Mozambique's major ethnic groups encompass numerous subgroups with diverse languages, dialects, cultures, and histories. Many are linked to similar ethnic groups living in neighboring countries. The north-central provinces of Zambezia and Nampula are the most populous, with about 45% of the population. The estimated 4 million Makua are the dominant group in the northern part of the country--the Sena and Ndau are prominent in the Zambezi valley, and the Tsonga and Shangaan dominate in southern Mozambique.
Despite the influence of Islamic coastal traders and European colonizers, the people of Mozambique have largely retained an indigenous culture based on small-scale agriculture. Mozambique's most highly developed art forms have been wood sculpture, for which the Makonde in northern Mozambique are particularly renowned, and dance. The middle and upper classes continue to be heavily influenced by the Portuguese colonial and linguistic heritage.
During the colonial era, Christian missionaries were active in Mozambique, and many foreign clergy remain in the country. According to the national census, about 40% of the population is Christian, at least 20% is Muslim, and the remainder adheres to traditional beliefs.
Under the colonial regime, educational opportunities for black Mozambicans were limited, and 93% of that population was illiterate. In fact, most of today's political leaders were educated in missionary schools. After independence, the government placed a high priority on expanding education, which reduced the illiteracy rate to about two-thirds as primary school enrollment increased. Unfortunately, in recent years school construction and teacher training enrollments have not kept up with population increases. With post-war enrollments reaching all-time highs, the quality of education has suffered.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Mozambican(s).
Population (2006 est.): 19.7 million;
48.2% male and 51.8% female.
Population annual growth rate (2006): 1.3%.
Ethnic groups: Makua, Tsonga, Makonde, Shangaan, Shona, Sena, Ndau, and other indigenous groups, and approximately 10,000 Europeans, 35,000 Euro-Africans, and 15,000 South Asians.
Religions: Christian 45%, Muslim 20%, indigenous African and other beliefs 35%.
Languages: Portuguese (official), various indigenous languages.
Education: Mean years of schooling (adults over 25): men 2.1, women 1.2.
Primary net enrolment rate (2003)--61%.
Adult illiteracy rate (2003)--53.6%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2006)--129/1,000. Life expectancy (2006)--40 years.
Work force (9.4 million est. 2006): Agriculture--81%; industry--6%; services--13% (1997 estimate).