East Africa


[moh-zam-beek, -zuhm-]
officially Republic of Mozambique formerly Portuguese East Africa

Country, southeast coast of Africa. Area: 308,642 sq mi (799,379 sq km). Population (2006 est.): 19,687,000. Capital: Maputo. The great majority of the people are Bantu-speaking Africans. Ethnolinguistic groups include the Makua, Tsonga, Malawi, Shona, and Yao peoples. Languages: Portuguese (official), Bantu languages, Swahili. Religions: traditional beliefs, Christianity, Islam. Currency: metical. Mozambique may be divided into two broad regions: the lowlands in the south and the highlands in the north, separated by the Zambezi River. It has a centrally planned, developing economy based on agriculture, international trade, and light industry. Some industries were nationalized after 1975. Mozambique is a republic with one legislature; its head of state and government is the president. Inhabited in prehistoric times, it was settled by Bantu peoples circa the 3rd century AD. Arab traders occupied the coastal region from the 14th century, and the Portuguese controlled the area from the early 16th century. The slave trade later became an important part of the economy and, although outlawed in the mid-18th century, continued illegally. In the late 19th century, private trading companies began to administer parts of the inland areas. It became an overseas province of Portugal in 1951. An independence movement became active in the 1960s, and, after years of war, Mozambique was granted independence in 1975. A single-party state under Frelimo (the Mozambique Liberation Front), it was wracked by civil war in the 1970s and '80s. In 1990 a new constitution ended its Marxist collectivism and introduced privatization, a market economy, and multiparty government. A peace treaty was signed with the rebels in 1992, ending the civil war. The country's first multiparty elections were held two years later.

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Former dependency of imperial Germany, corresponding to present-day Rwanda and Burundi, the continental portion of Tanzania, and a small section of Mozambique. German commercial agents arrived in 1884, and in 1891 the German imperial government took over administration of the area. During World War I, it was occupied by the British, who received a mandate to administer the greater part of it (Tanganyika Territory) by the Treaty of Versailles (1919). A smaller portion (Ruanda-Urundi) was entrusted to Belgium.

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Territory under former British control, Africa. British penetration of the area began at Zanzibar in the late 19th century. In 1888 the British East Africa Co. established claims to territory in what is now Kenya. British protectorates were subsequently established over the sultanate of Zanzibar and the kingdom of Buganda (see Uganda). In 1919 Britain was awarded the former German territory of Tanganyika as a League of Nations mandate. All these territories achieved political independence in the 1960s.

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