Mozambique officially the Republic of Mozambique is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest.

Background History

Almost five centuries as a Portuguese colony came to a close with independence in 1975. Large-scale emigration, economic dependence on South Africa, a severe drought, and a prolonged civil war hindered the country's development until the mid 1990s. The ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) party formally abandoned Marxism in 1989, and a new constitution the following year provided for multiparty elections and a free market economy. A UN-negotiated peace agreement between Frelimo and rebel Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) forces ended the fighting in 1992. In December 2004, Mozambique underwent a delicate transition as Joaquim Chissano stepped down after 18 years in office. His elected successor, Armando Emilio Guebuza, promised to continue the sound economic policies that have encouraged foreign investment. President Guebuza was reelected to a second term in October 2009. However, the elections were flawed by voter fraud, questionable disqualification of candidates, and Frelimo use of government resources during the campaign. As a result, Freedom House removed Mozambique from its list of electoral democracies.


Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Mozambique
  • conventional short form: Mozambique
  • local long form: Republica de Mocambique
  • local short form: Mocambique
  • former: Portuguese East Africa


  • name: Maputo
  • population: 1,589,000
  • geographic coordinates: 25 57 S, 32 35 E
  • time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 25 June 1975 (from Portugal)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Armando Guebuza (since 2 February 2005)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Aires Bonifacio Ali (since 16 January 2010)
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for three terms); election last held on 28 October 2009 (next to be held in 2014); prime minister appointed by the president

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral Assembly of the Republic

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court; Administrative Court; Constituational Court

People & Society


  • 23,515,934 (global rank: 50)
  • growth rate: 2.442% (global rank: 31)


  • noun: Mozambican(s)
  • adjective: Mozambican

Major Cities:

  • Maputo (capital) 1.589 million; Matola 761,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • African 99.66% (Makhuwa, Tsonga, Lomwe, Sena, and others), Europeans 0.06%, Euro-Africans 0.2%, Indians 0.08%


  • Catholic 28.4%, Protestant 27.7% (Zionist Christian 15.5%, Evangelical Pentecostal 10.9%, Anglican 1.3%), Muslim 17.9%, other 7.2%, none 18.7%


  • Emakhuwa 25.3%, Portuguese (official) 10.7%, Xichangana 10.3%, Cisena 7.5%, Elomwe 7%, Echuwabo 5.1%, other Mozambican languages 30.1%, other 4%

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 52.02 years (global rank: 212)
  • male: 51.26 years
  • female: 52.8 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 76.85 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 11)
  • male: 79.04 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 74.62 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS (2009 est.):

  • adult prevalence rate: 11.5% (global rank: 8)
  • people living with AIDS: 1.4 million (global rank: 5)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 47.8%
  • male: 63.5%
  • female: 32.7%


At independence in 1975, Mozambique was one of the world's poorest countries. Socialist mismanagement and a brutal civil war from 1977-92 exacerbated the situation. In 1987, the government embarked on a series of macroeconomic reforms designed to stabilize the economy. These steps, combined with donor assistance and with political stability since the multi-party elections in 1994, have led to dramatic improvements in the country's growth rate. Fiscal reforms, including the introduction of a value-added tax and reform of the customs service, have improved the government's revenue collection abilities. In spite of these gains, Mozambique remains dependent upon foreign assistance for more than half of its annual budget, and in 2008 54% of the population remained below the poverty line. Subsistence agriculture continues to employ the vast majority of the country's work force and smallholder agricultural productivity and productivity growth is weak. A substantial trade imbalance persists although the opening of the Mozal aluminum smelter, the country's largest foreign investment project to date, has increased export earnings. At the end of 2007, and after years of negotiations, the government took over Portugal's majority share of the Cahora Bassa Hydroelectricity (HCB) company, a dam that was not transferred to Mozambique at independence because of the ensuing civil war and unpaid debts. More electrical power capacity is needed for additional investment projects in titanium extraction and processing and garment manufacturing that could further close the import/export gap. Mozambique's once substantial foreign debt has been reduced through forgiveness and rescheduling under the IMF's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and Enhanced HIPC initiatives, and is now at a manageable level. In July 2007 the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) signed a compact with Mozambique; the compact entered into force in September 2008 and will continue for five years. Compact projects will focus on improving sanitation, roads, agriculture, and the business regulation environment in an effort to spur economic growth in the four northern provinces of the country. Mozambique grew at an average annual rate of 9% in the decade up to 2007, one of Africa's strongest performances. However, heavy reliance on aluminum, which accounts for about one-third of exports, subjects the economy to volatile international prices. The sharp decline in aluminum prices during the global economic crisis lowered GDP growth by several percentage points. Despite 8.3% GDP growth in 2010, the increasing cost of living prompted citizens to riot in September 2010, after fuel, water, electricity, and bread price increases were announced. In an attempt to contain the cost of living, the government implemented subsidies, decreased taxes and tariffs, and instituted other fiscal measures. Real growth of 7.2% was achieved in 2011.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $23.87 billion (global rank: 120)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $1,100 (global rank: 209)
  • real growth rate: 7.2% (global rank: 16)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 28.4%, industry: 26.9%, services: 44.7%


  • currency: Mozambican Metical (MZM)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 28.5

Unemployment Rate

  • unemployment rate: 21%

Agricultural Products:

  • cotton, cashew nuts, sugarcane, tea, cassava (tapioca), corn, coconuts, sisal, citrus and tropical fruits, potatoes, sunflowers; beef, poultry


  • food, beverages, chemicals (fertilizer, soap, paints), aluminum, petroleum products, textiles, cement, glass, asbestos, tobacco

Export Commodities:

  • aluminum, prawns, cashews, cotton, sugar, citrus, timber; bulk electricity

Import Commodities:

  • machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, chemicals, metal products, foodstuffs, textiles



  • Southeastern Africa, bordering the Mozambique Channel, between South Africa and Tanzania


  • total: 799,380 sq km (global rank: 35)
  • land: 786,380 sq km
  • water: 13,000 sq km
  • comparative: slightly less than twice the size of California


  • tropical to subtropical

Land Use:

  • arable land: 5.43%
  • permanent crops: 0.29%
  • other: 94.28%

Natural Resources:

  • coal, titanium, natural gas, hydropower, tantalum, graphite

Current Environmental Issues:

  • a long civil war and recurrent drought in the hinterlands have resulted in increased migration of the population to urban and coastal areas with adverse environmental consequences; desertification; pollution of surface and coastal waters; elephant poaching for ivory is a problem

Transnational Issues

  • illicit drugs: southern African transit point for South Asian hashish and heroin, and South American cocaine probably destined for the European and South African markets; producer of cannabis (for local consumption) and methaqualone (for export to South Africa); corruption and poor regulatory capability make the banking system vulnerable to money laundering, but the lack of a well-developed financial infrastructure limits the country's utility as a money-laundering center

Published: Monday, September 08, 2008