Maputo, Mozambique, the country's capital and largest city. It is in southeastern Mozambique on the Indian Ocean and has a large natural harbor. Maputo is the country's principal port and a busy railway center. Much of the cargo handled is en route to or from Mozambique's neighbors, particularly South Africa. In addition, Maputo is the nation's chief financial and industrial center.
The Portuguese founded the city in the late 18th century. Railroads were built about 1895, and the city became a prominent trading center. It was made the capital of Portuguese East Africa in 1898. Originally, the city was named after Lourenço Marques, a 16th-century trader and explorer of the surrounding area. When Mozambique gained its independence from Portugal in 1975, the new government gave the city an African name, Maputo.