A Brief History of Mozambique

By Tim Lambert

Early Mozambique

After 100 AD Bantu Bantu-speaking people arrived in what is now Mozambique. They lived by farming and they made iron tools. They were organized into small kingdoms. By the 9th century, Arab merchants arrived at the coast of Mozambique. For centuries afterward, there was trade between Africans and Arabs.

Then in 1498, the Portuguese sailor Vasco Da Gama landed at Ilha de Mocambique on his way to India. In 1511 A Portuguese called Antonio Fernandes explored the interior of Mozambique. During the 16th century, the Portuguese established trading posts along the coast of Mozambique. They also took over some of the lands and divided them into large estates called prazos. However, for centuries Portugal only had very limited control over Mozambique.

The situation changed in the late 19th century when Europeans carved up Africa between them. In 1891 Britain and Portugal signed a treaty. The British recognized the borders of Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). A network of railways was built in Mozambique but nothing was done for the native people.

Modern Mozambique

In the 1950s and early 1960s, the situation in Africa changed and many African countries became independent. In 1962 the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) was founded. However, the Portuguese were determined to hang on to their colonies in Africa.

In 1964 Frelimo began an armed struggle. The war went on for 10 years with the Portuguese gradually losing ground. Finally, on 25 June 1975, Mozambique became an independent nation.

However, the new government in Mozambique adopted Socialist policies which left Mozambique impoverished. Worse, from 1977 Mozambique was riven by civil war. An anti-Communist organization called Renamo fought the government for 15 years.

However, by 1989 Frelimo had given up its Socialist policies and in 1990 they published a new constitution. Then in 1992, a peace agreement was made with Renamo. In 1994 elections were held. Mozambique recovered from the war and today it is developing rapidly.

Mozambique experienced further setbacks in 2000 and 2001 when it suffered severe floods. Then in 2002, it suffered a severe drought. Yet Mozambique soon recovered. Mozambique is still a poor country but the economy is growing steadily. Mozambique has great tourism potential. In 2022 the population of Mozambique was 31 million.

Last Revised 2024