Mozambique gained its independence in 1975, after nearly 500 years as a Portuguese colony. Understandably, the official language is Portuguese, but that is spoken mostly by the educated population in the urban centres. English, and a host of Bantu dialects, are much more prevalent in the more rural districts. The country is still recovering from a protracted civil war that ended in 1992, however tourism is playing a vital role in slowly reviving the economy.
It is a fairly large country, roughly the size of Turkey, and shares its borders with 6 countries - Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa. The country is governed by a Constitutional Presidency and the population is estimated to be approximately 20 million. The climate varies from sub-tropical to tropical, and the topography ranges from the large coastal plains in the east to high mountains in the western reaches.
The major natural resources - coal, titanium, natural gas and graphite - are Mozambique’s main exports, and dominant source of income. The main agricultural crops are cotton, cashew nuts, sugarcane, tea, cassava, corn, coconuts, citrus and tropical fruits. In terms of livestock farming, beef and poultry are the most common.
Because of the sub-tropical climate, Mozambique is better known for its beach and island holidays. Most tourist activity is concentrated along its expansive pristine 2 800 km coastline. Well-known places, such as Pemba, Vilanculos, Inhambane, Quirimbas and the Bazaruto Archipelago are a few possible destinations that spring to mind. Other attractions include the Gorongosa National Park and the southern shores of Lake Malawi.
The coastal town of Vilanculos is the gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago - a chain of four large islands: Bazaruto, Benguerra, Santa Isobel and Santa Carolina (formerly Paradise Island). Bazaruto and Benguerra are the largest of the 4 islands, and have a few small villages scattered amongst wild orange and cashew nut groves. These are places to relax, escape to and explore. A marine national park covers the archipelago, protecting the exquisite marine life in these warm turquoise seas.