Mozambique is an East African country on the Indian ocean. It is approximately 800,000 sq km in size, with a 2500 km coastline. It has Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia on its north west, Zimbabwe on its west, and South Africa and Swaziland to its south west. Interestingly, whilst Mozambique was a province of Portugal, its neighbours were British colonies. Many will argue that the north of Mozambique is the real “Mozambique” with its early Muslim-Arab history and influence going back to AD 600.
The first Portuguese arrived in 1488 when Vasco de Gama landed on Ilha de Mozambique whilst on his way to INDIA.
Muslim-Arabs dominated trade all along the east coast of Africa from Kenya to Inhambane in Mozambique, where in the 11th century cloth was a major item of trade. It was here in 1560 that the Portuguese established the first Jesuit mission. Over the next 150 years Inhambane developed into a major port, with gold, white gold “ivory” and black gold “slaves” being a major part of the economy.
In 1763 Inhambane was declared a town by the Portuguese Director General and it was about this time that Indian businessmen arrived in the area, marking the beginning of a heterogeneous blend of Indian Muslim and Christian influence which survives till today.
The capital (known as Lourenco Marques until independence from Portugal in 1975) only came into being in 1898 when the seat of government was transferred from Ilha de Mozambique. The Portuguese government realized the importance of a harbour to the South African Republic after the discovery of diamonds in 1869 and major gold deposits in 1886. Portugal enjoyed a great economic contribution from Mozambique during the 19th and early 20th Century by its rape of the country’s resources and its abuse of the natives. The uprising of the natives from 1960 and subsequent attacks on white colonists caused a massive exodus of the white Portuguese, with their money and skills. Independence was hastily agreed to in 1974 with the virtual exodus of all remaining white people from the country. (After independence some whites were given 24 hours to leave the country.)
The Mozambique economy collapsed, borders were closed and a socialist, Marxist-Leninist government installed. A dalliance with the USSR was a disaster, with Mozambique being declared as the poorest country in the world during the mid 8o’s. From 1975 – 1992 (17 years), a ‘civil war’ was fought with support for RENAMO from the then Rhodesia and South Africa, and the ruling party FRELIMO.
From about 1990, the ruling FRELIMO party, with RENAMO agreed that a free market economy and a democratic form of government should be adopted by Mozambique. Mozambique went to the polls for the first time in October 1994.
Since 1995, billions of dollars have been pumped into Mozambique, with major projects like MOZAL (aluminium) and natural gas projects coming on stream. The ports of Maputo and Beira have been dredged and rehabilitated, buildings have been repainted and repaired, the pavement cafes have re-opened, and tourists by the thousands are returning (especially from South Africa).
TOURISM IN MOZAMBIQUE
Most S.A. tourists visit Mozambique for its hundreds of kilometers of pristine palm lined white beaches, snorkeling and scuba diving. Being on the warm Indian ocean, one can swim, lie on the beach, collect shells, build sand castles or admire the surfers doing their thing. Deep sea fishing is very popular whilst other fishers spend time on the rocks and in the surf. There is horseback riding, QUAD BIKING and seafood to die for – and the beer is pretty good too!!
For history buffs, a city tour of places like Inhambane City and Ibo Island is a must
Malaria is a problem, so cover up and spray in the early morning and in the evening and SEE YOUR DOCTOR FOR PROPHELACTICS before setting off for Mozambique.
AIDS is a problem, so don’t be silly!
For the rest, Mozambique is a great destination, with friendly people, good accommodation and it is good value for money.