Nampula is a commercial centre and is bordered on the North by the Provinces of Cabo Delgado and Niassa, by Zambezi in the South and West and by the Indian Ocean on the East.
The Ilha de Mozambique, 175 Km from the capital of the Province, Nampula, was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in recognition of its unique cultural and architectural heritage and can be considered the birthplace of the Mozambique nation.
There are a number of ideas as to the original name of this small coral island. Some say it is Muipiti, others say that originated from the word Mussa-Bin-Tiki the name of the son of the Sultan who was at one time lord of the island. The name Mozambique came into use in the XVI century. It was an important trading settlement and one of its notable characteristics was its heterogeneity; Muslins, Hindu and Europeans blended with the indigenous culture.
In 1498, Portuguese navigators landed there, took over the island and expelled all those who had interests there. They made it into a strategic point from where they could venture into the rest of the country. For this purpose the fort of São Sebastião was built and also a “feitoria”(trading post).
One of the traditions of the Ilha is a white extract taken from a root, which the women spread on their bodies and faces to make beautiful masks.
Nampula is a Province rich in landscapes, history and is very well positioned strategically, as can be seen in the cities of Nampula, Ilha de Moçambique, Angoche and Nacala, one of the best natural ports in Africa.
The main ethnic group is the Macua.
Points of note about the Province
• The province offers spectacular landscapes where miombo forests intermingle with inselbergs
• It is in this province that the Nacala Harbour, one the largest natural harbours in the African continent, is situated.
What to visit
• One of the main attractions is the Ilha de Moçambique (Mozambique Island), with its buildings of stone and coral. The Palace of São Paulo, the residence of past governors and now a museum containing ornaments from Portugal, Arabia, Goa, India and China. Behind the Palace is the Museum of Sacred Art, a Hindu Temple and a monument to Luis Camões who wrote part of The “Lusiadas” during his two years stay there.
• Chocas, Relanzapo, Mossuril, Cabaceiras, Nacala Porto, Nacala Velha, Ribaue, Lumbo and Memba are names to consider as destinations to visit while someone is in Nampula Province.
• Nampula is a modern city built along modern architectural lines. On the outskirts of the town the landscape is suddenly and curiously interrupted by a number of granite domes and peaks.
• The Dam that supplies the city with water is also a point of interest.
• A visit to the Cathedral is recommended and also the Ethnography Museum on Av. Eduardo Mondlane where works of art representative of Mozambique culture are on show.
• The city of Angoche on the coast, once inhabited by Arabs and Swahilis is well known for shrimp fishing.