Kpwahele & Nɣurumba

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Kpwahele and Nɣurumba ( Gbene-mb.pngGbene-u.pngGbene-r.pngGbene-u.pngGbene-ngh.pngGbene-n.pngGbene-e.pngGbene-l.pngGbene-e.pngGbene-h.pngGbene-kpw.png; "Nɣurumba" is also written as "Nghurumba") is a small country in East Africa consisting of most of the Rvbuma (Ruvuma) delta (Kpwahele) and an island some 25 kilometers of the coast (Nɣurumba). The country is a former French colony, independent since 1982. With less than 45,000 inhabitants and a surface of some 221 km² it is the smallest country in Africa (followed by the Seychelles).


Kpwahele & Nɣurumba
country in Africa
Official name: Unified Democratic Republic
  of Kpwahele and Nɣurumba (UDRKN)
Adjective / demonym: Kpwanɣu;
Capital: Kpwahele
Population: 43,790 (1/1/2012)
Surface (density): 221 km² (198 inh./km²)
Official languages: Gbene; Swahili;
  French; Makonde
GDP (/capita): 201 mln (4,591) (US$; 2011)
Government: presidential republic
President: Muhanda-Ngene Kɣamu


The state of Kpwahele & Nɣurumba consists of two districts: Kpwahele district ( Gbene-e.pngGbene-l.pngGbene-e.pngGbene-h.pngGbene-kpw.png) and Nɣurumba district ( Gbene-mb.pngGbene-u.pngGbene-r.pngGbene-u.pngGbene-ngh.png). The former is most of the Rvbuma ( Gbene-m.pngGbene-u.pngGbene-b.pngGbene-v.pngGbene-r.png; Ruvuma) delta and is bordered on the west by Tanzania and the south by Mozambique. It takes up 89% of the country's surface, and is inhabited by 83% of its population. The second, much smaller district, consists of the island Nɣurumba itself, and a few uninhabited islands and islets.

The islands of Nɣurumba district are quite steep and rugged. The highest point in the country is the peak of Mpuru island ( Gbene-u.pngGbene-r.pngGbene-u.pngGbene-mp.png) in Nɣurumba district at 341m. Kpwahele district, on the other hand, is much lower and flatter. Many of the islands of Kpwahele district are marshy and surrounded by mangroves. Kpwahele island is the largest and highest. It is 57% of the country's land surface (at high tide), and houses 74% of the population most of which live in the capital Kpwahele. It was this island that was settled first, and that still is most suitable for agriculture. The other main islands of Kpwahele district are Nzaƨumbu ( Gbene-u.pngGbene-mb.pngGbene-u.pngGbene-zh.pngGbene-nz.png), which is connected to Kpwahele island at low tide; and Nkunda ( Gbene-nd.pngGbene-u.pngGbene-nk.png), which is home to the vast majority of tourist resorts in the country. Of the minor islands, Mpwanma ( Gbene-nm.pngGbene-mpw.png) and Bwantungu ( Gbene-u.pngGbene-ng.pngGbene-u.pngGbene-nt.pngGbene-bw.png) are the largest, but only the former is (sparsely) inhabited. Most of the uninhabited islands - in both districts - are national parks, and so are many of the mangroves and coral reefs.


Kpwahele & Nɣurumba has a tropical climate with temperatures rarely falling below 20°C. In December and January it is often between 25 and 30°C, while in May and August the temperature occasionally drops below 20°C. Nɣurumba is generally a bit cooler than Kpwahele thanks to wind. Most rain falls in the period from December to April, but the country is humid (and hot) throughout the year. During the main tourist season (summer on the Northern hemisphere) it is less hot and less humid than average.


On January 1, 2012, Kpwahele & Nɣurumba had approximately 43,790 inhabitants. This number is still growing due to a high birth rate, but immigration is currently small. Before independence, the country had less than 20,000 inhabitants, and slightly less than half of those were Gbene (Arabs were the second largest group at approximately one quarter). After independence, during the 1980s and 1990s, Gbene from all over southern Africa immigrated, almost doubling the population. Most of the French, on the other hand, left. Large scale immigration was halted by president Dzulagba Mbuƨu in 2001. Since then, immigrants need to have a job or official government invitation before they can get a residence permit (and they need a resident permit first for naturalization, in addition to other requirements.)

The following table shows the current ethnic distribution:

total Kpwahele district Nɣurumba district
Gbene 29,390 67.1% 25,075 68.7% 4,315 59.2%
Makonde 3,585 8.2% 3,250 8.9% 335 4.6%
other African 2,620 6.0% 2,080 5.7% 540 7.4%
Arab 4,495 10.3% 3,140 8.6% 1,355 18.6%
Chinese 990 2.3% 950 2.6% 45 .6%
Indian 720 1.6% 510 1.4% 210 2.9%
French 600 1.4% 440 1.2% 160 2.2%
other 1,390 3.2% 1,060 2.9% 330 4.5%
total 43,790 36,500 7,290

history and politics


Referencearrow.png Main Article: History of Kpwahele & Nɣurumba

Kpwahele & Nɣurumba was first settled in the beginning of the second millennium CE by Gbene 'nomads'. A few centuries later it became part of the Sultanate of Oman, which sold the two islands to France in 1841. In 1961 it became autonomous, followed by independence from France in 1982. Since then, the country has been ruled by the Revolutionary Party of the African National Union of Kpwahele and Nɣurumba (RANU) founded by Joseph-Nmawu Nkweza.

government and politics

Referencearrow.png Main Article: Politics of Kpwahele & Nɣurumba

Kpwahele & Nɣurumba is a presidential republic with a unicameral parliament of 23 seats. Current president is Muhanda-Ngene Kɣamu. He is a member of the Revolutionary Party of the African National Union of Kpwahele and Nɣurumba (RANU), which has been the ruling party in the country ever since its independence.

foreign affairs

Locations of embassies and their areas.

Kpwahele & Nɣurumba is a member of the African Union and the United Nations, and a founding member of the Exumbran Convention. Nevertheless, the country is very inactive in these fora because of its small size (and correspondingly small government budget). The president is also responsible for foreign affairs and rarely leaves the country, and there are only four ambassadors:

  • North and East Africa and the Middle East; embassy in Tanzania;
  • Southern and West Africa, African islands, and India; embassy in Mozambique;
  • East and South-East Asia (except India), and Oceania; embassy in China;
  • the rest of the world; embassy in France.


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Gbene language

Referencearrow.png Main Article: Gbene language

(summary to be added)

see also: Gbene names


Most of the population is nominally Muslim, but many mix Islam with various other beliefs, most importantly aspects of traditional Gbene witchcraft, and the local variety of Islam is best described as (very) liberal. Orthodox/fundamentalist Muslims are a negligibly small minority. Among the small educated elite, there is a larger atheist minority, and a small Christian minority. The Chinese and Indian minorities mostly adhere to Chinese religions and Hinduism respectively.

the arts

t.b.a. (folk art wood cuttings for export)

economy and society

Kpwahele & Nɣurumba is one of the smallest economies in the world with a GDP of 201 mln US$ (2011; 4,591 US$ per capita). In terms of GDP/capita, it seems relatively wealthy (in comparison with other East-African countries), but this is largely due to the fact that the country is strongly urbanized, and is, therefore, a mostly urban economy. In a comparison with other African cities (in the larger region), Kpwahele scores quite low, which is in turn explained by the fact that, although it is an urban economy, Kpwahele is a very small city. The country has experienced healthy economic growth in the last decade, mostly thanks to the growth of tourism, but also because harbor improvements facilitated growth of fishing and related industries.

harbor and fishery

Kpwahele is a (very) minor coastal trading port. The current harbor was largely constructed by China and is mostly used as a fishing port. Most important economically are shrimp and prawn, but many other kinds of fish are caught for the local and regional markets.


Spices (particularly cloves, and to a lesser extent also vanilla and cinnamon) used to be an important cash crop, but because of low prices on the world market, and a rising domestic demand for food (the import of which became more expensive than the profits of the export of spices) the agricultural sector is increasingly focusing on the local market.


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main imports and exports

Main exports: shrimp, prawns, fish products.

better known, but economically less important is the export of wood carvings similar to those made by the Makonde people (which includes Makonde wood carvings by the Makonde minority living mainly on Nzaƨumbu.

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transport and communication

There are few paved roads in Kpwahele & Nɣurumba, and private cars are scarce. Most common mode of transportation is walking. There is no public transportation aside from a regular and cheap, but slow, boat connection between Kpwahele and Nɣurumba, and less frequent boat connections between Kpwahele and Mtwara in Tanzania and Mocímboa da Praia in Mozambique (and even less frequently also with Moroni in Comoros).

The only daily newspaper in Kpwahele & Nɣurumba is Nkwele na Ɣuru (truth and liberty). It was originally founded in 1957 by Joseph-Nmawu Nkweza as the party newsletter of RANU, but became officially an independent newspaper in 1974.


(to be added)