Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique (Portuguese: Moçambique or República de Moçambique), has an area of approximately 800,000 km², with a coastline of more than 2,500 kilometres bordering the Indian Ocean.
The country has borders with Tanzania and Malawi to the north, Zambia and Zimbabwe to the west, and Swaziland and South Africa to the south.
The country is divided into 10 provinces and 1 capital city with provincial status. Each of these provinces is further divided into 129 districts, and then sub-divided into 405 administrative areas and civil parishes.
Around 45% of the population is concentrated in the north-central provinces of Zambezia and Nampula. Further south the population is largely centred on the coast.
Bantu people comprise approximately 99.7% of the population, with the remaining percentage being of African, Indian and European extraction. Portuguese is the official, and most widely spoken of the languages, although Bantu languages are predominately spoken away from the larger towns.
Of the Bantu languages, Makua-Lomwe, Sena-Nyanja and Tsonga languages are the most widely spoken.
The capital (and the largest city) of Mozambique is Maputo, a port on the Indian Ocean. Maputo was formerly named Lourenço Marques, after the Portuguese trader who first explored the area in 1544.
The city’s name was changed to Maputo after independence in 1975, in honour of an early chief who had resisted Portuguese colonialism.
There are five principal rivers within Mozambique, including two of southern Africa’s largest rivers, the Zambesi and Limpopo rivers, flowing through the country. The Zambesi and its delta plains are the predominant feature of central Mozambique.
The country has extensive coastal lowlands, widening from north to south. Further west through the country the coastal plains rise to meet a high plateau of between 500-1,000 metres.
The most mountainous areas of Mozambique are the country’s borders with Malawi and Zimbabwe. Mount Binga, at 2,436 metres, in the Chimanimani Mountains, on the border with Zimbabwe, is the country’s highest mountain.
Mozambique’s climate is tropical to sub-tropical, with two seasons. The wet season runs from October to March, with temperatures ranging from 27 to 31˚C. Dry season (April to September) temperatures range from 24 to 27˚C. Climatic conditions vary across the country with a drier zone in the southern half of the country, and a cooler zone in the highlands and western plateau. Humidity tends to be higher in the north of the country. Annual precipitation ranges from 500mm to as high as 2,200mm in areas around Mount Binga.
Agriculture accounts for approximately 80% of the country’s employment, and contributes more than 25% to the country’s GDP. The country’s main exports include cashew, cotton, sugar cane, citrus fruits, copra and tea. The fishing industry and the growing tourism industry also play an important part in the country’s economy.