A chronology of key events:
Mozambique’s coast was part of a chain of civilized merchant kingdoms, visited by ships from as far afield as India, Arabia and Persia. They came sailing in on the monsoon winds to buy slaves, ivory, gold and spices. Muslim merchants intermarried with African families, and set up trading posts along the coast.
Portuguese expedition led by explorer Vasco da Gama drops anchor off Mozambican coast. These 15th-century buccaneers pursued their trade interests with armed raids on coastal towns or cannon bombardments from their warships, and constructed forts to protect themselves from their English and Dutch rivals.
16th and 17th centuries
Portuguese venture into interior. Following military campaigns, colonists set up trading posts and mining enterprises and parcel-out land to European settlers.
18th and 19th centuries
Mozambique becomes major slave-trading centre. Portugal and several other European powers began a lengthy political struggle for a chunk of Africa to call their own. Britain showed great interest on Mozambique, and Portugal reacted by strengthening it’s previously laidback colonial control. The country was so wild and vast, however, that the government had to lease large tracts of land to private firms, which soon became infamous for the abuses they inflicted on their workers.
Portugal outlaws slave trade from Mozambique, but secret trade continues for decades.
Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) becomes colonial capital.
1950 – 1960
Colonial economy thrives, attracting thousands of new Portuguese settlers to Mozambique.
Exiled activists opposed to Portuguese colonial power meet in Tanzania to form Mozambique Liberation Front – Frelimo – headed by Eduardo Mondlane.
Frelimo forces begin war of independence. Guerrilla tactics frustrate Portuguese and Frelimo take control of much of north.
Military coup in Portugal. New government supports autonomy for colonies; start of departure of 250,000 Portuguese inhabitants.
Portugal and Frelimo sign Lusaka Accord; transitional government is established.
Mozambique becomes independent. Frelimo rules under single-party system with leader Samora Machel as president.
Renamo – an anti-Frelimo resistance group – is set up by white Rhodesian officers as clashes with Frelimo forces escalate and Mozambique imposes economic sanctions against Rhodesia.
Renamo is supported by South Africa after collapse of Rhodesian regime.
President Machel is killed in air crash, Joaquim Chissano becomes president.
President Chissano and Renamo leader Afonso Dhaklama sign peace deal in Rome.
Mozambique becomes Commonwealth member.
As you can see from the events listed above, Mozambique has had a violent and troubled past, which has only seen peace and stability for about 20 years. It is because of this, that it is has only recently emerged as a tourism destination. Mozambique offers stunning and uncrowded beaches, vibrant cities, and warm and friendly people. If you are looking for an up and coming destination, then look no further! A must see in any east African travel itinerary.