Facts About Mozambique’s Culture, Geography, and History
Mozambique is a country with a long stretch of Indian Ocean coastline south-east of Africa. Its attractiveness compelled Portuguese explorers to make it one of their earliest colonies way back almost 500 years ago. Mozambique’s coastal beauty makes it a great place to visit. We are going to explore 12 interesting facts about this great country to enable you grasp some perspective on it.
12. Since 2001, Mozambique’s annual average GDP growth has been among the world’s highest. Mozambique is still a very poor country however, with half its people living on less than $1 a day.
Fueled by new discoveries of natural gas and the end of over a decade-old civil war, Mozambique economy has been growing at an extremely high rate. However, it is still far away from lifting up over half of its population that lives on less than $1 a day.
11. Mozambique is drained by five principal rivers and several smaller ones with the largest and most important the Zambezi.
Some of the biggest rivers in south-eastern Africa cuts through Mozambique. Zambezi River is the longest one covering a distance of 1,559 miles and crossing over 5 countries (Namimbia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia). Other major rivers include the famous Limpompo (1,087 miles long), Ruvuma (497 miles), Olifants (348 miles), and Komati (298 miles).
10. Mozambique is forecast to be one of the fastest growing countries in the next 10 years, helped by exports of coal and natural gas.
The increased global demand for natural gas, Mozambique’s strategic geographical advantage, and its continued exploration and discovery of more natural gas fields makes Mozambique’s prospects luminous.
The return to democracy and improved governance makes better utilization of proceeds from Mozambique’s plenty of natural resources that also include coal and metals. All these have contributed high economic growth rate and extremely positive future prospects.
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9. Situated in the Tete Province in Mozambique, the Cahora Bassa Lake is Africa’s second-largest artificial lake.
Cahora Bassa project started in the late 1960s by the Portuguese colonial government. While its intentions were great – that is, controlling flooding and generating hydro-electric power, its ecological disaster was never considered.
As such, the ecological damage done to the lower parts of Zambezi river far outweighs its benefits. Disappearance of many fish species, drying up of wetlands that used to sustain wildlife thus leading to over 90% decline in Cape buffaloes, hippos, reedbucks, zebras, and waterbucks, among other negative effects, are attributed to this project.
Decline of mangrove trees that used to arrest severe soil erosion, soil salination, lower rate of grassland recovery, among others are some of the ecological disasters that have led to poor soil productivity.
8. Often referred to as ‘the place where Noah parked his Ark’, Gorongosa National Park was a playground for the rich and famous back in the 1960s, lured by the abundance of wildlife in the area.
Often referred to as ‘Serengeti of the South’, Gorongosa means “place of danger” in Mwani language of Mozambique. Serengeti Wildlife Park is home to the 7th Wonder of the World – Wildebeest migration. With an exception of migration between Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania, Gorongosa exhibits a similar kind of plains and wildlife.
In as far as “place of danger” is concerned, Gorongosa is home to some of the most dangerous wild animals – Lions, Elephants, and Buffalos, among others. Of course, the other danger emanated from the civil war in which FRELIMO rebels pitched their tent in Gorongosa. It is during this civil war that almost 90% of wildlife was lost due to the need to feed the rebels and sell ivory to fund the rebel movement.
After the end of the war, the reconstruction and repopulation of Gorongosa began in earnest. As of now, Gorongosa is almost returned to its pre-war glory as the place where ‘Noah parked his Ark’ and emptied all the animals there.
7. Spanning an area of 42,000 square kilometres (10 million acres), the Niassa Game Reserve is the largest protected area in Mozambique, and one of the most pristine wilderness areas in the whole of Africa.
Niassa Game Reserves is located in the Northern Mozambique as part of the Miombo woodlands that covers southern parts of Tanzania and Malawi. It is one of the most pristine wildlife ecosystems in the world characterized by widespread biodiversity. It is mostly inhabited by wild herbivores which include elephants, buffalos, different species of antelopes and gazelles, among others.
Together with Gorongosa, they form a great place for tourists to explore African wildlife.
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6. Mozambique is only smaller than twice the size of the state of California in the United States of America.
Mozambique has an area of 313,661 square miles. Yet, there is a huge contrast between the two. While Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in Africa, California is the richest State in America.
Life expectancy in Mozambique is shorter than that of California by almost 20 years. While California is one of the most technologically advanced States in the US, Mozambique is one of the most technologically backward countries in the world.
Nonetheless, at almost double-digit growth rate, Mozambique is actively making efforts to turn away from its ugly war-past. This is a virgin land oozing with lots of investment opportunities. It is all a matter of having a global perspective, discovering what is needed and focusing on the long-term goals.
5. Bantu speakers migrated to Mozambique in the first millennium, and Arab and Swahili traders settled the region thereafter.
Like most of the Southern Africa, Mozambique is dominated by the Bantu speaking people who are believed to have originated from the Congo basin.
Arab and Swahili traders spread along the coast of Mozambique after descending downwards from the East African coasts of Kenya and Tanzania. Most of these Arabs came from Oman and Yemen. Swahili people are as a result of intermarriage between the Bantus and Arabs from which the Swahili language originates.
Swahili language is widespread in Eastern and Southern Africa. If you want to trace its origins, East African coast stretching from Kenya, Tanzania down to Mozambique is the place to explore.
4. The diet of rural residents in Mozambique is based on the cassava root, which is called mandioca in Portuguese. Its importance is testified to by its name, which translates as “the all-sufficient.”
Mozambicans love cassava. It is their staple food. Boiled/steamed Cassava is usually served with vegetables and at times beef stew. Apart from the roots, leaves are also used to make Matapa. Matapa is made from stewed cassava leaves, peanuts (ground), coconut milk and garlic.
There are interesting mandioca recipes to learn from the locals while in Mozambique. Give it a try and you will certainly be left licking your fingers.
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3. Greetings in Mozambique are lengthy and involve inquiring into the health of each other’s family. People generally stand close together and are physically affectionate.
Mozambicans are very social people. Greetings are not ritualistic but a kind of a goodwill dialogue moment in which parties to the greetings enquire from one another about each other’s welfare and that of their respective families and even neighbors. It is time to update each other with the latest information and news.
When in Mozambique, don’t be in a rush while greeting. Take time to have a small chat as you learn more from your hosts.
2. In the northern coastal region and islands of Mozambique, it’s common to come across women with faces covered with a natural white mask, called mussiro or n’siro.
Mussiro is a natural white mask that has both aesthetic and therapeutic values. Traditionally, it used to be put on by girls who are nearing marriage-age during special parties to symbolize that they are virgins ready for marriage. This way, potential suitors would be attracted to them and whoever the girl fell in love with would be signaled to the girl’s handlers for potential marriage negotiations.
In modern times, mussiro is used basically for therapeutic purposes – as skin cleanser, softener and tonic. Mussiro is a concoction of herbs rich in natural substances that boosts the health of the skin. For those who love natural skin care products, this is one such product you would love to experiment.
1. Some of the scenes from Blood Diamond starring Leonardo Di Caprio was shot in Maputo, Mozambique.
Blood diamond was a highly successful film that showed human greed for material things, more so, diamonds which led to shedding of blood and death. It is this human greed fanned by conspiracy between merchants of precious minerals in the West with African warlords to foment troubles in Africa for the sake of its exploitation.
Diamonds and such other precious minerals have been associated with wars in Sierra Leone, DRC, and Mozambique, among others bloodspots in Africa.
As you watch ‘Blood Diamond’, reflect on the dead, maimed and impoverished victims of bloody civil wars in Africa fueled by merchants of death eager to spill blood just to exploit its wealth. You could find a cause to campaign for Africa.