1902 Encyclopedia > Mozambique


MOZAMBIQUE, a colonial province of Portugal, extending for about 1200 miles along the east coast of Africa from Cape Delgado (10° 41' S. lat.) to Lorenzo Marques on the south side of Delagoa Bay (25° 58' S. lat.). On paper it forms an imposing territory of at least 38,000 square miles without any definite limit towards the interior ; but in reality it consists of a few settlements and military posts feebly authoritative over the surrounding tribes. The Portuguese divide the province into the military districts of Mozambique, Cape Delgado, Angoche, Quilimane, Tete, Sofala, and Lorenzo Marques, with the presidential territory of Bazaruto. The small coral island of Mozambique, which gives its name to the province and contains the provincial capital, lies in 15° S. lat., about 3 miles off the coast of the peninsula Mossuril. It is defended by three forts, of which the principal, St Sebastian, is built entirely of stone brought from Portugal in 1510. The streets of the town (properly St Sebastian of Mozambique) are narrow and crooked, mid the stone-built flat-roofed houses are for the most part dull and lifeless in spite of their being washed with pink, brown, and white. Its principal buildings are the palace of the governor-general, formerly a Jesuit college, the custom-house, the hospital, and three churches. The population includes, besides Portuguese and Africans, Banyans, Parsees, and Arabs. The district of Cape Delgado includes the archipelago of the Querimba Islands, and on the opposite mainland Mucimba, Pangane, Lumbo, Quissanga, Montepes, Arimba, besides the colony of Europeans founded in 1857 on the Bay of Pemba. The chief town is Ibo, with over 2000 inhabitants, situated on the island of the same name. Of the twenty-eight islands some are nearly deserted, although both their climate and that of the opposite coast is good. Ibo has a considerable trade, - the exports being sesame, calumba root, oil-seeds, ivory, and wax. Turtle fishing is carried on ; but little has been done to develop the agricultural capabilities of the district. The district of Angoche extends nominally as far south as the Quirimbo river, and includes the Angoche and Primeira islands and a small settlement on the Angoche river. The trade is very limited. The district of Quilimane is the centre of the commerce of the Zambesi, and the town ranks next to Mozambique as a port. Near the village of St Marcal de Sena, the headquarters of the sub-military government of Sena, there are said to be very rich gold mines. Tete, to the north-west of Sena, is situated in the centre of an immense coal-basin. It includes a number of settlements on the Zambesi reaching as far as Zumbo, where a great native fair is held. The chief town is St Thiajo Major, about 250 miles from the mouth of the Zambesi. The climate is genial, and the soil is specially suitable for wheat, maize, tobacco, cotton, and sugar-cane. The chief town of the Sofala district is Sofala on the island of Chiloane in the estuary of the Sofala river. It was the original capital of the colony, and still possesses a good harbour, which, however, is not always easily accessible, and requires good piloting. The district is rich in gold mines, and is supposed by some to be the Ophir with which King Solomon traded. Inhambane, opposite Gasa, is very much encroached upon by the Zulu tribes. The natural products are similar to those in the Zambesi valley. A species of oil-plant is very abundant, as well as amber and sarsaparilla. The district of Lorenzo Marques is almost wholly confined to the town of that name (q.v.). The archipelago of Bazaruto comprises the islands of Bazaruto, Benguerua, Xegine, Bango, and Santa Carolina. The soil and climate are both excellent, and there aro important pearl fisheries.

Before the 12th century this portion of the east coast of Africa had been partly colonized by Arabs from the Red Sea, who were in possession of the island of Mozambique and other districts when in 1498 the island was sighted by the Portugtuse. From that time the Portuguese armadas were in the habit of frequently touching this coast ou their way to India, and in 1505 Albuquerque erected a stockade at the mouth of the Sofala river and established the first Portuguese settlement under the name of the captaincy of Sofala. The fortunes of the Portuguese have been frequently chequered. with disasters, and in the earlier years of their settlement they had great difficulty in withstanding successive attacks of the lialTres, the Turks, and the Arabs. The Banyan traders began to frequent the Portuguese settlements in 1687, and were succeeded by the Battias from Hindustan. From Cape Delgado to Quilimane the native race on the coast is the Makua, who, notwithstanding the presence of Arabs, Banyans, and Battias, have preserved in a remarkable degree their purity of descent, although their language has undergone considerable change. The whole of the country between the Rovuma and the Zambesi is thickly populated by branches of this race governed by numerous petty independent despots. The Makua are divided into four families or groups - the Low Makua, the Lomwe or Upper Makua, the Mama, and the Medo. The Makololo, a powerful Basuto tribe who inhabited the valley of the Zambesi, were about twenty-five years ago not only conquered but almost annihilated by the Manganja and Makua races. South of the Zambesi are the Landeens or Northern Zulus, who under Umzeila subdued Gasa, and press closely on the coast settle-month of the Portuguese, which again are bounded on the south by Usibepu's land.

Natural Features and Resources. - Though the climate of the Mozambique country is subject to sudden and great alterations, the mean annual temperature is high. The cool season lasts from April to August. In the rainy season, which begins in December and sometimes continues to March, the heat when rain is not falling, which is scarcely ever, is almost insupportable. On the rivers an% the coast the mangrove swamps cause fever to Europeans, but the climate is not dangerous if moderate care is taken.

The whole of the country south from the Rovurna to the Zambesi possesses naturally great fertility, the richest portion, however, being that between Angoche and Quilimane. The mountain ranges which flank Lake Shirwa are of great height and towards Quilimane extend almost to the coast. In the basin of the Zambesi the soil is fertilized by the inundations of the river, and yields abundantly with almost no labour. The low coast land of the Gasa country is almost equally fruitful. The whole region of Mozambique is intersected by numerous rivers, some of which are navigable, while at several of the estuaries there are admirable natural harbours. Ebony, the gum-copal tree, the india-rubber climber, sandal-wood, and a large number of valuable timber trees are found in the extensive forests. In the interior elephants, antelopes, and buffaloes abound as well as lions and leopards, and the rhinoceros and hippopotamus frequent certain regions. Game in immense variety is plentiful, and the pearl and other fisheries are valuable. The mineral resources of the country are of exceptional importance. There are immense deposits of coal in the neighbourhood of the Zambesi and of Delagoa Bay, and adjoining the coalfields ironstone of the best quality is very plentiful. Malachite and copper are found in the interior, north-west of Mozambique. The gold-mines of Manica, about 120 miles west of Sofala, are supposed to be the richest on the east coast of Africa.

Industry and Commerce. - Almost nothing has been done to develop the resources of the country, and the Portuguese have scarcely carried their discoveries beyond the regions where they have settled. Journeys through the Makua country have lately been made by H. E. O'Neill and the Rev. Chauncey Maples.1 The Zambesi valley and the districts round Lakes Nyassa and Shirwa have been explored by Kirk and Livingstone. The regions bordering on the Transvaal have been visited by Carl Mauch and St Vincent Erskine. Although a great part of the country is admir- ably adapted for the growth of cotton, coffee, and sugar, scarcely any attempt has been made to form plantations. The caju tree, which yields an intoxicating liquor, is, however, largely cultivated, and the cocoa-nut tree is also grown. The number of independent chiefs in the Makua country renders it almost inaccessible to traders, but ivory is sold in large quantities for the Indian market, the annual value being about £70,000. The other exports include beeswax, corn, gums, India-rubber, and oil. The financial difficulties of the Portuguese Government have completely retarded the commercial enterprise of the settlements. The trade is almost entirely in the hands of the Banyans, who are supplied by French and Dutch houses with goods, chiefly cotton and silk cloths, brandy, wine, and old guns, which they barter for produce with the natives on the coast. The only river by which there is regular communication with the interior is the Zambesi. On the coast 9f Mozambique there are several native ports of call, between which and Madagascar a large surreptitious trade in slaves was carried on until 1877. With this island, and also with Zanzibar, there is a large general coasting trade. The British India Company's steamers from Zanzibar in connexion with steamers from Aden and Lisbon also call every twenty-eight days at Mozambique, and a monthly steamer from Natal calls at Delagoa Bay, Inhambane, Quilimane, and Mozambique. The general shipping trade is carried on by about 400 vessels, of which about one-half are coasters. English vessels in 1877 were said to number 79 of 30,000 tons, French 72 of 13,000 tons, Portuguese 41, Arab 19, Dutch 8, and German 9.

For the Portuguese settlements see the report by Consul Elton in Accounts and Papers, 1576, and L. de B., Les Colonies Portugaises : court exposé de lour situation act uelic, Lisbon, 1875. For the region in general see the works of the travellers referred to. (T. F. Ir.)

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