This sprawling city of Mozambique was one of the most beautiful and fashionable cities on the African continent. Influenced largely by Portuguese colonial rule in the 18th century, its charm exists in a sophisticated international atmosphere, elegant buildings, and wide, shaded avenues.
Maputo, originally known as Lourenzo Marques before independence, became the capital of Mozambique in 1898 and the city established itself as a major trade and industry centre. Subsequently, it boasts the country's most important harbour.
Following decolonisation, the civil war which raged for 17 years during the 1970s and 80s had a devastating effect on Maputo. It reduced the proud city to a state of disrepair, with thousands of immigrants taking over from where the wealthy socialites left off.
The city has worked hard to recreate some of its former grandeur, with the five-star Polana Hotel once again abuzz with the gossip of the rich and famous. Restaurants will predictably be serving up the regions famous peri-peri prawns.
Today, Maputo is a lively mix of people, with lots of markets and street vendors, a vibrant café culture, buzzing nightclubs, and a relaxed pace of life. It's rundown and somewhat dilapidated, but Maputo can be a fun and interesting stop on a Mozambique holiday.
Many visitors are simply passing through on their way to popular coastal regions and islands like Inhaca, situated just off the coast and a popular spot for diving and snorkelling. It's worth spending at least a few hours strolling around the city.