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February 2002

Mozambique, 1995

Mozambique, 1995

Mozambique is located in Southern Africa, bordering the Mozambique Channel to the east and Zimbabwe to the west. Mozambique's 10 major ethnic groups encompass numerous subgroups with diverse languages, dialects, cultures, and history; the largest are the Makua and Tsonga. The north-central provinces of Zambezia and Nampula are the most populous, with about 40% of the population. The estimated 4 million Makua are the dominant group in the northern part of the country--the Sena and Ndau are prominent in the Zambezi valley, and the Tsonga dominate in southern Mozambique

Mozambique's first inhabitants were Bushmanoid hunters and gatherers, ancestors of the Khoisani peoples. Between the first and fourth centuries AD., waves of Bantu-speaking peoples migrated from the north through the Zambezi River Valley and then gradually into the plateau and coastal areas. The Bantu were farmers and ironworkers. Despite the influence of Islamic coastal traders and European colonizers, the people of Mozambique have largely retained an indigenous culture based on subsistence agriculture. Mozambique's most highly developed art forms have been wood sculpture, for which the Makonde in northern Mozambique are particularly renowned, and dance. The modern elite continues to be heavily influenced by the Portuguese colonial and linguistic heritage.

Business activity in Mozambique is centered upon import/export trading. Foreign assistance programs supply the foreign exchange required to purchase imports of goods and services. At nearly $1 billion, official imports are five times official exports. These figures exclude a vibrant and growing informal sector that conducts much of the trade along the porous borders with six neighboring countries and outside of the formal economy. Historically, principal exports have been shrimp, cashews, copra, sugar, cotton, tea, and citrus fruits.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 7/1996