The native religion is animism. Arab traders brought Islam to the area, and the Portuguese brought Christianity. Historically, the introduction of Christianity by both Catholic and Protestant missionaries was a mixed blessing.
Although 80% of the people are poor, support from the World Bank and other international institutions, combined with privatization and rescheduling of the country's foreign debts, led to an expansion of the economy and the bringing down of inflation to less than 10% by 1999. Crops include cassava, cotton, cashew nuts, fruits, maize, rice, sugar cane and tea. Manufacturing is at a small scale; and The large hydroelectric plant at the Cahora Bassa Dam on the ZAMBEZI exports electricity to South Africa.
Mozambique lies largely within the tropics, and much of the coastline is subject to the regular seasonal influence of the Indian Ocean monsoon rains. The monsoon influence is strongest in the northeast but is modified somewhat in the south by the island barriers of Madagascar, the Comoros, and the Seychelles. With the exception of highland areas on the northern and western borders and around Gurue (east of the Malawi protrusion into Mozambique), where elevation modifies both temperature and humidity, the climate is seasonal and tropical.
Mozambique is a Southern African transit point for South Asian hashish and heroin, and South American cocaine probably destined for the European and South African markets. Mozambique is a producer of cannabis (for local consumption) and methaqualone (for export to South Africa).
Mozambique achieved full independence from Portuguese rule in 1975. International mediation in an armed conflict between the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo) Government and the guerrilla Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Renamo), resulted, in 1994, in Renamo's participation in presidential and legislative elections. Frelimo's presidential candidate, Joaquim Alberto Chissano, was reconfirmed in office, and Frelimo also secured an overall majority in the legislature.
The performance of Mozambique in terms of corruption, regulations, respect for law and order, and administrative efficiency has been poor. But the progress made on crucial issues - education, water conveyance, and health - albeit starting from a low level, in conjunction with relatively good performance in the allocation of funds, has, however, prompted donors to maintain the flow of financial aid.
The country has ten major ethnic groups, most of which speak a Bantu language. The dominant ethnic group in the North is the Makua, who make up about 47% of the national population. The Shangaan, a Tsonga-speaking people who predominate in the South, account for about 23%.
Mozambique's independence from Portugal in 1975 was followed by years of civil conflict that ended in 1992. U.S. aid to Mozambique in the post-conflict period supported the peace and reconciliation process. The country has had one ruling political party since 1975.
School age Mozambicans (ages 5 through 24 years) make up more than 50 percent of the country's total population. Although primary education is compulsory and free, the national educational system is not yet capable of absorbing all who should be attending primary education (grades one through seven). The government is making concerted efforts to rehabilitate and expand the educational infrastructures and to train staff with a view to responding to the needs and challenges in education.
Estimated life expectancy was only 42 years in 2000. The shortage of medical supplies and trained personnel has remained severe throughout Mozambique.
In 1997 the average household had 4.3 people. At last estimate, more than 60% of housing units were constructed of woven straw, about 15% of cane and woodsticks, and nearly 10% of bricks and concrete. Nearly 96% were without electricity, and over half had no toilet facilities.