Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique (Portuguese: Moçambique or República de Moçambique, pronounced: [ʁɛˈpublikɐ di musɐ̃ˈbiki]), is a country in Southeast Africa 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. The capital and largest city is Maputo (previously called Lourenço Marques before independence).
Between the 1st and 5th centuries CE, Bantu-speaking peoples migrated from farther north and west. Swahili, and later also Arab, commercial ports existed along the coasts until the arrival of Europeans. The area was explored by Vasco da Gama in 1498 and colonized by Portugal from 1505. After over four centuries of Portuguese rule, Mozambique gained independence in 1975, becoming the People’s Republic of Mozambiqueshortly thereafter. After only two years of independence, the country descended into an intense and protracted civil war lasting from 1977 to 1992. In 1994, Mozambique held its first multiparty elections and has remained a relatively stable presidential republic since.
Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources. The country’s economy is based largely on agriculture, but with industry, mainly food and beverages, chemical manufacturing, aluminium and petroleum production, is growing. The country’s tourism sector is also growing. South Africa is Mozambique’s main trading partner and source of foreign direct investment. Portugal, Brazil, Spain and Belgium are also among the country’s most important economic partners. Since 2001, Mozambique’s annual average GDP growth has been among the world’s highest. However, the country ranks among the lowest in GDP per capita, human development, measures of inequality, and average life expectancy.
The only official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, which is spoken mostly as a second language by about half of the population. Common native languages include Swahili, Makhuwa, and Sena. The country’s population of around 24 million is composed overwhelmingly of Bantu people. The largest religion in Mozambique is Christianity, with significant minorities following Islam and African traditional religions. Mozambique is a member of the African Union, Commonwealth of Nations, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the Latin Union, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Southern African Development Community and La Francophonie.
Artifacts indicating human activity dating back to the early Stone Age 200,000 years ago have been found in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Prehistoric rock art paintings date from ca. 25,000 B.C. and continue up to the 19th century.
The earliest inhabitants of the area were Khoisan hunter-gatherers.They were largely replaced by the Bantu tribes during Bantu migrations who hailed from the Great Lakes regions of eastern Africa. Evidence of agriculture and iron use dates from about the 4th century and people speaking languages ancestral to current Sotho and Nguni languages began settling no later than the 11th century. The Bantu people known as the Swazis established iron-working and settled farming colonies in the 15th century after crossing the Limpopo river. They experienced great economic pressure from the rival Ndwandwe clans from the south.
The country derives its name from a later king, Mswati I. However, Ngwane is an alternative name for Swaziland and Dlamini remains the surname of the royal house, while Nkosi means “king”. Scholarly history of Swaziland shows that independent chiefdoms and small kingdoms dominated by various clans were initially conquered and incorporated into the growing Ngwane kingdom ruled by members of the Dlamini clan sometime in the 18th and 19th centuries, long before British colonisation.
According to Swazi royalist tradition, these clans came to be classified in the Dlamini kingdom as the Emakhandzambile category of clans (“those found ahead”, e.g. the Gamedze), meaning that they were on the land prior to Dlamini immigration and conquest, as opposed to theBomdzabuko (“true Swazi”) who accompanied the Dlamini kings, and the Emafikemuva (“those who came behind”) who joined the kingdom later.Emakhandzambile clans initially were incorporated with wide autonomy, and often in part by granting them special ritual and political status (cf.mediatisation), but the extent of their autonomy was drastically curtailed by King Mswati II, who attacked and subdued some of the clans in the 1850s.