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Portuguese rule

Around the year 500, bantu tribes entered the territory of present-day Mozambique. At the beginning of the second millennium, Arab and Swahili-speaking traders settled in various places along the coast. In 1498, Vasco da Gama discovered the sea connection between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean by rounding the Cape of Good Hope. This marked the beginning of the Portuguese voyages of discovery to India and the Far East, later followed by the Dutch and English. The Portuguese built forts at Sofala (near present-day Beira) and on Ilha de Moçambique as a support base. The inland kingdom of Mwanamutapa could only be subdued in the 17th century.

The period between the 16th and 19th centuries is characterised by gold fever, slavery (both on plantations and in trade) and skirmishes with Dutch and English privateers on the coast. Until the end of the 18th century, the area was part of the Portuguese Estado da India, of which Goa on the west coast of India was the capital. Afterwards, it became an independent administrative unit under a Governor General. Because of its strategic location on the route to the Far East, Dutch fleets tried three times in the early 17th century to capture the Portuguese fort on Ilha de Moçambique, but failed. In 1721, a Dutch fort, Lagoa, was built on the bay near present-day Maputo. After its occupation was decimated by tropical diseases, after ten difficult years this fort, then also called Fort 'Lijdzaamheid', had to be abandoned.


Mozambique became independent rather abruptly on 25 June 1975, after the "carnation revolution" in 1974 Portugal, and has since been governed by the liberation movement Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo), which was transformed into a political party. Led by Samora Moises Machel, Frelimo opted for a Marxist-Leninist policy from independence onwards. This choice, as well as Mozambique's support of the resistance against the white minority governments in Rhodesia and South Africa, led to a confrontation with both countries in the late 1970s. With the support of these two countries, the Resistência Nacional de Moçambique (Renamo) resistance movement was set up. The armed struggle with Renamo dominated developments in the country for a long time. Renamo was characterised by a brutal crackdown on the civilian population and the destruction of infrastructure. More than 1.5 million people lost their lives in the civil war and around 5 million refugees found themselves inside and outside Mozambique's borders. It was not until 1992 that a peace agreement was signed in Rome. A UN peacekeeping force, called UNOMOZ, was charged with supervising the implementation of the agreement and had, among other things, an important task in the demobilisation, demining and preparation for the elections. This peacekeeping operation, initially planned to last a year, was finally completed in October 1994 with the first parliamentary and presidential elections.

Appointed in 1986 after the fatal accident of Samora Machel, President Joaquim Chissano renounced Marxism-Leninism and embarked on a new political and economic course.

21th century

At the end of 2004, in Mozambique's third democratic elections, Armando Emílio Guebuza was elected as President Chissano's successor.

In May 2008, the government repatriated many Mozambicans who had suffered from ethnic violence in South Africa. President Guebuza was re-elected in October 2009. The Italian energy company Eni discovered a large gas field off the coast of Mozambique in October 2011. In 2012 and 2013, tensions increase between the government and the Renamo; the country is on the brink of civil war. In October 2014, the Frelimo candidate Filipe Nyusi wins the presidential election. He takes office in January 2015, Renamo boycotts the result and wants to form a parallel parliament. In 2017, peace negotiations took place between Prime Minister Nyusi and the Renamo leader Dhlakama. This eventually led to the two parties signing a comprehensive peace agreement in August 2019. Filipe Nyusiwas nominated for a final five-year term in 2020.


Elmar Landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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