President: Filipe Nyusi (2015)
Prime Minister: Carlos Agostinho do Rosário (2015)
Land area: 302,737 sq mi (784,089 sq km); total area: 309,494 sq mi (801,590 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 24,692,144 (growth rate: 2.45%); birth rate: 38.83/1000; infant mortality rate: 72.42/1000; life expectancy: 52.6. note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2014 est.)
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Maputo, 1.15 million
Monetary unit: Metical
Mozambique stretches for 1,535 mi (2,470 km) along Africa"s southeast coast. It is nearly twice the size of California. Tanzania is to the north; Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to the west; and South Africa and Swaziland to the south. The country is generally a low-lying plateau broken up by 25 sizable rivers that flow into the Indian Ocean. The largest is the Zambezi, which provides access to central Africa.
Bantu speakers migrated to Mozambique in the first millennium, and Arab and Swahili traders settled the region thereafter. It was explored by Vasco da Gama in 1498 and first colonized by Portugal in 1505. By 1510, the Portuguese had control of all of the former Arab sultanates on the east African coast. Portuguese colonial rule was repressive.
Guerrilla activity began in 1963, and became so effective by 1973 that Portugal was forced to dispatch 40,000 troops to fight the rebels. A cease-fire was signed in Sept. 1974, and after having been under Portuguese colonial rule for 470 years, Mozambique became independent on June 25, 1975. The first president, Samora Moises Machel, had been the head of the National Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) in its ten-year guerrilla war for independence. He died in a plane crash in 1986, and was succeeded by his foreign minister,