Maputo lies along the north bank of Espírito Santo Estuary of Delagoa Bay on the Indian Ocean, and it is the country’s capital, as well as a political and economic center. The area on which the city stands was first settled as a fishing village by the ancient Tsonga people. In the early 18th-century, the city served as a Dutch coastal trading post until the British took control and later transferred the post to the Portuguese, who established a military fort and ultimately developed the area into a town, changing its name from “Delagoa Bay” to “Lourenco Marques”. Due to its proximity to the South African gold and diamond mines, the Portuguese promoted the construction of railroad lines and roads that would bring the minerals to the city’s harbor for export: by the 20th century, Lourenco Marques superseded the town of Moçambique as the capital of Portuguese East Africa and became a primary exporter of South African goods. The city was at that time highly racially segregated: the Portuguese lived in the rich all-white area nicknamed “Cement City”, while Africans were required to live in reed-built shantytowns that received few city resources. Due to the strength of Portugal’s International and State Defense Police, many anti-colonial protests were violently silenced. With independence, the country renamed its capital “Maputo,” in honor of local chief Maputsu I of the Tembe clan, and many white residents fled so that many blacks relocated to the former “Cement City.” The Mozambican Civil War destroyed the city’s economy, but the FRELIMO government has launched a program to revive it and to clean up the city from criminals, squatters, and undocumented residents. Since the end of the war, Maputo’s economy has recovered and stability has returned. Its port continues to be one of the most important in East Africa and it is also noted for a vibrant cultural scene and distinctive architecture, with Portuguese colonial Neoclassical and Manueline styles alongside modern Art Deco, Bauhaus, and Brutalist buildings.
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