Beira, port city, central Mozambique. Beira is situated on the Mozambique Channel (Indian Ocean) at the mouths of the Púngoè and Búzi rivers.
The port developed as a trade and transportation outlet for the products of Central Africa and as a transshipment point for coastal cargo. The city is the busy ocean terminus of railways from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Malawi, and it serves as the main port for Zimbabwe and Malawi. Principal exports passing through Beira are ores, tobacco, food products, cotton, and hides and skins.
The main imports are liquid fuels, fertilizers, wheat, heavy equipment, textiles, and beverages. A fishing harbour, which includes canneries, processing plants, and refrigerated stores, was constructed at Beira in the early 1980s. Repeated bombings of the Umtali-to-Beira railway line, first by Rhodesian guerrillas prior to Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 and then later in the early 1980s by Renamo guerrillas, resulted in frequent interruptions of rail service. The city was devastated by Cyclone Idai in 2019.
History of Beira
The city was established in 1890 by the Portuguese and soon supplanted Sofala as the main port in the Portuguese-administered territory. Originally called Chiveve, after a local river, it was renamed to honor the Portuguese Crown prince Dom Luís Filipe who, in 1907, was the first member of the Portuguese royal family to visit Mozambique. Traditionally the Portuguese Crown prince carried the title of Prince of Beira, a historical province of mainland Portugal.
The Portuguese built the port and a railway to Rhodesia, Portuguese families settled in the newly founded locality and started to develop commercial activities. With the growth of the village, in 1907 the Portuguese Crown elevated Beira to the status of city (cidade). Headquarters of the Companhia de Moçambique (Mozambique Company) from 1891, the city's administration passed from the trading company to the Portuguese government in 1942.
In 1966, the construction of a new railway station was completed. Before Mozambique's independence from Portugal, as a city of Portuguese Mozambique, Beira was noted for its well-equipped seaport, one of the major facilities of its kind in all East Africa, tourism, fishing and trade. The city prospered as a cosmopolitan port with different ethnic communities (Portuguese, Indian, Chinese, Bantus such as the Sena and Ndau) employed in administration, commerce, and industry.
A large English-speaking population was the result of being a favourite holiday destination for white Rhodesians. One reminder of this is the Grande Hotel, built by the Portuguese, near the shore of the Indian Ocean. By 1970, the city of Beira had 113,770 inhabitants.
After independence from Portugal in 1975, many white ethnic Portuguese left the city. Mozambique was ravaged by a civil war from 1977 to 1992, opposing Marxist FRELIMO, which controlled the government, to the rebels of RENAMO, descending to near total chaos in a couple of years. The famine, disease and poverty-stricken country collapsed. In Beira, the famous Grande Hotel was occupied by around 1,000 homeless Beirans, and by the end of the civil war it was in near-ruins.
The 2000 Mozambique flood devastated Beira and the surrounding region, leaving millions homeless and severely damaging the local economy.
During the campaign for the local elections in 2013, which culminated in the victory of the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) in the municipality, the Munhava district was the scene of violent clashes between police and supporters of the MDM.
In 2019, Cyclone Idai caused extreme devastation in Beira. It struck the city on March 14, 2019, with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph), and caused flooding up to six meters deep across Mozambique.
Things to Do in Beira Mozambique
Have you ever visited a new place and felt ‘wow’ about it? For many visitors, it happens at Beira.
Beira may not be as popular as other cities in Mozambique, but don’t let that fool you. Beira is a smaller but beautiful upcoming tourist destination that is worth a visit. You will be surprised by some of the unique things to do and places you can explore at this hidden destination. You might wish to revisit it someday again, to take a break and relax at Beira.
If you have plans to visit Mozambique and are not sure if Beira should be included in your itinerary, keep reading. In this list, we have put together some of the things to do in Beira and around. We have a hunch that if you include this city in your travel plans, you will be thrilled you did so.
|Languages spoken||Portuguese, English|
|Currency used||Mozambican Metical (MZN)|