Country profile

The Republic of Mozambique is situated in the south eastern part of Africa and covers an area of 799 380 square kilometres. The country was a Portuguese colony from the fifteenth century until it attained political independence in 1975 after 10 years of a bitter armed struggle. Peace was interrupted once again during the early 1980s when the country experienced a civil war which caused the loss of many lives and left in its wake a trail of destruction.  As a result, a lot of infrastructure had to be rebuilt.  Peace finally returned to Mozambique in 1992 and since then, the country has undergone rapid socio-economic development.

The country is divided into 11 provinces namely Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Nampula, Tete, Zambézia, Manica, Sofala, Inhambane, Gaza, Maputo Province and Maputo City.

The capital, Maputo City, comprises about 6.1 percent of the total population of Mozambique. According to the 1997 census 52.1 percent of the population were female. The population density was about 20.1 inhabitants per square kilometre. The gross illiteracy rate was 46.9 percent, and the overall illiteracy rate among the female population was 60.7 percent.

Mozambique is a multicultural and multilingual country with 18 main Bantu languages and many dialects. It is predominantly a rural country, with about 71.4 percent of the Mozambican population living in many small settlements located in areas that are difficult to access due to a poor transport and communication network. The official language is Portuguese and this is the only language of instruction. However, this language is spoken by only about 30 percent of the population, mainly those who are resident in urban areas. The Ministry of Education’s (MINED) plan was to introduce the mother tongue as the medium of instruction as from 2004. Initially, it will be introduced in Grades 1 and 2 in some schools located in linguistically homogeneous zones.


Total population:
20 971 446 (2006)
Annual population growth:
1.9% (2005)
Rural population:
65.5% (2005)

*latest data as of March 2009 from UNESCO Institute for Statistics.