Mozambique Geography

Mozambique Geography

HUMAN GEOGRAPHY

According to threergroup, the vast majority of the population belongs to the Bantu (99%), who overpowered the pre-existing Bushmen already in remote times; the influences of the Arabs were significant in the coastal area, who had founded flourishing emporiums long before the arrival of the Portuguese. Alongside the Bantu majority live small minorities of mestizos (0.5%), Indians (0.1%), whites (0.1%) and other ethnic groups (0.3%). The Bantu are divided into numerous ethnolinguistic families; the main groups are to N i makonde, on the border with Tanzania, the yao (wayao) and the nyanja (anyanja) in the province of Niassa, further to S i makua, in the Lúrio valley, the sena (asena) in the Zambezi valley, the karanga (makaranga) between Zambezi and Save, the ciopi (baciopi) and the thonga (bathonga) in the southernmost part. The mainly rural population lives in small hut villages, which often surround the cattle pen (kraal); the urban centers, on the other hand, have a distinct European aspect: here the white population, mainly Portuguese, was concentrated, now almost entirely repatriated. The average density has rather low values ​​ (26 residents / km²) and this is due to the past demographic haemorrhage caused by the slave trade and tribal wars. The internal conflicts that in fact bloodied Mozambique in the last thirty years of the twentieth century then generated large population displacements: the direct and indirect consequences of the civil war forced almost two million people to leave the country and seek refuge in neighboring ones, while at least four million could be considered displaced. Only after the 1992 peace agreement between the government and the guerrillas were 1,700,000 people repatriated. The highest density values ​​are found in the capital area; the density in the strip immediately behind the coast is also discreet due to the presence of numerous plantations (30 residents / km²), while in the interior it touches very low peaks. The cities, which welcome approx. a third of the population (in 2005 it was 31%), have essentially a mercantile vocation and are therefore located on the coast. The main center is the capital Maputo, with a modern face apart from the ancient fortress and with an excellent port, which the bay of the same name defends from the ocean; it developed around the commercial establishment founded by the traveler Lourenço Marques (hence the previous name) and, an important outlet for a vast hinterland, is today one of the main centers of southern Africa. Other important coastal centers are Beira, a notable port at the mouth of the Pungoè, with a wide hinterland consisting mainly of the Zambezi valley, and Quelimane to the N of the Zambezi mouth. Inland are Nampula, on the railway that connects the port of Moçambique (Mozambique, for three centuries the main center and capital of the colony, one of the oldest Portuguese bases on the Indian Ocean) to Lichinga, located on the plateau overlooking Lake Malawi, and Tete on the Zambezi. The long period of civil war left heavy marks on the territorial organization and economy of Mozambique: in the early 2000s the socio-economic conditions of the population were still deeply depressed.

HYDROGRAPHY

The hydrographic network has a rather simple structure: numerous rivers plow the territory with a roughly parallel course, descending from the highlands of southern Africa and flowing directly into the Indian Ocean. The Zambezi, one of the greatest African arteries, has its final course here and, enriched by various tributaries including the Shire and the Luangwa, it is navigable for 400 kilometers. The other main rivers are, from N to S, the Ruvuma, which largely marks the border with Tanzania, the Lúrio, the Save, the Limpopo. Their regime is essentially linked to that of rainfall; the floods are above all in summer, rarely excessive but such as to ensure a certain navigability in the lower stretches of the rivers, navigability which is however often prevented by the presence of rapids and waterfalls: those of Cahora Bassa, on the Zambezi, are today occupied by the artificial basin of the same name which powers one of the largest hydroelectric plants in the world. Finally, 6683 km² of Lake Malawi belong to Mozambique.

ENVIRONMENT

The vegetation is very varied including mangrove formations near the coast, gallery forests (with precious essences such as mahogany and rubber tree) along the waterways, xerophilous forests on the plateaus; the savannah prevails in the interior, now arboreal, with the appearance of xerophilous bush, now herbaceous, with acacias and euphorbia. Mozambique is home to a rich fauna with many large species: a superb sample is offered by the famous Gorongosa wildlife park, which extends for over 5000 km² just N of Beira and which is one of the richest in the continent. Elephants, rhinos, lions, zebras, buffaloes and giraffes are among the animals that populate these lands, but, following the long civil war, their numbers have been considerably reduced. Furthermore, Mozambique has to deal with long periods of drought that fuel the desertification of arable land, the increase in deforestation to obtain combustible material and poaching. Only after the end of the conflict, which profoundly changed the landscape, were nine national parks established; the protected territory constitutes 14.7% of the country.

Mozambique Country and People