Beira is the capital of Sofala province, E central Mozambique. A commercial center, the city grew as the terminus of a railroad into the interior. Beira has handled the foreign trade of Congo (Kinshasa), Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi as well as of Mozambique. Rail service was interrupted by bombings during the war for Zimbabwean independence in the late 1970s and was ultimately halted as a result of the Mozambique civil war.
Established in 1884 as a Portuguese military base with a port and railway line it was designed to provide connectivity to the interior as well as to handle trade traffic from Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The city has undergone rapid growth and transformation since the country achieved independence in 1975. From a mere 215,000 inhabitants in 1980, it registered 409,260 in 1997.
Currently, urban population growth rate is at 6.4% per annum, one of the highest in Sub-Sahara Africa. A significant proportion of the rural migrants found safe heaven in squatter settlements within and on the urban fringe. As a result, more than 50% of the city's current urban households are squatters without access to basic infrastructure.
In 1983, the City attempted to address these challenges so as to improve economic opportunity while tackling the serious problem of squatter formation in the ecologically sensitive and poor infrastructures areas of the city by commissioning the Beira Structure Plan. However, the proposals were never adopted or implemented due to the impact of the civil war and insufficient human and financial resources.
Currently, the city has relative peace and stability. It is however faced with problems such as the need to expand employment opportunities, address challenges of insufficient drainage and sewerage systems, water shortages, power outages, deficient road infrastructure, inadequate shelter, and other failures in city management.
Attractions in the city include its cathedral, lighthouse and Macuti Beach. The city is also home to an airport and lies at the end of a railway line to Harare.
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