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THE HISTORY OF MOZAMBIQUE
Mozambique's first inhabitants were Bushmen hunter-and-gatherers. Between the first and fourth centuries A.D., waves of Bantu-speaking tribes migrated from the north through the Zambezi River valley, and from the sixth century A.D. onward Arab and Asian traders worked along the southern coast of Mozambique. They traded gold brought from powerful civilizations inland and raided the north for slaves and ivory.
When the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama reached Mozambique in 1498, Arab-trading settlements had existed along the coast and outlying islands for several centuries. The Portuguese set up trading posts, which became regular ports of call on the new route to the East. By the 1760s, slavery was the most profitable trade. Over a million slaves were sold to North America and to the sugar plantations in Brazil and Cuba.
Portuguese influence gradually expanded, and individual settlers were granted extensive autonomy. As a result, investment lagged while Lisbon devoted itself to the more lucrative trade with India and the Far East and to the colonization of Brazil. At the Berlin Conference of 1884, Mozambique became a Portuguese colony. Land was leased to British and French companies, these companies expanded into cash crops such as cotton and tea. The colonial rulers raised income through heavy taxes and a brutal forced-labor system.
The drive for Mozambican independence developed, and in 1962 several anti-colonial political groups formed the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, FRELIMO, which in September 1964 initiated an armed campaign against Portuguese colonial rule. After ten years of sporadic warfare and major political changes in Portugal, Mozambique became independent on 25 June 1975. By that time, the country was in ruins. Over 90 percent of Portuguese settlers had left, taking everything they could. Of the country's five hundred doctors, only eighty remained.
ADDITIONAL MOZAMBIQUE INFORMATION