Maputo Travel Guide
Wooden crafts ©
The sprawling capital of Mozambique was, under Portuguese influence in the 18th century, one of the most beautiful and fashionable cities on the African continent, with a sophisticated multi-national atmosphere, elegant buildings and wide, shaded avenues.
Following the cynical process of decolonisation inflicted on Mozambique by her colonial masters, the 17-year civil war that raged during the 1970s and 80s had a devastating affect on Maputo, reducing the proud city to a state of grubby disrepair, with thousands of immigrants taking over from where the wealthy socialites left off. The city has worked hard to recreate some of its former grandeur, with the five-star Polana Hotel once again abuzz with the gossip of the rich and famous, and restaurants serving up their famous peri-peri prawns. Today the city is a lively mix of people, with lots of markets and street vendors, a vibey café culture, buzzing nightclubs and live music venues, and a relaxed pace of life.
Maputo, or Lourenzo Marques as it was known before independence, became the capital of Mozambique in 1898 and the city became established as a major trade and industry centre, boasting the country's most important harbour. Today the economy of the city still relies heavily on the sea, and its port has significant potential for international trading, being the closest deepwater port in southern Africa to Asian markets. Most visitors to Maputo will pass through the harbour on the way to Inhaca Island situated just off the coast, a popular spot for diving and snorkelling.
Maputo is also the gateway to many splendid beaches and resorts to the north and south of the city, as well as the Maputo Elephant Reserve, which has growing numbers of game and beautiful coastal areas. Ponta de Ouro is the southernmost resort on the Mozambique coast, famed for its white sand beaches and as one of the best diving locations with rich coral reefs and a variety of marine life. To the north of Maputo are the beautiful inland lakes at Bilene and the famous beaches of Xai-Xai, popular tourist destinations that offer fishing, water sports and plenty of relaxation in beautiful surrounds.
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