Mozambique - Country history and economic development

11TH CENTURY. Arab and Swahili traders settled along the coast of present-day Mozambique. The Kiswahili language developed as the most used language for trade between the newcomers and the Bantu inhabitants of the interior. Sofala became a particularly important gold and ivory exporting center.

16TH CENTURY. Following Vasco da Gama's visit to Mozambique in 1498, the Portuguese began extending their influence along the coasts of East Africa. Though they succeeded in establishing their commercial dominance on the coast of Mozambique, their presence in the interior was severely limited. Portuguese traders engaged in selling gold, ivory, and slaves.

17TH CENTURY. Several Portuguese adventurers eventually founded feudal kingdoms in the interior, where they created large estates called prazos on which Africans were forced to work. Though the prazeros — the owners of the estates—were theoretically subordinate to the Portuguese crown, they ruled their kingdoms ruthlessly and autonomously.

1752. Mozambique became a separately administered Portuguese territory, under the head of a captain-general.

1820s. The Portuguese were displaced from southern Mozambique by groups of Nguni-speaking people from South Africa, though they still retained nominal colonial control.

1880s. The ignominious scramble for Africa commenced among the European powers, and Portugal's claims to Mozambique were officially recognized. The British and the Portuguese subsequently established treaties demarcating colonial zones in southern and eastern Africa.

1890-1920. Portugal forcefully established its hegemony over the entire Mozambique region in a series of wars against the African populace. Thereafter, a coercive economy was established in which Africans were forced to labor on lands taken over by whites in the production of export crops.

1950-1975. Throughout the 1950s, a nationalist anti-colonial sentiment developed, eventually crystallizing in the united-front movement called FRELIMO. The latter commenced a guerrilla war against the Portuguese in 1964, which, in conjunction with a coup d'etat in Portugal that placed an anti-colonial regime in power, enabled Mozambique to achieve independence in 1975 under the leadership of Samora Machel. A massive exodus of Portuguese settlers followed, leaving the country with a complete lack of professional expertise and productive machinery.

1975-1992. FRELIMO implemented a socialist economy based on extensive nationalization of industry, state-controlled land reform, and a heavily supported social sector. By the 1980s, Mozambique became a "Cold War battlefield" in which RENAMO, a counter-insurgency organization funded by the racist regime in South Africa, waged war against the government. After much destruction and the complete dissolution of the economy, a truce was implemented between RENAMO and FRELIMO in 1992. The former subsequently became a legitimate political party and was integrated into a newly created multi-party democratic system.

1990s. Under the leadership of Joaquim Chissano— Machel's successor—FRELIMO abandoned its Marxist orientation. The World Bank and the IMF, which had established limited control over Mozambique as early as 1984, fully imposed their structural adjustment programs , emphasizing mass privatization, trade liberalization, currency devaluation, foreign investment, and stabilization policies. Though a certain amount of economic growth has occurred throughout the "SAP era," there has also been an increase in poverty and a foreign take-over of the economy.

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