Maputo Profile

Until 3rd February 1976, Maputo was known as Lourenco Marques after the 16th century Portuguese explorer Lourenço Marques who explored the area in 1544 and later settled there with his indigenous wife and children. The modern day name of Maputo was taken from a Ronga Chief whose people lived in eastern and southern Africa, much of modern day Mozambique.

Maputo: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licenseBy 1787 the Portuguese had constructed a fort at Lourenco Marques which existed within an uneasy and often turbulent relationship with the Ronga people who occupied the territory further inland not least because when the British arrived in the area their trade, mainly for ivory, was considered to be superior by the Ronga than the Portuguese.

By the mid-nineteenth century Lourenco Marques was still undeveloped however in 1876 the Portuguese started building there in earnest with it becoming a capital city in 1887 once the area had been gifted to Portugal at the Berlin Conference of 1885 as Portuguese East Africa. This development was spurred by the defeat of Ronga Chief Gungunyane when he was captured, taken to Lisbon, then died exile. His successor committed suicide rather than be captured. This ended the Rongo conflict against the Portuguese for over seventy years.

The city then grew in prominence thanks to the construction of a railway to Pretoria in neighbouring South Africa that started in 1895 and, by the start of the 20th century, Lourenco Marques was a bustling city port with a strongly cosmopolitan European look and feel. Much of this elegance was destroyed during the civil war that engulfed the country following its independence from Portugal in 1975 that was to last until 1992 and claim the lives of some 900,000 of its population, displace around five million and left many more injured and amputees through the deployment of landmines.

Maputo was left shattered, teaming with refugees with all major services such as electricity and water no longer functioning. Even today bullet holes adorn many of the colonial buildings that line its once proud tree-lined avenues. The city of Maputo has been slowly rebuilt, however has yet to reclaim it full former glory. Some two million live there with a wide income gap; many live in poverty and squalor in the city's numerous slums with concrete tower blocks overlooking affluent Portuguese style villas with multi-million pound houses straddling the bay. The returning tourist industry was dealt a further blow in 2007 when Maputo's beach was swept away in the cyclone of that year.

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Maputo Profile: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Maputo Profile

Facts, information, a video and colonial pictures about Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique together with a brief history and interactive map.


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