General issues: Portuguese colony 1867-1895, Portuguese colony, district 1895-1920, Portuguese colony 1920-1951, Portuguese province 1951-1972, Portuguese possession, State of Mozambique 1972-1975, Peoples republic 1975-1990, Republic 1990-Present
Country name on general issues: Moçambique
Special issues: Portuguese Africa general issue 1898, war tax issue 1919, postage due issue 1945, Portuguese occupation of Kionga 1916-1920, Portuguese overseas provinces 1951
Related issues: Inhambane 1895-1920, Lourenço Marques 1895-1920, Mozambique Company 1891-1942, Nyassa Company 1898-1929, Quelimane 1913-1920, Tete 1913-1920, Zambezia 1893-1913,
Currency: 1 Milreis = 1000 Reis 1876-1912, 1 Escudo = 100 Centavos 1912-1980, 1 Metical = 100 Centavos 1980-Present
Population: 2 239 000 in 1900, 24 692 000 in 2014
Political history Mozambique
Portuguese exploration and trade
Mozambique is located in eastern Africa. The indigenous population of Mozambique consists of a number of Bantu peoples. Arab influence exists for centuries as Mozambique is on the southern most extension of the Arab trade routes along the east African coast. Mozambique is, in 1498, explored and claimed for Portugal by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. The Portuguese from the early 16th century settle in Mozambique and take over the Arab trade. For centuries the Portuguese will be largely focused on trade – slave trade long being of major importance – and Portuguese colonial administration will be limited to settlements on the coast and inland along the Zambezi River.
The late 19th century
When in the late 19th century the ‘Scramble for Africa’ is at its height and the colonial powers define their respective spheres of influence in Africa, Mozambique – at the time also called Portuguese East Africa – is claimed by and awarded to Portugal. The borders are agreed upon through treaties with Great Britain in 1891 and 1893 and with Germany in 1894. The Portuguese colonial administration at the time has only limited means to further develop the colony – sometimes also called province which it de jure was until 1910 – and thus it is decided to put the development of large parts of Mozambique in the hands of private companies. Two of these will become chartered companies also having administrative powers: the Mozambique Company chartered in 1891 assumed the administration of part of central Mozambique in 1892 for a period of 50 years, the Nyassa Company chartered in 1893 assumed the administration of northern Mozambique in 1894 for a period of 35 years. The Zambezia Company was given commercial rights for part of central Mozambique – though not a chartered company the Zambezia Company was the largest and most successful of the private companies in Mozambique. It is interesting to note that these Portuguese companies were largely financed by the British who required the development of railroads and ports to have access to the shipping routes on the Indian Ocean from their possessions administered by the British South Africa Company and in British Central Africa – the current Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
In parallel the colonial administration was modernized. In 1894, districts were formed each with a governor, reporting to a high commissioner who in turn reported to the Cortes – the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon. With the formation of these districts elements of the colonial administration and judiciary system came to be organized on district level – the postal administration being one of them.
Some of the Bantu peoples in Mozambique were organized in kingdoms. Most of these kingdoms were dissolved by the Portuguese colonial administration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – possibly the most difficult to bring under colonial rule being the kingdom of Gaza that surrendered in 1895, its territory becoming a military district.
World War I
During WWI neighboring German East Africa – the current Tanzania – is one of the major theaters of war outside of Europe. An all out invasion is launched by the Allies in 1916 – Portugal participating from Mozambique. Portugal will from 1916 occupy the Kionga triangle, a small stretch of land south of the Ruvuma River that otherwise forms the border between German East Africa and Mozambique. As a consequence of the treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI Kionga – is annexed to Mozambique in 1920.
The early 20th century
As the private companies put in charge of much of Mozambique were less than successful – the Zambezia Company being the only company to turn a profit – and it became government policy to gain larger control over the colonies in the Portuguese empire in the first part of the 20th century the administration of all of Mozambique was transferred back to the colonial authorities. The last chartered company to transfer its rights being the Mozambique Company in 1942.
With the large scale reorganization of the Portuguese empire in 1951 Mozambique became a Portuguese province – as did the other overseas possessions of Portugal. This political change did little though to actually improve the situation of the indigenous peoples and opposition against Portuguese rule grew. From 1964, Frelimo – Frente de Libertação de MoçambiqueFront for the Liberation of Mozambique – started a guerrilla war against the Portuguese. Although the Portuguese made concessions – such as the larger degree of autonomy when the State of Mozambique was established in 1972 – the freedom war continued. After the Carnation Revolution in Portugal Mozambique achieved independence in 1975 as the peoples republic of Mozambique.
Shortly after independence Mozambique from 1977 was engulfed in a civil war between the Marxist Frelimo and anti-Marxist Renamo – Resistência Nacional MoçambicanaMozambican National Resistence. In the late 1980’s Frelimo made concessions relaxing the Marxist economic policy and turning Mozambique from a peoples republic into a republic with a multi party political system. Negotiations with Renamo in 1992 led to an end of the civil war. Multi party elections were held in 1994. Frelimo has until the present day won elections and has thus stayed in power – election results having been disputed regularly. Mozambique, in 1995, joined the British Commonwealth. Mozambique is one of the three members of the Commonwealth that has not been a British possession.The other countries are Cameroon and Rwanda.
Economically Mozambique after independence and civil war was among the poorest countries in the world. Since the 1990’s, however, Mozambique has shown consistent economic growth.
Postal history Mozambique
The first stamps in Mozambique are issued in 1876. Many stamps issued during the colonial era are of designs common to the Portuguese colonies. After the fall of the monarchy and the establishment of the republic in Portugal in 1910 many earlier issues were overprinted ‘Republica’. The first stamps issued by independent Mozambique in 1975 are overprints on earlier issues, the overprint reading ‘Indepencia 25 Jun 1975’.
Company and district issues
In the 1890’s, as the colonial government contracted out parts of the country to chartered companies the charter of these companies also included the right to issue stamps. Thus the Mozambique Company has issued stamps from 1892 and the Nyassa Company from 1898. The districts under colonial administration in the 1890’s started issuing stamps at district level – first Zambezia in 1893 and next Inhambane, Lourenço Marques and the district of Mozambique in 1895. The district of Zambezia in 1902 was split into the districts of Quelimane and Tete that have also issued stamps albeit only from 1914. Stamps inscribed ‘Mozambique’ dating from this period were valid only in the district of Mozambique. In 1920, the issues on district level were withdrawn and replaced again by issues on country level. The company and district issues are discussed in more detail in separate country profiles.Resources used do not indicate what stamps, if any, were used in the Gaza district.
During the occupation of Kionga stamps were issued in 1916 for use in the occupied territory. These were stamps of Lourenço Marques overprinted ‘Kionga’. These overprints were used until 1920.
Special issues for the Portuguese possessions
In 1898, the Portuguese issued as set of stamps inscribed ‘Africa Correios’ for use in Portuguese Africa – all Portuguese colonies in Africa. The set commemorates the journey of the explorer Vasco da Gama four hundred years earlier in 1498. More stamps were issued for use in all African colonies in 1919 – war tax stamps – and in 1945 – postage due stamps.
In 1951, special sheets were issued by Portugal. The sheets contain stamps as issued in each of the Portuguese possessions to commemorate the Holy Year brought together in one sheet.
For an overview of the political and postal developments in the form of a diagram, please refer to the country diagram of Portuguese Africa – Mozambique.