With a surface area of 801,590 square kilometres, Mozambique stretches
vertically, south to north, along the south-eastern coast of Africa.
Its population is estimated at about 16 million people. Mozambique
shares borders to the south with South Africa and Swaziland, to the
west with Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and to the north with Tanzania.
To the east Mozambique opens its ports to the Mozambique Channel, a
part of the Indian Ocean between the coast of Mozambique and the
island of Madagascar. Two famous rivers, the Zambezi and the Limpopo,
finish up their long journeys through southern Africa in Mozambique
where they pour into the Indian Ocean.|
Maputo, a port city in the south, is both the largest city and the capital city of the country. Maputo is home to about 2.2 million Mozambicans who speak a variety of languages including Portuguese, Makua, Ronga-Tsonga, Nyanja, and Shona.
The climate in Mozambique ranges from tropical to subtropical. The
terrain is mostly coastal lowlands, with uplands in the center, high
plateaus in the northwest, and mountains in the west. Mozambique's
natural resources include hydropower from its many rivers, coal,
titanium, fish, and the fertile plains on which 90% of its working
people are engaged in agriculture.|
After ten years of fighting, Mozambique gained independence from
Portugal on 25 June 1975. Mozambicans celebrate their independence
each year on this day which has become the national holiday of
Mozambique. On 16 September 1975, Mozambique became an official Member
State of the United Nations.
The country's Portuguese colonial elite left immediately following independence. Not long after, Mozambique, like Angola, got caught up in the regional turmoil fueled by Cold War rivalries and the policies of the Apartheid regime in next-door South Africa. Almost two decades of civil war finally came to an end in 1992. The collapse of white regimes throughout southern Africa, the end of the Cold War, and a devastating famine, provided the backdrop for the General Peace Accord signed between the warring sides in Rome. A UN peacekeeping mission then went in to Mozambique to consolidate the peace, implement free elections, demilitarize and demine the countryside.
After almost thirty years of war, Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in Africa. Grain must be imported and the economy depends heavily on foreign aid. Mozambique is faced with desertification, pollution of surface and coastal waters, and severe drought and floods in the central and southern provinces.
In addition, much of its farmable land is unusable because of landmines. "Perhaps the most devastating use of land mines was the random dissection of mines in fields and along access paths to stop peasants from producing food," notes Human Rights Watch Africa in a report entitled "Land Mines and Economic Life". Mines manufactured in 15 different countries were used by all sides in the fighting, accelerating a devastating famine cycle in the 1980s that sent a huge refugee exodus across the borders with South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi.
According to Handicap International, an estimated 20 people step on landmines every month in Mozambique. Sixty percent of them die because they lack access to health services. In 1996, Mozambique's Defence Minister estimated that there were still about 3 million landmines in Mozambique. The average life expectancy in Mozambique is about 46 years.
The devastation caused by mines in Mozambique is striking. In addition to farmable land, power lines, roads, bridges, railroads, and airports, even schools, factories and cattle dip tanks (!) were mined. Wildlife is also threatened by mines: elephants have been found maimed by anti-personnel mines and killed by anti-tank mines.
On 26 February 1997, at the fourth conference of non-governmental
organizations on landmines which met in Maputo, Mozambique's
government announced a ban on the production, trade, use and
non-authorized movement of anti-personnel mines and urged the
international community to send assistance to help demine the
United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs,
United Nations Cyberschoolbus Country at a Glance
Statistics and indicators are provided by the United Nations Statistics Division,
Human Rights Watch Africa
Página Oficial de Moçambique