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Brief History

Mozambique, officially known as the Republic of Mozambique, became independent from Portugal on June 25, 1975, and became the People's Republic of Mozambique shortly after. It was the scene of an intense civil war lasting from 1977 to 1992 –when it ended after a UN-negotiated peace agreement between FRELIMO and rebel Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) forces. The country was named Moçambique by the Portuguese after the Island of Mozambique. In December 2004, Mozambique underwent a delicate transition as Joaquim Chissano stepped down after 18 years in office, and was replaced by Armando Gguebuza in February 2, 2005. Mozambique is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries and an observer of the Francophonie.

Geography

Mozambique, capital Maputo, is located in southeastern Africa covering an area of 799,380 square kilometers. It is the world's 35th-largest country, bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. Mozambique has a tropical climate with two seasons, a wet season from October to March and a dry season from April to September. Climatic conditions, however, vary depending on altitude. The country is drained by five principal rivers and several smaller ones with the largest and most important the Zambezi. The country has four lakes: Lake Niassa, Lake Chiuta, Lake Cahora Bassa and Lake Shirwa, all in the north. Natural resources include coal, titanium, natural gas, hydropower, tantalum, and graphite.

People

Mozambique has a population of 22,061,451 (2010). In 1998, 99.66% of the population was made up of Africans, including the Makhuwa, Tsonga, Lomwe, Sena. Europeans make up 0.06% of the population, Euro-Africans 0.2%, and Indians 0.08%. The literacy rate is 47.8% (2003) and the unemployment rate is 60% (2009). Its religions are distributed among Roman Catholics that make up 23.8% of the population, 17.8% Muslims, 17.5% Zionist Christians, 17.8% of the people held other beliefs, mainly animism, and 23.1% had no religious beliefs.

Government

The government of Mozambique is subject to a republic system. Its legal system is based on Portuguese civil law system and customary law. It has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. The chief of state is President Armando Guebuza, since February 2, 2005, and the head of government is Prime Minister Aires Bonifacio Ali since January 16, 2010. The official currency is the metical, where 35 meticals are equivalent to US$1.

Economy

Mozambique was one of the world's poorest countries with 70% of the population falling below the poverty line (2001) and GDP per US$900 (2009).

Mozambique has the natural resources to sustain the development of the agriculture, forestry, fishing, energy and tourism industries. Subsistence agriculture continues to employ the vast majority of the country's work force. Mozambique's major cash crops are cashew nuts, cotton, copra, sugar, tea, and cassava, and its major food crops are corn and sorghum. The country's major exports are agricultural products, coal and energy, aluminum, textiles, cement, glass, asbestos and tobacco. Manufacturing is centered mostly in food processing and beverages. Other industries make glass, soaps, oils, ceramics, paper, tires, railway equipment, radios, bicycles, and matches.

Mozambique has considerable mineral resources despite limited exploitation. The country’s oil and gas industry also has potential. However, heavy reliance on aluminum, which accounts for about one-third of exports, subjects the economy to volatile international prices. The sharp decline in aluminum prices during the global economic crisis lowered GDP growth by several percentage points.

The construction sector showed strong growth in the early 2000s, as projects to rebuild roads, bridges, schools, clinics, and other basic infrastructure were underway.

Mozambique's once substantial foreign debt has been reduced through forgiveness and rescheduling under the IMF's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and Enhanced HIPC initiatives, and is now at a manageable level.

Mozambique grew at an average annual rate of 9% for most of the past decade, one of Africa's strongest performances.

The inflation rate is 3.3% (2009) and the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is estimated to be US$372.78 (2010).


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