Ilha - Full Catalogue
The territory of Moçambique was occupied in 900AD by Arab traders. It was in 1498 during his search for a maritime trading route between Lisbon and India that Vasco da Gama reached the Island of Moçambique. By 1507 the Portuguese had established a port and naval base. Ilha de Moçambique had become one of Portugal’s vital trading links between Asia and Europe for spices, gold, ivory, pottery and African wood. For 400 years the island was to be the capital of Portuguese East Africa.
At the end of the 17th Century after enjoying strong economic expansion the island went into a period of decline but was revived in the second half of the 18th Century by the slave trade. However, with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 the island’s fortunes began to wane and in 1898 the capital of Moçambique was transferred to Laurenço Marques (Maputo) considerably slowing the economy of Ilha de Moçambique. A further blow came in the middle of the 20th Century with the new harbour of Nacala (60km North) taking most of the remaining trade.
Today the island faces problems of degradation and neglect with many buildings in ruins. However, with its rich history and being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ilha de Moçambique has started benefiting from restoration work and management studies by international specialists.