Mozambique: Land and people

Extracted from: Zefanias Matsimbe2009 "Chapter 9: Mozambique" IN Denis Kadima and Susan Booysen (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy, EISA, Johannesburg, 310.

Mozambique is located on the southeast coast of Africa, and comprises an area of 799&380 km². The country has 4&330 km of land border with Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Swaziland, and 2,470 km of sea coast on the Indian Ocean. Mozambique is divided into three large geo-economic and cultural regions - the North, Centre and South - and comprises 10 administrative provinces, including Maputo, the capital city.

The preliminary results of the latest census held in 2007 show that the country's population is 20&530&714 (UNDP 2009). Men comprise 48 per cent of the population and 52 per cent are women. The HIV/Aids prevalence rate in Mozambique is 16 per cent for adults (Mozambique National Aids Council 2008).

The population of the country is subdivided into 20 different ethno-linguistic Bantu-speaking groups. The predominant linguist groups are Makua, Lomwe, Yao and Makonde in the North, Sena, Chewa and Shona in the Centre and Tsonga in the South. Portuguese is the official language, although it is spoken by only 40 per cent of the population (Lodge et al 2002).

The end of the 16-year civil war, which came with the signing of the General Peace Agreement in 1992, provided initial momentum for the recovery of the economy of the country. Although it remains one of the world's poorest countries, the situation is gradually improving. Mozambique has one of the highest growth rates in the SADC region and in the world. The overall forecast GDP growth for 2008 and 2009 was 7.3 per cent and 7.1 per cent respectively (Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008). In the light of the global economic crisis, this was later scaled down to an expected 4 per cent. Annual inflation decreased from double-digit figures to an average of 8.2 per cent in 2007 (Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008).

Despite the economic growth brought about by economic reforms, growing foreign investment, improving business opportunities, and agricultural production, the country's budget will remain highly dependent on foreign aid, which constituted 49 per cent of the total national budget up until 2009 (Government of Mozambique 2006). The steady improvement in infrastructure, facilities and services, which had been heavily hit by civil war, and industrial expansion with foreign investment, had resulted in growing optimism about the country's long-term prospects.

References

ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT LIMITED 2008 "Monthly Report. May 2008".

GOVERNMENT OF MOZAMBIQUE 2006 Plano de Acção para a Redução da Pobreza Absoluta 2006-2009 (PARPA II).

LODGE, T, KADIMA, D & POTTIE, D 2002 (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa, Johannesburg, EISA.

MOZAMBIQUE NATIONAL AIDS COUNCIL 2008. "Mozambique progress report for the United Nations General Assembly special session on HIV and AIDS", [www] http://data.unaids.org/pub/Report/2008/mozambique_2008_country_progress_report_en.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed on 25 Mar 2010).

UNDP 2009 "Human Development Report 2009: Mozambique", IN Human Development Report 2009, [www] http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_MOZ.html [opens new window] (accessed 25 Mar 2010).