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< BACKGeography - Environment - Mozambique

This slim country, with over 2,500km of coastline, winds its way along the beautiful, south eastern edge of the African continent. Moçambique has borders with South Africa and Swaziland to the south, Zimbabwe to the west and Zambia and Malawi to the northeast. A remote boundary with Tanzania exists in the extreme north where a crossing is only possible via dugout canoe across the Rovuma River.

The south of the country is dominated by the Moçambican Plain where extensive stands of beautiful trees cover the savannah. The Moçambican Plateau is found in the central and northern areas of the country and is characterised by rugged highlands and deep river valleys. Most tourism is concentrated along the coastline, although the inland areas will also have much to offer when wildlife numbers have recovered and infrastructure has developed further.

The Zambezi River reaches the Indian Ocean in Moçambique, after entering the country at Feira where the flow is curbed by the 270km long Lake Cahora Bassa hydroelectric project. The Zambezi continues to meander its way to a 100km wide delta and into the Ocean. Other major rivers in Moçambique include the crocodile dominated Incomati, Limpopo & Save in the south and the Licungo, Ligonha, Lurio, Lugenda & Rovuma in the north.

The countries highest peak is Binga at 2436m and part of the Chimanimani range which forms the border with Zimbabwe. Moçambique's climate is influenced by the warm, Indian Ocean current moving south from the equator, in addition to the altitude of the Moçambican Plateau. The temperature is higher at the coast than the inland plateau, and increases further north. The rainy season is from November to April and the Moçambique channel experiences tropical cyclones once every few years, the most memorable of recent years being the storms that caused so much destruction in 1999.

Much of the temperate forests that once covered the country have been destroyed by logging and slash and burn agriculture. However, extensive Mopane woodlands still dominate the southern plains where ancient baobab and woodland mahogany trees still flourish. Mangroves are an important ecosystem for many species including the Moçambique's famous prawns. Unique in their ability to survive in the brackish water of tidal estuaries, Moçambique's four species of mangrove are still found around the Save River mouth, the Zambezi delta and Quelimane.

More than 1200 fish species are found off the coast, most of these within the extensive and largely unspoilt coral reefs. Kingfish, mackerel & tuna form vital links in the food chain of the marine environment. The destruction of Moçambique's wildlife during the civil war was unprecedented within modern day Africa. However, much is being done to reintroduce native species to the countries National Parks and elephant can be seen in the elephant reserve in the southern Futi Channel and in the far north along the Rovuma River. Rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard are still present in very small numbers in Gorongosa National Park and the Zambezi delta regions. This area was the headquarters of Renamo from 1980 to 1986 and it seems that the native wildlife was the only food source for the guerrilla fighters.

Sea mammals were less affected by the war and whales, dolphins and rare dugongs can be seen in the sparkling waters around Ponta Malongane, Inhambane & Linga Linga. Moçambique is a birding paradise with over 900 species present south of the Zambezi River. There are seven proclaimed National Parks in the country; Banhine, Zinave, Gorongosa, Bazaruto Archipelago, Gili, Niassa and the newly created Limpopo Transfrontier Park. At present there is only tourism development in Gorongosa, Bazaruto and the Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

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