Cabo Delgado Province

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Coordinates: 12°45′S 39°30′E / 12.750°S 39.500°E / -12.750; 39.500

Cabo Delgado
Bridge over Rio Lurio EN1 road (3911465523).jpg
Cabo Delgado, Province of Mozambique
Cabo Delgado, Province of Mozambique
 • GovernorValige Tauabo
 • Total82,625 km2 (31,902 sq mi)
 • Total2,320,261
 • Density28/km2 (73/sq mi)
Postal code
Area code(+258) 278
HDI (2019)0.391[1]
low · 11th of 11

Cabo Delgado is the northernmost province of Mozambique. It has an area of 82,625 km2 (31,902 sq mi) and a population of 2,320,261 (2017).[2] As well as bordering Mtwara Region in the neighboring country of Tanzania, it borders the provinces of Nampula and Niassa. The region is an ethnic stronghold of the Makonde tribe, with the Makua and Mwani as leading ethnic minorities.[3]

Pemba is the capital of the province; other important cities include Montepuez and Mocímboa da Praia.


Provincial map

The province shares its name with Cape Delgado (Portuguese: Cabo Delgado), a coastal headland on the border between Mozambique and Tanzania, which forms the northernmost point in Mozambique.

On 25 September 1964, FRELIMO guerrillas arrived from Tanzania and, with help from some individuals of the surrounding population, attacked a Portuguese administrative post in the province. This raid marked the beginning of the Mozambican War of Independence, part of the Portuguese Colonial War, the former of which was an armed struggle between the Portuguese colonial authorities in the then-Portuguese Overseas Province of Mozambique and the independence movement. This province was the focus of Operation Gordian Knot, where the Portuguese forces attempted to wipe out the guerrilla bases in the province.[4]

Jihadist insurgency[edit]

Beginning in October 2017, armed Islamist extremists linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched a jihadist insurgency in the Cabo Delgado region.[5][6] The militants launched attacks and committed mass beheadings,[7] and in August 2020 seized the port town of Mocimboa da Praia.[8][9] The group sometimes refers to itself as al-Shabaab,[7][9] although they do not have known links with the Somali al-Shabaab, a different jihadist group.[9] In March 2021, the U.S. Department of State designated Ahlu Sunna Wal Jammah (ASWJ), a group operating in Cabo Delgado with the participation of "foreign fighters" from Tanzania, as a franchise of ISIL and added it to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The International Crisis Group reported in March 2021 that while ISIL has contact with the jihadists in Mozambique and has given some level of financial assistance, ISIL likely does not exert command and control authority over the group.[10]

Mozambique Defence Armed Forces have been battling the extremists. Many civilians have been displaced by the fighting.[11] In September 2020, ISIL insurgents captured Vamizi Island in the Indian Ocean.[12] Over fifty people were beheaded by terrorists in the province in April 2020 and a similar number in November 2020.[13] In March 2021, the NGO Save the Children reported that Islamist militants were beheading children, some as young as 11.[14]

On March 24, 2021, the militants seized Palma, murdering dozens of civilians and displacing more than 35,000 of the town's 75,000 residents.[8][15][16][17] Many fled to the provincial capital, Pemba.[7][9] In July 2021 Southern African Development Community deployed its military mission to the province Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM).

As of February 2022, there are still a few civilians being killed due to the lingering insurgency and several insurgent camps were found by the Mozambican authorities.[18][19]


Religion in Cabo Delgado (2017)[20]

  Islam (52.5%)
  Roman Catholicism (35.9%)
  Protestantism (2.6%)
  Unaffiliated (7.4%)
  Other religions (2.6%)
Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.


Mozambique is a majority-Christian country; however two northern provinces have an Islamic majority – Niassa (61 percent) and Cabo Delgado (54 percent). In Cabo Delgado, only three districts have a Catholic majority – Muidumbe (67 percent) and Mueda (54 percent) in the north and Namuno (61 percent) in the south. Two other districts have significant Catholic populations – Nangade (42 percent Catholic, 36 percent Muslim) in the north and Chiure (44 percent Muslim, 42 percent Catholic) in the South, whilst twelve have Muslim majorities, including Pemba; four are more than 90 percent Muslim. Coastal administrative posts are all over 75 percent Muslim.[22]


Meluco, Cabo Delgado
Ibo, Cabo Delgado

Cabo Delgado Province is divided into the 16 districts of:

and the municipalities of:




  1. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  2. ^ "Mozambique at GeoHive". Archived from the original on 2014-09-24. Retrieved 2016-02-04.
  3. ^ Sousa., Santos, Ana Margarida (2011). History, memory and violence : changing patterns of group relationship in Mocimboa da Praia, Mozambique. Oxford University. OCLC 793677658.
  4. ^ "Mozambique-Insurgency Against Portugal, 1963-1975". Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  5. ^ Eric Morier-Genoud, The jihadi insurgency in Mozambique: origins, nature and beginning, Journal of Eastern African Studies, Vol. 14, issue 3, pp. 396-412 (July 2020).
  6. ^ David M. Matsinhe & Estacio Valoi, The genesis of insurgency in northern Mozambique, ISS Southern Africa Report, Vol. 2019, No. 27.
  7. ^ a b c Max Bearak, As militants overrun Mozambique oil town, fears rise of 'humanitarian catastrophe', Washington Post (March 31, 2021).
  8. ^ a b "Armed groups attack Mozambique town closest to gas projects: sources". Reuters. March 24, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d Andrew Meldrum, Rebels leave beheaded bodies in streets of Mozambique town, Associated Press (March 29, 2021).
  10. ^ Understanding the New U.S. Terrorism Designations in Africa, International Crisis Group (March 18, 2021).
  11. ^ "'Jihadists behead' Mozambique villagers". BBC News. 2018-05-29. Archived from the original on 13 June 2018.
  12. ^ "ISIS take over luxury islands popular among A-list celebrities". 18 September 2020.
  13. ^ "Militant Islamists 'behead more than 50' in Mozambique". Yahoo. 2018-08-26. Archived from the original on 2020-11-10. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  14. ^ "Mozambique insurgency: Militants beheading children, aid agency reports". BBC News. 16 March 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-03-16.
  15. ^ Christina Goldbaum; Eric Schmitt; Declan Walsh (28 March 2021). "As Militants Seize Mozambique Gas Hub, a Dash for Safety Turns Deadly". New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  16. ^ Bariyo, Nicholas; Steinhauser, Gabriele; Faucon, Benoit (March 27, 2021). "As Islamist Siege in Mozambique Drags On, Natural Gas Project Scrambles to Evacuate". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  17. ^ Dozens of 'defenceless' civilians killed in Mozambique attack, Al Jazeera (March 28, 2021).
  18. ^ "Cabo Ligado Weekly: 7–13 February".
  19. ^ Rwanda: Cabo Delgado - Rwandan, Mozambican Forces Flush Militant Remnants Out of Palma District, 8 February 2022
  21. ^ Cameroon: Administrative Division population statistics
  22. ^ Mozambique 484 news reports & clippings: Supplement on religion and voting in Cabo Delgado districts and administrative posts, 30 April, 2020

External links[edit]