Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique, is a country in Southeast Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. It is separated from Madagascar by the Mozambique Channel to the east. The capital and largest city is Maputo.
Between the 1st and 5th centuries AD, Bantu-speaking peoples migrated from farther north and west. Swahili, and later also Arab, commercial ports existed along the coasts until the arrival of Europeans. The area was explored by Vasco da Gama in 1498 and colonized by Portugal from 1505. After over four centuries of Portuguese rule, Mozambique gained independence in 1975, becoming the People’s Republic of Mozambique shortly thereafter. After only two years of independence, the country descended into an intense and protracted civil war lasting from 1977 to 1992. In 1994, Mozambique held its first multiparty elections and has remained a relatively stable presidential republic since.
The country is divided into two topographical regions by the Zambezi River. To the north of the Zambezi River, the narrow coastline moves inland to hills and low plateaus, and further west to rugged highlands, which include the Niassa highlands, Namuli or Shire highlands, Angonia highlands, Tete highlands and the Makonde plateau, covered with miombo woodlands. To the south of the Zambezi River, the lowlands are broader with the Mashonaland plateau and Lebombo Mountains located in the deep south.
Mozambique has a tropical climate with two seasons, a wet season from October to March and a dry season from April to September. Climatic conditions, however, vary depending on altitude. Rainfall is heavy along the coast and decreases in the north and south. Annual precipitation varies from 500 to 900 mm (19.7 to 35.4 in) depending on the region, with an average of 590 mm (23.2 in). Cyclones are common during the wet season. Average temperature ranges in Maputo are from 13 to 24 °C (55.4 to 75.2 °F) in July to 22 to 31 °C (71.6 to 87.8 °F) in February.