Mozambique History

Mozambique History

Early to middle ages

Bushmen (pygmies) lived in southern Africa 8000 years ago. Around 2500 years ago, Bantu-speaking tribes immigrated to the region of today’s Mozambique and lived there as cattle breeders and farmers.

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From the 10th century AD it was Arab traders and seafarers who founded the first trading places on the coast and Islamized parts of the population. In the period from the 10th to the 18th century, the region of southeastern Zimbabwe also dominated parts of today’s Mozambique. Settlements in southern Mozambique in particular benefited from the gold and cattle trade with the highlands of Zimbabwe, the exchange of pottery, salt and fish and the pearl, fabric and gold trade between the Zimbabwe highlands and the East African coast. In the 14th century, the Afro-Arab trading cities flourished in the south and small sultanates developed on the northern sections of the coast.

Modern times until the 19th century

Vasco da Gama was the first European to reach the Mozambican coast in 1498. This date marked the entry of Europeans into the trade, politics and social life of the countries on the Indian Ocean. In the first half of the 16th century, the Portuguese began to settle on the coast and advance inland to control the lucrative gold trade. In 1609, Mozambique was given its own governor. The following three centuries were marked by power struggles between the Arabs, Ottomans, French, Dutch, British and Austrians over the East African coastal areas.

According to AbbreviationFinder, the Portuguese established commercial branches in Mozambique, gave fiefs to their citizens wishing to emigrate, and in 1752 made the conquered areas in Southeast Africa the official Portuguese colony. The period of Portuguese supremacy in the region was drawing to a close when Portugal lost its possessions in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 1885 due to the Congo Conference in Berlin.


Yet it took almost another fifty years for the African population of Mozambique to organize the first serious independence movements at the end of the 20s of the 20th century. These were brutally suppressed by the Portuguese colonial regime; It was only in 1951 that the country received the status of a Portuguese overseas province as the first sign of its beginning independence. A member of parliament from Mozambique now represented the country in the National Assembly in Lisbon.

In the 1950s, Portugal attempted to curb increasing efforts to achieve independence by granting assimilation privileges to selected Africans. But after peasant demonstrations, all citizens of Mozambique were granted Portuguese citizenship in 1961. However, the majority of the illiterate population continued to be excluded from the right to vote and in the mid-1960s the FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique) freedom movement, founded in 1962, began the armed struggle against the Portuguese colonial regime with the help of the USSR and the People’s Republic of China.

In 1973 Mozambique received internal self-government, but an armistice was rejected by the FRELIMO. When the Portuguese troops were recalled from Mozambique after the fall of the dictatorship in Portugal in 1974, the FRELIMO formed a transitional government. At the same time, around 230,000 Mozambican people, mostly of Portuguese descent, fled the country. The following year the People’s Republic of Mozambique was proclaimed, the first president of which Samora Moises Machel started a communist nationalization program and began socialist re-education of the population.

The FRELIMO became a state party and in 1977 the country signed a friendship treaty with the USSR. With the simultaneous establishment of the anti-communist RENAMO (Resist¨ºncia Nacional Moçambicana), a long-lasting civil war began that claimed an estimated 700,000 lives and turned over one million Mozambicans into refugees.

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President Machel died in 1986 and JM Chissano began a policy of rapprochement with the West, which in 1989 saw the end of single-party rule with the break away from communism and in 1990 with the introduction of a market-oriented economic system and free elections. The Republic of Mozambique was proclaimed, but it was two years before the civil was that had made the country the poorest country on earth ended with the signing of a peace treaty between RENAMO and President Chissano in October 1992.

With the help of a UN peacekeeping force, free elections were held in 1994, from which Chissano and his party FRELIMO emerged victorious. In 1995 Mozambique became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and received the first funds from the World Bank to rebuild the country that had been destroyed by the civil war. But the following years did not bring about a change in the country’s precarious social situation.

In 1999 Chissano won the election again. He did not run for the next parliamentary term. His successor from January 2005 was Armando Guebuza (re-elected in 2009), also from FRELIMO.

In 2000 and 2001, flood disasters, which claimed many lives and left tens of thousands homeless, exacerbated the devastating social conditions in the country. Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world today, and there is also the fact that an estimated 13% (as of 2001) of the adult population are HIV-positive and in the foreseeable future will need nursing care or will die. Thousands also fall victim to cholera each year. In recent years, Mozambique has become a transit region for drug smuggling to Europe.

Mozambique President