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This Day in History: June 25th

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Mozambique Gains Independence in 1975

Mozambique, a southeastern African country rich in natural resources, gained independence from Portugal on June 25, 1975. The country was under the yoke of colonialism for several hundred years.

Today, Mozambique is home to an ethnically diverse population, which is a reflection of its colonial history. The Portuguese gained control of the Island of Mozambique and the port city of Sofala in the early 16th century. Small groups of Portuguese settlers were able to occupy the interior and establish trading posts in an attempt to gain exclusive control over the gold trade.

By the 18th century, the selling of enslaved people had become an important part of Mozambique’s exporting in trade from the East African coast. More settlers arrived and created large estates on the land. Portuguese control was resisted and by 1885 Portugal only had a stronghold on parts of the coast and a few scattered inland areas.

Portuguese officials started to auction off land following a series of military campaigns to subdue the African population. Companies began to establish plantations in north and central Mozambique that relied on forced local labor. Mozambicans were also being sold in the Portuguese and Brazilian South Atlantic trade, the Arabic trade from the Swahili coast and the French trade.

Portugal declared Mozambique to be its overseas province in 1951, and by 1970 there were more than 200,000 Portuguese settlers (typically of the lower or working-class) who were brought to the country by the Portuguese government.

During this time resistance groups were also on the rise and three banned groups merged to form FRELIMO (Frente de Libertaçâo de Moçambique). The group sought to gain independence for Mozambique with Eduardo Mondlane serving as their first president, but Mondlane was assassinated in 1969. 

The 1974 revolution in Portugal prompted the new government to make negotiations with the liberation movements in their overseas provinces. The following year, Mozambique became an independent, single-party state led by FRELIMO on June 25,1975. After the people of Mozambique were free of Portuguese control, the majority of the Portuguese settlers left the country as well. 

FRELIMO ruled over Mozambique with Samora Machel as the country’s first president. Civil War broke out in the late 1970s, but by 1990 a new constitution was adopted. The new constitution ushered in a multi-party democratic system and a free-market economy, which helped to mediate some of the unrest in the country. 

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