Mozambique Island, Mozambique
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Historic Interest
Religious Site
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There is more to a family vacation in Mozambique than sea, sun and sand. Mozambique Island, Ilha de Moçambique in Portuguese, is a World Heritage Site and architectural treasure. Occupied by Arab maritime merchants as early as the 10th century, Mozambique Island was already a well-established trade center when Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, landed here in 1498. Under Portuguese rule, Mozambique Island flourished for roughly 200 years. Stone Town, as the island's Portuguese settlement is known, was the colony's first capital as well as a primary port and missionary center in Portuguese east Africa. Yet by the early 18th century, Stone Town's fortunes were in decline. Slave trade revived the economy for a period but by the early 19th century Mozambique Island's importance had once again waned. As you stroll the narrow streets of Stone Town and tour the island's many historical sites weave tales of Arab merchants, Indian traders and Portuguese explorers and help the kids envision life on the island island in its heyday.
Slave Trade on Mozambique Island
The history of Mozambique Island was associated with trade long before Vasco da Gama landed here in 1498. Arab maritime merchants visited this small island on their search for ivory and gold as early as the 5th century. And while they were known to trade a slave or two, Mozambique Island didn't become a major slave-trading center until the 17th century. With colonialization came the need for cheap labor making slaves the most profitable good. The Portuguese played a major role, of course, but they weren't the only ones involved. The French organized the slave trade on Mozambique Island and turned it into a business. Local tribes, including the Yao and Tsonga, acted as middleman and brought slaves to the coast from the interior. When Portugal outlawed slave trade in 1842 the activity didn't cease. It moved underground. Clandestine slave trade continued on Mozambique Island until the year 1900.

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