/div>Country, southeast coast of Africa. Area: 308,642 sq mi (799,379 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 22,894,000. Capital: Maputo
. The great majority of the people are Bantu-speaking Africans. Ethnolinguistic groups include the Makua, Tsonga, Malawi, Shona, and Yao
peoples. Languages: Portuguese (official), Bantu
. Religions: traditional beliefs, Christianity, Islam. Currency: metical. Mozambique may be divided into two broad regions: the lowlands in the south and the highlands in the north, separated by the Zambezi River
. It has a centrally planned, developing economy based on agriculture, international trade, and light industry. Some industries were nationalized after 1975. Mozambique is a multiparty republic with one legislature; its head of state and government is the president. Inhabited in prehistoric times, it was settled by Bantu peoples c.
the 3rd century CE. Arab traders occupied the coastal region from the 14th century, and the Portuguese controlled the area from the early 16th century. The slave trade later became an important part of the economy and, although outlawed in the mid-18th century, continued illegally. In the late 19th century, private trading companies began to administer parts of the inland areas. It became an overseas province of Portugal in 1951. An independence movement became active in the 1960s, and, after years of war, Mozambique was granted independence in 1975. A single-party state under Frelimo (the Mozambique Liberation Front), it was wracked by civil war in the 1970s and '80s. In 1990 a new constitution ended its Marxist collectivism and introduced privatization, a market economy, and multiparty government. A peace treaty was signed with the rebels in 1992, ending the civil war. The country's first multiparty elections were held two years later.