Maputo (previously Lourenzo Marques) is the sprawling capital of Mozambique, with a population of about two million people and a large harbour. Several rivers meet the sea Maputo and two islands (Inhaca and Portuguese Island) lie just off the coast.
In 1898 central authority for the country was transferred from Mozambique Island to Lourenzo Marques and the city quickly became established as the trade and industry centre and as a port to serve the gold fields of South Africa. In the early days transport riders made the perilous journey with ox and wagons, but when the rail link was constructed, transport became safer and more profitable.
Under Portuguese influence, Lourenzo Marques became one of Africa’s most beautiful and fashionable cities with an impressive skyline of tall buildings and a cosmopolitan Portuguese/African atmosphere. But the war in the 1970s and 1980s changed all that. When peace finally came, the once proud city was in terrible disrepair. Today the city is slowly recreating some of its former glory.
The Maputo Elephant Reserve is potentially one of Mozambique's most important natural treasures. Today the Park has some leopards, antelope, crocodiles, hippos, side-striped jackals, duiker, zebra, kudu, baboons and bushpigs. It is renowned for its herds of elephants and large flocks of flamingos as well as a variety of other waterbirds. The elephants are larger than the usual African Elephants and have succeeded in surviving the years of war by moving down the Futi channel into South Africa. They have now returned in large numbers to this area.