Mozambique is on the southeastern coast of Africa, bordering Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia to the north; Zimbabwe to the west; South Africa and Swaziland to the south. The capital, Maputo, is located in the south. Mozambique was a Portuguese colony for almost five centuries and attained its independence in 1975. Large-scale emigration by whites, economic dependence on South Africa, a severe drought, and a prolonged civil war later hindered the country’s development. The ruling party formally abandoned Marxism in 1989, and a new constitution the following year provided for multiparty elections and a free market economy. A UN-negotiated peace agreement with rebel forces ended the fighting in 1992.
Today the official language is Portuguese, which is used in education and government but is rarely spoken outside the cities, where instead numerous indigenous languages are spoken. The capital of Maputo is located in the southern coastal area of the country, where the indigenous language commonly used is Shangaan. There are two main seasons: the wet season from November through March and the dry season from April through October.
Despite the rapid growth of the cities, nine-tenths of the population is rural. Agriculture is by far the largest industry, with 80 percent of the people working in agriculture even though only 5 percent of the land is arable. Fishing along the coast accounts for one-third of the country’s exports.