Since 1975, a spectrum of settlements from the acheulé (at Massingir in southwestern Mozambique) to the end of the Stone Age has been covered. Rock paintings from early collector and farmer communities are found, among others. in the mountainous areas along the border with Zimbabwe.
From the first century AD the use of iron was widespread and from about 500 AD. maintained coastal communities in southern long-distance trade relations with the inland. Gold and ivory trade as well as livestock management laid the foundation for a social stratification, which during the second millennium AD. inter alia expressed itself in places surrounded by stone walls, e.g. Manyikeni, similar to those in Zimbabwe.
Mozambique’s known history begins with the meeting on the east coast of Africa between Bantu-speaking Africans, who had reached there in the centuries before 1000, and the peoples of the Indian Ocean: Arabs, Indians, Malays and Persians. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Mozambique. There arose the Swahili culture, concentrated in a row of coastal cities. The southernmost of these was Chibuene in present-day Mozambique, which became the export port for the gold from mines in current Zimbabwe. In the hinterland already existed in the 1000s the kingdoms that also extended into Mozambique. The most famous of them was named after the ruler’s title Mwene Mutapa, in Europe called Monomotapa. Its heyday was the 15th century, and then Sofala’s trade flourished most. But coastal merchants and Islamic culture never became dominant in the hinterland.
When the Portuguese forced their way to India by sea around 1500, they also occupied Sofala (1505) and a few years later the port city of Mozambique (located on an island of the same name). They did not content themselves with taking over the role of the Swahili traders, but tried to reach the kingdom of Mwene Mutapa and the gold mines along the Zambezi River. They built stations on the river (Sena, Tete) and its delta (Quelimane) and succeeded for some time in the 17th century to make Mwene Mutapa a vassal. But they did not gain control of the gold, and new African kingdoms pushed them back to the coast. Neither did attempts at Portuguese colonization have had any significant success. Chronograph goods were created from areas bought or robbed from African chiefs (prazos da coroa), but their holders quickly turned to local kings outside the administration’s control. Some prazeros had up to 25,000 slaves.
Mozambique was ruled until the mid-18th century as an appendage to Goa in India. Increased slave trade gave Mozambique a stronger position in Portugal’s empire. Exports went to Reunion, Madagascar and Brazil. In particular, the Yao people in northern Mozambique appeared as intermediaries. From the middle of the 19th century trade declined but did not cease until the end of the century.
In the 19th century, Mozambique was reached by the surge of waves by a people migration that had started the Zulurik’s rise in the south. The invasions of the Ngoni people came both in the north and in the south, where the kingdom of Gaza originated, not undermined by the Portuguese until 1897. Not until during the decades around 1900 did Portugal gain effective control over the interior of Mozambique. At that time, the most numerous of Mozambique’s people, the Makua, were suppressed, while the Makonde in the North did not submit to the 1930s. At the end of the 19th century, Mozambique was drawn into the South African economy through the railroad construction. Much of the transit traffic from South Rhodesia and northeastern South Africa’s major mining and industrial centers went over Lourenço Marques (now Maputo).
Freedom struggle and civil war
Portugal’s military dictatorship (1926–74) encouraged emigration to Mozambique and attracted land taken by Africans. 350,000 people of Portuguese descent are estimated to have lived in Mozambique. Admittedly, there were no strict and statutory racial boundaries as in South Rhodesia and South Africa, but the whites and a small group of so-called assimilated blacks were favored. When concessions were made, such as the abolition of the forced labor law, it was too late to stop the freedom movement.
In 1962 the liberation movement Frelimo (Frente de Libertação de Mozambique, ‘The Front of the Liberation of Mozambique’) was formed with Eduardo Mondlane as leader. With Tanzania as a base, Frelimo began to create liberated areas in northern Mozambique. In 1969, a second front was opened in the Tete province, where construction of the Cabora Bassa dam was underway. Portugal’s harsh counter-offensive ceased at a time when the dictatorship in the home country was overthrown in 1974.
In 1975 Frelimo was able to take over the leadership of free Mozambique. The first president was Samora Machel, who succeeded Mondlane after his death in 1969. The one-party state invested heavily in literacy, schooling and health care. In 1977, the party congress aimed for a socialist Mozambique, and Frelimo became a “Marxist-Leninist avant-garde party”. At the 1989 party congress, Frelimo abandoned the Marxist-Leninist ideology, allowed religious leaders and owners of private property to become members, and began work on a multi-party constitution.
Several factors influenced the liberalization process: the desperate need of western aid to avoid economic chaos and famine, and the emergence of the Southern Rhodesia created, and then in 1981 by South Africa’s apartheid regime backed Renamo (Resistencia Nacional Moçambicana, ‘Mozambique national resistance’, whose official name was adopted as the Movimento Nacional da Resistencia de Mozambique (MNR), which through sabotage and terror made almost the entire country unsafe. Renamo mobilized some support with ethnic arguments. Frelimo’s hard line against traditional chieftains and for large state farms was also exploited by Renamo as a threat to traditional way of life. However, soldiers were usually recruited through direct violence.
Mozambique since 1990
Multiparty systems were introduced by a new constitution in 1990; the same year the term the People’s Republic of Mozambique was abolished. After a long peace process, the transformation of Renamo from terrorist organization into political movement succeeded and the nearly 2 million who fled their homes could return. Elections were held in October 1994, giving Frelimo 129 and Renamo 112 seats. Frelimo’s presidential candidate Joaquim Chissano (who succeeded Machel, who died in a plane crash in 1986) received 53 percent of the vote and Renamos Afonso Dhlakama (1953–2018) 34 percent.
Dhlakama also ran in the 1999, 2004, 2009, and 2014 presidential elections, but was each time defeated by Frelimo’s candidate; In 1999, Chissano was re-elected with 52 percent of the vote and then Armando Guebuza won two elections with 64 percent and 75 percent of the votes respectively. Frelimo also strengthened his grip on parliamentary power in the subsequent elections. At the same time as Guebuza gained greater influence within the party, its dominant position weakened democracy in the country. Corruption is also a major problem.
In October 2012, Dhlakama again set up camp in the jungle in the middle of the country and threatened to resume his armed struggle. The following year, Renamo soldiers carried out attacks on, among other things, police stations. In October 2013, government forces entered the abandoned base of Dhlakama, whereupon he unilaterally terminated the 1992 peace agreement.
Frelimo’s candidate was named the relatively unknown Filipe Nyusi, former Minister of Defense. Nyusi received significantly lower support than his representatives, but still managed to take a clear victory with 57 percent of the vote against 36 percent for Dhlakama. Renomo went ahead strongly in the parliamentary elections at the same time as Frelimo backed out, but the ruling party got the majority despite its own majority. Even before the official results were published, Dhlakama accused the government of electoral fraud. After a period of fighting between Renamo and government forces erupted several times, new peace negotiations began in 2016. These resulted in 2018 in a partial decentralization of power, a demand that Renamo pushed. That same year, Dhlakama passed away. His successor as leader of Renamo, Ossufo Momade (born 1961)), did not seriously challenge Nyusi in the 2019 presidential election.
In parallel with democratization, Mozambique has also implemented economic liberalization. Since the mid-1990s, the economy has grown sharply with the exception of 2000, when floods caused by violent rainfall hit the country hard. The proportion of poor people has decreased, although that development leveled out in the late 00s. Price increases on food, for example, have on several occasions caused violent rattles.
In March 2019, the tropical cyclone Idai caused great havoc and many casualties, especially the port city of Beira.
Since 2017, armed Islamists have carried out a large number of attacks in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. The terror has mainly killed civilians, but also government soldiers and rebels have been killed. Little is known about the Islamist group that is considered to be behind the violence. The Islamic State (IS) has taken on several of the deaths, but what the relationship between this organization and the local movement looks like has not been clarified. The Mozambican government has chosen to describe the perpetrators as criminals, not as Islamist insurgents.