese started coming to East Africa in the sixteenth century. By the next century, the Portuguese were competing with Arabs for trade in gold, slaves, and ivory. Despite strong African resistance, Portuguese colonials slowly extended their control from the coast toward the interior where many of the indigenous people lived. By the end of the nineteenth century, when Europe held its "Scramble for Africa," what is now Mozambique was ceded to Portuguese control.

Although in some of the British-controlled colonies in Africa it was expected that indigenous Africans would ultimately get a chance to run their own affairs, there were no such illusions by the Portuguese, who regarded their colonies as permanent "overseas provinces." The Portuguese said that the colonies could send representatives to sit in the Portuguese legislature, and they also followed an "assimilado" policy, which meant that Africans who had the proper education and backgrounds could aspire to be assimilated into Portuguese culture. In other words, they would become Portuguese, instead of Mozambicans. Initially, the Mozambique Company took over control of the country and used its authority to force the Africans to pay taxes and work on plantations, but this ended in 1926 as the Portuguese government decided to reassert itself. By 1951 Portugal had transformed Mozambique into an overseas province, as distinct from a colony.

As other European colonies in Africa and Asia achieved independence, Mozambique's Africans began to organize to resist Portuguese rule. These efforts eventually resulted in various black groups coming together, on June 25, 1962, to form the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO). In September 1964, FRELIMO launched guerrilla warfare against the Portuguese, who responded by sending in reinforcements to try and contain the spreading conflict. Soon after that, the new Portuguese government initiated negotiations with FRELIMO and also with other guerrilla groups in Angola and Portuguese Guinea. The talks, in neighboring Lusaka, Zambia, between FRELIMO and Portuguese representatives resulted in Mozambican gaining its independence from Portugal at midnight on June 24, 1975. The FRELIMO party, during its liberation days and its headquarters in neighboring Tanzania, had developed strong ties with the Soviet Union, which had armed and trained some of its guerrillas. At independence, Mozambique continued its close ties with the Soviet Union and took some steps to implement socialism. FRELIMO regarded itself as a vanguard movement, similar to the communist parties of the Soviet Union, Cuba, China and Eastern European countries, whose mission was to transform society. Under the revised November 1990 constitution, Mozambique became a parliamentary multiparty democracy. Mozambique's history of struggle helped shape the media system that the country inherited from its Portuguese colonial masters.

Media History

Portuguese is the Mozambique's official language. Other languages are Makua-Lomwe, Tsonga, Shona, and Swahili. Life expectancy is 47 years for men and 50 for women, although this is likely to drop as the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to ravage the country.

Literacy is low; an estimated two-thirds of the population is illiterate. In 2002 education was compulsory for those aged 7 to 14. Under Portuguese rule, educational opportunities for blacks were almost non-existent; only a few of the elite got a chance to study in Portugal. As of 1997, there were 1.74 million children in 5,689 pre-primary school institutions; 1.89 million children in 6,025 primary schools; 51,554 students in 75 high schools; 12,001 students in 25 technical institutions; and 7,156 students in 3 colleges/universities.

The road for the media in Mozambique has been a rocky one. Under Portuguese rule, there were no independent media outlets. Illiteracy was so high among the Africans that indigenous newspapers were not feasible. The first newspaper in Mozambique was the Lourenco Marques Guardian, which started publishing in 1905. It was published in the country's capital city, and its target audience was the British community within the city. The Roman Catholic Church acquired the Guardian in 1956, changed its name to Diario, and began publishing it biweekly in English and Portuguese. After continuing policy conflicts between the archbishop of Lourenco Marques and the more liberal bishop in Beira, Noticias da Beira became the country's second newspaper in 1918. Noticias da Beira was a biweekly newspaper, also published in English and Portuguese. Fourteen years later, in 1932, the bishop was supported in the launching of A Vox Africana, by local Africans.

In 1950 the bishop was at it again, this time with the launch of Diario de Mocambique, a daily Beira newspaper. His move was matched by the Lourenco Marques archbishop who turned Diario into a daily newspaper. Another newspaper appeared in 1926, started by a retired Portuguese military officer. It was called Noticias and was a Portuguese language publication based in Lourenco Marques. Noticias became the country's official Portuguese newspaper. In 1975 the FRELIMO government took over Noticias, which became a government-controlled publication. Noticias da Beira remained the country's second newspaper, but all other daily newspapers disappeared as the country embarked on its Marxist-Leninist path under Machel. Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (AIM) is the country's domestic news agency, a government-run institution charged with collecting and distributing news about Mozambique and cooperating with other news agencies, including the Pan African News Agency. Reuters, Novosti, and German, Italian, and Portuguese news organizations have also been allowed to operate in Mozambique.

The 1990 constitution opened up the political process to competition, but it also gave the media more freedom from government control and interference. Mozambique has moved away from its post-independence rigid Marxist-Leninist tendencies, where the media was seen as nothing more than a propaganda organ. State-controlled Radio Mozambique remains the country's main source of news and information. Private and commercial radio stations are also allowed to operate, unlike in neighboring Zimbabwe. An estimated 40 community radio and television stations, supported by UNESCO and the government, exist around the country. Parts of the country also get BBC World Service and RTP, the Portuguese television's African service. In 1995 there were 660,000 radio receivers; by 1997 this had increased to 730,000. During the same period, the number of television receivers went from 60,000 to 90,000. The number of listeners and viewers is much higher because radios and televisions are shared among family members, friends, neighbors, and communities, with a resultant multiplier effect in total audiences. The new constitution protects freedom of the media and has resulted in a number of radio stations, including those linked to the RENA-MO opposition group, the Roman Catholic Church, and even one that is youth-oriented.

Circulation of the print media is limited because of the high illiteracy levels in the country. However, in 1995 it was estimated that there were three daily newspapers with a circulation of 130,000. By 1996 the number of daily papers had dropped to two, and the circulation had plummeted. The major newspapers are Diario de Mozambique (Mozambique Daily ), established in 1981 and published in Beira; Demos Portuguese, published in Maputo; Noticias (News ), established in 1926 and published in Maputo; Savana, a Portuguese weekly that was established in 1994 and published in Maputo; and Domingo, another Portuguese weekly that was established in 1981 and published in Maputo. Other newspapers include O'Popular, a privately owned daily, and Fim de Semana, a privately owned weekly tabloid.

The only newspaper with a circulation in the 25,000 to 50,000 range is the Portuguese language Noticias, which is also the country's largest newspaper. Diario de Mozambique, the country's other daily, falls in the 10,000 to 25,000 circulation category. These two are also the most influential newspapers in the country. There are four non-daily newspapers, with an estimated total circulation of 160,000.

Economic Framework

Although Mozambique averages 55 inches of rainfall per year, it usually imports food. Its agricultural products include shrimp, fish, tea, sisal, coconuts, corn, millet, cassava, and peanuts. Tantalite, gold, iron ore, titanium, oil, and natural gas are among some of the minerals found in Mozambique. Although Mozambique was still desperately poor in 2002, with an average annual income of U.S. $210, the economy was improving, unemployment was dropping, and there was positive economic growth over the past few years.


There is no overt censorship in Mozambique, but there is a certain level of self-censorship. The new Mozambique constitution protects press freedom, which has allowed Mozambican journalists to write stories critical of the government, without fear of victimization. Journalists have also been critical of official corruption and mismanagement. Although the media is free to write, publish, and broadcast what they want, they face criminal libel laws, which may have a chilling effect on their ability to gather and disseminate news and information. The private sector has not been spared from scrutiny. A crusading editor was, however, killed, and there was widespread speculation that his assassination was because of the dirt he had uncovered on certain people in public life.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

The government owns Noticias and also runs Agencia Informacao Mocambique (AIM), the country's domestic news agency. In the past, only Cuban, communist, and African journalists and news agencies were welcome. At that time, Mozambique espoused a Marxist-Leninist philosophy, which regarded the media as appendages of the ruling party, whose role was to propagate the policies and philosophies of FRELIMO. Western journalists and media were not welcome. Western journalists and media now are welcome in Mozambique. Portuguese newspapers and magazines are now available. Portuguese journalists and others from the Western countries operate freely. Although the opposition complains that it does not get enough coverage in the media, that claim is less valid in the 2000s than in the past. Even the government media gives coverage to the opposition party.

Education & TRAINING

There is a great need to recruit and train talented journalists. The British and Canadians have provided some training and skills courses for Mozambican media personnel. There have also been short courses and seminars held in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, and South Africa, which have given the Mozambicans some hands-on training, as well as opportunities to meet and work with fellow Southern African media practitioners. But, the need for media personnel in Mozambique is great.


Mozambique's political process was opened up to multi-party competition and a new constitution guaranteed press freedom and opened up the country to multiple voices. The future of the media is much brighter in Mozambique in 2002 than it was 15 years ago. Mozambique seems to have adopted many democratic trappings, including acceptance of the often adversarial relationship between the government and the media. Media workers operate in an environment where the government has become less intrusive and less threatening. Improved opportunities in education, an economy that is improving, and the availability of more consumer goods to more people are among other factors making Mozambicans more optimistic about their future.


Africa, 7th edition. Worldmark Press Ltd., 1988.

British Broadcasting Corporation. Country Profile: Mozambique, 2002.

Merrill, John C., ed. Global Journalism: Survey of International Communication, second edition. New York: Longman, 1993.

"Newspapers of Africa." International Editor and Publisher Yearbook, 2002.

World Almanac and Book of Facts 2002. PRIMEDIA Reference Inc., 2002.

Tendayi S. Kumbula

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801,590sq km (309,494sq mi)



capital (population):

Maputo (989,386)


Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Makua 47%, Tsonga 23%, Malawi 12%, Shona 11%, Yao 4%, Swahili 1%, Makonde 1%


Portuguese (official)


Traditional beliefs 48%, Christianity (Roman Catholic 31%, others 9%), Islam 13%


Metical = 100 centavos

Republic in se Africa. Mozambique faces the Indian Ocean. The coastline is dotted with the mouths of many rivers, including the Limpopo and the Zambezi. Swamps and offshore coral reefs fringe the coast. The only natural harbour is the capital, Maputo. The coastal plains make up 50% of Mozambique's land area. To the n of the Zambezi, the plain is narrow, while to the s it is much broader. Inland, a savanna plateau rises to highlands at the borders with Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania.

Climate and Vegetation

Mozambique has a tropical climate. The warm, south-flowing Mozambique Current gives Maputo hot and humid summers. Winters are mild and fairly dry. Tropical savanna is the most widespread vegetation. Palm trees are found along the coast, and there are rainforests of ebony and ironwood.

History and Politics

Bantu-speakers arrived in the first century ad. Arab traders in gold and ivory settled in coastal regions from the 10th century ad. Vasco da Gama was the first European to discover Mozambique in 1498, and in 1505 Portugal established its first settlement. During the 16th century, Portuguese adventurers built huge, semi-autonomous plantations. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Mozambique was a major centre of the slave trade. In 1910, Mozambique formally became a Portuguese colony. Nationalist opposition increased with unfair land rights, forced labour, and social inequity. In 1961 the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) was founded to oppose Portuguese rule. In 1964, FRELIMO launched a guerrilla war.

In 1975, Mozambique gained independence, and Samora Machel became president. Many Europeans fled the country, taking vital capital and resources. The new FRELIMO government established a one-party Marxist state. FRELIMO's assistance to liberation movements in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa was countered by these white-minority regimes' support for the Mozambique National Resistance Movement (RENAMO) opposition. Civil war raged for 16 years, claiming tens of thousands of lives. In 1986 Samora Machel died, and Joachim Chissano succeeded him. In 1989, FRELIMO dropped its communist policies and agreed to end one-party rule. In 1992, faced with severe drought and famine, a peace agreement was signed between FRELIMO and RENAMO.

In 1994 Chissano was elected president. In 1995 Mozambique became the 53rd member of the Commonwealth of Nations. In 2000, flood waters from the River Limpopo submerged vast areas of Mozambique, leaving nearly one million people homeless and shattering the nation's infrastructure.


Mozambique is one of the world's poorest countries (2000 GDP per capita, US$1000). Agriculture employs 85% of the workforce, mainly at subsistence level. Crops include cassava, cotton, cashew nuts, fruits, maize, rice, sugar cane, and tea. Fishing is also important. Shrimps, sugar, and copra are exported. Despite its large hydroelectric plant at the Cahora Bassa dam on the River Zambezi, manufacturing is on a comparatively small scale.

Political map

Physical map


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Culture Name



Identification. Arab traders who made their way down the East African coast mingled with African peoples, creating a hybrid culture and language called Swahili. This culture still predominates in several East African countries and exerts a strong influence in northern Mozambique. The name "Mozambique" is thought to come from the Swahili Musa al Big, the name of an ancient Arab sheikh, ("chief") who lived on the northern Ilha de Moçambique.

Location and Geography. Mozambique is on the southeastern coast of Africa, bordering Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia to the north; Zimbabwe to the west; South Africa and Swaziland to the south; and the Mozambique Channel to the east. The capital, Maputo, is in the south, near the coast. The area of the country is 308,642 square miles (799,509 square kilometers). The terrain ranges from rain forests and swamps to mountains, grasslands, sand dunes, and beaches. The Zambezi River is an important natural resource, supplying power through the Cahora Bassa dam, one of Africa's largest hydroelectric projects. The Zambezi flows west to east and cuts the country into northern and southern regions that diverge, to some extent, in terms of culture and history as well as climate.

There are two main seasons: the wet season from November through March and the dry season from April through October. Drought is common, particularly in the south. However, the country also has experienced devastating floods, most recently in 1999. Mozambique a great diversity of animal life, including zebras, water buffalo, elephants, giraffes, lions, hippopotami, and crocodiles. The country has established national parks and game reserves where these animals are protected.

Demography. The estimated population in 1998 was 18,641,469. This figure represents a twofold increase since 1970. Mozambique once had the highest growth rate in southern Africa, but the rate of increase declined significantly from the mid-1970s through the 1990s as civil war caused losses from both death and emigration. There are about 1.1 million Mozambicans in Malawi and Zimbabwe. More than two-fifths of the population is under the age of fifteen.

The population is divided among roughly sixty different ethnic groups, including nine major ones. The largest group is the Makua-Lomwe in the north, who account for about half the population. Farther north are the Makonde near the coast and the Yao near Lake Malawi. Southern tribes include the Tsonga, the Karanga, the Chopi, the Shona, and the Nguni. Roughly 3 percent of the population is European, Indian, Chinese, Pakistani, or mestizo (mixed African and European). These people are concentrated in the coastal cities and usually work as doctors, teachers, shopkeepers, or industrial laborers.

Linguistic Affiliation. The official language is Portuguese, a legacy of the country's colonizers. When Mozambique gained independence in 1975, Frelimo wanted to evict the colonial language but was not successful in finding a replacement. No other language is spoken by a majority. In the north, the Bantu languages of Yao and Makua predominate; in the Zambezi Valley, it is Nyanja is the dominant languages; and in the south, Tsonga is spoken. Along the northern coast, many people speak Swahili. Portuguese is the language of education and government but is rarely spoken outside the cities. Because six of the neighboring countries are former British colonies, English is used occasionally, particularly in Maputo, in dealings with businesspeople and tourists from South Africa.

Symbolism. The flag consists of horizontal bands of green, black, and yellow with a red triangle at the left border. In the center is a yellow star overlaid with a book, symbolizing education; a hoe, symbolizing agriculture; and a rifle, which stands for defense and vigilance.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The earliest inhabitants were small groups of hunters and gatherers such as the Khoi and the San. These groups were part of what is known as the Bushmen. These nomadic people eventually moved out or intermarried with Bantu-speaking tribes that came to the area around the third century c.e. In the eighth century, Arab traders began establishing trading posts along the coast. By the fourteenth century, those settlements had developed into independent city-states and were the main political and commercial centers in the area.

The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was the first European to reach current-day Mozambique. When he arrived in 1498, the Maravi kingdom of the Mwene Matapa was in control of the central Zambezi Basin. Da Gama first landed in the Muslim island town of Moçambique, and by 1510 the Portuguese controlled trading from Sofala in present-day Mozambique north to Mogadishu in what is now Somalia. In 1515, they began to expand their explorations into the interior with the intention of further controlling trade and taking control of gold mines. They subdued the inhabitants and over the next century claimed rights to vast areas of land and to the people who lived there, whom they forced to work on their farms and in their gold mines. The Mwene Matapa recognized Portuguese rule in 1629. The Portuguese called the area Terra da Boa Gente ("Country of the Good People").

Portuguese rule was challenged by local landlords (prazeiros ), who wanted power for themselves, and by fighting among the African tribes they were trying to subdue. In the late seventeenth century, the Rozwi kingdom defeated the Mwene Matapa and forced the Portuguese south of the Zambezi River. Portuguese supremacy continued to wane until the end of the eighteenth century, when Portuguese seized control of the port at Delagoa Bay in the south, later named Lourenço Marcos (today Maputo, the capital). In 1752, the first colonial governor was appointed. Slavery existed in the area before the Portuguese came, but they introduced the concept of exporting slaves, and by 1790 nine thousand people were being shipped out each year. The slave trade took the healthiest young people, sapping many cultures of their vitality and growth. In the early 1800s, when the British began to pass laws against the slave trade in West Africa, this opened new opportunities for it to grow along the eastern coast of the continent. Even after the Portuguese outlawed slavery in 1878, it went on for many years.

The Zulu presented another challenge to Portuguese rule. Under the leadership of the warrior Shaka, the Zulu tribe expanded its domain by attacking villages throughout southern Africa. The Zulu also battled the Portuguese, capturing the fort at Lourenço Marcos in 1833.

European colonizers in nearby territories refused to recognize the Portuguese claim to Mozambique. The British in particular contested several areas in the south of the colony and actively ruled the areas to which they laid claim. In 1875, this dispute erupted into a major conflict that was settled in Portugal's favor.

A conference was held in 18851886 in Berlin in an attempt to divide the African continent peacefully among the European colonizers. Portugal claimed a territory that stretched from Angola on the west coast to Mozambique in the east. The British did not agree to this, and boundary wars were fought until Portugal relinquished Mashonaland, part of current-day Zimbabwe, in 1891. The Portuguese also had to subdue the African inhabitants of their colony, which was particularly difficult in the interior Zambezi region and the north.

In the late 1800s, Portugal chartered private companies to oversee inland territories, superseding the power of the local landlords. In 1907, in an attempt to consolidate and enforce its power and to combat local corruption, Portugal moved the administration of Mozambique from Lisbon to offices in the colony itself.

During World War I, Portugal conscripted thousands of Mozambican men to fight for the Allies; this resulted in a violent uprising in 1917. More than 130,000 Mozambicans died in the war.

With the establishment of the Colonial Act in 1930, Mozambique's limited autonomy was replaced by a more centralized Portuguese administration. In 1951, Portugal declared the colony an overseas province. Throughout the 1950s, the Portuguese government attempted to increase the white population. This, combined with atrocious treatment of the African population led to a steady migration out of Mozambique to the neighboring countries.

In the 1960s, Mozambique was swept up in the pan-African movement toward independence. The secret police suppressed the actions of the political organizers, who were forced to work in nearby African nations. In 1962, exiled leaders in Tanzania established Frelimo, the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (the Mozambican Liberation Front). Frelimo, lead by Eduardo Mondlane, was strongest militarily in the north, from where it drew most of its guerrilla fighters. Fighting between Frelimo and Portuguese troops broke out in 1964, after which Portugal sent more than seventy thousand troops to subdue the uprising. However, it was a costly war, and when Portuguese army officers revolted in the mid-1970s, the colonial government collapsed. Mozambique gained independence on 25 June 1975. With the beginning of the independence movement, many Portuguese fled the country, and the white population fell from 200,000 to 30,000 in 1977.

Frelimo was declared the new ruler and established a government based on Marxist-Leninist ideology. However, conflict within Frelimo's leadership, both political and ethnic, was widespread. That conflict had already led to violence, including the assassination of Mondlane in the late 1960s. Frelimo also faced external opposition, most notably from the rebel group called Renamo the (Mozambican National Resistance). The ongoing civil war that resulted disrupted Mozambique's economy, caused tens of thousands of deaths, and forced large numbers of people out of their homes and villages.

In the late 1980s, Frelimo, under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, renounced its Marxist stance in order to receive foreign aid. In 1990, a new constitution was introduced that allowed for a multiparty democracy. On 4 October 1992, the civil war officially ended when a peace accord was signed by Frelimo and Renamo leaders.

National Identity. The country is divided along both ethnic and linguistic lines. Mozambicans often identify primarily with a tribe and/or linguistic group. However, the independence movement that began in the 1960s was a unifying force, causing these disparate elements to join together in resisting the Portuguese. Ironically, some of the main unifying factors in the country have been remnants of the colonial system, including the Portuguese language and the Roman Catholic religion. This is most evident in the central Zambezi Valley, where Portuguese influence was strongest.

Ethnic Relations. Despite ethnic and linguistic differences, there is little conflict among the various groups. The greatest cultural disparities are those which divide the north of the country from the south. The groups north of the Zambezi follow a system of matrilineal descent. Many of them are seminomadic, moving every few years to more fertile soil. Because they are far from the capital and other urban centers, these northern groups show less influence from the Portuguese. South of the river, in the Zambezi Valley, the people adopted Portuguese dress, language, and religion to a larger extent.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

All the main cities are located on the coast. Maputo was constructed on a European model and has wide streets, public gardens, and paved sidewalks inlaid with mosaic tiles. The city has two parts: the older residential area on a cliff overlooking the harbor and the newer industrial area below, where the factories, port facilities, and most office buildings are located. In the 1950s, the Portuguese architect Amancio d'Alpoim Guedes designed many of the city's office and apartment buildings, which combine shapes and symbols from traditional African art with a modern sensibility.

Most of the cities took in a large number of refugees from the countryside during the civil war. To cope with that sudden population increase, shantytowns were erected along the outskirts. Poor sanitation in those settlements led to the spread of disease. Government planners have been attempting to combat this problem by building low-cost apartments, but they have been unable to keep up with the growing population.

Beira, the second largest city, is primarily a port. Located several hundred miles north of Maputo, on the coast, it is the center of the commercial fishing industry and a center of trade with Malawi and Zimbabwe. Like Maputo, it took in a large number of refugees during the civil war. It is also a Portuguese-style colonial city.

Nampula in the north is the third largest city and was established in the late 1960s when the Portuguese drained a swamp and built it. The city grew even more rapidly than expected, partly as a result of its location along the commercial railway between Malawi and the port of Nacala. However, despite its harbor and modern facilities, Nampula has declined in importance because of the deterioration of the railroad line that leads from the city to the interior and to Malawi.

The oldest surviving settlement is Moçambique Island in the north. The Arab architecture of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, including coral-block mosques and houses, is still standing. Fort Saint Sebastian, a huge stone fort built by the Portuguese in 1507, is another physical testament to the island's history. The fort has been preserved as a museum. The town continues to thrive with large Asian and Muslim populations.

The country also has the remains of several ancient cities, including Nhacangara near the border with Zimbabwe. This site has a stone fortress with paths and tunnels, and traces of terraces on the nearby hills indicate earlier settlement. Archaeologists speculate that the country has many more long-uninhabited cities that have not been discovered. However, research into them has been impeded by the civil war.

Much historic colonial architecture was destroyed in the civil war. Renamo's strategy was to destroy every building that Frelimo erected. That destruction extended to include even small structures in the countryside, until the whole country was virtually destroyed.

Despite the rapid growth of the cities, nine-tenths of the population is rural. Traditional village houses are round huts made of poles held together with mud, and thatched roofs made of palm leaves. However, most homes built today are made of cement blocks and have tin roofs. Each village erects a boma around its perimeter. This is a fence with sharpened posts, that provides protection against attacks by lions and other wild animals. The fields lie outside the boma. Villages are centered on a cattle pen called a kraal, or a community building.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Most of the crops originally cultivated in the region have been supplanted by European imports. The exception is millet, a grain that sometimes is made into beer. The diet of rural residents is based on the cassava root, which is called mandioca in Portuguese. Its importance is testified to by its name, which translates as "the all-sufficient." This malleable food source can be baked, dried in the sun, or mashed with water to form a porridge. In its most common form, it is ground into a coarse flour along with corn and then mixed with cassava leaves and water. The resulting dough is served in calabashes. Corn is the other staple food; both corn and cassava were introduced from the Americas by the Portuguese. Cashews, pineapple, and peanuts, which are other important foods, found their way to Mozambique in the same way.

Along the coast, the cuisine is more varied and Portuguese-influenced than it is in inland areas. The diet there includes more fruit and rice as well as seafood dishes such as macaza (grilled shellfish kabobs), bacalhão (dried salted cod) and chocos (squid cooked in its own ink). Food is seasoned with peppers, onions, and coconut. Palm wine (shema ) is a popular drink.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Food is a part of many celebrations. It is customary to serve a meal at parties, rituals, and other social gatherings. For the poor (who are the vast majority of the population), while ceremonial occasions often entail large feasts, the food served is the same as what is eaten everyday.

Basic Economy. The gross national product has nearly no growth rate and is one of the lowest in the world. Although only 5 percent of the land is arable, 80 percent of the people work in agriculture. The farming techniques are primitive, involving few tools and work animals. After independence, many farms were organized on the basis of Chinese and Cuban models; however, with the changes imposed by the International Monetary Fund in the late 1980s, a system of decentralization and private ownership was introduced. The main crops cultivated are corn, cassava, coconuts, peanuts, cotton, sugar, and cashews. However, the nation cannot meet its food needs, particularly for corn, and must import large quantities of food. Mozambique's currency is the metical.

Land Tenure and Property. There is no tradition of private land ownership. Land belongs to the community rather than to any individual. When the country won independence, the socialist Frelimo government took over ownership of all the land from the Portuguese and encouraged villagers to farm collectively, according to their traditions.

Commercial Activities. The main goods produced for sale within the country are agricultural. Farmers grow corn, cassava, peanuts, bananas, and citrus fruits for their own consumption. Some of these products are sold at local markets, and some are transported to the capital and other cities for sale there.

Major Industries. Agriculture is by far the largest industry. Fishing along the coast (particularly shrimp) accounts for one-third of the country's exports. The rivers also provide fish, and there are several fisheries that produce mackerel, anchovies, and prawns. Mining and manufacturing account for one-fifth of the gross domestic product. The principal products are coal, beryllium, limestone, and salt. There are also deposits of tantalite, iron ore, uranium, copper, gold, and diamonds. The country also manufactures textiles, plastics, beverages, food, cement, glass, and asbestos.

Trade. The main exports are shrimp, cashews, cotton, sugar, and timber, which go primarily to Spain, the United States, Japan, and Portugal. Imports of food, machinery, petroleum, and consumer goods come from South Africa, the United States, Portugal, and Italy. The country has an unfavorable trade balance, although it is alleviated somewhat by remittances sent by Mozambicans working in South Africa.

Division of Labor. The workforce is divided primarily along geographic lines. The majority of the population is rural, and these people are farmers. In cities, there are more skilled workers as well as street vendors and a small white-collar workforce. Professionals such as teachers, lawyers, and government officials constitute a small percentage of the population and generally come from a small number of middle-class or wealthy families.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. During the time of Portuguese rule, the prazeiros, (Portuguese landowners) formed the wealthiest and most powerful class. Below them were the mestizos, those of mixed African and Portuguese descent; and at the bottom were Africans, who constituted the vast majority of the population. Despite the internal diversity of the population, which is composed of various cultural and linguistic groups, ethnicity has never been a major factor in social status. Since independence, most Portuguese have left the country. Today, with the exception of the tiny ruling elite, nearly everyone in the country is poor.

Symbols of Social Stratification. The way people dress reflects the confluence of different cultures as well as the individual's economic standing. In the cities, men wear Western-style suits to go to work. Women wear Western-style dresses made from fabric with brightly colored African patterns. Throughout the country men have, for the most part, replaced the traditional loincloth with T-shirts and dashikis. Women in rural areas, however, generally have kept their traditional garb of long strips of fabric that are wrapped around the body, under the arms, and over one shoulder. They also have retained the traditional head scarf or turban. Young people almost exclusively wear Western clothing, except for the extremely indigent. Despite the European and American influence on fashion, some styles, such as blue jeans and short skirts, have not been adopted. Dress also can be a marker of ethnic identity. Muslims in the north wear traditional long white robes and head coverings; Asian men wear white two-piece cotton suits, whereas Asian women dress in black or colored silk dresses. Language also can be an indicator of socioeconomic standing. Portuguese is learned in school and is therefore the language of the privileged elite; it is almost entirely unheard outside the cities.

Political Life

Government. The constitution adopted in 1990 declared Mozambique a multiparty democratic republic. The 250 members of the unicameral Assembly of the Republic are elected by universal suffrage. The president is both chief of state and head of the government and is elected for a five-year term, with a maximum limit of three terms.

Leadership and Political Officials. While Mozambique is officially a multiparty democracy, the government is still dominated by the two main parties, Frelimo and Renamo. The third party, which did not win any seats in the legislature in the 1999 elections, is called the Democratic Union. Frelimo, the ruling political party from independence through the end of the civil war, suffered from infighting among its leaders. Both Frelimo and Renamo took their leaders from workers in the independence movement. While there are varying levels of education among politicians, almost all have studied abroad in Portugal or other European countries.

Social Problems and Control. Crime is a growing problem, particularly in the cities, which have been flooded with poor unemployed men from the countryside seeking work. The justice system was fashioned after the Portuguese model. However, without enough qualified judges and lawyers, this system could not function well, so Frelimo modified it. Because prison facilities could not accommodate the large number of criminals, the government established rehabilitation camps (usually farms) for minor offenders and alcoholics (Frelimo considered alcoholism a crime). Frelimo also set up vigilante groups of citizens to turn in alcoholics and anti-government individuals. One of the most pressing problems is human rights violations on the part of law enforcement agents, and the mistreatment of criminals and suspects.

Military Activity. Under Frelimo, the police force was nationally controlled, with local divisions in each town. Frelimo also put in place the National Service of Popular Security, an arm of the police force that deals with terrorism and sabotage. When peace accords were signed in 1992, Frelimo had an estimated seventy thousand troops and Renamo had twenty thousand. Those fighters were compelled to turn in their weapons, and a new national force, the Mozambican Defense Force, was established, including fifteen thousand men from each party.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Social welfare comes primarily from within the family, which cares independently for its own elderly or ailing member. Other aid comes from international charitable organizations.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Since the peace treaties were signed, the United Nations has played a large role in the peacekeeping process. It stationed almost eight thousand people who were responsible for supervising the dismantling and rebuilding of the armies, over the 1994 elections to ensure that they were fair and democratic, and helped return almost two million refugees to their homes. As part of the last project, the United Nations aided in the reconstruction of water systems, roads, schools, and clinics. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) also helped with the repatriation process. One of the biggest problems is the presence of land mines left over from the civil war. It is estimated that up to two million were buried. The United Nations collaborated with USAID and a Norwegian group to help find and defuse them.

The refugee situation has created another crisis in the form of legions of abandoned street children, particularly in Maputo, where they number an estimated half a million. Many volunteer aid organizations work with orphans and abandoned children to care for them and educate them to be self-sufficient. Among these groups are Save the Children and the Institute for International Cooperation and Development (IICD). The World Food Program buys grain grown in areas of the country where production exceeds use and redistributes it in other areas.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. The constitution guarantees all citizens the right to work, but women often face obstacles when they seek nontraditional employment. Women have historically been responsible for all domestic tasks. In the towns and cities, they generally are confined to the home, whereas in rural areas, they play an important role in the agricultural labor force. The Organizaçao de Mulheres de Mozambique (Organization of Mozambican Women, or OMM), which works to promote women's rights, has implemented programs to teach women to sew and crochet and sell the products they produce for cash.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. According to the constitution, men and women have equal rights. However, both traditional and colonial attitudes keep women in a somewhat subordinate position. Even within the ranks of Frelimo, which declared itself a proponent of women's rights, women have not attained positions of power.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Polygamy is traditionally practiced and until recently was quite common. In 1981, Frelimo instituted a law designed in conjunction with OMM that established monogamous marriage, and by which both spouses share ownership of property and decisions about where to live. The law also entitled women to a means of maintenance and specified the responsibilities of fathers in financially supporting their children. Marriage celebrations involve feasting, music, and dancing.

Domestic Unit. The traditional family includes several generations living together under one roof. However, in many areas, this family structure has been dismantled by the civil war, which took many lives, compelled many men to emigrate from rural areas to the cities or to neighboring countries, and left large numbers of children orphaned or abandoned.

Inheritance. Tribes north of the Zambezi River follow a matrilineal model of inheritance. They trace their ancestry through the mother's side, and at marriage the man becomes part of the woman's family. In the south, the model is patrilineal.

Kin Groups. South of the Zambezi River, tribes follow a patrilineal descent; to the north, kin ties are established through the mother's line.


Infant Care. Young children rarely are separated from their mothers. It is customary for women to tie their babies to their backs with a strip of cloth and take them along when they work in the fields.

Child Rearing and Education. Children are treated with affection but are expected to defer to their elders and often begin to work at a young age. After the civil war, as many as half a million children were left without families. Many of these children wander Maputo and other cities and stay alive by stealing or selling small items on the street. Relief organizations have alleviated the problem somewhat by caring for and educating children, and reuniting families.

Because of the Portuguese legacy of suppressing education in colonies, Mozambique was estimated to have a literacy rate of only 10 percent when it gained independence in 1975. The first postindependence government made raising this number a priority and instituted compulsory education for children between the ages of six and twelve. This program was largely disrupted by the civil war. When the war ended in 1995, the literacy rate was 40 percent and only 60 percent of primary-school-age children were in school. Only 7 percent of children were enrolled at the secondary level. Since the peace treaties were signed, these numbers have begun increasing, but the destruction of many school buildings and a lack of trained and educated teachers have left the country with a problem that will not be soon eradicated.

Higher Education. There are three institutes of higher education that enrolled a total of seven thousand students in 1995. Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo is the only university.


Greetings are lengthy and involve inquiring into the health of each other's family. People generally stand close together and are physically affectionate.


Religious Beliefs. The native religion is animism. Arab traders brought Islam to the area, and the Portuguese brought Christianity. Historically, the introduction of Christianity by both Catholic and Protestant missionaries was a mixed blessing. While their teachings conflicted with the traditional way of life, they offered Mozambicans access to health care and an education, as the colonial Portuguese government did not provide those things.

Today the constitution ensures religious freedom and separation of church and state. However, when Frelimo took power, it expressed hostility toward Roman Catholicism, viewing it as a Portuguese tool of oppression. Twenty to 30 percent of the population is Christian, and 10 percent follows Islam; Islam is most prevalent near the northern coast. Many people who adhere to Christianity or Islam still practice traditional religion. About twothirds of the population follows animist rituals and customs. The traditional belief system places a high importance on a connection with one's ancestors as well as with the spirit world.

Religious Practitioners. The animism practiced in Mozambique includes sorcerers, wise men and women, and witch doctors or traditional healers, who are capable of communicating with spirits and act as go-betweens for the rest of the people. The healers are well versed in the medicinal uses of local plants as well as spiritual healing.

Rituals and Holy Places. Many animist rituals involve music and dance. For example, Makonde men perform a dance that involves large masks called mapicos. The masks are carved in secret, and represent demons; women are not allowed to touch them. The dance, which is performed to the accompaniment of drums and wind instruments, enacts a repeated attack on villagers by the demons and is a ritual that lasts for many hours.

Medicine and Health Care

When independence was won in 1975, the government created a free, nationalized health care system, at the same time banning private practice; this resulted in an exodus by the majority of the country's doctors. The government's goal was to improve health through preventive medicine, employing nurses to give vaccinations and educate the population about sanitation and other basic health care measures. Many of the clinics it established, however, were destroyed in the civil war. Since the war ended, it has invested a large amount of money in rebuilding those clinics and has done away with the law prohibiting private practice in an effort to increase the number of doctors. A shortage of supplies and trained personnel was exacerbated by the destruction caused by the civil war. The main health threats are sleeping sickness, transmitted by the tsetse fly, and malaria. Life expectancy is forty-seven years for men and fifty years for women. The infant mortality rate is 130 per thousand, the highest in the world.

Many people rely on traditional herbal medicines and healing methods under the guidance of village healers, in combination with what little health care and medicine the government provides.

AIDS is a growing problem. In Maputo and the other urban centers, the infection rate is about 10 percent. Outside the cities, the rate is 17 percent for low-risk groups and 27 percent for high-risk groups. While these numbers are lower than those in some surrounding countries, AIDS is a major concern and a threat to the nation's future.

Secular Celebrations

The major holidays are New Year's Day on 1 January, Heroes' Day on 3 February, Women's Day on 7 April, Workers' Day on 1 May, Independence Day on 25 June, the Anniversary of the End of Armed Struggle on 7 September, the Anniversary of the Opening of Armed Struggle on 25 September, and Family Day on 25 December.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. There is a national performing arts company called the Nambu Productions as well as a national dance company, both of which perform contemporary productions based on traditional forms. The Frelimo government also established a National Institute of Culture that collects and preserves traditional music, crafts, stories, and myths.

Literature. Literary production has been limited because of poverty and a low literacy rate. There is a strong oral tradition of storytelling, and many of the country's contemporary writers draw on that tradition. Literary writing has historically been tied to resistance to Portuguese colonialism and for this reason was largely censored before independence. Writers such as Luis Bernardo Honwana were imprisoned for their work. Honwana is also a documentary filmmaker but is best known for the book We Killed Mangy-Dog, which combines personal and cultural autobiography. Virtually all the poets and writers use the colonial Portuguese language as their medium. The poet Jose Craveirinha sees Portuguese, particularly with the infusion of local African words, as an important part of the nation's cultural heritage and is a proponent of retaining it as the national language. Because of a lack of education and other disadvantages, women have been underrepresented in the literary realm. One exception is Noemia De Sousa, who is known as the mother of Mozambican writers. When she began writing in the 1950s and 1960s, she was the only mestiça writing in Portuguese in Africa. She takes on the subject of African women and their work and has become a voice for the women of her country.

Graphic Arts. Mozambique is known for the traditional sculpture and wood carving produced by the Makonde people in the north. Using hardwoods (primarily mahogany, ebony, and ironwood), the Makonde fashion masks and sculptures known as "family trees," large depictions of various figures that tell stories of generations. Mozambique also has produced several well known contemporary artists, including Malangatana Goenha Valente, whose large canvases depict conflict between colonial culture and native culture. Two contemporary sculptors are Nkatunga and Chissano.

Performance Arts. The country has a long musical tradition. Song serves several purposes, including religious expression, the relating of current events, and making fun of neighbors. It is customary for musicians to make their own instruments.Drums have wooden bases covered with stretched animal skins. Wind instruments known as lupembe, used by the Makonde tribe, are made from animal horns, wood, or gourds. The marimba, a kind of xylophone that has been adopted in Western music, originated in Mozambique, where it is popular with the Chopi in the south. Chopi musicians also use the mbira, strips of metal attached to a hollow box and plucked with the fingers. The musical style is similar to West Indian calypso and reggae. A contemporary form of music called marrabenta has developed in the cities and draws on traditional complex rhythms.

There are elaborate, well-developed traditions of dance throughout the country. Dances often have religious significance. The Chopi perform a hunting dance in which they dress in lion skins and monkey tails, carry spears and swords, and act out battles. Makua men in the north dance on two-foot-tall stilts, hopping around the village for hours, bedecked in colorful outfits and masks. On Moçambique Island, a form of dance practiced by women combines complex steps and rope jumping.

Storytelling is another traditional art form. The national culture is rich in tales, proverbs, myths, and jokes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Facilities for the physical and social sciences are virtually nonexistent. However, Maputo has a Museum of Natural History that specializes in natural history and ethnography as well as the Freire de Andrade Museum for minerals and the History Museum for military affairs. The town of Ilha da Inhaca is home to a marine biology museum.


Armon, Jeremy, and Dylan Hendrikson, eds. Mozambican Peace Process in Perspective, 1998.

Bowen, Merle L. State against the Peasantry: Rural Struggles in Colonial and Postcolonial Mozambique, 2000.

Chan, Stephen, and Moises Venancio. War and Peace in Mozambique, 1988.

Ciment, James. Angola and Mozambique: Postcolonial War in Southern Africa, 1997.

Earle, Deborah, ed. From Conflict to Peace in a Changing World: Social Reconstruction in Times of Transition, 1998.

Ferraz, Bernardo, and Barry Muslow. Sustainable Development in Mozambique, 2000.

Hall, Margaret. Confronting Leviathan: Mozambique Since Independence, 1997.

James, R. S. Mozambique, 1988.

Jouanneau, Daniel. Mozambique, 1995.

Landau, Luis. Rebuilding the Mozambique Economy: Assessment of a Development Partnership, 1998.

Lopes, Armando Jorge. Language Policy: Principles and Problems, 1997.

Newit, Mayn. A History of Mozambique, 1995.

Nordstrom, Carolyn. A Different Kind of War Story, 1997.

Reidy, Mary, ed. Mozambique, 1995.

Eleanor Stanford

Myanmar See Burma

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Mozambique is a republic in south-east Africa. Colonized by the Portuguese, it gained independence in 1975. A long-running civil war ended in 1992 and in 1995 the country was admitted to the Commonwealth as a special case, because of its very close links with South Africa and Zimbabwe. It had suffered severely in recent years from the flooding of the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers.

J. A. Cannon

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The people of Mozambique are called Mozambicans. There are ten major ethnic groups. The largest, residing north of the Zambezi River, is the Makua-Lomwé group, representing about 37 percent of the total population. Others include the Yao (Ajawa), Makonde, Nguni, Maravi, Tsonga, Chopi, and Shona (or Karanga).

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Mozambique (city, Mozambique)

Mozambique, city: see Moçambique.

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Mozambiqueantique, batik, beak, bespeak, bezique, bleak, boutique, cacique, caïque, cheek, chic, clique, creak, creek, critique, Dominique, eke, freak, geek, Greek, hide-and-seek, keek, Lalique, leak, leek, Martinique, meek, midweek, Mozambique, Mustique, mystique, oblique, opéra comique, ortanique, peak, Peake, peek, physique, pique, pratique, reek, seek, shriek, Sikh, sleek, sneak, speak, Speke, squeak, streak, teak, technique, tongue-in-cheek, tweak, unique, veronique, weak, week, wreak •stickybeak • grosbeak • houseleek •forepeak • technospeak • newspeak •doublespeak • hairstreak • tugrik •fenugreek • Realpolitik • Ostpolitik •pipsqueak • workweek

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