Mozambique is a country in Southeast Africa. Mozambique is
located on the Indian Ocean between the 10th and 27th southern
latitude. The state borders with Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe,
South Africa and Eswatini. The Mozambique Channel separates the
island nation of Madagascar from mainland Africa. The capital is
Maputo, other important cities in Mozambique are Matola, Beira and
On June 25, 1975, Mozambique gained independence from Portugal. Due to the years of civil war that followed, it is still one of the poorest countries in the world. Mozambique has been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations since November 12, 1995. Since the discovery of large oil fields off the coast of Cabo Delgado province in the north in 2010/2011, the country has great potential for economic recovery. However, in recent years, the division between the numerous cultures and religions in the country has also increased. At the latest since the spread of the Islamist terrorist organization IS since 2015 (also in the province of Cabo Delgado), the state of Mozambique has been in danger of failing.
location and description
Along the 2800 km long coast there is a wide coastal lowland. It covers most of the south, but narrows northwards from the Zambezi estuary. Behind the coast, the land rises in stages up to the approximately 1000 m high plateau of the high field. The highest mountain is Monte Binga in Manica province (on the border with Zimbabwe) at 2436 m.
With a land area of 801,590 km², Mozambique ranks 34th in the world. 18% of the land area is forest and bush land, 4% arable land, 55% meadows and pastures.
The extent of the country is 2000 km north-south and 50 to 600 km west-east. The coast of the Indian Ocean is 2800 km long.
Mozambique has 4571 km of national borders, of which 756 km with Tanzania, 1569 km with Malawi, 419 km with Zambia, 1231 km with Zimbabwe, 491 km with South Africa and 105 km with Eswatini.
Savannah climate with a wet and a dry season prevails. Around 80% of the annual precipitation falls in the rainy season, which runs from November to April. Depending on the region, these vary between 700 and 1500 mm per year. While the temperatures during the rainy season are hot and humid (tropical), the dry season is mainly characterized by significantly cooler nights. Day temperatures are between 25 and 30 °C all year round, inland up to 35 °C. The nights are sometimes very humid at around 15 to 25 °C, especially on the coast.
In some years, around 2007/2008, there was unusually high rainfall, which claimed lives and threatened harvests. Overall, the country experiences high climate variability and frequent extreme weather events (particularly droughts, floods, tropical cyclones). Droughts are the most common disasters, occur about every three to four years and massively impede the country's development. Regarding the consequences of global warming, it is assumed that cyclones could occur less frequently, but their intensity and thus precipitation is likely to increase. In 2019, for example, Cyclones Idai and Kenneth were unusually intense and caused severe damage. These weather events can also lead to increased erosion in coastal areas. Since a large part of the population and especially many poor people in rural areas live from rainfed agriculture, they are particularly vulnerable to changes in precipitation patterns.
Bodies of water
The country's numerous rivers flow east from the highlands into the Mozambique Straits. The largest river is the Zambezi (2,574 km), which is dammed in western Mozambique by the Cahora Bassa Dam. Other large rivers are the Rovuma, the border river to Tanzania, as well as the Sava and the Limpopo. Lake Malawi forms part of the border with Malawi; its outflow is the Shire, which empties into the Zambezi. Together with the Lurio, the drainage basins of these rivers make up over half of the country. However, due to its geography, Mozambique only accounts for a comparatively small proportion of the catchment areas of international rivers. The national water authority Direcção Nacional de Águas is responsible for drinking water production and monitoring the water situation.
The dominant vegetation is dry savannah with dry grasslands and some dry forests. Some of the trees in the savannah shed their leaves during the dry season and turn green during the rainy season. Typical trees of the dry savannah are umbrella acacias and baobabs. The grass is brown and withers in the dry season but grows up to 2 meters high during the rainy season.
The majority of the total population belongs to Bantu peoples. The Makua make up the largest group with about 40% of the population, and the Tsonga are also an influential group with 21%. The Yao, who also live in Malawi, make up 12% of the population, and the Makonde in the north-east are also a strong minority at 11%. The East African Swahili ethnic group lives in the coastal area and makes up 7% of the population. In addition, the Chewa still live in the country with a share of 4% of the population - their main settlement area is Malawi. The smaller 3% Shona minority in the West, in turn, forms the majority population in Zimbabwe.
In 2017, 0.8% of the population was foreign-born. Furthermore, many people with a migration background (Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese), Europeans (mainly Portuguese) and South Africans live in Mozambique. The return of almost five million internally displaced persons to their home towns and the return of 1.7 million refugees from neighboring countries after the end of the Mozambican civil war as well as around 15,000 Mozambicans from the former German Democratic Republic, so-called Madgermanes, pose major challenges for the country.
Mozambique has a significant diaspora in South Africa. In 2017, around 680,000 people from Mozambique lived there. Other countries with many Mozambicans living abroad are Zimbabwe (90,000) and Portugal (70,000).
Altogether more than 40 languages are spoken in the country. The native national languages belong to the language group of the Bantu languages. According to the 2007 census, Portuguese, the only official language, is now spoken by about 12% (mainly in cities) of the total population as a mother tongue, but in Maputo it is spoken by about 25%. A good 50% speak Portuguese as a second language in addition to their native language. Most Mozambicans speak more than one native language. In addition to the official language Portuguese, the most important languages include (sorted according to the proportion of speakers):
Makua, also eMakhuwa - the most important language in northern Mozambique is spoken by 25.3% of the population according to the 2007 census. 40% of the residents are considered ethnic Makua. These speak different variants within an eMakua dialect continuum or "Makhuwa languages" - according to Ethnologue nine in Mozambique -, of which the "central Makhuwa" - 2006 with 3.09 million speakers - also simply as "eMakhuwa" or "eMakua".
Changana – spoken by 10.7% of the population in the South West in Maputo Province and Gaza Province, also called Ronga in Maputo City; however, the ethnic Tsonga population is 21%
Sena – in Sofala province by 7.5% of the population
Chilomwe - 7% of the population (closely related to eMakhua)
Chuwabo - 5.1% of the population
Swahili – in the north (border with Tanzania)
ChiMakonde – in the northeast (province of Cabo Delgado)
Chichewa – also called Nyanja; to the west (Tete Province), the area borders Zambia and Malawi, where this language is also spoken.
Shona - Spoken by the Shona people
Ndau - Spoken in Sofala Province, related to the Shona language
Tswa – in the South East (Inhambane Province)
Among foreign languages, those spoken by Chinese, Indian and Pakistani immigrants stand out.
During the colonial period, the Roman Catholic Church was by far the most important Christian denomination. Since independence, however, evangelical movements have become increasingly important. Of particular importance is the popular TV station TV Miramar, which is owned by the Brazilian faith healer sect Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus, which also broadcasts Christian fundamentalist content in addition to well-known Brazilian telenovelas.
According to a survey from 2007, a total of 28.4% of the inhabitants are Roman Catholic (mainly in the south and south-west) and 17.9% are Muslim (mainly Sunni, especially in the north and in the coastal regions). 15.5% are Zionist Christians. Protestants make up 12.2% of the population, of which 10.9% are Pentecostals and 1.3% Anglicans. 6.7% belong to other religions, mostly traditional religions. 18.7% do not belong to any religion and 0.7% are not recorded.