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Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique, is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. It was explored by Vasco da Gama in 1498 and colonized by Portugal in 1505. By 1510, the Portuguese had control of all of the former Arab sultanates on the east African coast. From about 1500, Portuguese trading posts and forts became regular ports of call on the new route to the east.
Between the first and fourth centuries CE, waves of Bantu-speaking people migrated from the west and north through the Zambezi River valley and then gradually into the plateau and coastal areas. The Bantu were farmers and ironworkers.
When Portuguese explorers reached Mozambique in 1498, Arab commercial and slave trading settlements had existed along the coast and outlying islands for several centuries. From about 1500, Portuguese trading posts and forts became regular ports of call on the new route to the east. Later, traders and prospectors penetrated the interior regions seeking gold and slaves. Although Portuguese influence gradually expanded, its power was limited and exercised through individual settlers and officials who were granted extensive autonomy. As a result, investment lagged while Lisbon devoted itself to the more lucrative trade with India and the Far East and to the colonization of Brazil.
By the early twentieth century the Portuguese had shifted the administration of much of Mozambique to large private companies, like the Mozambique Company, the Zambezi Company and the Niassa Company, controlled and financed mostly by the British, which established railroad lines to neighboring countries and supplied cheap – often forced – African labor to the mines and plantations of the nearby British colonies and South Africa. Because policies were designed to benefit Portuguese immigrants and the Portuguese homeland, little attention was paid to Mozambique's national integration, its economic infrastructure, or the skills of its population.
After World War II, while many European nations were granting independence to their colonies, Portugal maintained that Mozambique and other Portuguese possessions were overseas provinces of the mother country, and emigration to the colonies soared. Calls for Mozambican independence developed apace, and in 1962 several anti-colonial political groups formed the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), which initiated an armed campaign against Portuguese colonial rule in September 1964. However, Portugal had occupied the country for more than four hundred years; not all Mozambicans desired independence, and fewer still sought change through armed revolution. Despite arms shipments by China and the Soviet Union, FRELIMO and other loosely linked armed guerrilla forces proved no match for Portuguese counterinsurgency forces. After ten years of sporadic warfare, FRELIMO had not made appreciable progress towards capturing either significant amounts of territory or population centers. After a socialist-inspired military coup in Portugal overthrew the dictatorship in 1974, Portugal affirmed its intention to grant independence to its remaining colonies. Mozambique became independent on June 25, 1975.
Sources: Wikipedia and CIA World Factbook
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