Diver's paradise with unaffected sandy beaches!
With it's nearly unaffected beautiful beaches Mosambique is the ideal place for comfortable bathing holidays after a safari through Namibia or Botswana or just for relaxing and diving.
At 309,475 sq mi (801,537 km²), Mozambique is the world's 35th-largest country (after Pakistan). It is comparable in size to Turkey. Mozambique is located on the southeast coast of Africa. It is bound by Swaziland to the south, South Africa to the southwest, Zimbabwe to the west, Zambia and Malawi to the northwest, Tanzania to the north and the Indian Ocean to the east.
Mozambique lies between latitudes 10° and 27°S, and longitudes 30° and 41°E. The country is divided into two topographical regions by the Zambezi River. To the north of the Zambezi River, the narrow coastline moves inland to hills and low plateaus, and further west to rugged highlands, which include the Niassa highlands, Namuli or Shire highlands, Angonia highlands, Tete highlands and the Makonde plateau, covered with miombo woodlands. To the south of the Zambezi River, the lowlands are broader with the The country is drained by five principal rivers and several smaller ones with the largest and most important the Zambezi.
The country has four notable lakes: Lake Niassa (or Malawi), Lake Chiuta, Lake Cahora Bassa and Lake Shirwa, all in the north. The major cities are Maputo, Beira, Nampula, Tete, Quelimane, Chimoio, Pemba, Inhambane, Xai-Xai and Lichinga.
Mozambique's major ethnic groups encompass numerous subgroups with diverse languages, dialects, cultures, and histories. Many are linked to similar ethnic groups living in inland countries. The estimated 4 million Makua are the dominant group in the northern part of the country - the Sena and Shona (mostly Ndau) are prominent in the Zambezi valley, and the Shangaan (Tsonga) dominate in southern Mozambique. Other groups include Makonde, Yao, Swahili, Tonga, Chopi, and Nguni (including Zulu). The country is also home to a shrinking number of white settlers with Portuguese ancestry. There is also a larger mestiço minority with mixed African and Portuguese heritage. The remaining Caucasians in Mozambique are primarily Indian Asiatics, who have arrived from Pakistan, Portuguese India, and numerous Arab countries. There are various estimates for the size of Mozambique's Chinese community, ranging from 1,500 to 12,000 as of 2007.
During the colonial era, Christian missionaries were active in Mozambique, and many foreign clergy remain in the country. According to the 2007 census, about 56.1% of the population are Christians (including 28.4% Catholics), 17.9% are Muslim, 7.3% adheres to traditional beliefs and 18.7% do not associate with a specific religion.
Portuguese is the official and most widely spoken language of the nation, but only 40% of Mozambique's population speak Portuguese as either their first or second language, and only 6.5% speak Portuguese as their first language. Arabs, Chinese, and Indians speak their own languages (Indians from Portuguese India speak any of the Portuguese Creoles of their origin) aside from Portuguese as their second language. Most educated Mozambicans speak English, which is used in schools and business as second or third language.
Maputo, known as Lourenço Marques before independence, is the capital and largest city of Mozambique. It is known as the City of Acacias in reference to acacia trees commonly found along its avenues and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. It was famous for the inscription "This is Portugal" on the walkway of its municipal building. Today it is a port city on the Indian Ocean, with its economy centered around the harbour. Cotton, sugar, chromite, sisal, copra, and hardwood are the chief exports. The city manufactures cement, pottery, furniture, shoes, and rubber. The city is surrounded by Maputo Province, but is administered as its own province. Maputo is a melting pot of several cultures. The Bantu and Portuguese cultures dominate, but the influence of Arab, Indian, and Chinese cultures is also felt. The cuisine is diverse, owing especially to the Portuguese and Muslim heritage, and seafood is also quite abundant. It has a plethora of landmarks. During its five centuries of Portuguese colonialization, the city has gained priceless wonders of Portuguese architecture. Most of the note-worthy buildings are former colonial administrative buildings or current government buildings.
Worth seeing in Maputo: Country and Military Station, Station of Maputo (built by Gustave Eiffel), Old Portuguese Fort
Matola is a city in southern Mozambique, which lies 12 kilometers to the west of the country's capital, Maputo. Matola is the capital of Maputo Province and has had its own elected municipal government since 1998. It has a port and also the biggest industrial area in Mozambique. Matola is an industrial centre with an important port for mineral (chromium and iron) and other exports from Swaziland and South Africa. It has petroleum refineries (presently inactive) and diverse industries, which manufacture products like soap, cement and agricultural materials. The most important of these is an aluminium smelter, installed in 2002, that more than doubled Mozambique's GDP. Matola is served by a station on the southern network of Mozambique Ports and Railways. Coal is exported from here.
Beira is the second largest city in Mozambique. It lies in the central region of the country in Sofala Province, where the Pungue River meets the Indian Ocean. Beira had a population of 412,588 in 1997, which grew to an estimated 546,000 in 2006. It holds the regionally-significant Port of Beira which acts as a gateway for both the central interior portion of the country as well as the land-locked nations of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. Beira was originally developed by the Portuguese Mozambique Company in the 19th century, and directly developed by the Portuguese colonial government from 1947 until Mozambique gained its independence from Portugal in 1975. Beira has long been a major trade point for exports coming in and out of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and other Southern African nations. Because of this, the port of Beira is the second largest in Mozambique. The importance of the port was shown during the Mozambique Civil War, when Zimbabwean troops protected the railway and highway from Beira to Mutare in order to continue trade. here is also a ferry service in Beira, linking the city to neighboring cities, including Nova Sofala and other coastal towns. Beira is served by an airport to the northeast of the city, with both domestic and international flights.
Nampula is the capital city of Nampula Province in Mozambique. It has a population of 471,717 (2007 census) making it the third largest city in Mozambique after Maputo and Beira. It is home to the Mozambique National Ethnographic Museum, several markets, cathedrals and mosques. It is also the center of business in northern Mozambique. Nampula has a few western style hotels and restaurants. It also has an airport and is a transport hub for local transport in Northern Mozambique; however, it is not noted as a tourist destination. The city is home to the Faculty of Health Science, Universidade Lurio. In 2009 a course in optometry was launched, the first of its kind in Mozambique. The course is supported through the Mozambique Eyecare Project. The other partners include Dublin Institute of Technology, University of Ulster and the International Centre for Eyecare Education A railway line serves the city. A railway workshop is located here. The town also has an airport, Nampula Airport which is located 4 kilometres away from citycentre. Minibuses which go from Mozambique Island to Nampula daily, the bus stop is 5 minutes away from the trian station.
Between the 1st and 5th centuries AD, waves of Bantu-speaking people migrated from the west and north through the Zambezi River valley and then gradually into the plateau and coastal areas. They established agricultural communities or societies based on herding cattle. They brought with them the technology for iron making, a metal which they used to make weapons for the conquest of their neighbors. Cities in Mozambique during the Middle Ages (5th to the 16th century) were not sturdily built, so there is little left of many medieval cities such as the trading port Sofala.
From about 1500, Portuguese trading posts and forts displaced the Arabic commercial and military hegemony, becoming regular ports of call on the new European sea route to the east. The voyage of Vasco da Gama around the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean in 1498 marked the Portuguese entry into trade, politics, and society in the Indian Ocean world. The Portuguese gained control of the Island of Mozambique and the port city of Sofala in the early 16th century, and by the 1530s, small groups of Portuguese traders and prospectors seeking gold penetrated the interior regions, where they set up garrisons and trading posts at Sena and Tete on the Zambezi River and tried to gain exclusive control over the gold trade.
Although Portuguese influence gradually expanded, its power was limited and exercised through individual settlers and officials who were granted extensive autonomy. The Portuguese were able to wrest much of the coastal trade from Arabs between 1500 and 1700, but, with the Arab seizure of Portugal's key foothold at Fort Jesus on Mombasa Island (now in Kenya) in 1698, the pendulum began to swing in the other direction.
By the early 20th century the Portuguese had shifted the administration of much of Mozambique to large private companies, like the Mozambique Company, the Zambezia Company and the Niassa Company, controlled and financed mostly by the British, which established railroad lines to neighbouring countries. Although slavery had been legally abolished in Mozambique, at the end of the 19th century the Chartered companies enacted a forced labor policy and supplied cheap-often forced-African labor to the mines and plantations of the nearby British colonies and South Africa. As communist and anti-colonial ideologies spread out across Africa, many clandestine political movements were established in support of Mozambican independence. These movements claimed that since policies and development plans were primarily designed by the ruling authorities for the benefit of Mozambique's Portuguese population, little attention was paid to Mozambique's tribal integration and the development of its native communities.
After 10 years of sporadic warfare and Portugal's return to democracy through a leftist military coup in Lisbon which replaced Portugal's Estado Novo regime for a military junta (the Carnation Revolution of April 1974), FRELIMO took control of the territory. Within a year, most of the 250,000 Portuguese in Mozambique had left - some expelled by the government of the nearly independent territory, some fleeing in fear - and Mozambique became independent from Portugal on June 25, 1975.
The official currency is the New Metical (as of August 2011, 1 USD is roughly equivalent to 27 New Meticals), which replaced old Meticals at the rate of a thousand to one. The old currency will be redeemed by the Bank of Mozambique until the end of 2012. The US dollar, South African rand, and recently the euro are also widely accepted and used in business transactions. The minimum legal salary is around US$60 per month.
In Mozambique, agriculture is the mainstay of the economy and the country has a great potential for growth in the sector. Agriculture employs more than 80 percent of the labour force and provides livelihoods to the vast majority of over 23 million inhabitants. Agriculture contributed 31.5 percent of the GDP in 2009, while commerce and services accounted for 44.9 percent. By contrast, 20 percent of the total export value in 2009 originated from the agriculture sector, mostly through the export of fish (mainly shrimps and prawns), timber, copra, cashew nuts and citrus, cotton, coconuts, tea and tobacco.
In 2012, large natural gas reserves were discovered in Mozambique, revenues from which might dramatically change the economy.