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By the fourteenth century, those settlements had developed into independent city-states and were the main political and commercial centers in the area.
The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was the first European to reach current-day Mozambique.
Portuguese supremacy continued to wane until the end of the eighteenth century, when Portuguese seized control of the port at Delagoa Bay in the south, later named Lourenço Marcos (today Maputo, the capital).
In 1752, the first colonial governor was appointed.
Arab traders who made their way down the East African coast mingled with African peoples, creating a hybrid culture and language called Swahili.
This culture still predominates in several East African countries and exerts a strong influence in northern Mozambique.
Portuguese rule was challenged by local landlords ( prazeiros ), who wanted power for themselves, and by fighting among the African tribes they were trying to subdue.
The Zambezi flows west to east and cuts the country into northern and southern regions that diverge, to some extent, in terms of culture and history as well as climate.
The largest group is the Makua-Lomwe in the north, who account for about half the population.
Farther north are the Makonde near the coast and the Yao near Lake Malawi.
More than two-fifths of the population is under the age of fifteen.
The population is divided among roughly sixty different ethnic groups, including nine major ones.