© WWF / Richard McLellan
About MozambiqueThe project headquarters overlooks the sandy beach at Bhanga Nek, in north-eastern KwaZulu Natal. From this strategic position, monitors can access and survey the entire 56-kilometre project area south of the Mozambique border.
Population and religionWhether from land or sea, Mozambique has been colonized by waves of people from radically different origins. From Bantu-speaking peoples in the 1st and 4th centuries to Arab voyagers and Portuguese explorers in 15th century, Mozambique’s resources have also lured traders and prospectors seeking gold - and slaves.
Today, Mozambique is an ethnic patchwork of groups such as the Makua, the Sena and Shona (mostly Ndau) and the Shangaan (Tsonga) among others. Caucasians of Portuguese ancestry, Chinese, a minority of Mozambicans with mixed Bantu and Portuguese heritage, and people of Indian, Pakistan and Arab origins add to a diverse national ethnic portrait.
While Portuguese is the official and most widely spoken language in Mozambique, Bantus speak Swahili, Makhuwa and Sena, which have many Portuguese-origin words. More than 75% of the population engages in small scale agriculture.
Data from 1997 shows that 18% of the population is Muslim, about 19% Zionist, 35% are Christians of different affiliations, 24% are non-religious and the remainder are classified as “other”.
Economy and developmentAt independence from Portugal in 1975, Mozambique was a country in financial tatters. It was not until the late 1980s, following decades of conflict, that the government embarked on a series of reforms to stabilize the economy. Industries include aluminium, petroleum products and textiles and products such as cotton, cashew nuts, sugar cane and tropical fruits to name a few.
Despite recent progress, Mozambique remains dependent upon foreign assistance, and the majority of the population lives below the poverty line.1 Life expectancy at birth is 42 years and HIV prevalence in 2005 was 16% of the population between ages 15-49. With 45% of the population undernourished (2001-3), Mozambique faces great challenges to increase its standard of living.2