Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique, is a country in Southeast Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. It is separated from Madagascar by the Mozambique Channel to the east. The capital and largest city is Maputo (known as “Lourenço Marques" before independence). After only two years of independence, the country descended into an intense and protracted civil war lasting from 1977 to 1992. In 1994, Mozambique held its first multiparty elections and has remained a relatively stable presidential republic. Mozambique is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world. The only official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, which is spoken mostly as a second language by about half of the population. Common native languages include Swahili, Makhuwa and Sena. The country’s population of around 24 million is composed overwhelmingly of Bantu people. The largest religion in Mozambique is Christianity, with significant minorities following Islam and African traditional religions.