Geography

Mozambique

The Republic of Mozambique, located on the south-eastern part of Africa, is bounded on the north by Tanzania; on the east by the Mozambique Channel of the Indian Ocean; on the south and southwest by South Africa and Swaziland; and on the west by Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi. It occupies a total area of 801 590 km2 between latitudes 10° 27´ and 26° 52´ S and longitudes 30° 12´ and 40° 51´ E. It stretches over 2 500 km along the Indian Ocean from the Republic of South Africa to Tanzania.

With the exception of the zone toward the western border, the land is generally a low-lying plateau of moderate height, descending through a sub-plateau zone to the Indian Ocean. The coastal lowland is narrow in the north but widens considerably as it goes south so that terrain less than 200 meters in elevation makes up about 44 percent of the total land area.

Thirteen percent of the country has an elevation above 1 000 meters, corresponding with the edge of the Central African Plateau along the boundaries with Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. All rivers flow eastward into the Indian Ocean. Some of those that drop over the escarpment edge, such as the Zambeze, have their main catchment areas as far away as Angola.

The climate is subtropical in the south and tropical in the centre and north. July (winter) temperatures average 21° C at Pemba in the north and 18° C at Maputo in the south. January (summer) temperatures average about 27° C along the coast and lower in upland areas. The rainy season extends from October to April.

The influence of the southern summer monsoon and the warm Agulhas current provides the entire country with a rainfall generally above 400 mm, in contrast to the desert climate found at the same latitude on the Atlantic coast of Africa. North of parallel 21° S (the Save River) in the coastal lowlands the rainfall is generally between 1 000 and 1 400 mm. More to the south the climate becomes drier with rainfall dropping rapidly from 1 000 mm near the sea to 400 mm or less on the boundary with Zimbabwe. The rainfall in the intermediate altitude zone is usually between 800 and 1 000 mm in the north and slightly higher in the south. In the mountainous areas (particularly Mount Binga in Zambezia Province) rainfall may reach or exceed 1 800 mm.

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

last updated:  Monday, May 28, 2012