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HISTORY OF MOZAMBIQUE

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The history of Mozambique is even prior to the arrival of the Portuguese at the end of the 15th century.
The name of “Mozambique” appears to be originated from Mussa-bin-Mbiki, the son of Sultan bin-Mbiki, a man from the “island” to whom the Portuguese, at their arrival to the site, named him MOZAMBIQUE.
At that time, there were in Mozambique two relatively well organised communities: the Mwenemutapa kingdom and the Swahili Centre’s. The former had fallen into a disintegration phase with constant internal wars. The latter, linked with maritime trade, had a very limited presence at the location. 

The history of Mozambique is documented at least since the 10th century, when a traveler and a scholar of Arabic origin, Al-Masudi, described an important trade activity between nations from the Persian Gulf and the “Zanj” from “Milad as Sofala”, which included a major part of the northern and southern coastal area of today’s Mozambique.

However, a number of archaeological findings allow a characterisation of a “pre-historic” Mozambique (before script) for a number of centuries before. Probably the most important event at that time was the establishment of the bantu people who, apart form farming, introduced here the metallurgy of iron, between the 1st and 4th century. 

Between the 10th and 19th centuries, there were in the territory which is Mozambique today, a number of bantu states amongst which the most known was the Mwenemutapa (or Monomutapa) empire.

The Portuguese settlement in Mozambique, which started in the beginning of the 15th century, only in 1885 – when the European countries shared the African continent at the Berlin Conference – turned into a military occupation, i.e., when all states  were fully submitted and in, the early 20th century, this led to a truly colonial administration. Pêro da Covilhã was the first Portuguese who contacted the local peoples, when in 1489 was collecting data on trafficking and sailing to India, according to a command by King D. João II.


In the 16th century, the Portuguese settled in this area, which was always regarded as strategic in the route of the maritime pathway to India. They occupied mostly the coastal area, especially in two strategic points: in Sofala and in “Ilha de Moçambique”, where trading-stations and fortresses were established. During this century other minor trading-stations and fortresses were built, such as the one in Sena (1531), Tete, Quelimane and Inhambane. But, among all, the one in “Ilha de Moçambique” which was established by Vasco da Gama in his second trip to India was, undoubtedly, the most important.  In this island a truly cosmopolitan city arose. The administration of Portuguese possessions in Mozambique was, until the 18th century, under rule of the Indian governor.
The exploitation of the Mozambican hinterland by the Portuguese was too slow and was almost limited to gold searching in the Mwenemutapa kingdom. The main trade products were ivory, copper and slaves. At the end of the 16th century and in the beginning of the 17th century, new trading-stations were established.

After a liberation struggle that lasted for about 10 years, Mozambique became independent on the 25th of June 1975 in the aftermath of the Clove Revolution, which was followed by the Lusaka Agreement signed by the Portuguese government and Frelimo. Following the independence and with the new designation of People’s Republic of Mozambique, the country embraced a socialist economy which ended in 1987 when agreements were signed with the World Bank and the IMF; this change was in part due to the desestabilisation war which the country faced from 1976 until 1992.

In the aftermath of the General Peace Agreement signed by the President of Mozambique and the President of Renamo, the country embraced a multiparty political system and held the first multiparty elections in 1994.

Apart from being a member country of the African Union and of the Commonwealth, Mozambique is also a founder of the SADC – Southern Africa Development Community.


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