About the Island

 

The Ilha de Moçambique (Island of Mozambique) is a tiny small island, between the Mozambique Channel, Mossuril Bay and Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean.

The original traditional name of the territory known as “Island of Mozambique, was previously  “Muipiti”.  The name “Island of Mozambique” was created in the XVI, and owes its roots from an influential Afro-Arab descendent local leader, Mussa-Bin-Bique, thus  the Portuguese derived the name “Mocambique”.

The Island of Mozambique was the first capital of Mozambique (1498-1898), as well as the first city in the country (since 1818). Since 1898, when the capital of the country was transferred to Lourenco Marques( now Maputo), the Island of Mozambique was integrated as part of Nampula Province Administration in 1935.

The Island of Mozambique has a local elected administration. The local inhabitants is estimated at approximately 65000 inhabitants (according to the 2017 Census), distributed in two areas: the “Stone” town, usually the upper social class, and the “Macuti” town, the lower social class. The Island of Mozambique has two different types of dwellings and urban systems. The stone and lime town of Swahili, Arab and European influences in the north half, and the macuti town (city of roofed palm leaves) of traditional African architecture in the south. The urban fabric and fortifications of Mozambique Island are exceptional examples of architecture and building techniques resulting from cultural diversity, and the interaction of people of Bantu, Swahili, Arab, Persian, Indian and European origin.

 As heritage in the local gastronomy, one can taste the flavours of local dishes of Portuguese, indian and Arabian roots. Those include  fresh seafood Portuguese dishes, Indian inspired vegetables and leaves curries known as “matapa siri siri”, and the Arabian inspired curries of “coconut sauced crabs”.

 

The Island, owns a history of 400 years of continued prosperity, as featured below:

  • It flourished as a strategic port-of-call, on the route to India, supporting the Portuguese mercantile expansion, and a trading center between European Powers, India and Goa,

  • From 1498 to 1898, the Island has ruled as the capital and trading center of Portuguese colonial Empire in the Eastern Africa,

  • From the XVIII-XIX, the Island outstands in the international slaver traffic with the Indian French Empire (Mascarenhas, Reunion Islands), the South America (Brasil), replacing the Western Africa as a source of slave work.

The Island of Mozambique is a rich bazaar, that kept vivid in perfect coexistence the European, Arabian and Indian influences in the architecture, culture. 

Accordingly, some of the main architecture sites includes:

  • The renaissance St. Sebastian Fort (1558-1620)

  • The gothic Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Baluarte (1522);

  • The governor palace (1674);

  • St. Lourenco Fort (1587-89);

  • The church Nossa Senhora da Misericordia (1635)

  • The Neoclassical St. Joao de Deus Hospital (1877)

  • The Hindu Temple

  • The Great Mosque

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© 2017 by Café Central Ilha de Moçambique