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Mozambique is a member of the African Union, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the Latin Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Southern African Development Community, and is an observer at La Francophonie.
The country was named Moçambique by the Portuguese after the Island of Mozambique, derived from Mussa Bin Bique or Musa Al Big or Mossa Al Bique or Mussa Ben Mbiki or Mussa Ibn Malik, an Arab trader who first visited the island and later lived there.
However, the country is still one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world, The only official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, which is spoken mostly as a second language by about half the population.
Common native languages include Makhuwa, Sena, and Swahili.
The Portuguese gained control of the Island of Mozambique and the port city of Sofala in the early 16th century, and by the 1530s, small groups of Portuguese traders and prospectors seeking gold penetrated the interior regions, where they set up garrisons and trading posts at Sena and Tete on the River Zambezi and tried to gain exclusive control over the gold trade.
The Portuguese attempted to legitimise and consolidate their trade and settlement positions through the creation of prazos (land grants) tied to their settlement and administration.
Many prazos had declined by the mid-19th century, but several of them survived.
During the 19th century other European powers, particularly the British (British South Africa Company) and the French (Madagascar), became increasingly involved in the trade and politics of the region around the Portuguese East African territories.
Between the first and fifth centuries AD, Bantu-speaking peoples migrated to present-day Mozambique from farther north and west.
From about 1500, Portuguese trading posts and forts displaced the Arabic commercial and military hegemony, becoming regular ports of call on the new European sea route to the east.
The voyage of Vasco da Gama around the Cape of Good Hope in 1498 marked the Portuguese entry into trade, politics, and society of the region.
They brought with them the technology for smelting and smithing iron.
From the late first millennium AD, vast Indian Ocean trade networks extended as far south into Mozambique as the ancient port town of Chibuene.