|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
Government type: republic
Currency: 1 metical (Mt) = 100 centavos
Geography of Mozambique
Location: Southern Africa, bordering the Mozambique Channel, between South
Africa and Tanzania
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.)
SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State
Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Mozambique > Map Economy History