Mozambique

Geography

Mozambique is located on the southeast coast of Africa bordered by the (Mozambique Channel and) Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. The country has a total area of 801,590 km² of which 1.6 per cent is water. The terrain comprises coastal lowlands with uplands in centre, high plateaus in northwest and mountains in west. Mozambique is drained by five principal rivers and several smaller ones. The largest and most important river is the Zambezi which is joined by the Shire River and channeled along the southern end of the Great Rift Valley. The Zambezi divides the country into two topographical regions. To the north the country is dominated by a broad plateau with the Niassa highlands, Namuli or Shire highlands, Angonia highlands, Tete highlands and a narrow coastal plain. To the south of the Zambezi River, the lowlands are broader with the Mashonaland plateau and Lebomo mountains located in the deep south. Mozambique territory includes small parts of lakes Malawi, Chiuta and Chilwa, all in the north along the western border with Malawi. The Cahora Bassa lake on the Zambezi in the Tete province is Africa’s fourth largest artificial lake and is the largest hydroelectric scheme in southern Africa.

Geology

Mozambique’s geology is highly diverse but essentially comprises a series of metamorphic complexes ("terranes"), primarily exposed in the northern half of the country, represented by high-grade crystalline basement and supercrustal rocks of dominantly Meso-Proterozoic age, juxtaposed during the late Neo-Proterozoic to Cambrian East African Orogeny and subsequently intruded by large volumes of granitic rocks. About two-thirds of Mozambique is covered by igneous and metamorphic rocks of Archaean to Neoproterozoic age, occurring mostly in the north and northwest, while Phanerozoic terranes are found south of the Zambezi valley and along the coastal belt in the northeast. The Archaean and Paleoproterozoic terranes are an extension of the Zimbabwe Craton and its supracrustals, but also include granitoids, gneisses and migmatites of the Barue Complex. Two main orogenies are recognized, the Irumide Belt (1800-1350 Ma) in the northwest and the ubiquitous Mozambique Belt (1100-850 Ma), with evidence of extensive migmatisation as well as various granitoids and supracrustals; together these terrains constitute about 90% of the Precambrian rocks of Mozambique. The Neoproterozoic Cycle (800-410 Ma) is marked by the formation of small platform basins, as well as the influence of the PanAfrican (Katangan) orogeny in the northwest, and by the emplacement of monzonites, syenites, granites and pegmatites. Carboniferous to upper Jurassic rifting associated with sedimentation and widespread igneous activity led to numerous intracratonic Karoo basins, followed by Post-Karoo continental deposits and volcanics, as well as Meso-Cenozoic continental and marine deposits, and a thick Pliocene to Quaternary cover.