Mozambique (Portugal)

Mozambique (Portugal)
State of East Africa[1]
Overseas Province of Mozambique
Província Ultramarina de Moçambique
Colony; Overseas territory; State

Flag Coat of arms
Portuguese East Africa
Capital Lourenço Marques
Language(s) Portuguese
Political structure Colony; Overseas territory; State
Head of state
 - King
Manuel I of Portugal
 - President
Francisco da Costa Gomes
 - 1609-11 (first) Nuno Álvares Pereira
 - 1974-75 (last) Vítor Crespo
 - 1569-73 (first) Francisco Barreto
 - 1607-09 (last) Estêvão de Ataíde
Historical era Imperialism
 - Established 1498
 - Fall of Portuguese Empire 25 June 1975
 - 1967 784,955 km2 (303,073 sq mi)
 - 1967 est. 7,300,000 
     Density 9.3 /km2  (24.1 /sq mi)
Currency Mozambican escudo

Mozambique or Portuguese East Africa (officially the State of East Africa [2] upon erection and later Overseas Province of Mozambique) was the common name by which the Portuguese Empire's territorial expansion in East Africa was known across different periods of time. Portuguese East Africa was a string of Portuguese overseas colonies and later a Portuguese overseas province along the south-east African coast, which now form the republic of Mozambique. Portuguese trading settlements and, later, colonies were formed along the coast from 1498, when Vasco da Gama first reached the Mozambican coast. Lourenço Marques explored the area that is now Maputo Bay in 1544. He settled permanently in present-day Mozambique, where he spent most of his life, and his work was followed by other Portuguese explorers, sailors and traders. Some of these colonies were handed over in the late 19th century for rule by chartered companies such as the Companhia de Moçambique and the Companhia do Niassa. In 1951 the colonies were combined into a single overseas province under the name Moçambique as an integral part of Portugal. Most of the original colonies have given their names to the modern provinces of Mozambique.

Mozambique, according to official policy, was not a colony at all but rather a part of the "pluricontinental and multiracial nation" of Portugal. Portugal sought in Mozambique, as it did in all its colonies, to Europeanize the local population and assimilate them into Portuguese culture. Lisbon also wanted to retain the colonies as trading partners and markets for its goods. African inhabitants of the colony were ultimately supposed to become full citizens with full political rights through a long development process. To that end, segregation in Mozambique was minimal compared to that in neighbouring South Africa. However, paid forced labour, to which all Africans were liable if they failed to pay head taxes, was not abolished until the early 1960s.



Until the 20th century the land and peoples of Mozambique were barely affected by the outsiders who came to its shores and penetrated its major rivers. As the Muslim traders, mostly Swahili, were displaced from their coastal centers and routes to the interior by the Portuguese, migrations of Bantu peoples continued and tribal federations formed and reformed as the relative power of local chiefs changed. For four centuries the Portuguese presence was meager. Coastal and river trading posts were built, abandoned, and built again. Governors sought personal profits to take back to Portugal, and colonists were not attracted to the distant area with its relatively unattractive climate; those who stayed were traders who married local women and successfully maintained relations with local chiefs.

In Portugal, however, Mozambique was considered to be a vital part of a world empire. Periodic recognition of the relative insignificance of the revenues it could produce was tempered by the mystique which developed regarding the mission of the Portuguese to bring their civilization to the African territory. It was believed that through missionary activity and other direct contact between Africans and Europeans, the Africans could be taught to appreciate and participate in Portuguese culture.

In the last decade of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century, integration of Mozambique into the structure of the Portuguese nation was begun. After all of the area of the present province had been recognized by other European powers as belonging to Portugal, pacification of the tribes of the interior was completed and the traditional holders of political power were subordinated to the Portuguese. Civil administration was established throughout the area, the building of an infrastructure was begun, and agreements regarding the transit trade of Mozambique's land-locked neighbors to the west were made.

Portugal never had a racist policy or sanctioned discrimination based on race. Its concept of what it calls a multiracial society envisaged complete racial integration, including intermarriage, as well as cultural adaptation. The historically determined position of the Portuguese as conquerors and governors of the Africans, however, resulted in barriers to the formation of this ideal. The fact that most Africans were not cultivated in the Portuguese sense, and that many participated in what were considered by the Portuguese to be pagan beliefs and uncivilized behavior, tended to create a low opinion of Africans as a group. The uneducated Portuguese immigrant peasants in urban areas were frequently in direct competition with Africans for jobs and demonstrated jealousies and prejudices with racial overtones.

The society was divided into two peripherally interrelated sectors. The urban-based modern sector, comprising altogether between 2 and 2.5 percent of the population, consisting mostly of Europeans but including a few thousand Europeanized Africans, Indians, and Chinese, was dominant in the economic, political, and social realms. Communication between this sector and the large majority of rural Africans was limited; only a small proportion of the Africans could speak Portuguese, the language of the administration and the modern economic sector. Communication between members of the 10 different major ethnolinguistic groups was also difficult.

Economically and socially, all but a few educated and Europeanized Africans were at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the Europeans. Access to education above the primary level was limited by lack of means, by age limitations, or by lack of sufficient preparations. Access to economic opportunity was limited by lack of adequate training.

Between the modern urban and traditional rural sectors of the society was a steadily increasing group of Africans who were loosening their ties with the village and starting to participate in the money economy, to settle in suburbs, and to adopt new customs. This transitional group included individuals who had acquired a modicum of education or skills and some of the aspirations associated with a modern European way of life. Many of them, especially those who had an education beyond the primary level, were more alert politically than the majority of the population, who are either unaware of or uninterested in political issues. It was members of this group, allied with forward-looking European leaders and intellectuals, who had shown the greatest interest in reforms and benefits for the African population. Some among them left the country to become active participants in the independence movement.


When Portuguese explorers reached East Africa in 1498, Swahili commercial 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.

The Island of Mozambique was first occupied by Portuguese explorers in the late 15th century. They quickly established a fort there, and with time a community sprang up and achieved importance as port of call, missionary base and a trading centre. The island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The voyage of Vasco da Gama around the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean in 1498 marked the Portuguese entry into trade, politics, and society in the Indian Ocean world. The Portuguese gained control of the Island of Mozambique and the port city of Sofala in the early 16th century. Vasco da Gama having visited Mombasa in 1498, was then successful in reaching India and this permitted the Portuguese to trade with the Far East directly by sea, thus challenging older trading networks of mixed land and sea routes, such as the Spice trade routes that utilized the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and caravans to reach the eastern Mediterranean.

The Republic of Venice had gained control over much of the trade routes between Europe and Asia. After traditional land routes to India had been closed by the Ottoman Turks, Portugal hoped to use the sea route pioneered by da Gama to break the Venetian trading monopoly. Initially, Portuguese rule in East Africa focused mainly on a coastal strip centred in Mombasa. With voyages led by Vasco da Gama, Francisco de Almeida and Afonso de Albuquerque, the Portuguese dominated much of southeast Africa's coast, including Sofala and Kilwa, by 1515.[3] Their main goal was to dominate the trade with India. As the Portuguese settled along the coast, they made their way into the hinterland as sertanejos (backwoodsmen). These sertanejos lived alongside Swahili traders and even took up service among Shona kings as interpreters and political advisors. One such sertanejo managed to travel through almost all the Shona kingdoms, including the Mutapa Empire's (Mwenemutapa) metropolitican district, between 1512 and 1516.[4]

By the 1530s, small groups of Portuguese traders and prospectors penetrated the interior regions seeking gold, where they set up garrisons and trading posts at Sena and Tete on the Zambezi River and tried to gain exclusive control over the gold trade. The Portuguese finally entered into direct relations with the Mwenemutapa in the 1560s.[5]

They recorded a wealth of information about the Mutapa kingdom as well as its predecessor, Great Zimbabwe. According to Swahili traders whose accounts were recorded by the Portuguese historian João de Barros, Great Zimbabwe was an ancient capital city built of stones of marvellous size without the use of mortar. And while the site was not within Mutapa's borders, the Mwenemutapa kept noblemen and some of his wives there.[6]

View of Lourenço Marques, ca. 1905

The Portuguese attempted to legitimate and consolidate their trade and settlement positions through the creation of prazos (land grants) tied to Portuguese settlement and administration. While prazos were originally developed to be held by Portuguese, through intermarriage they became African Portuguese or African Indian centres defended by large African slave armies known as Chikunda. Historically, within Mozambique, there was slavery. Human beings were bought and sold by African tribal chiefs, Arab traders, and the Portuguese. Many Mozambican slaves were supplied by tribal chiefs who raided warring tribes and sold their captives to the prazeiros.

Although Portuguese influence gradually expanded, its power was limited and exercised through individual settlers and officials who were granted extensive autonomy. The Portuguese were able to wrest much of the coastal trade from Arabs between 1500 and 1700, but, with the Arab seizure of Portugal's key foothold at Fort Jesus on Mombasa Island (now in Kenya) in 1698, the pendulum began to swing in the other direction. As a result, investment lagged while Lisbon devoted itself to the more lucrative trade with India and the Far East and to the colonisation of Brazil. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Mazrui and Omani Arabs reclaimed much of the Indian Ocean trade, forcing the Portuguese to retreat south. Many prazos had declined by the mid-19th century, but several of them survived. During the 19th century other European powers, particularly the British and the French, became increasingly involved in the trade and politics of the region. In the Island of Mozambique, the hospital, a majestic neo-classical building constructed in 1877 by the Portuguese, with a garden decorated with ponds and fountains, was for many years the biggest hospital south of the Sahara.[7] By the early 20th century the Portuguese had shifted the administration of much of Mozambique to large private companies, like the Mozambique Company, the Zambezia Company and the Niassa Company, controlled and financed mostly by the British, which established, with the Portuguese, railroad lines to neighbouring countries. The companies, granted a charter by the Portuguese government to foster economic development and maintain Portuguese control in the territory's provinces, would lose their purpose when the territory was transferred to the control of the Portuguese colonial government between 1929 and 1942.

Although slavery had been legally abolished in Mozambique by the Portuguese authorities, at the end of the 19th century the Chartered companies enacted a forced labor policy and supplied cheap – often forced – African labor to the mines and plantations of the nearby British colonies and South Africa. The Zambezia Company, the most profitable chartered company, took over a number of smaller prazeiro holdings, and requested Portuguese military outposts to protect its property. The chartered companies and the Portuguese administration built roads and ports to bring their goods to market including a railroad linking present day Zimbabwe with the Mozambican port of Beira. However, the development's administration gradually started to pass directly from the trading companies to the Portuguese government itself.

Because of their unsatisfactory performance and because of the shift, under the Estado Novo regime of Oliveira Salazar, towards a stronger Portuguese control of Portuguese empire's economy, the companies' concessions were not renewed when they ran out. This was what happened in 1942 with the Mozambique Company, which however continued to operate in the agricultural and commercial sectors as a corporation, and had already happened in 1929 with the termination of the Niassa Company's concession.

In the 1950s, the Portuguese overseas colony was rebranded an overseas province of Portugal, and by the early 1970s it was officially upgraded to the status of Portuguese non-sovereign state, by which it would remain a Portuguese territory but with a wider administrative autonomy. The Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), initiated a guerrilla campaign against Portuguese rule in September 1964. This conflict, along with the two others already initiated in the other Portuguese colonies of Angola and Guinea, became part of the so-called Portuguese Colonial War (1961–1974). From a military standpoint, the Portuguese regular army held the upper hand during all of the conflicts against the independentist guerrilla forces, which created favourable conditions for social development and economic growth until the end of the conflict in 1974.[8]

After ten years of sporadic warfare and after Portugal's return to democracy through a leftist military coup in Lisbon which replaced Portugal's Estado Novo regime in favor of a military junta (the Carnation Revolution of April 1974), FRELIMO took control of the territory. The talks that led to an agreement on Mozambique's independence, signed in Lusaka, were started. Within a year, almost all ethnic Portuguese population had left, many fleeing in fear; others were expelled by the ruling power of the newly-independent territory. Mozambique became independent from Portugal on 25 June 1975.


Legally, Mozambique was as much a part of Portugal as Lisbon but as an overseas province enjoyed special derogations to account for its distance from Europe. The province was also subject to the authoritarian Estado Novo regime that ruled Portugal from 1933 to 1974, till the military coup at Lisbon, known as the Carnation Revolution. Most members of the government of Mozambique were from Portugal, but a few were Africans. Nearly all members of the bureaucracy were from Portugal, as most Africans did not have the necessary qualifications to obtain positions.

The government of Mozambique, as it was in Portugal, was highly centralized. Power was concentrated in the executive branch, and all elections where they occurred were carried out using indirect methods. From the Prime Minister's office in Lisbon, authority extended down to the most remote posts and regedorias of Mozambique through a rigid chain of command. The authority of the government of Mozambique was residual, primarily limited to implementing policies already decided in Europe. In 1967, Mozambique also sent seven delegates to the National Assembly in Lisbon.

The highest official in the province was the governor-general, appointed by the Portuguese cabinet on recommendation of the Overseas Minister. The governor-general had both executive and legislative authority. A Government Council advised the governor-general in the running of the province. The functional cabinet consisted of five secretaries appointed by the Overseas Minister on the advice of the governor. A Legislative Council had limited powers and its main activity was approving the provincial budget. Finally, an Economic and Social Council had to be consulted on all draft legislation, and the governor-general had to justify his decision to Lisbon if he ignored its advice.

Mozambique was divided into nine districts, which were further subdivided into 61 municipalities (concelhos) and 33 circumscriptions (circunscrições). Each subdivision was then made up of three or four individual posts, 166 in all with an average of 40,000 Africans in each. Each district, except Lourenço Marques which was run by the governor-general, was overseen by a governor. Most Africans only had contact with the Portuguese through the post administrator, who was required to visit each village in his domain at least once a year.

The lowest level of administration was the regedoria, settlements inhabited by Africans living according to customary law. Each regedoria was run by a regulo, an African or Portuguese official chosen on the recommendation of local residents. Under the regulos, each village had its own African headman.

Each level of government could also have an advisory board or council. They were established in municipalities with more than 500 electors, in smaller municipalities or circumscriptions with more than 300 electors, and in posts with more than 20 electors. Each district also had its own board as well.

Two legal systems were in force - Portuguese civil law and African customary law. As part of its policy of assimilation, the Portuguese sought to break down the African legal system and did not study or codify much of it. Until 1961, Africans were considered to be indígenas or natives, rather than citizens. After 1961, the previous native laws were repealed and Africans gained de facto Portuguese citizenship. From then on, the status of Africans depended merely on whether or not they chose to be governed by civil law, and the number of Africans that made the choice was very small.


Portuguese East Africa was located in south-eastern Africa. It was a long coastal strip with Portuguese strongholds, from current day Tanzania and Kenya, to the south of current-day Mozambique.

In 1900, the part of modern Mozambique northwest of the Zambezi and Shire Rivers was called Moçambique; the rest of it was Lourenço Marques. Various districts existed, and even issued stamps, during the first part of the century, including Inhambane, Lourenço Marques, Mozambique Colony, Mozambique Company, Nyassa Company, Quelimane, Tete, and Zambésia. The Nyassa Company territory is now Cabo Delgado and Niassa.

A number of changes occurred after the World War I, namely:

1919-06-28: Kiongo Triangle (over 1,000 sq. km., south of the Rovuma River) transferred from German East Africa to Mozambique by the Versailles Treaty.

1942-07-19: Charter of the Mozambique Company expired; its territory, known as Manica and Sofala, became a district of Mozambique.

1943-01-01: Mozambique constituted as four districts: Manica and Sofala, Niassa, Sul do Save (South of the Save River), and Zambézia.

1954-10-20: Cabo Delgado and Mozambique districts split from Niassa. Sul do Save district divided into Gaza, Inhambane, and Lourenço Marques. Tete district split from Manica and Sofala.

By the early 1970s, Mozambique was bordering the Mozambique Channel, bordering the countries of Malawi, Rhodesia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Zambia. Covering a total area of 801,590 km² (slightly less than twice the size of California). With a tropical to subtropical climate, the Zambezi flows through the north-central and most fertile part of the country. Its coastline had 2,470 km, with 4,571 km of land boundaries, its highest point at Monte Binga (2,436 m). The Gorongosa National Park, founded in 1920, was the main natural park in the territory.

The districts with its respective capitals were: Lourenço Marques - Lourenço Marques;[9][10] Gaza - João Belo;[11] Inhambane - Inhambane;[12] Beira - Beira;[13][14] Vila Pery - Vila Pery;[15] Tete - Tete; Zambézia - Quelimane;[16] Moçambique - Nampula; Cabo Delgado - Porto Amélia;[17] Niassa - Vila Cabral. Other important urban centres included Sofala, Nacala,[18] António Enes, Island of Mozambique and Vila Junqueiro.[16]


By 1970, the Portuguese Overseas Province of Mozambique had about 8,168,933 inhabitants. Nearly 300,000 were white ethnic Portuguese. There was a number of mulattoes, from both European and African ancestry, living across the territory. However, the majority of the population belonged to local tribal groups which included the Makua–Lomwe, the Shona and the Tsonga. Other ethnic minorities included British, Greeks, Chinese and Indians. Most inhabitants were black indigenous Africans with a diversity of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, ranging from Shangaan and Makonde to Yao or Shona peoples. The Makua were the largest ethnic group in the north. The Sena and Shona (mostly Ndau) were prominent in the Zambezi valley, and the Shangaan (Tsonga) dominated in the south. In addition, several other minority groups lived a tribal lifestyle across the territory.

Mozambique had around 250,000 Europeans in 1974 that made up around 3% of the population. Mozambique was cosmopolitan as it had around Indian, Chinese, Greek and Anglophone communities living there too (over 25,000 Indians and 5,000 Chinese by the early 1970s). The white population was more influenced from South Africa. The capital of Portuguese Mozambique, Lourenço Marques (Maputo), had a population of 355,000 in 1970 with around 100,000 Europeans. Beira had around 115,000 inhabitants at the time with around 30,000 Europeans. Most of the other cities ranged from 10 to 15% in the number of Europeans, while Portuguese Angola cities had European majorities ranging from 50% to 60%.


The establishment of a dual, racialized civil society was formally recognized in Estatuto do Indigenato (The Statute of Indigenous Populations) adopted in 1929, and was based in the subjective concept of civilization versus tribalism. Portugal's colonial authorities were totally committed to develop a fully multiethnic "civilized" society in its African colonies, but that goal or "civilizing mission", would only be achieved after a period of Europeanization or enculturation of the native black tribes and ethnocultural groups. It was a policy which had already been stimulated in the former Portuguese colony of Brazil and in Portuguese Angola. The Estatuto established a distinction between the "colonial citizens", subject to the Portuguese laws and entitled to all citizenship rights and duties effective in the "metropole", and the indigenas (natives), subjected to colonial legislation and, in their daily lives, to their customary, tribal native laws. Between the two groups there was a third small group, the assimilados, comprising native blacks, mulatos, Asians, and mixed-race people, who had at least some formal education, were not subjected to paid forced labor, were entitled to some citizenship rights, and held a special identification card that differed from the one imposed on the immense mass of the African population (the indigenas), a card that the colonial authorities conceived of as a means of controlling the movements of forced labor (CEA 1998). The indigenas were subject to the traditional authorities, who were gradually integrated into the colonial administration and charged with solving disputes, managing the access to land, and guaranteeing the flows of workforce and the payment of taxes. As several authors have pointed out (Mamdani 1996; Gentili 1999; O'Laughlin 2000), the Indigenato regime was the political system that subordinated the immense majority of Mozambicans to local authorities entrusted with governing, in collaboration with the lowest echelon of the colonial administration, the "native" communities described as tribes and assumed to have a common ancestry, language, and culture. The colonial use of traditional law and structures of power was thus an integral part of the process of colonial domination (Young 1994; Penvenne 1995; O'Laughlin 2000) obsessed with the maximization of economic development and growth through the use of idle or unproductive African workforce.

In the 1940s, the integration of traditional authorities into the colonial administration was deepened, a level of social integration, miscegenation and social promotion based in skill and human qualities of each individual, rather than in the ethnic background, which was coined lusotropicalismo and had been a major feature of the Portuguese Empire throughout history. The Portuguese colony was divided into concelhos (municipalities), in urban areas, governed by colonial and metropolitan legislation, and circunscrições (localities), in rural areas. The circunscrições were led by a colonial administrator and divided into regedorias (subdivisions of circunscrições), headed by régules (tribal chieftains), the embodiment of traditional authorities. Provincial Portuguese Decree No. 5.639, of July 29, 1944, attributed to régulos and their assistants, the cabos de terra, the status of auxiliares da administração (administrative assistants). Gradually, these "traditional" titles lost some of their content, and the régulos and cabos de terra came to be viewed as an effective part of the colonial state, remunerated for their participation in the collection of taxes, recruitment of the labor force, and agricultural production in the area under their control. Within the areas of their jurisdiction, the régulos and cabos de terra also controlled the distribution of land and settled conflicts according to customary norms (Geffray 1990; Alexander 1994; Dinerman 1999). To exercise their power, the régulos and cabos de terra had their own police force. This system of indirect rule illustrates what the disjunction between political and administrative control. In major urban areas, most notoriously the cosmopolitan provincial ports of Lourenço Marques and Beira, racial integration and socioeconomic opportunities for all kind of skilled citizens were already very deep. It continued after the Indigenato system was abolished in the early 1960s after the Portuguese colony of Mozambique has been rebranded the Overseas Province of Mozambique in the 1950s. From then on, all Africans were considered Portuguese citizens, and racial discrimination became a sociological rather than a legal feature of colonial society. The rule of traditional authorities was indeed integrated more than before in the colonial administration.

Ethnic African inhabitants of the Portuguese overseas provinces were ultimately supposed to become full citizens with full political rights through a long development process. To that end, by the 1960s and 1970s, segregation in Mozambique was minimal compared to that in neighbouring South Africa.

Urban centres

The 'lemon reamer' church in Polana.

The largest coastal cities, the first founded or settled by Portuguese people since the 16th century, like the capital Lourenço Marques, Beira, Quelimane, Nampula and Inhambane were modern cosmopolitan ports and a melting pot of several cultures, with a strong South African influence. The Southeast African and Portuguese cultures were dominant, but the influence of Arab, Indian, and Chinese cultures were also felt. The cuisine was diverse, owing especially to the Portuguese cuisine and Muslim heritage, and seafood was also quite abundant.

Lourenço Marques had always been a point of interest for artistic and architectural development since the first days of its urban expansion and this strong artistic spirit was responsible for attracting some of the world's most forward architects at the turn of the 20th century. The city was home to masterpieces of building work by Gustav Eiffel, Pancho Guedes, Herbert Baker and Thomas Honney amongst others. The earliest architectural efforts around the city focused on classical European designs such as the Central Train Station (CFM) designed by architects Alfredo Augusto Lisboa de Lima, Mario Veiga and Ferreira da Costa and built between 1913 and 1916 (sometimes mistaken with the work of Gustav Eiffel),[19] and the Hotel Polana designed by Herbert Baker.

As the 1960s and 1970s approached, Lourenço Marques was yet again at the center of a new wave of architectural influences made most popular by Pancho Guedes. The designs of the 1960s and 1970s were characterized by modernist movements of clean, straight and functional structures. However, prominent architects such as Pancho Guedes fused this with local art schemes giving the city's buildings a unique Mozambican theme. As a result most of the properties erected during the second construction boom take on these styling cues.


Since the 15th century, Portugal founded settlements, trading posts, forts and ports in the Sub-Saharan Africa's coast. Cities, towns and villages were founded all over East African territories by the Portuguese, especially since the 19th century, like Lourenço Marques, Beira, Vila Pery, Vila Junqueiro, Vila Cabral and Porto Amélia. Others were expanded and developed greatly under Portuguese rule, like Quelimane, Nampula and Sofala. By this time, Mozambique had become a Portuguese colony, but administration was left to the trading companies (like Mozambique Company and Niassa Company) who had received long-term leases from Lisbon. By the mid-1920s, the Portuguese succeeded in creating a highly exploitative and coercive settler economy, in which African natives were forced to work on the fertile lands taken over by Portuguese settlers. Indigenous African peasants mainly produced cash crops designated for sale in the markets of the colonial metropole (the center, i.e. Portugal). Major cash crops included cotton, cashews, tea and rice. This arrangement ended in 1932 after the takeover in Portugal by the new António de Oliveira Salazar's government - the Estado Novo. Thereafter, Mozambique, along with other Portuguese colonies, was put under the direct control of Lisbon. In 1951, it became an overseas province. The economy expanded rapidly during the 1950s and 1960s, attracting thousands of Portuguese settlers to the country. It was around this time that the first nationalist guerrilla groups began to form in Tanzania and other African countries. The strong industrial and agricultural development that did occur throughout the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s was based on Portuguese development plans, and also included British and South African investment.

In 1959-60, Mozambique's major exports included cotton, cashew nuts, tea, sugar, copra and sisal. Other major agricultural productions included rice and coconut. The expanding economy of the Portuguese overseas province was fuelled by foreign direct investment, and public investment which included ambitious state-managed development plans. British capital owned two of the large sugar concessions (the third was Portuguese), including the famous Sena states. The Matola Oil Refinery, Procon, was controlled by England and the United States. In 1948 the petroleum concession was given to the Mozambique Gulf Oil Company. At Maotize coal was mined; the industry was chiefly financed by Belgian capital. 60% of the capital of the Compagnie de Charbons de Mozambique was held by the Societe Miniere et Geologique Belge, 30% by the Mozambique Company, and the remaining 10% by the Government of the territory. Three banks were in operation, the Banco Nacional Ultramarino, Portuguese, Barclays Bank, D.C.O., British, and the Banco Totta e Standard de Moçambique (a partnership between Standard Bank of South Africa and mainland's Banco Totta & Açores). Nine out of the twenty-three insurance companies were Portuguese. 80% of life-insurance was in the hands of foreign companies which testifies the openness of the economy.

Cahora Bassa Dam reservoir - the dam began construction in 1969 and was at the time one of the biggest in all Africa.

The Portuguese overseas province of Mozambique was the first territory of Portugal, including the European mainland, to distribute Coca Cola. Lately the Lourenço Marques Oil Refinery was established by the Sociedade Nacional de Refinação de Petróleo (SONAREP) - a Franco-Portuguese syndicate. In the sisal plantations Swiss capital was invested, and in copra concerns, a combination of Portuguese, Swiss and French capital was invested. The large availability of capital from both Portuguese and international origin, allied to the wide range of natural resources and the growing urban population, lead to an impressive growth and development of the economy.

From the late stages of this notable period of high growth and huge development effort started in the 1950s, was the construction of Cahora Bassa dam by the Portuguese, which started to fill in December 1974 after construction was commenced in 1969. At independence, Mozambique's industrial base was well-developed by Sub-Saharan Africa standards, thanks to a boom in investment in the 1960s and early 1970s. Indeed, in 1973, value-added in manufacturing was the sixth highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Economically, Mozambique was a source of agricultural raw materials and an earner of foreign exchange. It also provided a market for Portuguese manufacturers which were protected from local competition. Transportation facilities had been developed to exploit the transit trade of South Africa, Swaziland, Rhodesia, Malawi, and Zambia, agricultural production for export purposes had been encouraged, and profitable arrangements for the export of labor had been made with neighboring countries. Industrial production had been relatively insignificant, but did begin to increase in the 1960s. The economic structure generally favored the taking of profits to Portugal rather than their reinvestment in Mozambique. The Portuguese interests which dominate in banking, industry, and agriculture, exerted a powerful influence on policy.


Mozambique's rural black populations were largely illiterate, as were a majority of Portugal's peasantry. However, a number of natives from diverse tribal backgrounds were educated in Portuguese language and history by several missionary schools established across the vast countryside areas. In mainland Portugal, the homeland of the colonial authorities which ruled Mozambique from the 16th century until 1975, by the end of the 19th century the illiteracy rates were at over 80 percent and higher education was reserved for a small percentage of the population. 68.1 percent of mainland Portugal's population was still classified as illiterate by the 1930 census. Mainland Portugal's literacy rate by the 1940s and early 1950s was low for North American and Western European standards at the time. Only in the mid-1960s did the country make public education available for all children between the ages of six and twelve, and the overseas territories in Africa profited from this new educational developments and change in policy at Lisbon. Starting in the early 1950s, the access to basic, secondary and technical education was expanded and its availability was being increasingly opened to both the African indigenes and the European Portuguese of the African territories. A comprehensive network of secondary schools (the Liceus) and technical or vocational education schools were implemented across the cities and main towns of the territory. In 1962, the first Mozambican university was founded by the Portuguese authorities in the provincial capital, Lourenço Marques, the Universidade de Lourenço Marques, awarding a wide range of degrees from engineering to medicine,[20] during a time that in the European Portuguese mainland only four public universities were in operation.


The Portuguese-ruled territory was introduced to several popular European and North American sports disciplines since the early urbanistic and economic booms of the 1920s and 1940s. This period was a time of city and town expansion and modernization that included the construction of several sports facilities for football, rink hockey, basketball, volleyball, handball, athletics, gymnastics and swimming. Several sports clubs were founded across the entire territory, among them were some of the largest and oldest sports organizations of Mozambique like Sporting Clube de Lourenço Marques established in 1920. Other major sports clubs were founded in the following years like Grupo Desportivo de Lourenço Marques (1921), Clube Ferroviário de Lourenço Marques (1924), Sport Club de Vila Pery (1928), Clube Ferroviário da Beira (1943), Grupo Desportivo da Companhia Têxtil do Punguè (1943), and Sport Lourenço Marques e Benfica (1955). Several sportsmen, especially football players, that achieved wide notability in Portuguese sports were from Mozambique. Eusébio and Mário Coluna were examples of that, and excelled in the Portugal national football team. Since the 1960s, with the latest developments on commercial aviation, the highest ranked football teams of Mozambique and the other African overseas provinces of Portugal, started to compete in the Taça de Portugal (the Portuguese Cup). There were also several facilities and organizations for golf, tennis and wild hunting.

The nautical sports were also well developed and popular, especially in Lourenço Marques, home to the Clube Naval de Lourenço Marques. The largest stadium was the Estádio Salazar, located near Lourenço Marques. Opened in 1968, it was at the time the most advanced in Mozambique conforming to standards set by both FIFA and the International Cycling Union (UCI). The cycling track could be adjusted to allow for 20,000 more seats.[21] Beginning in the 1950s, motorsport was introduced to Mozambqiue. At first race cars would compete in areas around the city, Polana and along the marginal but as funding and interest increased, a dedicated race track was built in the Costa Do Sol area along and behind the marginal with the ocean to the east with a length of 1,5 kilometers. The initial surface of the new track, named Autódromo de Lourenço Marques did not provide enough grip and an accident in the late 1960s killed 8 people and injured many more. Therefore, in 1970, the track was renovated and the surface changed to meet the highest international safety requirements that were needed at large events with many spectators. The length then increased to 3,909 kilometers. The city became host to several international and local events beginning with the inauguration on the 26th of November, 1970.[22]

Last days and the aftermath

As communist and anti-colonial ideologies spread out across Africa, many clandestine political movements were established in support of Mozambique's independence. Regardless of whether it was exaggerated anti-Portuguese/anti-"Colonial" propaganda,[23] a dominant tendency in Mozambique, or a mix of both, these movements claimed that since policies and development plans were primarily designed by the ruling authorities for the benefit of the Mozambican ethnic Portuguese population, little attention was paid to local tribal integration and the development of its native communities. According to the official guerrilla statements, this affected a majority of the indigenous population who suffered both state-sponsored discrimination and enormous social pressure. Many felt they had received too little opportunity or resources to upgrade their skills and improve their economic and social situation to a degree comparable to that of the Europeans. Statistically, Portuguese Mozambique's whites were indeed wealthier and more skilled than the black indigenous majority, but the late 1950s, the 1960s and the early 1970s, were being testimony of a gradual change based in new socioeconomic developments and equalitarian policies regarding underprivileged rural black communities.

The Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), headquartered in Tanzania, initiated a guerrilla campaign against Portuguese rule in September 1964. This conflict, along with the two others already initiated in the other Portuguese overseas territories of Angola and Portuguese Guinea, became part of the Portuguese Colonial War (1961–1974). Several African territories under European rule had achieved independence in recent decades. Oliveira Salazar attempted to resist this tide and maintain the integrity of the Portuguese empire. By 1970, the anti-guerrilla war in Africa was consuming an important part of the Portuguese budget and there was no sign of a final solution in sight. This year was marked by a large-scale military operation in northern Mozambique, the Gordian Knot Operation, which displaced the FRELIMO's bases and destroyed much of the guerrillas' military capacity. At a military level, a part of Guinea-Bissau was de facto independent since 1973, but the capital and the major towns were still under Portuguese control. In Angola and Mozambique, independence movements were only active in a few remote countryside areas from where the Portuguese Army had retreated. However, their impending presence and the fact that they wouldn't go away dominated public anxiety. Throughout the war period Portugal had to deal with increasing dissent, arms embargoes and other punitive sanctions imposed by most of the international community. A leftist military coup in Lisbon on 24 April 1974 by the Movimento das Forças Armadas (MFA), overthrow the Estado Novo regime headed by Prime-Minister Marcelo Caetano.

As one of the objectives of the MFA, all the Portuguese overseas territories in Africa were offered independence. FRELIMO took complete control of the Mozambican territory after a transition period, as agreed in the Lusaka Accord which recognized Mozambique's right to independence and the terms of the transfer of power.

Within a year of the Portuguese military coup at Lisbon, almost all Portuguese population had left the African territory as refugees (in mainland Portugal they were known as retornados) – some expelled by the new ruling power of Mozambique, some fleeing in fear. A parade and a state banquet completed the independence festivities in the capital, which was expected to be renamed Can Phumo, or "Place of Phumo", after a Shangaan chief who lived in the area before the Portuguese navigator Lourenço Marques founded the city in 1545 and gave his name to it. Most city streets, named for Portuguese heroes or important dates in Portuguese history, had their names changed.[24]

Portuguese population's rapid exodus left the Mozambican economy in disarray. In addition, after the independence day on June 25, 1975, the eruption of the Mozambican Civil War (1977–1992) destroyed the remaining wealth and left the former Portuguese Overseas Province in a state of absolute disrepair.

Famous people

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Oliver, page 206
  4. ^ Oliver, page 207
  5. ^ Oliver, page 203
  6. ^ Oliver, page 204
  7. ^ Patrick Lages, The island of Mozambique, UNESCO Courier, May, 1997.
  8. ^ CD do Diário de Notícias - Parte 08
  9. ^ Lourenço Marques "A cidade feitiço", a film of Lourenço Marques, Portuguese Mozambique in 1970.
  10. ^ Lourenco Marques, a film of Lourenço Marques, Portuguese Mozambique.
  11. ^ JOÃO BELO-XAI-XAI, a film of João Belo, Portuguese Mozambique, before 1975.
  12. ^ Inhambane - no outro lado do tempo, short film of Inhambane, Portuguese Mozambique before independence in 1975.
  13. ^ Cidade da Beira A short film of Beira, Portuguese Mozambique.
  14. ^ BEIRA-CENTENÁRIO-O MEU TRIBUTO A film about Beira, Portuguese Mozambique, its Grande Hotel, and the railway station. Post-independence images of the city are shown, the film uses images of RTP 1's TV program Grande Reportagem.
  15. ^ VILA PERY-CHIMOIO, a film of Vila Pery, Portuguese Mozambique.
  16. ^ a b QUELIMANE, a film of the cosmopolitan port of Quelimane and tea centre of Vila Junqueiro, Portuguese Mozambique, before 1975.
  17. ^ PORTO AMÉLIA-PEMBA, a film of Porto Amélia, Portuguese Mozambique.
  18. ^ Nacala - no outro lado do tempo, short film of Nacala, Portuguese Mozambique before independence in 1975.
  19. ^ Morais, João Sousa. Maputo, Património da Estrutura e Forma Urbana, Topologia do Lugar. Livros Horizonte, 2001, p. 110.(in Portuguese)
  20. ^ (Portuguese) 52. UNIVERSIDADE DE LUANDA
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Independence redux in postsocialist Mozambique, Alice Dinerman
  24. ^ Dismantling the Portuguese Empire, Time Magazine (Monday, Jul. 07, 1975)

Herrick, Allison and others (1969). "Area Handbook for Mozambique", US Government Printing Office.

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