Maputo, formerly Lourenço Marques, is the capital of Mozambique. Maputo is located in the far south of Mozambique, a port on the Indian Ocean.
Founded in 1876, the city was named after Lourenço Marques, the Portuguese trader who was the first European to explore the area in 1544.
Maputo is a melting pot of several cultures, with a strong South African influence. The Bantu and Portuguese cultures dominate, but the influence of Arab, Indian, and Chinese cultures is also felt. The cuisine is very elaborate, owing especially to the Portuguese and Muslim heritage. Seafood is also very abundant.
Maputo's most important landmark is the Fort of Nossa Senhora da Conceiao (Our Lady of Conception) which was the nucleus of the original settlement. Another imposing building is the Central Railway Station, an enormous structure looking more like a palace for kings, than a siding for commuters.
A regular ferry service takes visitors from Maputo's fishing harbour to Inhaca Island to see the fascinating maritime museum, historic lighthouse and to have lunch or overnight at the hotel. Other visitors head south into the swamplands of the 236,000-hectare Maputo Elephant Reserve where rolling green hills meet the sea. Crocs, hippos, side-striped jackals, antelope and up to 200 elephants are found here.