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COUNTRY PROFILES


PROFILE

Country Profile

Area: 799,380 km²
Population: 21,284,701 (2008 estimate)
Capital: Maputo (population 1,099,102 – 2007)
People: Indigenous ethnic groups and small minorities of European and Asian descent.
Languages: Portuguese (official), 16 African languages and respective dialects
Religion(s): Roman Catholic (30.3%), other Christian (including independent African churches 36%), Muslim (18%). Elements of indigenous religion are widespread.
Currency: Metical (MT) = 100 centavos. Exchange rate £1 = 42.9Mtn (June 2009)
Major political parties: Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo), Resistência Nacional de Moçambique (Renamo), Movimento Democratica de Mocambique (MDM)
Head of State: President Armando Guebuza
Membership of international groupings/organisations: The Commonwealth; AU (African Union); SADC (Southern African Development Community); the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC); the Non-Aligned Movement; the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP); the Organisation of Portuguese-Speaking African Countries (PALOP); la Francophonie (as observer); and the Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC).

The last available national census (in 1997) includes a detailed breakdown of religious affiliation, language etc., and can be found on the website of Mozambican National Statistics Institute at http://www.ine.gov.mz/ (http://www.ine.gov.mz/) . A census was carried out in 2007 but figures are not yet available.

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ECONOMY

Basic economic facts

GDP: US$8.132 bn (2007 estimate)
GDP per head: US$804 (2007)
Annual GDP growth: 7.5% (2007 estimate)
Inflation: 8% (2007 estimate)
Major industries: aluminium (processing only); natural gas; hydro power, prawns and fish (45%); cotton (2%); cashew nuts (9%); timber, sugar and copra (14%); agriculture
Major trading partners: (exports) The Netherlands (aluminium), Spain, South Africa, US, Belgium, Italy; (imports) South Africa, Australia, Portugal.
Mozambique’s economy was devastated by decades of conflict. Its high growth rate over the last decade has been from a very low base, and has been greatly dependent on capital-intensive investment by the private sector, and on the strong South African economy. Neither of these influences has favoured smaller businesses, or the central and northern regions, raising concerns about the distribution of wealth. Problems with governance – corruption, legislation and revenue collection in particular – have also inhibited economic development. The government has initiated widespread reforms to alleviate this, particularly in banking, the management of public finance and the collection of customs dues.

Agriculture employs 83% of the population and until recently accounted for 80% of exports. Minerals make up an increasing share of exports, and recent investment in Mozambique’s mineral and gas deposits may increase their contribution to the economy. The Mozambican economy also benefits from the transit of goods to and from the African interior. Investment in infrastructure for the Beira, Nacala and Maputo Corridors, which respectively link Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa’s Gauteng province to the Indian Ocean, has increased in recent years.

Mozambique and the IMF (http://www.imf.org/external/country/MOZ/)

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HISTORY

The Portuguese arrived on the East African coast in the early 16th century, displacing Arab rulers from many of the towns. They established settlements along the Zambezi, but were for centuries largely confined to the river valley and the coastal strip. After many failed attempts to penetrate inland (particularly to control the gold and silver mines of what is now Zimbabwe), they made a concerted effort to conquer the interior in the late 19th century. By 1914 the Portuguese had achieved the “effective occupation” required by the 1885 Berlin Conference of European powers to justify imperial claims.

In contrast to the policies of other colonial powers in Africa after 1945, the Salazar dictatorship in Portugal (1932-1968) was determined to hold on to the country’s colonies. The Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo), formed in 1962, led the struggle for independence. Following the military coup in Portugal in 1974, a joint Portuguese/Frelimo Transitional Government was established, and in 1975 the country achieved independence under Frelimo whose leader, Samora Machel, became the first president.

Frelimo initially pursued Marxist-Leninist policies, and was violently opposed by the Resistência Nacional de Moçambique (Renamo), formed in 1976/7 under Rhodesian direction, but drawing on popular resentment (primarily in the central region) against the government. Following the demise of Rhodesia, Renamo enjoyed South African patronage as part of the latter’s “Total Onslaught” strategy aimed at disrupting the politics and economies of the black ruled “front-line states” on its borders. War-weariness and political changes in South Africa and Mozambique – including Frelimo’s move away from doctrinaire Marxism-Leninism – helped bring about a peace agreement, signed in Rome, between Frelimo and Renamo in 1992. The end of the civil war, facilitated by both Mozambicans and the international community, is regarded as one of the most successful examples of conflict resolution in Africa.

BBC News Country Profile: Mozambique (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/country_profiles/1063120.stm)

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

In spite of its Portuguese colonial inheritance, Mozambique enjoys close relations with its formerly British-ruled neighbours, largely because of shared experience in the struggle against white rule. This led to the country joining the Commonwealth in 1995. Mozambique contributed troops to UN peacekeeping in Burundi and participates in SADC peacekeeping training and planning.

Mozambique's relations with the UK

UK and Mozambique have enjoyed close relations, initially because of a shared interest in ending UDI in Rhodesia, the fruits of which were seen in Samora Machel’s persuasion of Robert Mugabe to accept the Lancaster House settlement in 1979.

Cultural relations with the UK

British Council Mozambique (http://www.britishcouncil.org/mozambique.htm)

Visits

Inward (from Mozambique)

President Guebuza met HM The Queen, Hilary Benn, then Secretary of State for International Development, and Lord Triesman, then Minister for Africa, during a visit to the UK in December 2006. Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi met William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, during a visit to the UK in December 2010.

Outward (to Mozambique)

Chris Mullin (then Minister for Africa) visited in 2004. Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, visited at the beginning of 2004 and again with Hilary Benn in April 2006. Lord Malloch-Brown, then Minister of State at the FCO, made an official visit to Mozambique in June 2009.

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GEOGRAPHY

The Republic of Mozambique extends for 2,500 km along the east coast of Africa and shares land borders with Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Swaziland. Mozambique has 11 provinces (from north to south: Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Nampula, Zambezia, Tete, Manica, Sofala, Inhambane, Gaza, Maputo, Maputo City). The capital city, Maputo, is in the far south of the country; the second city, Beira, in the middle on the coast.

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TRADE AND INVESTMENT

Trade and investment with the UK

In 2009 UK exports to Mozambique totalled around £104m with imports valued at almost £63m. The UK is the second largest investor in Mozambique, after South Africa. UK companies now operating in Mozambique include BP Amoco (petroleum distribution), Crown Agents, PWC, KPMG, P&O, Land Rover, Unilever, Intertek, WSP, Lonhro, Aquifer, Barlows, British American Tobacco, Scott Wilson, Rio Tinto, Roughtons, ED&F Man, Bactec and Turner and Townsend.

UK Trade & Investment Country Profile: Mozambique (http://www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk/ukti/mozambique)

Development

In spite of a high growth rate in the last 10 years, Mozambique remains one of the poorest countries in the region, with a per capita GDP well below the African average. The fight against poverty is the Mozambican government's top priority. Its Poverty Reduction Strategy has had some success, reducing the proportion of Mozambicans living in absolute poverty from 69% in 1997 to 55% in 2009. At 16%, the prevalence of HIV infection, while high, remains lower than the regional average. Systemic problems (connected to the governance problems referred to in the Economy section above) and lack of capacity, especially in education and health, are the major development challenges.

DFID’s aid contribution in Mozambique amounted to £65million in 2009/2010, 70% of which was direct budgetary support.

DFID Mozambique (http://www.dfid.gov.uk/Documents/publications/mozambique-draft-cas.pdf)

World Bank - Mozambique (http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/AFRICAEXT/MOZAMBIQUEEXTN/0,,menuPK:382138~pagePK:141159~piPK:141110~theSitePK:382131,00.html)

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POLITICS

Mozambique's first democratic elections were held in October 1994, under close international scrutiny. Frelimo’s Joaquim Chissano (who had succeeded Machel following the latter’s death in an air-crash in 1986) was elected president on 53% of the vote. Renamo’s Afonso Dhlakama received 35%. Frelimo won 129 of the 250 seats in parliament and Renamo 112; a coalition of smaller parties, the Democratic Union, won the 9 remaining seats.

Both presidential and parliamentary elections were held again in December 1999, and Chissano was re-elected with 52% of the vote, against Dhlakama's 48%. Frelimo won 133 seats in parliament and the Renamo-Electoral Union coalition of eleven parties 117. In December 2004, Chissano’s successor, Armando Guebuza, won 64% of the vote and Dhlakama 32%. Frelimo took 158 seats in parliament and Renamo took 92. In the most recent general elections, held in October 2009, Guebuza won 75% of the vote. Frelimo won 191 seats in parliament, with Renamo winning 51 and new party Movimento Democrático de Moçambique (MDM) taking 8 seats.

Renamo has repeatedly criticised the electoral process, and boycotted municipal elections in 1998. But international observers – although noting irregularities – have declared national elections to be free and fair; or at least reflecting the will of the electorate. Observers found the 2004 elections to be the least satisfactory since 1994. Frelimo’s inroads into Renamo’s central region heartlands fed widespread suspicion of fraud; although Renamo’s legal challenge was unsuccessful. There is now a debate on reform of the institutional framework to tackle some of the problems and irregularities observed in the process.

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HUMAN RIGHTS

Human rights in Mozambique were poorly observed during the civil war, and atrocities were committed by both sides. Though the human rights situation in the country is far from perfect, it has improved since the civil war ended. The remaining problems are largely a result of systemic weaknesses such as police corruption, prison over-crowding and a culture of impunity in the political elite, rather than repressive policies or legislation.

Reports of human rights abuses by the police and poor prison conditions persist and the investigation and bringing to justice of perpetrators, as highlighted in a 2008 Amnesty International report, continues to be a problem. Child trafficking, domestic violence and disabled rights are also areas of concern.

However, there have been some positive developments. The 2005 Family Law made important strides towards gender equality, especially in terms of ownership of domestic assets. There have also been advances in children’s rights, including the passing of three new laws on child protection and the establishment of a Southern African Network Against Child Abuse and Trafficking. Mozambique was the first member of SADC to introduce a law against child trafficking. However, enforcement is a serious cause of concern.

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Last Updated: December 2010

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