The Republic of Mozambique is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. It was explored by Vasco da Gama in 1498 and colonized by Portugal in 1505. By 1510, the Portuguese had control of all of the former Arab sultanates on the east African coast. From about 1500, Portuguese trading posts and forts became regular ports of call on the new route to the east.
It is a member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries and the Commonwealth of Nations, and an observer of the Francophonie. Mozambique (Moçambique) was named after Muça Alebique, a sultan.
At 309,475 square miles (801,590 km²), Mozambique is the world's 35th-largest country (after Pakistan). It is comparable in size to Turkey.
Mozambique is located on the southeast coast of Africa. It is bound by Swaziland to the south, South Africa to the southwest, Zimbabwe to the west, Zambia and Malawi to the northwest, Tanzania to the north and the Indian Ocean to the east. The country is divided into two topographical regions by the Zambezi River. To the north of the Zambezi River, the narrow coastline moves inland to hills and low plateaux, and further west to rugged highlands, which include the Niassa highlands, Namuli or Shire highlands, Angonia highlands, Tete highlands and the Makonde plateau. To the south of the Zambezi River, the lowlands are broader with the Mashonaland plateau and Lebomo mountains located in the deep south.
The country is drained by five principal rivers and several smaller ones with the largest and most important the Zambezi. The country has three lakes, Lake Niassa or Malawi, Lake Chiuta and Lake Shirwa, all in the north. The major cities are Maputo, Beira, Nampula, Tete, Quelimane, Chimoio, Pemba, Inhambane, Xai-Xai and Lichinga.
Mozambique has a tropical climate with two seasons, a wet season from October to March and a dry season from April to September. Climatic conditions, however, vary depending on altitude. Rainfall is heavy along the coast and decreases in the north and south. Annual precipitation varies from 500 to 900 mm (20 to 35 inches) depending on the region with an average of 590 mm (23 inches). Cyclones are also common during the wet season. Average temperature ranges in Maputo are from 13 to 24 degrees Celsius (55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) in July to 22 to 31 degrees Celsius (72 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit) in February.
The Portuguese, already well-established in the coastal areas of East Africa since the 15th century, also ventured into these interior lands seeking the famous Mwenemutapa Empire and gradually settled there as colonists. This region of Mozambique was then granted by charter to the Mozambique Company, one of whose main objectives was to foster agricultural colonization. Hence, the Company undertook to settle Portuguese and their descendents in its territory. One of the first towns to be created was Vila Barreto. Established on 24 February 1893, close to the current Chimoio city, it arose out of the building of the Beira-Zimbabwe railway. The town was named after the Portuguese capitão-mor (governor/military captain) Francisco Barreto, who, in 1572, commanded the first military expedition to the Mwenemutapa Kingdom. For several years, the railway line ended up at Vila Barreto, which contributed to its impressive growth. The town enjoyed a period of opulence, with its hotels and permanently travellers heading to Manica and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) or, in the other direction, to Beira. However, by the end of 1897, railroad construction work reached the frontier with Zimbabwe, interrupting the dynamics that had taken root in Vila Barreto.
In 1899 the Mozambique Company decided to transfer the District Headquarters from Vila Barreto to a settlement named Chimiala, which came to be called Mandigos. This was the name by which the embryo of the current city of Chimoio was known for some time. Mandigos soon began to gain a certain renown, mainly thanks to the abundance of its harvests, which attracted merchants and hotel and social services. Colonization of Manica received its main impetus in 1910 with the arrival of Portuguese Governor João Pery de Lind who set up a number of procedures to further the development of Chimoio. On 17 July 1916, Mandigos was renamed Vila Pery in recognition and honour of Governor João Pery de Lind, whose judicious measures had made Chimoio into one of the biggest and most visible agricultural centres in Mozambique. A few kilometres from the centre of the current city of Chimoio lies the neighbourhood of Soalpo, which bears witness to the agro-industrial development that made the Province of Manica one of the main targets for agriculture investment in the Portuguese colony. This “town close to the city of Chimoio” was built by SOALPO (Sociedade Algodoeira de Portugal, or Portuguese Cotton Company), in 1944. The object of the company was to encourage cotton and textile production. Nowadays, the district is like a living museum. The streets, the parks and the playing fields speak to visitors, telling stories of bygone times.
Vila Pery was raised to the status of city by the Governor-General of Portugal's Overseas Province of Mozambique, Baltazar Rebelo de Sousa, on 17 July 1969, in recognition of the success of its economic and social activities. Vila Pery's football team won its first Mozambican Football Championship title in 1969. The sports club, founded in 1928, contributed to the development of sport and cultural activities. Most of the buildings in the city of Chimoio are milestones of the dynamism in the city’s life under Portuguese rule. The Vila Pery Hotel (now the Police social centre), built in 1920, was the first hotel in Vila Pery. The Caldas Xavier Primary School, built in 1948, was the first school in Vila Pery. Nowadays, it houses the Chimoio Municipal Council.
The Montalto Cinema, built in 1969 and later abandoned, was so-named because the “monte alto” or high mountain of Mozambique (Mount Binga) is on the Manica plateau. These are but a few of the infra-structures commemorating the city’s golden age. Cotton harvesting, silviculture, fruit production (including citrus), and textiles, food and wood industries were the main employers along with services and administration.
In 1974, during the Portuguese Colonial War/Mozambican War of Independence the Mozambican independentist guerrilla group FRELIMO launched mortar attacks against Vila Pery (now Chimoio), which was an important city of Portuguese Mozambique. By this attack, Vila Pery become the first (and only) heavy populated area to be hit by the FRELIMO during the entire Colonial War. After a military coup in Lisbon, Europe - the Carnation Revolution of 1974 - the Portuguese authorities offered independence to its African territories, and Mozambique become an independent country.