2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: African Geography

Maputo, Mozambique
Skyline of Maputo, Mozambique
Official flag of Maputo, Mozambique
Official seal of Maputo, Mozambique
Flag Seal
Location in Mozambique
Location in Mozambique
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Municipal Council President Eneas Comiche
 - City {{{area_total}}} km²
 - City (2004) 1,114,000
 - Metro 1,691,000

Maputo is the capital of Mozambique. A port on the Indian Ocean, its economy is centered around the harbour. It has an official population of approximately 966,837 (1997), but the actual population is estimated to be much higher due to slums and other unofficial settlements. Coal, cotton, sugar, chrome, sisal, copra, and hardwood are the chief exports. The city manufactures cement, pottery, furniture, shoes, and rubber. There is also a large aluminium smelting plant, Mozal. The city is surrounded by Maputo Province, but is administered as its own province.

Maputo is located on the west side of Maputo Bay, at the mouth of the Tembe River. The bay is 95 km (50 mi) long and 30 km (20 mi) wide. The Maputo River empties into the southern end of the bay.

Founded in the late 18th century, the city was named for Lourenço Marques, the Portuguese trader who was the first European to explore the area in 1544. In 1895, construction of a railroad to Pretoria, South Africa caused the city's population to grow. In 1898, Lourenço Marques became the capital of Mozambique. During the Second Boer War, Winston Churchill, after being captured by the Boers, made a daring escape to Lourenço Marques by slipping past the sentries. After independence, the city's name was changed to Maputo. Maputo's name reputedly has its origin in an old, fierce tribal leader, Maputa, who once ruled over the region.

Maputo holds the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique's first university. The city also has a museum of Mozambique history, a military museum, and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Fatima.

Maputo is a planned city with square blocks and wide avenues, with Portuguese traces and their typical architecture of the 70s. The Portuguese left in massive numbers at the end of the independence war in 1975, and the resultant lack of skills and capital, in the context of a fierce civil war and government mismanagement, contributed to its state of dereliction in the years following the declaration of peace. Nevertheless, the city itself was never damaged, since it was tacitly considered neutral ground during both the colonial and the civil war. Recovery has always been very slow due to a lack of investement. In many cases new buildings are being erected for the rising middle class, rather than existing buildings being renovated, and many city services are still precarious.

The Maputo beach has been spoiled by waste dumped into the bay, so not many people want to spend time on it. However, the sea condition seems to be improving, and hopefuly, if linked with proper sanitary measures, changes could be noticeable in the future.

Avenida Central in colonial Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), c.1905
Avenida Central in colonial Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), c.1905

Nowadays, Maputo is a melting pot of several cultures, with a strong South African influence. The Bantu and Portuguese cultures dominate, but the influence of Arab, East Indian, and Chinese cultures is also felt. The cuisine is very elaborate, due especially to the Portuguese and Muslim heritage. Sea food is also very abundant.

 Maputo harbour and city centre in 2006
Maputo harbour and city centre in 2006

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