Wednesday, January 03, 2007

History of Mozambique

History of Mozambique. This is a brief essay on the history of the African nation of Mozambique. As with most essays from the History of Nations site, the emphasis is on 20th century political history.

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "Officially Republic of Mozambique, Portuguese República de Moçambique, country located on the southeastern coast of Africa. It stretches along the Indian Ocean coast from Cape Delgado at latitude 10°27¢ S to latitude 26°52¢ S. Its westernmost border at the Aruângua (Luangwa) River reaches longitude 30°31¢ E, and the easternmost point, 110 miles (175 kilometres) east of Nampula on the Indian Ocean coast, is at longitude 40°51¢ E, but most of the country's 313,661 square miles (812,379 square kilometres) lies between longitudes 32° and 40° E. It is bordered to the south and southwest by South Africa and Swaziland, to the west by Zimbabwe, to the northwest by Zambia, Lake Nyasa (Niassa), and Malawi, and to the north by Tanzania. The Mozambique Channel separates it from Madagascar to the east. The capital city of Maputo (formerly Lourenço Marques) is in the nation's southernmost province."

From the site:

Mozambique's first inhabitants were San hunter and gatherers, ancestors of the Khoisani peoples. Between the first and fourth centuries AD, waves of Bantu-speaking peoples migrated from the north through the Zambezi River valley and then gradually into the plateau and coastal areas. The Bantu were farmers and ironworkers.

When Portuguese explorers reached Mozambique in 1498, Arab-trading settlements had existed along the coast and outlying islands for several centuries. From about 1500, Portuguese trading posts and forts became regular ports of call on the new route to the east. Later, traders and prospectors penetrated the interior regions seeking gold and slaves. Although Portuguese influence gradually expanded, its power was limited and exercised through individual settlers who were granted extensive autonomy. As a result, investment lagged while Lisbon devoted itself to the more lucrative trade with India and the Far East and to the colonization of Brazil.

By the early 20th century the Portuguese had shifted the administration of much of the country to large private companies, controlled and financed mostly by the British, which established railroad lines to neighboring countries and supplied cheap--often forced--African labor to the mines and plantations of the nearby British colonies and South Africa. Because policies were designed to benefit white settlers and the Portuguese homeland, little attention was paid to Mozambique's national integration, its economic infrastructure, or the skills of its population.

After World War II, while many European nations were granting independence to their colonies, Portugal clung to the concept that Mozambique and other Portuguese possessions were overseas provinces of the mother country, and emigration to the colonies soared. Mozambique's Portuguese population at the time of independence was about 250,000. The drive for Mozambican independence developed apace, and in 1962 several anti-colonial political groups formed the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), which initiated an armed campaign against Portuguese colonial rule in September 1964. After 10 years of sporadic warfare and major political changes in Portugal, Mozambique became independent on June 25, 1975.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know that I'm nit-picking but the next time you do a blog about a location could you post a link to a map?

I enjoy the site very much and that was all that was missing from the last post. Thanks for posting this great stuff for all us to read.