With a spectacular Indian Ocean shoreline stretching nearly 2500km, Mozambique entices travellers with jade seas, palm-fringed beaches and desert islands. The country’s two coastal capitals are beguiling too – and hugely contrasting: the former capital a tiny, enigmatic island steeped in colonial slave-trade history; the modern one a glitzy, vibrant city and the birthplace of Mozambique’s liberation.
Mozambique Island in the north ruled as Portuguese East Africa’s capital for nearly 400 years before relinquishing its status to Lourenço Marques deep in the south in the late 19th century. Now known as Maputo, the new capital became the epicentre of Mozambique’s struggle for independence. Together, the island and the city tell the story of this captivating country.
Mozambique Island: the colonial capital
It’s hard to believe Mozambique Island played such a crucial role on Africa’s colonial stage – just 3km long and 500m wide, its diminutive size belies its past influence and affluence. A Unesco World Heritage Site, in its heyday it was a major port for Arabian and Portuguese traders dealing in gold, ivory and, tragically, slaves. Its legacy of African, Asian and European influences still resonates today.