A country situated on the south-east coast of Africa, and bounded by Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Swaziland.
The Zambezi flows across the middle of the country and the Limpopo across the south. The coastal plain is low and broad, with areas of sand between the marshy river valleys.
Mozambique's mineral resources include large reserves of coal, iron ore, tantalite, and unknown reserves of natural gas and precious stones. The Cabora Bassa dam on the Zambezi River is one of Africa's largest hydroelectric dams, and electricity is exported to South Africa. The main crops are cassava, maize, coconuts, and sugar cane. Shrimps and cashew nuts are the main exports. Industry consists primarily of the processing of local raw materials; an oil-refinery processes imported petroleum. In the late 1990s government deregulation of the economy led to a burst of growth; however, this has subsequently come to a halt owing to a series of natural disasters.
Mozambique was known to medieval Arab geographers as Musambih. According to the Arab historian al-Masudi it was already exporting gold from mines in the interior of what is now Zimbabwe in the 10th century. Merchants from Mogadishu had a monopoly for a time, though it was taken over by Kilwa in the 12th century. The Portuguese sacked the port of Sofala in 1505, and built a new town as the seat of a captaincy to control the gold and other trade. Settlers also began to trade in slaves in the 16th century. The present city of Moçambique was begun with a fort in 1508 built by the Portuguese as a refreshment station on the way to Goa. The first inland settlements at Sena and Tete were Arab trading towns, from which they made contact with the Mwene Mutapa and other hinterland rulers until the 19th century.
The Portuguese gradually suppressed all indigenous resistance movements during the 19th century. In 1951, Mozambique became an overseas province of Portugal. In order to rid the country of colonial rule, in 1964 the Marxist–Leninist guerrilla group Frelimo was formed (see Frelimo War). By the mid-1970s Portuguese authority had reached the point of collapse, and in 1975 an independent People's Republic was established under the Frelimo leader Samora Machel. Support for the guerrilla campaigns in Rhodesia and South Africa led to repeated military incursions by troops of those countries, and the establishment of a stable government within the framework of a one-party Marxist state was further hindered by the weak state of Mozambique's agricultural economy. In 1984 Mozambique and South Africa signed a non-aggression pact, the Nkomati Accord; but South African support of rebel groups, funded by Portuguese ex-colonists, continued with some 10,000 well-armed troops operating in the country. In 1989 there was a relaxation of its Marxist-Leninist line by Frelimo, and President Joaquim Chissano agreed to meet Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the rebel Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO). There was heavy fighting early in 1990, but in November a new constitution took effect. Formal peace talks, brokered by Presidents Mugabe and Moi (of Zimbabwe and Kenya, respectively), were held in Rome and led to acceptance by RENAMO in October 1991 of the new constitution. After a further year of negotiation a peace treaty was agreed in October 1992 and RENAMO became a legitimate political party. Mozambique's first multiparty elections were held in 1994 and Frelimo, under Chissano, was re-elected. In 1995 Mozambique was admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations as a special case (it has no historical links with Britain). Chissano was succeeded as President by Armando Guebuza in 2005.