Maputo is situated near the convergence of four rivers and sits on a large natural bay on the Indian Ocean. This area was originally settled by the ancient Tsonga people as a fishing village. But then, Vasco da Gama arrived in 1498 and the area began to grow under a gradual process of colonization and settlement by the Portuguese. In 1781, the Portuguese established a fort here. The area continued to grow with economic prosperity as a port city (then named Laurenco Marques after the navigator who explored the area in 1544) eventually becoming the capital of Mozambique. By 1975, Mozambique obtained independence from the Portuguese and the city was retained as the capital but renamed Maputo (after Chief Maputsu I of the Tembe clan of the Tsonga people.) But after only 2 years of independence, the country fell into a civil war that lasted from 1977 to 1992. In 1994, Mozambique held its first multiparty elections and now remains a relatively stable presidential republic.
Maputo has been one of the most stylish cities in Africa. Laid out in a convenient grid pattern of wide tree-lined boulevards with mosaic paved sidewalks, the city boasts Portuguese-style colonial buildings and offers an old-world charm with a pleasant Mediterranean vibe that attracted a cosmopolitan crowd. That is, until the civil war left it in disrepair and shabbiness. But today, the residents are working on it. They are cleaning up, sprucing up, and attracting more and more tourists to the beaches and restaurants.
Here are some photos:
Next, we sail to Durban and begin a four-port adventure thru South Africa culminating in Cape Town.