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Quelimane ([keliˈmani]) is a seaport in Mozambique. It is the administrative capital of the Zambezia Province and the province's largest city, and stands 25 km (16 mi) from the mouth of the Rio dos Bons Sinais (or "River of the Good Signs"). The river was named when Vasco da Gama, on his way to India, reached it and saw "good signs" that he was on the right path. The town was the end point of David Livingstone's west-to-east crossing of south-central Africa in 1856. Portuguese is the official language of Mozambique, and many residents of the areas surrounding Quelimane speak Portuguese. The most common local language is Chuabo. Quelimane, along with much of Zambezia Province, is extremely prone to floods during Mozambique's rainy season. The most recent bout of severe flooding took place in January 2007.
The town originated as a Swahili trade centre, and then grew as a slave market. Quelimane was founded by Muslim traders (see Kilwa Sultanate) and was one of the oldest towns in the region.
The origins of the name 'Quelimane' are obscure. One tradition alleges that Vasco da Gama, in 1498, inquired about the name of the place from some inhabitants laboring in the fields outside the settlement. Thinking he was asking what they were doing, they simply replied kuliamani ('we are cultivating').
An alternative explanation is that when the Portuguese reached the settlement, they were welcomed by a notable Arab, or half Arab, who acted as interpreter between them and the natives. The name which the Portuguese applied to this individual, and his settlement, was 'Quelimane' (pronounced Kelimãn), because in the corrupt Arabic spoken on the East African coast 'Kalimãn' is the word for 'Interpreter'. In Swahili it is 'Mkalimani'.
In the 16th century, the Portuguese founded a trading station at Quelimane, and until 1853 trade was forbidden to any other than Portuguese. Sisal plantations were organized by German planters in the beginning of the 20th century. The town started to grow and attracted several communities from different backgrounds, including Muslims and Indians, and new infrastructure was built by the Portuguese authorities. Its busy port had tea, grown and processed in the district of Zambézia (particularly important in the region around Gurúè, former Vila Junqueiro), as its major export. Coconut was also produced and transformed in the city. By 1970, Quelimane, Portuguese Mozambique, had 71,786 inhabitants.
Mozambique became independent from Portugal in 1975, after the April 1974 Carnation Revolution at Lisbon. Although its location on the Rio dos Bons Sinais is less important today than in the past, Quelimane remains a major town with a large hospital, two cathedrals, a mosque, and a public university for teachers. Due to its heat, humidity, and distance from the beach, Quelimane is not among Mozambique's major tourist destinations. However, its status as a provincial capital and the fourth-largest city in Mozambique and the increasing ease of access by plane (Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique runs flights) and road contribute to a small but relatively steady stream of visitors. In addition, Quelimane is home to branches of many NGOs, including World Vision International, Heifer International, and Save the Children UK. Frequent visits from foreign aid consultants, workers, and government officials also contribute to the economy, and the city received a further boost when Quelimane hosted the Ninth Annual Frelimo Party Convention in November 2006. After decades of municipal decline, the current mayor, Manuel de Araujo, is reportedly overseeing a renewed civic effort at economic and infrastructural restoration .
Quelimane is twinned with: Le Port Réunion