Mozambique is situated in the south-east of the African continent and is bordered to the east and south-east by the Mozambique Channel of the Indian Ocean. Its area is 801,590 km². Until 1975 Mozambique was a colony of Portugal. The official language is Portuguese. Almost half of the country is occupied by the Mozambique lowlands, reaching a width of 400 km in the south and narrowing to a few tens of kilometers in the north. The weakly hilly plain rises gently to 350-400 m above sea level in the west.
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Climate and Nature
In the north is the Nyasa Plateau (average altitudes of 500-1000 m, but some peaks rise to 2,000 m), which rises to the lake of the same name; in the west and northwest are the crystal plateaus of Mozambique, Angoni, Motabeli with the highest point, Mount Binga (2,436 m). In the southwest, near the border with South Africa, rise the volcanic Mount Lebombo. The major rivers Zambezi and Limpopo and many smaller rivers (Lurio, Savi, Ligonja, etc.) flow through Mozambique, replete with rapids and waterfalls in the mountainous areas. The northwestern part of the country is the coast of the giant border Lake Nyasa, and Lake Chilwa is also on the border with Malawi.
The climate in the north is close to the equatorial: temperatures are high all year round (25-28 ° C), rainfall is 1300-1500 mm a year. To the south, the climate changes to tropical trade winds: average annual temperatures fall to 20-22 ° C, precipitation is also less – 500-1000 mm per year. The wet season lasts from November to April-May. On the plateaus in the north there are sparse forests – light tropical miombo forests, in the highlands – mountain forests, in which Mlandzi cedar and podocarpus are found. South of the Zambezi River, high grass savannahs with isolated groups of acacias and baobabs prevail; in southern Mozambique, vegetation called “mopaniveld”: broad-leaved mopani, acacia, and other stunted trees form a forest savanna that sheds its leaves in the dry season. Wet gallery forests interspersed with lianas are preserved in river valleys, and mangrove forests along the coast. Large mammals – elephants, hippos, buffalo and other ungulates, lions, white rhinoceroses are mainly preserved in national parks, the largest of which are Gorongosa, Marroumeu, Maputo.
Almost the entire population of Mozambique (over 28.8 million people) are Bantu-speaking peoples: Macua, Tsonga, Malawi, Makonde, and others. Most of the inhabitants (80%) follow local animistic cults, the rest are Catholic Christians and Muslims. In Mozambique four economic and cultural types are distinguished. Along the coast, the Swahili culture remains influenced by Islam. The population here is engaged in tropical farming combined with fishing and crafts such as silver embossing, weaving, and shell work. The Makua, Yao, and Malawi peoples, who have been influenced by Islam, have preserved ancient African traditions and are engaged in slash-and-burn farming and cattle breeding (crafts are poorly developed). The Makonde have formed a very peculiar way of life: farming is combined with hunting and bee-keeping, woodcarving is developed (small sculptures are famous). Dances performed in ritual masks are distinctive. The remaining peoples have experienced too strong influence of different waves of colonization and have almost lost their original culture. The capital Maputo grew up on the site of the Portuguese fort laid out in 1781, but the old buildings are almost extinct. Other major cities are Beira, Nampula, Tete, Lishinga, Inhambane.
When Portuguese sailors reached Mozambique in 1498, there were already Arab trade settlements on the coast. In the 16th century Portuguese settlements appeared in Mozambique and became bases on the trade routes to South Asia. Later, white men began to penetrate inland in search of gold and slaves. Although Portuguese influence in the region was expanding, power was held by individual settlers who had considerable autonomy. Portugal focused more on the more profitable trade with India and Southeast Asia, as well as on the colonization of Brazil.
By the early twentieth century, Portugal ceded control of large areas of its colony to three private British companies: The Mozambique Company, the Zambezi Company, and the Nyasa Company. These companies built railroads linking Mozambique with neighboring British colonies and supplied cheap labor to plantations and mines in the region.
After World War II, Portugal did not follow the example of other European countries and did not grant independence to its colonies. They were declared “overseas territories,” and migration from the metropolis continued. With the decolonization of most countries of the continent and the growing influence of national liberation movements in the international arena, political consolidation processes of the regime’s opponents began in the Portuguese possessions. In 1962, several anti-colonial political groups united to form the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), which in September 1964 initiated an armed conflict against Portuguese colonial rule. From the beginning, the Front maintained close contacts with rebel groups from Angola (MPLA) and Guinea-Bissau (PAIGC).
FRELIMO, relying on bases in Tanzania and the support of the USSR and China, conducted active combat operations in the northern regions of the country and was able to hold party congresses in the territory under its control, but overall military experts assess the outcome of the confrontation by the mid-1970s as a draw.
After the armed coup in Portugal known as the Carnation Revolution, Mozambique gained independence on June 25, 1975. Under these conditions, FRELIMO established a one-party system oriented to socialist countries, disbanded religious educational institutions, dismantled the traditional chiefdom-based system of government, introduced a planned economy, which was accompanied by a major nationalization, an ill-conceived agrarian reform and the expulsion of all Portuguese settlers, depriving the new country of almost the entire corps of qualified specialists. With the support of Southern Rhodesia and South Africa, an armed opposition to the regime was formed in the country and a civil war began, accompanied by significant civilian casualties, extensive damage to infrastructure, and the migration of large numbers of refugees. The hostilities did not end until 1992, after a change in the political picture of the region.
After the signing of the peace treaty and the transition of the opposition into political space in Mozambique, there is a struggle between former antagonists of the civil war and now giants of the political scene – FRELIMO and RENAMO, relying largely on the largest ethnic groups of the country; RENAMO draws support from the north, their opponents from the south. FRELIMO has consistently won parliamentary and presidential elections.
Despite internationally noted economic achievements, Mozambique continues to be one of the poorest countries in the world.
Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world. Nevertheless, it is considered one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Agriculture is the mainstay of Mozambique’s economy. Its share of GDP is 22%. Land is suitable for cultivation on 36 million hectares, but only 5,4 million hectares are cultivated. It is irrigated with 120 thousand hectares. The share of agricultural products in exports is 25%. Livestock is concentrated in the south of the country. Rice, peanuts, sugar cane, oranges, colas, papaya, etc. are grown.
The civil war in the country dealt a heavy blow to the industry. Many roads were destroyed, mines and mines were flooded. Since 1993 there has been an economic program based on liberalization and privatization.
There are deposits of iron ore, hard coal, natural gas and bauxite. Capital from neighboring South Africa plays a major role. European countries and Australia participate in the development of mineral deposits.
The processing industry is represented mainly by factories processing agricultural raw materials (for example cashew nuts) and soap factories. The sugar industry, destroyed by the civil war, is being restored. An aluminum smelter, breweries, paper, cement and glass factories have been opened. In 2000 a factory for the assembly of “Fiat” automobiles began operating. The textile industry is developing.
The Republic of Mozambique: cultural life, history of the country, peculiarities of cuisine and proper recreation
Mozambique. Photo by Peter Warne.
Mozambique is a country that strikes with its identity, rich history and beautiful nature. This country breaks all stereotypes about Africa, because it has:
- exotic islands,
- turquoise lagoons with tropical groves;
- Endless sandy beaches with the most beautiful underwater fauna and flora are a well-deserved admiration.
Mozambique is a former Portuguese colony, now an independent country in southeast Africa, washed by the Indian Ocean Gulf of the same name. Travel to Mozambique is suitable for those who want a break from computers, skyscrapers and the flow of people.
Beach, Mozambique. Photo by Carolina Guerra.
History of emergence and development
Mozambique is among the world’s oldest states. Its center is Maputo. People have inhabited these territories for more than one million years. Proof of this is the paleontological findings of Homo sapiens, which were found in this area of Africa. Many ancient peoples, whose existence has sunk into oblivion as nomadic groups, have been succeeding each other for hundreds of thousands of years.
About two thousand years ago, the Bantu peoples began to move here, and with them the first signs of civilization. It was they who became the basis of the country’s population known to modern times.
Chimanini Mountains, Mozambique. Photo by Petra Ballings.
This part of Africa began to develop strongly due to the lucrative trade in the resources available here – ivory and gold. Mozambique demonstrates a high level of development even in modern conditions.
Mozambique stands out among other countries in Africa for its developed, diverse and distinctive folklore. It is surprising that the local population has not lost and has not weakened its traditions even under the influence of the Civil War and colonization, which lasted for decades.
Mozambican folk music is popular not only within the country, but also far beyond. Modern researchers are finding more and more reasons to consider the local music as the “progenitor” of the popular reggae trend.
Tofo Beach, Mozambique. Photo by chipmonk.
Places to visit
Mozambique is the proud owner of at least one landmark already included in the legendary UNESCO list. As well as three others that are currently candidates for this status. They are:
- The Island of Mozambique. It received cultural heritage status in 1931;
- Maniikeni and Chibuene. Maniikeni is the remains of an ancient city located half a hundred kilometers from modern Vilankulush, while Chibuene is another ancient settlement known for its trade. It can also be found half a hundred kilometers away from Maniikeni;
- Yaurimbas archipelago. These are 31 beautiful islands within a radius of two hundred kilometers from Cape Delgado. Some of them have interesting Swahili colonies to visit;
- The Vumba Mountain System. This mountain range is worth several memorable photos: the cave paintings found here depict some rituals and human figures, creating a magical, even spiritualistic atmosphere;
- Ponta de Ouro Protected. This protected area in the sea near Maputo will give travelers an unforgettable experience.
Medjumbe Island, Mozambique. Photo by Trouvaille Blue.
There are other no less interesting sights, worthy of attention of tourists. Visitors to Mozambique will surely enjoy visiting these places:
- Bazaruto. A fantastic underwater park, where you can experience the unique underwater nature of Mozambique;
- Mozambique’s national parks. Three of them are particularly famous, these are Zinave, Gorongosa and Banyine. Visiting one after the other, visitors will be amazed at the uniqueness of African plants, landscapes and exotic animals on land;
- Capital. In the heart of the country, the Cathedral of Conception, the Botanical Gardens, the Museum of Money and the old fortress are worth a visit. Statues of the Working Horse and the one dedicated to the country’s first president, Samora Machel, will add to the photo archive of the trip.
Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique. Photo by Mauro Crialesi.
Amazing sandy beaches are a well-deserved pride of Mozambique. Some of them are famous far beyond the country. For example, Tofu – not only the sand, but also the chic diving. Lurio, Moma, Cape Barra and Langoshe – a combination of the purest dunes and tropical and mangrove groves.
Mozambique has long been under the powerful influence of Portugal, so the legal framework of the country is based on its principle. This knowledge will help avoid legal misunderstandings.
Tourists planning a vacation in Mozambique should not forget that the civil war in the country ended not so long ago. As a consequence, clearing the country of shells is still in process. The northern parts of Mozambique are not safe. But Maputo, the southern regions and the coast will give you an unforgettable vacation experience. Finding a car to rent in Mozambique is not difficult, you only need an international driver’s license.
Presidential inauguration, Maputo, Mozambique. Photo by Paul Kagame.
Climate in Mozambique
Mozambique’s nature and climate is as variable as an African woman and varies from location to location. The north is close to the equator and dances from there, the south drowns in the tropics. In the north the temperature ranges to +28 °C, in the south and east to +22 °C.
The wet season in Mozambique from November to April, the locals call it winter, because the temperature is very high and the rains are pouring. You can travel in “Mozambique winter weekend,” but only during the first months of the rainy season, because in March the roads there are washed away for good.
If you are drawn to swim at the sea and visit the beautiful local attractions, then this country should be visited better from November to May. It’s not too hot, but it’s cool and the humidity is also low. But if you prefer solitude with nature, the best time to observe animal migrations in Mozambique is from August to September, and for birdwatchers paradise lasts from December to April.
Fishermen, Mozambique. Photo by Marielle de Valk.
Where and what to eat in Mozambique
Mozambican cuisine is a kind of tandem of Portuguese culinary traditions with local, African ones. Seafood and traditional rice, meat and potatoes, and of course spices, mainly hot peppers, are considered to be the basic ingredients.
However, despite the usual set of products for the European, the local cuisine is very surprising. For example, only here in Mozambique, you can try such dishes:
Feijoada, Mozambique. Author of the photo – demozito.
- Rice rolls with a meat layer served on an unexpectedly sweet tortilla. The locals call the dish “Paozinho.”
- Mozambican cuisine is also famous hearty goulash, which is cooked from several kinds of meat and served with Pri Pri Pri sauce (similar to the “Chili” sauce we know);
- More exotic dishes – cassava porridge with turkey (known as “Shima”);
- “Matapa” is the most favorite food on the coast. It is shrimp marinated with lemon, garlic, and the same spicy sauce;
- a little more exotic – delicious goulash, which is based on mussels, with the addition of potatoes, palm leaves and even coconut milk;
- octopus with chickpeas in the salad and marinated squid – exotic for the most adventurous tourists;
- “Feijoads, a rich broth-based soup made from pig with the addition of cornmeal, can be eaten for the first course.
The range of spirits consists of local beers, popular moonshine (locally brewed on cashews) and cane vodka.
For those leading a healthy lifestyle, non-alcoholic teas, fruit juices, weakly brewed coffee, and of course, coconut milk are offered. The most unusual is the decoction of the local plant. It is prepared in the local tribes, and they say that it significantly prolongs life.
But lovers of sweets will not have to count on a wide range of desserts in Mozambique. To order a cup of coffee will be only sweet tortillas, unusually cooked bananas (fried) and cookies with rice flour and coconut.
Do tourists need to be afraid of anything?
The civil war in Mozambique ended relatively recently. However, local people are not embittered, friendly to newcomers and quite friendly. However, some features of security in the country still exist.
Visitors to this country should be aware:
- The specific climate is conducive to some diseases (hepatitis, intestinal diseases, etc.). Therefore, tourists are advised to strictly follow the rules of sanitation: frequent hand washing, drinking boiled water, etc. Before traveling to Africa, it is advisable to be vaccinated against malaria and dengue fever (although it is not mandatory);
- Echoes of war in the form of unexploded mines and shells still remain. Although demining is being done by the government. Tourists are therefore strongly advised to use the services of a qualified local guide, to refrain from wandering on unknown paths and to take risks for “wow” selfies. Especially be aware that not all mined areas are appropriately marked;
- In Mozambique, it is possible to encounter demining squads. Their “employees” – marsupial rats – will cause a special reaction. It looks funny, however, they have earned a reputation as excellent searchers, and are effective in detecting explosive “echoes” of war;
- fishing enthusiasts will be a little upset: to fish they will have to obtain a permit from the Maritime Administration of the province in which you intend to fish;
- The law – for more than 10 years smoking in public places has been forbidden in the country. However, in practice, the law works poorly, and many catering establishments ignore it.
Where to stay for accommodation
Tourists in Mozambique will find a place to stay for all budgets. There are simple cheap hostels, and luxury hotels for the most sophisticated comfort. But there are some features of the hotel business in the country.
The fact is that many hotels in Mozambique have not received an assessment classification, and many hotels have not updated service since the war. But neither of these things does not prevent them from setting prices that are clearly (sometimes very) higher than the service offered. This happens because there is little competition, because there are not many places of accommodation in the country.
For information: outlets in Mozambique are euro, with the usual 220V.
Hostels and hotels are concentrated mainly in the capital, Pemba, Tofu and other tourist cities.
Maputo, Mozambique. Photo by Rapsak.
The way to Mozambique
There are international flights to Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, via South Africa. There are no more convenient flights. It would be easier for Russians to get from Frankfurt to Johannesburg.
To cope with the cumbersome transfer costs, the Mozambican airline Air Corridor has planned to launch several direct flights from the Mozambican capital. But even with these prospects, keep in mind that passengers are charged an average of about $5 to $20 USD.
Traveling to Africa is extremely inconsiderate without two indispensable things: medical insurance (because it is not superfluous to visit African countries) and visa. Especially since Mozambique is a visa country.
Beach, Maputo, Mozambique. Photo by Kul Skatkat.
Customs: what you can take with you and what you can take out
Mozambique Customs takes duties from those over the age of 18. Subject to duties: cigarettes, tobacco, liquor, perfume and medicines. As well as too expensive gifts.
At the same time tourists do not have any restrictions on the import of foreign money. Declaration accounted for only for amounts over 5000 USD. But it is forbidden to bring in and take out the national Mozambican currency. And it is better not to check. Weapons, diamonds in processed form or ostrich eggs are subject to mandatory customs control.
Anything that is prohibited by international law and the Bank of Mozambique is forbidden to be imported. As well as any material that in any way offends the people of the country.
Transportation in Mozambique
Modern and well-equipped planes are the best way to travel within the country. Linhas Aereas de Moçambique provides tourist flights. Rail travel, on the other hand, is not relevant in the country. There is only one railroad in the north of the country, near the border.
To take advantage of the example of locals and travel around the country by bus and chapas is possible, but undesirable. The cars are old and the rates are not specified anywhere, and the drivers take advantage of this fact to charge tourists three times the normal price.
Before taking a minibus you should ask the hotel how much it costs to get there, and pay only when you get to the place. The same rule applies to cabs.
Since Mozambican cabs do not have meters, the agreement to pay for the route is discussed with the driver in advance. In the capital itself, the cab fare is constant: 200 MZN for a ride in the city center and 400 MZN for a ride in the countryside and farther distances.
All Mozambican cab drivers and minicabs start their shifts at 4 a.m., so drivers tend to double their prices.
Shopping and Shops
Boutiques and shops are open only on weekdays with breaks for the local “siesta”: 9:00-13:00 and 15:00-18:30. On Saturday, the day is shortened to 1 p.m.
Maputo’s markets and fairs are especially good for buying up local souvenirs and authentic handicrafts. Especially for change (you can’t get change for 500 MZN). And wherever there is no price tag, there are bidding. If you like a long and heated competition with sellers in knocking down the price – you’re welcome.
Try not to forget that since 2012, there is no Mozambican banknote equal to one million. Only as a non-transportable souvenir.
Shopkeeper, Mozambique. Photo by F. Mira.