Mozambique has a history of over 2000 years. The first people to settle in the present territory were the Bantu, who from the tenth century onward formed several states.The empire of Mwenemutapas was one of the principal Bantu states that era. Also from the tenth century onwards, extensive commercial contacts developed between the north coast and central Mozambique, and also with the Arab Peninsula.
Mozambique has an extensive coastline. Therefore, throughout history, most contacts between Mozambique and other countries were maritime contacts. The first Portuguese arrived in Mozambique in the sixteenth century. Another important contact were the merchants from the Indian subcontinent.
After the division of Africa by European colonial powers during the Berlin Conference of 1885, Mozambique became a Portuguese colony. But less than a century later, after an anti-colonial war that lasted 10 years, Mozambique became independent. The date of independence, June 25, 1975, is celebrated every year and is the country’s most important holiday.
The civil war from 1976 to 1992 was a dramatic period in the history of the young nation. In 1992, a Peace Agreement was signed in Rome, thus creating the conditions necessary to establish a multiparty system. The first elections were held in 1994. Since then, Mozambique is a peaceful, stable and democratic country.
Population, language and religion
Mozambique has a population of about 20 million people. The population is young and rapidly growing. Since 1960, the country’s population nearly quadrupled. A third of the population is concentrated in cities. Indian and European communities, the latter mostly of Portuguese origin, can be found everywhere in the country.
Portuguese is the official language of the country. Besides Portuguese, there are several native languages, spoken by large numbers of the population. These languages are protected by the Constitution, among others: Xichangana, Xirhonga, Xitshwa, Cichopi, Bitonga, Chibalke, Cimanika, Cisena, Chitewe, Cindau, Cinyanja, Echuwabo, Elomwe, Kimwani, Shimakonde, Emakhuwa.
Mozambique is a multi-religious country. About 56% of the population is Christian, 18% are Muslim, 7% have other religions (mostly animism) and about 19%, according to the 2007 census, declared having no religion.