Terrain shapes and bedrock
The Zambezi River with the Cabora Bassa Dam divides Mozambique into a low, southern part with a wavy surface and a plateau-like, higher part in the north and northwest. The former forms southern Africa’s largest coastal plain. North of Zambezi’s estuary, the coastal plain narrows, and there are rock pads and islands with bedrock from chalk and tertiary and numerous coral reefs. The inner plateau north of Zambezi lies at 150–600 m above sea level. and is composed mainly of Precambrian crystalline rocks. At the border with Zambia and Malawi, the terrain becomes mountainous. The highest peaks in northern Mozambique, e.g. Namuli (2,419 m asl), belongs to the southernmost horstberg of the East African rift system. The River Shire dewateres Lake Malawi to the south and falls into lower Zambezi. In central Mozambique, on the border with Zimbabwe, there are several mountain areas with high peaks such as Binga (2 436 m above sea level).
Among rivers that flow across the plain in the south are Save and Limpopo. The bedrock here in the south is from Precambrian times as well as from law, chalk and tertiary. Quaternary deposits cover most of the plains. The soil is mostly heavily leached, most fertile is the alluvial deposits of the river valleys.
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According to COUNTRYAAH, Mozambique has a tropical savannah climate and is affected to some extent by the warm Mozambique flow and the constant southeast passage. Precipitation falls mainly during November – April and amounts to 750 mm per year at Maputo, at Beira to 1,500 mm and in the highlands to the north to 2,000 mm per year. Tropical hurricanes can cause severe rainfall, but even severe droughts occur, especially in the south.
The annual average temperature in Maputo is 23 °C, while north of Zambezi the warmest month is 30 °C and the coldest 20 °C.
The vegetation consists mainly of open dry forests or savannas with thorny shrubs dominated by, among other things. several acacia species, the genus Brachysteʹgia, the term Terminaʹlia seriʹcea and several Combreʹtum species. The total number of vascular plant species has been estimated at approximately 5,500, of which just over 200 are endemic.
At higher altitude, especially along the border with Zimbabwe, there are areas of mountain rainforest, which are dominated by, among other things, Maeʹsa lanceolaʹta and Ceʹltis africaʹna as well as the conifers Widdringtoʹnia and Podocaʹrpus. Other types of evergreen forests that occur at the foot of the mountains house species from the genus Chrysophyʹllum, Manilkaʹra, Cussoʹnia, Diospyʹros and Kigeʹlia.
At the estuaries are mangroves with the genera Sonneraʹtia, Bruguieʹra and Rhizoʹphora. Further inland, the mangroves turn into marshlands that are not affected by salt water.
There are about 75 species of mammals in addition to rodents and bats, i.e. many of the typical African larger mammals. The savannas include leopard, lion, cheetah (though rare), serval, spotted hyena, striped jackal and scabra jackal. Giraffes are found just south of Zambezi, while common zebra, several species of large antelope, African buffalo and warthog are more prevalent. Tip rhinos and stubborn rhinos have been extirpated by hunting. African elephants are now rare, while steppe antlers (Maʹnis temmiʹncki) and ground pigs are common. There are no human monkeys in Mozambique. The most common monkeys are green markets and north of Zambezi savannah baby (Paʹpio cynoceʹphalus) and south of Zambezi chacmababian (Papio ursiʹnus). Dugong is rare in estuaries and along the coast.
Bird life is rich, especially on savannas and in river valleys, with many species of egrets, storks (including saddle-bark stork), birds of prey, cuckoo and bee-eaters, and many migratory birds from Eurasia in winter. On savannas and in forests there are cobras, mambas, rocky pythons and several species of turtles and in the rivers nil crocodile and hippopotamus. Along the coast there are coral reefs with rich wildlife.
Mozambique had six national parks in 2010, among others. Gorongosa northwest of Beira with from open savanna to closed forest and with a very rich big game fauna. In addition, there were eight other types of reserve. Supervision of protected areas is generally poor.