Mozambique was first inhabited by the San hunters and gatherers, and later by the Bantu-speaking peoples who settled much of southern Africa.
By 1498, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrived, and later colonized the region in 1505. However, during the period of time that Portugal was combined with the crown of Spain (1580-1640), the region of Mozambique fell into ruins.
Centuries passed, and while many European nations were granting independence to their colonies following World War II, Mozambique and other possessions of Portugal were reinstated as provinces of the mother country.
Internal strife prevailed in the following years, and after five centuries under Portuguese rule Mozambique gained complete independence in 1975. It became the People's Republic of Mozambique shortly thereafter.
As a result of Portuguese departure, a large-scale emigration by white business people soon followed. A prolonged civil war (1977 – 1992) ensued, and both events severely hindered the country's development.
The ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) party formally abandoned Marxism in 1989, and a new constitution the following year provided for multiparty elections and a free market economy.
A peace agreement between FRELIMO and the rebel Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) forces ended the fighting in 1992.
In December 2004, President Joaquim Chissano stepped down after 18 years in office, and Mozambique underwent a delicate transition.
His newly elected successor, Armando Emilio Guebuza, has promised to continue the sound economic policies that have encouraged foreign investment.
Although Mozambique's economy is growing at a much improved rate, it's still considered one of the planet's poorest and most underdeveloped countries.