The Mozambique Channel (French: Canal du Mozambique, Malagasy: Lakandranon'i Mozambika, Portuguese: Canal de Moçambique) is an arm of the Indian Ocean located between the Southeast African countries of Madagascar and Mozambique. The channel is about 1,600 km (1,000 mi) long and 419 km (260 mi) across at its narrowest point, and reaches a depth of 3,292 m (10,800 ft) about 230 km (143 mi) off the coast of Mozambique. A warm current, the Mozambique Current, flows in a southward direction in the channel, leading into the Agulhas Current off the east coast of South Africa.
Location of Mozambique Channel
|Part of||Indian Ocean|
|Max. length||1,600 km (990 mi)|
|Max. width||419 km (260 mi)|
|Average depth||3,292 m (10,801 ft)|
Beira is the capital and largest city of Sofala Province, where the Pungwe River meets the Indian Ocean, in the central region of Mozambique. It is the fourth-largest city by population in Mozambique, after Maputo, Matola and Nampula. Beira had a population of 397,368 in 1997, which grew to 530,604 in 2019. A coastal city, it holds the regionally significant Port of Beira, which acts as a gateway for both the central interior portion of the country as well as the land-locked nations of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.
Originally called Chiveve after a local river, it was renamed Beira to honour the Portuguese Crown prince Dom Luís Filipe, who visited Mozambique. It was first developed by the Portuguese Mozambique Company in the 19th century, supplanting Sofala as the main port in Mozambique. It was then directly developed by the Portuguese colonial government from 1947 until Mozambique gained its independence from Portugal in 1975. Beira is the second largest seaport for international cargo transportation to Mozambique after Maputo. In March 2019, the city was heavily damaged by Cyclone Idai, destroying up to 90% of the city.Betsiboka River
Betsiboka River is a 525-kilometre (326 mi) long river in central-north Madagascar. It flows northwestward and empties to Bombetoka Bay, forming a large delta. It originates to the east of Antananarivo. The river is surrounded in mangroves. The river is distinctive for its red-coloured water, which is caused by river sediments. The river carries an enormous amount of reddish-orange silt to the sea. Much of this silt is deposited at the mouth of the river or in the bay.
It is dramatic evidence of the catastrophic erosion of northwestern Madagascar. Removal of the native forest for cultivation and pastureland during the past 50 years has led to massive annual soil losses approaching 250 metric tonnes per hectare (112 tons per acre) in some regions of the island, the largest amount recorded anywhere in the world. Several fish species are endemic to the river basin, including the three cichlids Paretroplus petiti, P. tsimoly and P. maculatus.
The Betsiboka's largest tributary, the Ikopa River, drains the capital city of Antananarivo.Bombetoka Bay
Bombetoka Bay is a bay on the northwestern coast of Madagascar near the city of Mahajanga, where the Betsiboka River flows into the Mozambique Channel. Numerous islands and sandbars have formed in the estuary from the large amount of sediment carried in by the Betsiboka River and have been shaped by the flow of the river and the push and pull of tides
Along coastlines and on the islands, the vegetation is predominantly mangrove forests. In fact, Bombetoka Bay is home to some of Madagascar's largest remaining communities of mangroves, which provide shelter for diverse mollusk and crustacean communities, as well as habitat for sea turtles, birds, and dugongs. Along the northwest coast of Madagascar, mangroves and coral reefs partner up to create dynamic, diverse coastal ecosystems. The mangrove forests capture river-borne sediment that would smother coastal reefs, while reefs buffer the mangroves from pounding surf.
Near water, shrimp and rice farming are common, while coffee plantations abound in the surrounding terrain.
Sedimentary transport and suspension in Bombetoka Bay has significantly changed during the past 30 years, with a dramatic increase in the amount of sediment moved by the Betsiboka river, and deposited in the estuary and in offshore delta lobes. These changes have adversely affected agriculture, fisheries, and transportation for one of Madagascar’s largest portsBuzi River
Buzi River (Portuguese: Rio Búzi) is a river in Mozambique. Buzi flows eastward through the Manica and Sofala provinces of Mozambique. It then empties to the Mozambique Channel west of Beira, forming an estuary.
The Buzi River is 250 kilometres (155 mi) long, with a drainage basin 31,000 square kilometres (12,000 sq mi) in size. Its mean annual discharge is 79 m³/s (2,790 cfs) at its mouth.It often causes floods, frequently forming a floodplain together with the larger Pungwe River. Dombé and Búzi are situated on the banks of the river.Cyclone Elita
Cyclone Elita was an unusual tropical cyclone that made landfall on Madagascar three times. The fifth named storm of the 2003–04 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season, Elita developed in the Mozambique Channel on January 24, 2004. It strengthened to tropical cyclone status before striking northwestern Madagascar on January 28; it was the first storm to strike western Madagascar at that intensity since Cyclone Cynthia in 1991. Elita weakened to tropical depression status while crossing the island, and after exiting into the southwest Indian Ocean, it turned to the west and moved ashore in eastern Madagascar on January 31. After once again crossing the island, the cyclone reached the Mozambique Channel and re-intensified. Elita turned to the southeast to make its final landfall on February 3 along southwestern Madagascar. Two days later, it underwent an extratropical transition; the remnant system moved erratically before dissipating on February 13.
Elita dropped heavy rainfall of more than 200 mm (8 inches), which damaged or destroyed thousands of houses in Madagascar. Over 50,000 people were left homeless, primarily in Mahajanga and Toliara provinces. Flooding from the storm ruined more than 450 km² (170 sq mi) of agricultural land, including important crops for food. Across the island, the cyclone caused 33 deaths, with its impact further compounded by Cyclone Gafilo about two months later. Elsewhere, Elita brought rainfall and damage to Mozambique and Malawi, and its outer wind circulation produced rough seas and strong gusts in Seychelles, Mauritius, and Réunion.Europa Island
Europa Island (French: Île Europa) is a 28-square-kilometre (11 sq mi) low-lying tropical atoll in the Mozambique Channel, about a third of the way from southern Madagascar to southern Mozambique. The island had never been inhabited until 1820, when the French family Rosier moved to it. The island officially became a possession of France in 1897.
The island, garrisoned by a detachment from Réunion, has a weather station and is visited by scientists. Though uninhabited, it is part of the "Scattered Islands" of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands administrative region.
Europa Island was the setting of a 1968 episode of "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau", partly focusing on the breeding habits of the green sea turtle.Geography of Mayotte
Mayotte is an island of volcanic origin in the northernmost Mozambique Channel, about one-half of the way from northern Madagascar to northern Mozambique. Mayotte is part of the Comoro Islands, and like them is the result of a former hot spot, the oldest of the Comoros archipelago, formed about 7.7 mya.Mayotte has an area of 374 square kilometres, and a coastline of length 185.2 km. Its maritime claims are an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles, and a territorial sea of 12 nm.Limpopo River
The Limpopo River rises in South Africa, and flows generally eastwards through Mozambique to the Indian Ocean. The term Limpopo is derived from Rivombo (Livombo/Lebombo), a group of Tsonga settlers led by Hosi Rivombo who settled in the mountainous vicinity and named the area after their leader. The river is approximately 1,750 kilometres (1,087 mi) long, with a drainage basin 415,000 square kilometres (160,200 sq mi) in size. The mean discharge measured over a year is 170 m3/s (6,200 cu ft/s) at its mouth. The Limpopo is the second largest river in Africa that drains to the Indian Ocean, after the Zambezi River.The first European to sight the river was Vasco da Gama, who anchored off its mouth in 1498 and named it Espiritu Santo River. Its lower course was explored by St Vincent Whitshed Erskine in 1868–69, and Captain J F Elton travelled down its middle course in 1870.
The drainage area of Limpopo River has decreased over geological time. Up to Late Pliocene or Pleistocene times the upper course of Zambezi River drained into the Limpopo River. The change of the drainage divide is the result of epeirogenic movement that uplifted the surface north of present-day Limpopo River diverting waters into Zambezi River.Madagascar Current
The Madagascar current is an oceanic current in the west Indian Ocean.
The Madagascar current is split into two currents – the North Madagascar Current and the East Madagascar Current. The south easterly trade winds, the South Equatorial Current and the South Indian Ocean flow westward when it reaches Madagascar’s east coast the flow splits into the North and South Madagascar Currents. Both currents redistribute mass and heat along the stream current system along Madagascar’s coast. The North Madagascar Current flows into the South Equatorial Current just North of Madagascar and is directed into the Mozambique Channel, this connects to the gyre’s equatorial currents into the Agulhas Current off the coast of Southeastern Africa.The Northern Indian Ocean lies within a large anticyclonic supergyre, northern Madagascar lies between this gyre and a cyclonic gyre in the northern Indian Ocean. There are eddies that originate in the Mozambique Channel and in the southern region of Madagascar that can affect the timing of the ring formation of the retroflection of the Agulhas Current.Mahajanga
Mahajanga [maːˈdzaŋɡə̥] (French: Majunga) is a city and an administrative district on the northwest coast of Madagascar.
Mahajanga is a favorite tourist destination for Malagasy tourists and international travelers, with beautiful beaches, a coconut-lined boardwalk ("Le Bord", short for "Bord de la mer" or sea-side), and eight months of hot, virtually rain-free weather.Mangoky River
The Mangoky River is a 564-kilometer-long (350 mi) river in Madagascar in the regions of Atsimo-Andrefana and Anosy. It rises in the Central Highlands of Madagascar just east of the city of Fianarantsoa. The river flows generally in a westerly direction out of the highlands, crosses the southern extension of the Bemaraha Plateau, reaches the coastal plain and its delta, and enters the Mozambique Channel north of the city of Morombe at 21.316667°S 43.533333°E / -21.316667; 43.533333.
Most of Madagascar has undergone serious deforestation during the last 40 years, chiefly from slash-and-burn practises by indigenous peoples. This loss of forest has led to extreme soil erosion in the Mangoky River basin, as evidenced by the many sandbars located within the river channel. Silt-laden, greenish-tan Lake Ihotry is clearly discernible south of the river. Between the lake and the coast is a rather large, whitish area of sand interspersed with silt-laden ponds. The southern portion of the delta is dominated by successive barrier island and spit formation. In contrast, the northern, protected portion of the delta is dominated by tidal passes and mangrove swamps.Mania River
The Mania River is a river in Madagascar that flows from the central mountains of the island, emptying into the Mozambique Channel. It flooded during the major cyclone in 2000 which killed many people.Mozambique Current
The Mozambique Current is an ocean current in the Indian Ocean, usually defined as warm surface waters flowing south along the African east coast in the Mozambique Channel, between Mozambique and the island of Madagascar.
The classical definition of the Mozambique Current is that it is a strong, steady, western boundary current. Modern research has challenged that assumption, and indicates that rather than a strong western boundary current, there are often a series of large anti-cyclonic eddies in the channel. Direct evidence for these eddies has been found in satellite altimetry data
, ship borne surveys
, and moored current meter records
These same current meter records, that were over two years in length, failed to show a strong, consistent current along the Mozambican coast, largely dispelling the notion of a steady Mozambique Current. Nonetheless, it is impossible to rule out the possibility that the Mozambique Current may appear intermittently, for short durations. Indeed, numerical model simulations in the Mozambique Channel show the appearance of a current on the Mozambican Coast, during periods between eddies.North Madagascar Current
The North Madagascar Current is an Ocean current near Madagascar. The Madagascar current is split into two current the North Madagascar Current and the East Madagascar Current (EMC). The North Madagascar Current (NMC) flows into the South Equatorial Current just North of Madagascar and is directed into the Mozambique Channel, this connects to the gyre’s equatorial currents into the Agulhas Current off the coast of Southeastern Africa.Onilahy River
Onilahy is a river in Toliara Province, southern Madagascar. It flows down from the hills near Betroka to the Mozambique Channel. It empties at St. Augustin (23.5666667°S 43.75°E / -23.5666667; 43.75), and into the Bay of Saint-Augustin.
Two species of cichlids are endemic to the river basin, but Ptychochromis onilahy is probably already extinct and the remaining range of Ptychochromoides betsileanus covers less than 10 square kilometres (3.9 sq mi).Pungwe River
Pungwe River (Portuguese: Rio Púngoè or Rio Púnguè) is a 400 km (250 mi) long river in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It rises below Mount Nyangani in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe and then flows southeasteastward through the Manica and Sofala provinces of Mozambique. the Pungwe enters southernmost portion of the Great Rift Valley, where it forms the southern boundary of Gorongosa National Park. The Urema River joins it, and the river follows the rift valley southward. Large seasonal wetlands form around the Pungwe and Urema rivers in the rift valley section. It empties into the Mozambique Channel at Beira, forming a large estuary. It is one of the major rivers of Mozambique and often causes floods.Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean
The Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean (French: Îles Éparses or Îles Éparses de l'océan Indien) consist of four small coral islands, an atoll, and a reef in the Indian Ocean, and have constituted the 5th district of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF) since February 2007. They have never had a permanent population. Two of the islands—Juan de Nova and Europa—and the Bassas da India atoll lie in the Mozambique Channel west of Madagascar, while a third island, Tromelin, lies about 450 kilometres (280 mi) east of Madagascar and the Glorioso Islands lies about 200 kilometres (120 mi) northwest of Madagascar. Also in the Mozambique Channel is the Banc du Geyser, a reef under French control claimed by Madagascar since 1976. France and the Comoros view the Banc du Geyser as part of the Glorioso Islands.
The islands have been classified as nature reserves. Except for Bassas da India, they all support meteorological stations: those on the Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova, and Europa Island are automated. The station on Tromelin Island, in particular, provides warning of cyclones threatening Madagascar, Réunion, or Mauritius. Each of the islands, except Bassas da India and Banc du Geyser, has an airstrip of more than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft).
Mauritius, the Comoros, and Madagascar dispute France's sovereignty over the islands. Mauritius claims Tromelin and argues that the island, discovered by France in 1722, was not ceded by the treaty of Paris in 1814. Madagascar claims sovereignty over the Glorioso Islands (Banc du Geyser included) despite the islands not having been a part of Malagasy Protectorate, but rather a part of colony of Mayotte and dependencies, then a part of French Comoros that had become a separately administered colony from Madagascar in 1946. The Comoros claims the Glorioso Islands (Banc du Geyser included) too, as a part of the disputed French region of Mayotte. Madagascar claims Juan de Nova, and Europa and Bassas da India since 1972. Seychelles claimed a part of Scattered Islands too before the France–Seychelles Maritime Boundary Agreement.Sunny South (clipper)
Sunny South, an extreme clipper, was the only full-sized sailing ship built by George Steers, and resembled his famous sailing yacht America, with long sharp entrance lines and a slightly concave bow. Initially, she sailed in the California and Brazil trades. Sold in 1859 and renamed Emanuela (or Manuela), she was considered to be the fastest slaver sailing out of Havana. The British Royal Navy captured Emanuela off the coast of Africa in 1860 with over 800 slaves aboard. The Royal Navy purchased her as a prize and converted her into a Royal Navy store ship, Enchantress. She was wrecked in the Mozambique Channel in 1861.Toliara
Toliara (also known as Toliary, [tuliˈar]; formerly Tuléar) is a city in Madagascar.
It is the capital of the Atsimo-Andrefana region, located 936 km southwest of national capital Antananarivo.
The current spelling of the name was adopted in the 1970s, reflecting the orthography of the Malagasy language. Many geographic place names, assigned French spellings during the colonial period, were altered following Malagasy independence in 1960.
The city has a population of 156,710 in 2013. As a port town it acts as a major import/export hub for commodities such as sisal, soap, hemp, cotton, rice and peanuts.