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History

The city of Inhambane and the surrounding beach destinations offer visitors a variety of opportunities to fully experience and enjoy this tropical paradise. From the unique history and culture of the city itself to the pristine beaches and reefs that are the main attractions for tourists visiting the area, Inhambane is an incredible holiday destination. Recent improvements in infrastructure and easier accessibility to the region have seen Inhambane grow in popularity not only as a holiday destination for visitors from neighboring countries but also as a known international destination for scuba divers and adventure travelers from all over the world.

With tourism being one of the largest driving forces behind the local economy and with jobs in the tourism sector providing employment for thousands of people, there is a renewed focus on encouraging environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism and many cooperative efforts are underway involving both the public and private sectors.

The city of lnhambane has a rich and colourful history, having served as a strategic trading port for gold, ivory and slaves over the centuries. From Arab traders who began arriving as early as the 9th century to trade with Tonga chieftaincies along the bay, to the arrival of European traders and explorers from the beginning of the 16th century, Inhambane became a mosaic of the various cultures, religions and societies that brought their different influences to this area.

Inhambane Bay was the furthest point south along the coast of east Africa that Arab traders ventured, and the region, identified as the Sofala coast by Arab cartographers in the 10th century, has retained many of the Muslim influences from this period. These can be seen to this day in the use of traditional Arab & style dhows which are still the main from of transportation for the local population living along the bay.

The first European contact came in 1498, in the form of the famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, whose experiences with the local Tonga tribe led him to describe the region as the "terra de boa gente" in Portuguese, or the "land of the good people". It was also from this first encounter that Inhambane took its name, when these first Europeans were told in Bitonga to "Come in out of the rain" (Bela khu Nyumbani) and so Inhambane was named.

Although the first Jesuit mission to east Africa was established in Inhambane in 1539, it only lasted for sixteen years and sporadic contact with various European nations continued for the next 200 years. Ships from the England, France, the Netherlands and Portugal continued to trade in the area and it was eventually the Portuguese who established a permanent settlement in Inhambane in 1728, with the construction of the first permanent fort completed in 1729.

With the permanent settlement of Inhambane, the Portuguese also introduced a merchant class to help handle trade in the region and this merchant class consisted of Indians who remain an integral part of Inhambane to this day

Scuba Diving

The Inhambane Province offers world class diving all year round with sites and locations suitable for all experience levels, from novice to the technical diver. Inhambane is recognized as the only place in the world to have permanent Whale Shark and Manta Ray populations and boasts the largest recorded numbers of these species. Various species of sharks, including Bull, Dusky and Spinner sharks are also common in the region. The Smalleyed Stingray, the largest species of stingray, has been positively identified in the waters of Inhambane, and currently this is the only place in the world they have been seen on scuba. Add to this such creatures as the Bow Mouth Guitar Shark, Leopard Shark, Large Groupers, Moray Eels, Mobula, Marlin, 5 species of turtle, schooling game fish and great macro including Harlequin Shrimp and Sea Moths just to name a few.

Dive sites vary enormously in Inhambane, from the wreck of the Dutch Liner, the Klipfontein, in 55m of water, and deeper exiting reef dives, to 9-15m reefs packed with colourfull marine life.

Between August and October, Humpback Whales can be seen migrating North for breeding and calving before returning South again. As well as spectacular to see from the boat, the lucky will get a chance to see them on scuba.

With so much on offer, make sure you check out what is available in the whole region.

Inhambane is located in MozambiqueGeneral

Inhambane, Land of the Good People, is a city located in southern Mozambique, lying on Inhambane Bay, 470 km northeast of Maputo. It is the capital of the Inhambane Province and according to the 2007 census has a population of 63,837, growing from the 1997 census of 54,157. It is a sleepy historic town known for its rusting colonial architecture and has been popular with tourists in recent years. The settlement owes its existence to a deep inlet into which the small river the Matamba flows. Two protective sandy headlands protect the harbor and form a sandbank. The town of Maxixe is located across the bay.

Inhambane is one of the oldest settlements on the East Coast of Mozambique. Dhows traded at the place as early as the 11th century. Muslim and Persian traders were the first outsiders to arrive to the area by sea and traded pearls and ambergris and also traded at Chibuene in the south. The area became well known for its local cotton spinning and production by the Tonga tribe. Sometime before the Portuguese came to this town, the Karanga had invaded Inhambane and formed a number of local chieftains which dominated over the Tonga cotton workers and the rewards of trading with the Muslims went to them.

When Vasco da Gama rounded Africa in the late 15th century he pulled into Inhambane to replenish stocks and to explore. He took an immediate liking to Imhambane and named it Terra de Boa Gente or 'Land of the Good People'. In 1505, a ship sent by Francisco de Almeida was shipwrecked south of the town, but the Portuguese gained an initial meeting with the Karanga chiefs. Later, their sons landed on Mozambique Island to survey the situation. The Portuguese eventually established a permanent trading post at settlement in 1534. Inhambane was then chosen as the first Jesuit mission to East Africa in 1560.

The port gradually grew as a ivory and slave trading centre particularly in the eighteenth century under mostly Indian control. It was destroyed in 1834 by Soshangane, but grew rapidly in the second half of the century as a town of Portuguese East Africa, from which period its old cathedral and old mosque date. However in the 20th century the status of the town declined and the economic situation worsened as Maputo (called Lourenšo Marques before 1975) became the main centre.

The 170 year old Cathedral of our Lady of Conception is located in the old quarter of the city where a rusted ladder leads to the top of the spire, offering panoramic views of the city and harbor. The city is now home to a museum and a market and is known for its nearby beaches of Tofo and Barra. The central market located along the main boulevard called simply "Mercado Central" offers numerous foods, ranging from a colorful array of spices and vegetables to prawns, fishes and cashew nuts. Motor and dhow taxis sail from the town to Maxixe. The town of Inhambane has one of the largest working fleets of dhows on the East African coastline.


Barra beach (Ponto do Barra)

Notable sites in the surrounding district of Inhambane include the Praia do Tofo, Praia dos Cocos, Ponto do Barra, Ilha de Benquerra, Guinjata Bay. Scuba diving in Inhambane is particularly popular in locations such as Manta Reef and Gallaria. Giant Manta Rays, Whale sharks, Turtles and other marine life are regularly seen and there are many professional scuba diving operations throughout the province. Many tourists are under the impression that they can dive from Inhambane itself.

The closest diving to Inhambane is actually at Praia do Tofo - 22km from Inhambane City. Tofo is known as the whale shark mecca of the world.

Source: Wikipedia

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