Maputo (Portuguese pronunciation: [mɐˈputu]), known as Lourenço Marques before independence, is the capital and largest city of Mozambique. It is known as the City of Acacias, in reference to acacia trees commonly found along its avenues, and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Today, it is a port city, with its economy centered on the harbour. According to the 2007 census, the population is 1,766,184.Cotton, sugar, chromite, sisal, copra, and hardwood are the chief exports. The city manufactures cement, pottery, furniture, shoes, and rubber. The city is surrounded by Maputo Province, but is administered as its own province.
On the northern bank of Espírito Santo Estuary of Delagoa Bay, an inlet of the Indian Ocean, Lourenço Marques was named after the Portuguese navigator who, with António Caldeira, was sent in 1544 by the governor of Mozambique on a voyage of exploration. They explored the lower courses of the rivers emptying their waters into Delagoa Bay, notably the Espírito Santo. The forts and trading stations that the Portuguese established, abandoned and reoccupied on the north bank of the river, were all called Lourenço Marques. The existing town dates from about 1850, the previous settlement having been entirely destroyed by the natives. The town developed around a Portuguese fortress completed in 1787.
Maputo is a province of Mozambique; the province excludes the city of Maputo (which comprises a separate province). The province has an area of 22,693 km² and a population of 1,205,709 (2007 census). Its capital is the city of Matola.
Maputo Province is the southernmost province of Mozambique. It borders Gaza Province to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal to the south, Swaziland to the southwest, and the Mpumalanga province of South Africa to the west and northwest. The Maputo Bay area to the southeast of Maputo is an important conservation area with many reefs and lakes. Of particular note is the Maputo Elephant Game Reserve, which has lakes such as Lagoa Chingute and Lagoa Piti in the vicinity, and the Machangulo Private Nature Reserve further north of this in the Machangulo Peninsula. The largest river of the province, the Maputo River, running from Amsterdam, Mpumalanga in South Africa near the Swaziland border, flows into Maputo Bay to the southeast of Maputo. Also flowing into the bay are the Umbeluzi River and the Incomati River. In the fall of 1999, the Maputo, Umbeluzi, Incompati and Limpopo rivers were affected by severe rainfall, 70 percent higher than normal which caused severe flooding. The Maputo and Incomati burst their banks on 12 January 2000, directly affecting some 40,000, and flooding along the Incomati affected about 20,000 several days later.
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