Mozambique Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Mozambique > Map Economy History

Facts About Mozambique

Background: Almost five centuries as a Portuguese colony came to a close with independence in 1975. Large-scale emigration by whites, economic dependence on South Africa, a severe drought, and a prolonged civil war hindered the country's development. The ruling 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 with rebel forces ended the fighting in 1992.
Government type: republic
Capital: Maputo
Currency: 1 metical (Mt) = 100 centavos

Geography of Mozambique

Location: Southern Africa, bordering the Mozambique Channel, between South Africa and Tanzania
Geographic coordinates: 18 15 S, 35 00 E
total: 801,590 sq km
land: 784,090 sq km
water: 17,500 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 4,571 km
border countries: Malawi 1,569 km, South Africa 491 km, Swaziland 105 km, Tanzania 756 km, Zambia 419 km, Zimbabwe 1,231 km
Coastline: 2,470 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: tropical to subtropical
Terrain: mostly coastal lowlands, uplands in center, high plateaus in northwest, mountains in west
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Monte Binga 2,436 m
Natural resources: coal, titanium, natural gas, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 4%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 56%
forests and woodland: 18%
other: 22% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 1,180 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: severe droughts and floods occur in central and southern provinces; devastating cyclones
Environment - current issues: a long civil war and recurrent drought in the hinterlands have resulted in increased migration of the population to urban and coastal areas with adverse environmental consequences; desertification; pollution of surface and coastal waters.
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: the mighty Zambezi flows through the north-central and most fertile part of the country.

People of Mozambique

Mozambique's major ethnic groups encompass numerous subgroups with diverse languages, dialects, cultures, and histories.

The north-central provinces of Zambezia and Nampula are the most populous, with about 45% of the population. The estimated 4 million Makua are the dominant group in the northern part of the country; the Sena and Ndau are prominent in the Zambezi valley, and the Tsonga and Shangaan dominate in southern Mozambique.

Despite the influence of Islamic coastal traders and European colonizers, the people of Mozambique have largely retained an indigenous culture based on subsistence agriculture. Mozambique's most highly developed art forms have been wood sculpture, for which the Makonde in northern Mozambique are particularly renowned, and dance. The middle and upper classes continue to be heavily influenced by the Portuguese colonial and linguistic heritage.

During the colonial era, Christian missionaries were active in Mozambique, and many foreign clergy remain in the country. While precise statistics are difficult to obtain, most observers believe that about 20%-30% of the population is Christian, 15%-20% Muslim, with the rest adhering to traditional beliefs.

Under the colonial regime, educational opportunities for black Mozambicans were limited, and 93% of the population was illiterate. After independence, the government placed a high priority on expanding education, which reduced the illiteracy rate to about two-thirds as primary school enrollment increased.

Population: 19,406,703 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  42.72% 
15-64 years:  54.53%
65 years and over:  2.75% 
Population growth rate: 1.3% 
Birth rate: 37.2 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 24.21deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 139.2 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  36.45 years
male:  37.25 years
female:  35.62 years 
Total fertility rate: 4.82 children born/woman 
noun: Mozambican(s)
adjective: Mozambican
Ethnic groups: indigenous tribal groups 99.66% (Shangaan, Chokwe, Manyika, Sena, Makua, and others), Europeans 0.06%, Euro-Africans 0.2%, Indians 0.08%
Religions: indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%
Languages: Portuguese (official), indigenous dialects
definition:  age 15 and over can read and write
total population:  42.3%
male:  58.4%
female:  27% (1998 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Mozambique > Map Economy History