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The Republic of Mozambique is in southeastern Africa, along the west coast of the Indian Ocean, and bordered by Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northeast, Zimbabwe to the west, and Swaziland to the southwest. The Mozambique Channel separated the country from the island nations of Comoros, Madagascar, and Mayotte.

The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, which is spoken as a second language by about half the population. Its native languages include Makhuwa, Sena, and Swahili, and the majority of its people are Bantu. Christianity is the predominant religion, particularly Roman Catholicism, although many of its people practice Islam or various traditional African religions. Agriculture drives the country's economy, although other industries are progressing, particularly food and beverages, chemical manufacturing, and aluminum and petroleum production, as well as tourism. Mozambique's chief trade partner is South Africa, which also has investments within the country.

The country is divided into two sections by the Zambezi River. North of the river, there is a narrow coastal strip, followed by inland hills and plateaus, and then rugged highlands covered by miombo woodlands. South of the river are broad lowlands and plateaus, with the Lebombo Mountains in the deep south. Its larger lakes include Lake Niassa, Lake Chiuta, Lake Cohora Bassa, and Lake Shirwa, all north of the Zambezi River. Its ten largest cities are Maputo, Nampula, Beira, Chimoio, Quelimane, Tete, Lichinga, Pemba, Xai-Xai, and Inhambane. Maputo is the capital of Mozambique, and has a large metro region surrounding the city.

Mozambique is a multi-party democracy governed by a constitution. The executive branch includes a president, prime minister, and council of ministers, and there is also a national assembly and municipal assemblies.

Bantu people migrated into the area as early as the 4th century BC, and large numbers of Bantu people came between the 1st and the 5th centuries AD.

The first Portuguese explorers came in 1498, and Portuguese trading posts and forts were soon established. In the early 1500s, Portugal took control of the Island of Mozambique and the port city of Sofala, and Portuguese traders and prospectors were soon seeking gold in the interior, establishing garrisons and trading posts along the Zambezi River. Mozambique's borders were established as a result of the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1891, which separated Mozambique from Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. Prior to this time, southeastern Africa shared a common history and geographical unity. Relations between the Portuguese and the native populations were problematic. Portugal's attempts to monopolize the gold trade failed due to fragmented and unstable alliances. Its attempts to establish control through local rulers broke down, as well. Difficulties were found not only through poor relations with the native people, but with Muslim traders who had long been established along the coastal areas and outlying islands.

Slavery in Mozambique pre-dated the arrival of the Portuguese, as African rulers and chiefs dealt in the slave trade, first with Arab Muslim traders, and later with the Portuguese and other European slave traders.

Nevertheless, Portugal and various Portuguese companies maintained a presence and a considerable influence over Mozambique for about four centuries, first by governmental and military pressure, then through the influence of private Portuguese companies, some of which were financed and controlled by British financiers. Portuguese missionaries also had a significant effect on the country's religion and culture.

During the period following World War II, communist and anti-colonial sentiment began to spread throughout Africa, spawning several political independence movements in Mozambique, although these movements were focused on the benefits of communism for its Portuguese population, with scant attention given to the country's tribal populations. In 1964, the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique began a guerrilla campaign against the ruling Portuguese, leading to the Portuguese Colonial War, and eventually a series of failed governments. The People's Republic of Mozambique was a one-party government based on Marxist principles. Supported by Cuba and the Soviet Union, it retained a shaky control over Mozambique from 1975 to 1990.

Following a plane crash that took the life of President Machel in 1986, Joaquim Chissano took control of the government, replacing Marxism with capitalism, and enacting a new constitution that created the modern Republic of Mozambique in 1990. Elections were held in 1994.

However, in 2015, an ongoing insurgent campaign was instituted by Islamist groups that continue today.

The focus of this portion of our guide is on the Republic of Mozambique.



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