Mozambique, which gained independence from Portugal in 1975, is still suffering from the effects of a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992.
Tensions remain between the ruling Frelimo party and the opposition former rebel movement Renamo and corruption has become a major concern.
The discovery of gas fields off Mozambique's coast in 2011 is set to transform the economy of one of Africa's poorest nations.
But despite recent economic growth, more than half of Mozambique's 24 million people continue to live below the poverty line.
The Republic of Mozambique
Population 29.5 million
Area 812,379 sq km (313,661 sq miles)
Languages Portuguese (official), several indigenous languages, including Makhuwa
Major religions Christianity, indigenous beliefs, Islam
Life expectancy 56 years (men), 60 years (women)
President: Filipe Nyusi
Filipe Nyusi, of the ruling party Frelimo party, was sworn in as president in January 2015, and was inaurugated for a final five-year term in 2020.
Two months later he succeeded former president Armando Guebuza as party leader, representing a change in guard in Frelimo, which has dominated politics in Mozambique since it won independence from Portugal in 1975.
During his election campaign, Mr Nyusi pledged to transform Mozambique, one of Africa's poorest nations.
He presides over a country on the cusp of tapping newly discovered offshore gas fields that could transform Mozambique's economy, although an Islamist insurgency in the far north has raised questions about the state's ability to guarantee security.
Television is a key medium. State-run radio operates alongside private FM stations.
Print media have limited influence.
Journalists who upset the authorities risk intimidation and threats and self-censorship is commonplace, says Reporters Without Borders.
Some key dates in Mozambique's history:
1752 - Portugal colonizes Mozambique.
1891 - Portugal hands over the administration of the region to the Mozambique Company, a private business.
1962-74 Independence struggle: Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) formed.
1975 - Independence: Frelimo rules under single-party system with leader Samora Machel as president.
1976-92 - Civil war.
1986 - President Machel is killed in an air crash, Joachim Chissano installed as president.
1990 - Constitution amended allowing multi-party system.
1992 - UN-brokered peace deal ends fighting between Frelimo and the rebel Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo).
1994 - First multi-party elections, Joachim Chissano is re-elected president.
2004 - President Joaquim Chissano steps down after 18 years in office, succeeded by Armando Guebuza.
2011 - Discovery of natural gas set to transform Mozambique's economic landscape.
2015 - Mozambique declares itself free of landmines, a legacy of the civil war.
2017 - An Islamist insurgency begins in the north, putting the development of offshore gas fields.