Portuguese East Africa

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Mozambique (also Portuguese East Africa, Portuguese Mozambique or the Overseas Province of Mozambique) was the common name by which the Portuguese Empire's territorial expansion in East Africa was known across different periods of time. Portuguese East Africa was a string of Portuguese overseas colonies and later a Portuguese overseas province along the south-east African coast, which now form the republic of Mozambique. Portuguese trading settlements and, later, colonies were formed along the coast from 1498, when Vasco da Gama first reached the Mozambican coast. Lourenço Marques explored the area that is now Maputo Bay in 1544. He settled permanently in present-day Mozambique, where he spent most of his life, and his work was followed by other Portuguese explorers, sailors and traders. Some of these colonies were handed over in the late 19th century for rule by chartered companies such as the Companhia de Moçambique and the Companhia do Niassa. In 1951 the colonies were combined into a single overseas province under the name Moçambique as an integral part of Portugal. Most of the original colonies have given their names to the modern provinces of Mozambique.

Mozambique, according to official policy, was not a colony at all but rather a part of the "pluricontinental and multiracial nation" of Portugal. Portugal sought in Mozambique, as it did in all its colonies, to Europeanize the local population and assimilate them into Portuguese culture. Lisbon also wanted to retain the colonies as trading partners and markets for its goods. African inhabitants of the colony were ultimately supposed to become full citizens with full political rights through a long development process. To that end, segregation in Mozambique was minimal compared to that in neighbouring South Africa. However, paid forced labour, to which all Africans were liable if they failed to pay head taxes, was not abolished until the early 1960s.



Until the 20th century the land and peoples of Mozambique were barely affected by the outsiders who came to its shores and penetrated its major rivers. As the Muslim traders, mostly Swahili, were displaced from their coastal centers and routes to the interior by the Portuguese, migrations of Bantu peoples continued and tribal federations formed and reformed as the relative power of local chiefs changed. For four centuries the Portuguese presence was meager. Coastal and river trading posts were built, abandoned, and built again. Governors sought personal profits to take back to Portugal, and colonists were not attracted to the distant area with its relatively unattractive climate; those who stayed were traders who married local women and successfully maintained relations with local chiefs.

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