Land and Resources, Rivers and Lakes
Pungwe, Lake Nyasa, Ruvuma, Sabi, Zambezi
From the mountains and uplands, many rivers spring forth and flow east to the sea. Central Mozambique is dominated by the valley of the Zambezi, one of the world’s largest rivers and the fourth longest in Africa. In its lower reaches the Zambezi is as wide as 3 km (2 mi) and enters the sea through a delta 80 km (50 mi) wide. To the north, the Ruvuma and Lugenda rivers are sources of water and irrigation, while south of the Zambezi, the Pungwe, Save (Sabi), Limpopo, and Komati rivers are important resources. Most of Mozambique’s rivers fluctuate wildly in volume between the wet and dry seasons, and continually shift their shallow channels. Only the Zambezi is navigable for more than a short distance from the coast.
During colonial times the Portuguese built several projects to make the rivers more reliable for commerce. On the Limpopo, they erected a dam to deepen the river, control its flow, and provide irrigation for the valley’s farms. Other hydroelectric projects were built in the Manica highlands, and in 1969 work began on the enormous Cabora Bassa Dam on the Zambezi—one of Africa’s largest hydroelectric projects. The dam was completed in 1974. Another important source of water and transportation is Lake Nyasa, of which 13,000 sq km (5,000 sq mi) lies within Mozambique.
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