Mozambique ("Moçambique" in Portuguese) is a large country (nearly 9 times the size of Portugal) on the Southeast coast of Africa, which gained independence from Portugal on 25th June 1975. The only official language is Portuguese, but as with the other African ex-colonies, local languages and creoles are also widely used, and Portuguese is the second language of most of the natives. English is also used, especially in business.
Following the granting of independence, the country entered a period of instability and decline - civil war, the mass exodus of Portuguese nationals, drought, and conflicts with neighbouring countries all took their toll. In 1986, the president (Machel) and several other members of the government were killed in a plane crash (which some have attributed to foul play on the part of the apartheid government of South Africa, the victims of which were given refuge by Mozambique).
Machel's successor, Chissano, led a period of reform which resulted in the end of the civil war in 1992, and since then, nearly 2 million Mozambicans who had fled to neighbouring countries have returned. The population of Mozambique is now nearly 20 million.
As with many African countries, life in Mozambique is not easy. Despite substantial improvements since the end of the civil war, and the assistance of other nations, the economy is still very poor, and most of the population live in poverty. Severe droughts, cyclones, floods, and desertification exacerbate these problems.
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