Between the 1st and 5th centuries AD, Bantu-speaking peoples migrated from farther north and west. Swahili, and later also Arab, commercial ports existed along the coasts until the arrival of Europeans. The area was explored by Vasco da Gama in 1498 and colonized by Portugal from 1505. Mozambique became independent in 1975, and became the People's Republic of Mozambique shortly thereafter. It was the scene of an intense civil war lasting from 1977 to 1992.
Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources. The country's economy is based largely on agriculture, but with industry, mainly food and beverages, chemical manufacturing, aluminium and petroleum production, is growing. The country's tourism sector is also growing. South Africa is Mozambique's main trading partner and source of foreign direct investment. Portugal, Spain and Belgium are also among the country's most important partners. Since 2001, Mozambique's annual average GDP growth has been among the world's top ten. It still has, however, one of the lowest GDP per capita, one of the worst human development index and inequality ratings and one of the world's worst average life expectancies.
The Island of Mozambique (Portuguese: Ilha de Moçambique) lies off northern Mozambique, between the Mozambique Channel and Mossuril Bay, and is part of Nampula Province. Prior to 1898, it was the capital of colonial Portuguese East Africa. With its rich history and sandy beaches, the Island of Mozambique is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Mozambique's fastest growing tourist destinations. It has a permanent population of approximately 14,000 people and is served by nearby Lumbo Airport on the Nampula mainland.