30 interesting facts about Mozambique

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From idyllic islands to the only country to have all five vowels in its name, these are the most interesting facts about Mozambique.

Interesting facts about Mozambique include its idyllic beaches
Interesting facts about Mozambique include its idyllic beaches (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Mozambique
Population: 30,888,034
Area: 799,380 sq km
Capital city: Maputo
Major languages: Makhuwa, Portuguese
Major religions: Roman Catholic, Muslim, Zionist Christian, Evangelical/Pentecostal
Time zone: UTC+2 (Central Africa Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

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Interesting facts about Mozambique

1. Mozambique is a country located in southeast Africa bordering Malawi, South Africa, Eswatini, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

2. Mozambique has been inhabited for at least 10,000 years. Initially by scattered clans of nomads and then later by Bantu-speaking people from the Niger Delta.
– Source: Lonely Planet

3. Around the 11th century, the Shona empire developed between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers.
– Source: BBC News

A map of Mozambique
Mozambique is located in southeast Africa (Shutterstock)

4. Mozambique takes its name from an offshore island of the same name which was apparently named after Mussa al-Bik, an influential Arab slave trader who set himself up as sultan on the island in the 15th century.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

5. The Island of Mozambique is the country’s sole UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located just 4km off the mainland, the site is known for its 16th century architectural and historical significance.
– Source: UNESCO

6. The island is home to the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte. Built in 1522, it is believed to be the oldest European building in the southern hemisphere.
– Source: BBC World Service

A fort on the Island of Mozambique
The Island of Mozambique (Shutterstock)

7. If Scrabble allowed place names (proper nouns are not permitted), Mozambique would be worth 34 points – the highest score of any other one-word country. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan share second place on 30.
– Source: HasbroScrabble score calculator

8. Mozambique is also the only one-word country that includes all five vowels in its name.
– Source: UN Country List

9. Mozambique’s flag has green, black, yellow and narrow white stripes, and a red triangle featuring a yellow star, an open book and a crossed hoe and rifle. Green represents the land, white peace, black the African continent, yellow the country’s minerals, and red the struggle for independence. The rifle signifies defence and vigilance, the hoe agriculture, the book education, and the star Marxism.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

The flag of Mozambique
The flag of Mozambique (Shutterstock

10. The flag is one of only two national flags that features a firearm, the other being Guatemala.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

11. Mozambique is a poor country and one of the world’s least developed. In 2020, it was ranked ninth-lowest in the Human Development Index (HDI).
– Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

12. In 2011, gas fields were discovered off Mozambique’s coast. It was hoped the discovery would transform the country’s economy, but despite recent growth, more than half of Mozambique’s population still live below the poverty line.
– Source: BBC News

13. Mozambique is also among the world’s hungriest countries. In 2020, Mozambique was ranked as the fifth hungriest nation and classified as suffering from “serious” levels of hunger.
– Source: Global Hunger Index

Mozambican women carry baskets on their heads
Several interesting facts about Mozambique are linked to its struggles with poverty (Shutterstock)

14. In 1498, famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama became the first European to visit Mozambique.
– Source: Britannica

15. From the 16th century onwards, Portugal began colonising the region turning the area into a major slave-trading centre during the 18th and 19th centuries.
– Source: BBC News

16. In 1975, following over 10 years of guerilla war for independence and a 1974 military coup in Portugal, Mozambique finally became an independent country.
– Source: BBC News

17. Resistance leader Samora Machel was Mozambique’s first president. He died in 1986 when his plane crashed in South Africa. It was widely believed that the South African government was involved in his death, although it strongly denied any association.
– Source: Britannica

A statue of Samora Machel in Maputo
A statue of Samora Machel in Maputo (Shutterstock)

18. From 1977 to 1992, Mozambique was embroiled in a civil war that caused over a million deaths and saw a number of human rights violations.
– Source: Foreign Policy Magazine

19. Mozambique is home to over 200 species of mammal, nearly 600 bird species and almost 6,000 plant species, of which 250 are believed to be endemic.
– Source: Ham et al. (2017) Southern Africa. Lonely Planet: London

20. Gorongosa National Park used to be one of Southern Africa’s best wildlife parks with 2,200 elephants, 200 lions, and 14,000 African buffalo among many other big mammals. However, during the civil war, the wildlife was decimated. Today, the Gorongosa National Park is rebuilding and now has more than 650 elephants now.
– Source: National Geographic

Sunset over Gorongosa National Park
Gorongosa National Park (Shutterstock)

21. In 2013, the last rhinos in Mozambique were killed by poachers making them extinct in the country. Wildlife in Mozambique has long suffered from poachers with low-paid rangers open to corruption. Additionally, Mozambican poachers regularly cross into Kruger National Park in South Africa to kill rhinos.
– Source: The Telegraph, Save the Rhino

22. Mozambique is one of only two Commonwealth members without historic ties to the United Kingdom. The other is Rwanda.
– Source: BBC News

23. Mozambique has a history of severe flooding, which regularly sees hundreds of people killed and thousands displacing.
– Source: ResearchGate

24. Most recently, Mozambique, which was hit by cyclones Idai and Kenneth in 2019. It was the worst natural disaster to hit southern Africa in at least two decades and killed 603 people and affected over two million more.
– Source: UNICEF

Flooded fields in Mozambique
Flooding in Mozambique (Shutterstock)

25. Lake Malawi is home to hundreds of fish species, nearly all endemic. Its importance for the study of evolution has been compared to that of the Galapagos Islands.
– Source: UNESCO

26. 25% of Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa, lies within Mozambique. Lake Malawi is the fourth-largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, the ninth-largest lake in the world by area and the third-largest and second-deepest lake in Africa.
– Source: Lonely Planet, Water Encyclopedia

27. Lake Malawi is sometimes referred to as “the calendar lake” dues to its dimensions: 365 miles long and 52 miles wide.
– Source: Africa Geographic

28. The Bazaruto Archipelago is home to the five islands of the Bazaruto National Park where dolphins along with over 2000 types of fish are protected. There are also loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles and even dugongs.
– Source: Lonely Planet

Sandy beaches in the Bazaruto Archipelago
The Bazaruto Archipelago (Shutterstock)

29. The 31 islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago are home to coral reefs and white sand beaches and are a popular honeymoon destination. In 2017, Lonely Planet named them among their “top 10 honeymoon islands”.
– Source: Lonely Planet

30. Several scenes from the 2006 Oscar-nominated movie Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio were shot in Mozambique.
– Source: IMDB


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