Mozambicans are putting their shattering past behind them and are rebuilding their country at a remarkable pace. And there’s a fair number of things to see, including stunning beaches, World Heritage sites, funky colonial architecture and colorful local culture.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Area: 801,600 sq km
Largest towns: Beira, Inhambane, Pemba
Population: 20 million
Official Language: Portuguese
Head of State: President Joaquim Alberto Chissano
Per Capita Income: US$670
Literacy: 48 %
Maputo, Beira, Ilha de Mozambique (Mozambique Island), Pemba, Bazaruto Arichipelago, Tofu and Barra Beaches.
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Mozambique stretches for 2500km (1550mi) on the south-eastern coast of Africa, bordered by Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the north-west, Zimbabwe to the west, and South Africa and Swaziland to the south-west. The island of Madagascar lies directly east, 400km (250mi) across the Mozambique Channel. There are many regional variations in
Mozambique, but generally the dry season runs from April to September, when the average daily high tops out at 27°C (80°F) on the coast,
cooler inland. The rainy season lasts most of the rest of the year, when the average daily high hits 31°C (88°F).
Starting around 2000 years ago, Bantu peoples (named for their language group) began migrating into the area, bringing iron tools and weapons
with them. Toward the end of the first millennium, several towns along the Mozambican coast grew into Bantu trading ports with links to other parts of Africa, the Middle East and India. By the early 20th century a
pattern was established in Mozambique. Rather than developing the country, the Portuguese simply rented out the available resources. This included human labour hired to neighbouring countries, particularly South Africa and Rhodesia, thus removing a large segment of the male labour force.
Elections in 1994 were surprisingly smooth and fair, resulting in the election of the head of Frelimo, Joaquim Chissano, to the presidency.
Mozambique has done much to rebuild itself since then, though landmines, droughts (one as recent as 1998) and cyclones have continued to plague it.
Mainly indigenous beliefs (50%), also Muslim (20%) and Christian (30%)
POST AND TELEPHONE
Fairly good postal system in Maputo and other major towns. Bad phone system.
CRIME AND SAFETY
Pretty safe, as long as you do not go looking for trouble.
Always be careful when stopping along the side of the
road. Lots of landmines still in rural areas.
Time and tide have not been kind to Mozambique. A long, horrific civil war has scarred the country, shattered its infrastructure and left a million land mines scattered about the countryside. Much of its wildlife, including big game such as elephants and rhinos, has been decimated by war, and cyclones have ravaged its coastline. Droughts and floods take turns rubbing salt in Mozambique’s wounds.