Mozambique is a country of nearly 20 million inhabitants and is situated on the eastern coast of Africa directly opposite the Indian Ocean island state of Madagascar. Mozambique is bordered by Tanzania in the north, and going anticlockwise by Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Swaziland. The country has an extremely long coastline of warm tropical water, and with a reef stretching along the entire coast is a mecca for scuba divers.
Two important rivers flow through Mozambique, the Limpopo and the Zambesi, upon which is the vast Caborra Bassa dam and hydroelectric scheme. In the north of the country there are several hundred miles of coast on Lake Malawi. There are mountains rising to 8000-feet in the west and north of the country. Most of the country is comprised of a wide coastal plain.
Mozambique was for a long time a colony of Portugal, whose explorers first visited the country in 1498 AD. At that time there were a few Arabic trading settlements dotted along the coast, and from 1500 AD Portugal had established a chain of trading posts and forts, calling points for its ships sailing to the East. Mozambique was granted its independence in 1975 following a military coup in Portugal that overturned its government. A brutal civil war followed Independence, and it was not until 1992 that a democratic government was in place for the first time. By 1995 the 1.7 million Mozambicans who had sought refuge from the civil war in neighbouring countries had mostly returned to their places of origin.
Apart from the year 2000 when there were devastating floods, economic growth has been sustained at high levels since democracy, though nearly 90% of the country�s arable land is still uncultivated. Most of the populations are subsistence farmers, and there is still much work to be done to build up commercial networks and infrastructure. Many smaller state-owned businesses have been privatized, but there is still much to be done to improve the trade balance. Mozambique is divided into ten provinces and the capital, Maputo, which has provincial status.
Mozambique has risen from a bankrupt country in the late 1970s to become one of Africa�s new successes. The country produces ample food for itself, and has plenty left over for exports. The main exports are coal and energy (electric power is exported to South Africa), agricultural products, aluminum, asbestos, textiles, cement, glass and tobacco. Since 1994 there has been major investment in the country by South Africa. The main imports are mining equipment, pharmaceuticals, raw materials, spare parts, chemical products, consumer goods and crude oil.
It is essential to be aware of the several potential health hazards of Mozambique and to take precautions where necessary. Malaria is widespread, but don�t rely on Chloroquine or Paludrine as these drugs are now ineffective against resistant strains of the disease. See your doctor before you travel. Avoid tap water if you can � bottled water is cheap and plentiful in the cities and resorts. If you�re going to places where bottled water is scarce, take a good water purification kit. HIV is common here, so avoid unprotected sex. If you are concerned about the hygiene of a restaurant, avoid it. Be sure to get all of your vaccine shots before you travel to Mozambique.
Apart from the highway to Johannesburg, which is good, and the road to Swaziland, which is in reasonable condition, other internal roads of Mozambique are in poor condition and travel by 4 x 4 is recommended. There are railway links with Johannesburg, Malawi and Zimbabwe, and several airlines serve Mozambique from neighbouring countries as well as to and from Kenya and Portugal.