Maputo Commonwealth Walkway

Mozambique / Africa

Mozambique (officially the Republic of Mozambique) is the only country to join the Commonwealth, which was not formerly part of the British Empire.  It joined in 1995.  It is a country located in South-eastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Eswatini (Swaziland) and South Africa to the southwest. It has a long Indian Ocean coastline, with beaches and marine parks, coral islands, and ruins from the days of the Portuguese rule. Vasco da Gama voyaged here in 1498, marking the arrival of the Portuguese who began a gradual process of colonisation and settlement in 1505. After over four centuries of Portuguese rule, Mozambique gained independence in 1975, becoming the People's Republic of Mozambique shortly thereafter. After only two years of independence, the country fell into an intense and protracted civil war lasting from 1977 to 1992.  In 1994, Mozambique held its first multiparty elections and since then has remained a relatively stable presidential republic, although it still faces a low-intensity insurgency. It is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources.  It’s economy is based largely on agriculture, but industry is growing, mainly food and beverages, chemical manufacturing and aluminium and petroleum production.  The tourism sector is also expanding.  South Africa is Mozambique's main trading partner and source of foreign direct investment, while Belgium, Brazil, Portugal, and Spain are also among the country's most important economic partners. Since 2001 the annual average GDP growth has been among the world's highest.  However, the country is still one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world, ranking low in GDP per capita, human development, measures of inequality and average life expectancy. The only official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, which is spoken mostly as a second language by about half the population.  Common native languages include Tsonga, Makhuwa, Sena, and Swahili.  The country's population of around 29 million is composed of overwhelmingly Bantu people.  The largest religion is Christianity, with significant minorities following Islam and African traditional religions.  Mozambique is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, and the Commonwealth of Nations.  Fun fact:  As stated, Mozambique is the only country in the Commonwealth to never have been part of the British Empire.  Half the country’s population are under the age of 17.  Maputo: Maputo is the capital and most populous city of Mozambique.  From 1876 until 1976 it was  named Lourenço Marques, after the navigator of the same name who explored the area in 1544 and settled there with his indigenous wife and children.  Now it is named after chief Maputsu I of the Tembe clan, a subgroup of the Tsonga people.   Located near the southern end of the country, it is positioned within 75 miles of the Eswatini and South Africa borders.  Maputo is situated on a large natural bay on the Indian Ocean, near where the rivers Tembe, Mbuluzi, Matola and Infulene converge. The city consists of seven administrative divisions which are each subdivided into quarters.  It is a cosmopolitan city due to the many nationalities who live there and has eclectic architecture, balanced by modern high-rise buildings. Maputo City is geographically the smallest and most densely populated province in Mozambique.  It was first settled as a fishing village by the ancient Tsonga people.  The present city traces its origins to a Portuguese fort established on the site in 1781. A town grew around the fort starting around 1850, and in 1877 it was elevated to city status.  In 1898 the colony of Portuguese Mozambique relocated its capital there.  In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Lourenço Marques grew both in population and economic development as a port city.  After Independence, the city became the national capital.  During the Mozambican Civil War, the city’s economy was devastated.  When the war ended, the FRELIMO government launched a programme to revive its economy and clean up the city by forcibly removing criminals, squatters, and undocumented residents. The city has a population of 1,088,449 (2017) distributed over a land area of 134 square miles. 

5 miles / 8 kilometres

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