MAPUTO (Reuters) - Clashes have broken out between police and demonstrators across Mozambique’s capital Maputo in protest against rising prices.
Following are some facts about the country and its people:
-- Mozambique expects investment in its fast-growing tourism sector to jump five-fold to $2 billion in the next several years. Mozambique is one of the fastest growing economies on the world’s poorest continent and aims to draw more tourists to the unspoiled beaches and diving spots along its Indian Ocean coast.
-- Mozambique’s economy grew by 7.2 percent during the first half of 2010 despite a number of negative factors that affected the economy, while GDP grew 9.5 percent, with inflation reaching 5.7 percent according to government spokesman Alberto Nkutumula.
-- Nkutumula also said that country’s exports reached 456 million dollars in the first quarter of 2010.
-- The economy was also strongly affected by rising oil prices in the international market, with a negative impact on the prices of consumer goods and services.
Mozambique has around 1.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS and up to the end of 2007, 81,000 people had died from the disease. Adults aged 15 to 49 have a prevalence rate of around 15 percent. About 500 infections are recorded every day, according to the Health department.
POPULATION: 22.9 million
ETHNICITY: Makua 47 percent, Tsonga 23 percent. There are Malawi, Shona, Swahili, Yao and Makonde minorities and around 10,000 Europeans, 35,000 Euro-Africans, and 15,000 South Asians. RELIGION: The rural population largely practices traditional religions. Most of the urban population is Christian or Muslim.
CAPITAL: Maputo, 1.2 million.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Portuguese. Most of the population speak Bantu languages, the main ones being Swahili and Macoa-Lomne.
GEOGRAPHY: Stretches for about 1,500 miles along the southeast coast of Africa. Bordered by Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Twice the size of California.
-- Mozambique was a Portuguese colony for 470 years until 1975, but guerrilla activity against colonial rule began in 1963. The insurrection was so effective that by 1973, Portugal had dispatched more than 40,000 troops to fight the rebels. Independence was granted on June 25, 1975.
-- The first president, Samora Machel, led the National Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) during its 10-year guerrilla war for independence. He died in suspicious circumstances in a 1986 plane crash. His foreign minister, Joaquim Chissano, succeeded him as president.
-- In 1985, another guerrilla movement called Renamo, backed by the apartheid state in South Africa and opposed to Machel’s and then Chissano’s efforts to institute socialism, began an anti-government insurrection.
-- Chissano abandoned socialism in 1989, a new constitution was drafted and a peace agreement signed in October 1992, ending 16 years of civil war. Since then, Chissano worked hard to open up Mozambique’s economy, winning praise from international institutions and donors.
-- In 2004, after 18 years in power, Chissano stood down after the country’s third fully democratic vote. Guebuza won with 63.74 percent of the votes against 31.74 for Renamo’s Afonso Dhlakama.
-- In 2008, at least six people were killed in Mozambique in protests in over high fuel prices and living costs. The government agreed to cut the price of diesel fuel for minibus taxis.
-- President Armando Guebuza Guebuza won 75.46 percent of the vote in the October 2009 election, beating his rivals, long-time opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama, and Daviz Simango, the head of a new party.
-- Guebuza, who was sworn in for his second term in January 2010, promised to relax foreign investment rules and push ahead with economic reforms. His Frelimo party, in power since it led the country to independence from Portugal in 1975, won 191 parliamentary seats out of 250.
Sources: Reuters/State Dept/UNAIDS
Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit