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Geographic framework
 
Mozambique is located in the tropical zone of the southeastern African margin between ~10-27º S latitude. The country encompasses over 800,000 km2 with a 2,500 km stretch of coast and a broad, undulating coastal plain bounded by mountainous areas along the border of Zimbabwe and South Africa. The Great Rift Valley terminates in northern Mozambique at the southern edge of Lake Niassa. Geologically, billion-year old Precambrian rocks comprise about half the country (Afonso et al. 1998; Cumbe 2007; King 1972; Lächelt 2004). Karoo volcanic rocks occur in parts of the north while Mesozoic and Cenozoic sediments underlie the southern part of Mozambique. In the latter area, the Mesozoic sediments include Jurassic and Cretaceous limestone. The Cenozoic beds also include Quaternary sediments that preserve Pleistocene soils and archaeological sites (Barradas 1945, 1947, 1955, 1964). Along the border of Swaziland and South Africa, the rhyolite and basalt bedrock of the Libombo Mountains form extensive scarps for shelter and raw material acquisition. Along the coast, Quaternary sand dunes with buried soils and shell middens occur. The best-known areas are in southern Mozambique around Maputo Bay, Inhaca Island and Bazaruto Island where deposits from the Last Interglacial-Glacial cycle have been reported (Achimo et al. 2003; Armitage et al. 2006; Barradas 1965).