Almost five centuries as a Portuguese colony came to a close with independence in 1975. Large-scale emigration, economic dependence on South Africa, a severe drought, and a prolonged civil war hindered the country's development until the mid 1990s. The ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) party formally abandoned Marxism in 1989, and a new constitution the following year provided for multiparty elections and a free market economy. A UN-negotiated peace agreement between Frelimo and rebel Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) forces ended the fighting in 1992. In December 2004, Mozambique underwent a delicate transition as Joaquim CHISSANO stepped down after 18 years in office. His elected successor, Armando Emilio GUEBUZA, promised to continue the sound economic policies that have encouraged foreign investment. President GUEBUZA was reelected to a second term in October 2009.

 

Official Name: República de Moçambique

Region:

Southeastern Africa

Population:

24,096,669 (July 2013 estimate)

Area Total:

801,590.00 km2

Area Land:

784,090.00 km2

Coast Line:

2,470.00 km

Capital:

Maputo

President:

Armando Guebuza

Climate:

Tropical to subtropical—Seasons are opposite those of the U.S. Mozambique is in the Southern Hemisphere, with latitudes ranging from about 12-26 degrees below the equator. The rainy season is mid-December through March.

  • Sept – Nov: spring

  • Dec – Feb: summer 26 C; 78 F Summers are hot and humid.

  • March – May: fall, rainy weather, waterproof rainwear is a necessity.

  • June – August: winters are mild (similar to Florida or Texas); average temperature 18.3 C; 65 F

Languages:

The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese.
Indigenous dialects: Most Mozambicans use one of the 13 native languages in daily activities and in worship.  In the south, Xitswa is a dominant language.  In the north, Macua is one of the local tongues, as well as Shauna. In the very rural areas of the north it is possible that no one you meet will speak Portuguese.

Currency:

1 metical (MZM) ≈ 100 centavos; 1 dollar ≈ 29.9 meticais

Holiday:

Independence Day, 25 June (1975)

Time difference from Eastern Standard:

Mozambique – 7 hours (6 hours - Daylight Savings Time)

South Africa – 7 hours (6 hours - Daylight Savings Time)

Religions

Indigenous beliefs

50%

 

Christian

30%

 

Muslim

20%

Ethnic divisions

Indigenous tribal groups, mostly Bantu origin

99 %

 

Makua

47%

Swahili

9.8%

 

Tsonga

23.3 %

Yao

3.8%

 

Malawi

12%

Makonde

0.6%

 

Shona

11.3%

 

 

 

Literacy Rate

56.1 % (70.8% among men; 42.8% among women)

 

Current Government: The government is a multiparty republic. The President since February 2005 has been Armando Guebuza. He was elected in December, 2004; the next presidential election will be held in 2014. Alberto Clementino Vaquino has served as Prime Minister since 2012. The unicameral Assembly of the Republic is the main political body overseeing the 10 provinces and 1 city (Maputo). A presidential election is scheduled for October, 2014.

Current Political Parties: Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO); National Resistance of Mozambique (RENAMO); Liberal and Democratic Party of Mozambique (PALMO); National Union of Mozambique (UNAMO).

History: People have lived in what is now Mozambique since 4000 BCE (Before the Common Era). Bantu-speaking people settled there before AD 100, and are the ancestors of the indigenous people found there now. The Portuguese arrived in 1497 and began 500 years of their colonial rule. Independence came on June 25, 1975, after a 15-year armed struggle begun by the founder of FRELIMO, (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique), Dr. Eduardo Mondlane. Dr. Mondlane studied at the Methodist Cambine Boys' Boarding School in Inhambane Province, where he developed his revolutionary ideas. He later obtained a United Methodist Crusade Scholarship to study at universities in Lisbon, Portugal and the United States. Dr. Mondlane was assassinated in 1969, and his successor, Samora Moises Machel, a Maoist, led the country to independence.
When the Portuguese government withdrew its troops and most Portuguese nationals left Mozambique, they took with them the nation's resources of gold, diamonds, and semi-precious gems. The Portuguese destroyed a great deal of property and infrastructure before they left. Modern agricultural machinery was also taken, causing agricultural practices to revert to primitive methods.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in a pact with Portugal, precluded the U.S. and other Western nations from assisting the emerging nation. The new rulers established a rigid single-party form of government under President Machel, once he garnered support from the former Soviet Union and Cuba. Immediately, a South African government-backed guerrilla movement calling itself the National Resistance Movement of Mozambique (RENAMO) began a bitter war of destabilization against the Mozambican government.
Guerrilla warfare caused much death and suffering. Out of a total population around 18 million, as many as six million people sought refuge in camps in neighboring countries. Over one million people were killed, and another million abandoned their homes and villages in the bush and fled to refugee camps near urban centers. Both sides in this conflict used land mines. Until a few years ago, Mozambique had one of the largest concentrations of land mines in the world.
Droughts and the combined malicious destruction of crops, roads, bridges, rail, telephone, and electricity lines wrecked the country's infrastructure and brought life in Mozambique to a near standstill. The national literacy rate was only four percent at the time of independence, which meant that the country lacked the elements necessary for building a modern economy. Critical social and economic problems remained unaddressed.
In 1986, President Machel and several members of his cabinet were killed in a plane crash orchestrated by the apartheid government of South Africa. Joaquim Alberto Chissano succeeded Machel. He managed to bring about changes in the original FRELIMO Marxist constitution, replacing it with a multi-party democratic constitution. FRELIMO and RENAMO signed a peace accord in 1992, made possible by these constitutional changes, as well as by the thawing of the Cold War and by both factions' trust in the churches operating in Mozambique. In 1994 the elections resulted in FRELIMO and President Chissano remaining in power (51% of the vote), but also gave RENAMO political legitimacy (43%).
In 2004 Chissano announced that he would not run again for the presidency. His chosen successor, Armando Emilio Guebuza, was elected in December of 2004 and inaugurated in February 2005. In 2004, Chissano appointed Mozambique's first woman Prime Minister, Luisa Diogo. One of the top priorities for the government of Guebuza and Diogo has been continued economic growth and recovery of a nation that is still one of the world's poorest countries.

The wide coastal plain, wider in the south, gradually rises to relatively low inland plateaus. The Tropic of Capricorn runs across the country, and the climate is hot and dry. Two major rivers cross the country: the Zambezi in the center and the Limpopo in the south. Due to its geographic location, the country's ports are the natural ocean outlets for Malawi, Zimbabwe and part of South Africa. However, trade has been hampered by wars during the past two decades. Mineral resources are important though scarcely exploited. The war devastated the country's entire productive structure, especially in the agricultural sector. The use of its mangrove forests for firewood has caused deforestation.
Mozambique's environmental challenges are largely related to the country's recurrent drought in the inland rural areas. Because of droughts there has been increased migration to urban and coastal areas, resulting in adverse environmental consequences. Current environmental issues in Mozambique include desertification of rural areas, pollution of surface waters and coastal pollution. Major natural hazards in Mozambique include severe droughts and floods occurring in the central and southern provinces, and cyclones. The Ministry for Environmental Coordination oversees the regulation and protection of the environment in Mozambique.

At independence in 1975, Mozambique was one of the world's poorest countries. Socialist mismanagement and a brutal civil war from 1977-92 exacerbated the situation. In 1987, the government embarked on a series of macroeconomic reforms designed to stabilize the economy. These steps, combined with donor assistance and with political stability since the multi-party elections in 1994, have led to dramatic improvements in the country's growth rate. Fiscal reforms, including the introduction of a value-added tax and reform of the customs service, have improved the government's revenue collection abilities.
In spite of these gains, Mozambique remained dependent upon foreign assistance for 40% of its 2012 annual budget and over half the population remained below the poverty line. Subsistence agriculture continues to employ the vast majority of the country's work force and smallholder agricultural productivity and productivity growth is weak. A substantial trade imbalance persists although aluminum production from the Mozal smelter has significantly boosted export earnings in recent years. In 2012, The Mozambican government took over Portugal's last remaining share in the Cahora Bassa Hydroelectricity Company (HCB), a signficant contributor to the Southern African Power Pool. The government has plans to expand the Cahora Bassa Dam and build additional dams to increase its electricity exports and fulfill the needs of its burgeoning domestic industries.