Lourenço Marques is 296 nautical miles from Durban and 486 miles from Beira. It lies on the Bay of Espirito Santo (Delagoa Bay), a fine stretch of water 25¾ miles long by 22 miles broad which is entered on rounding Cape Inhaca (light). The vessel docks alongside a modern quay near the centre of the town.
Lourenço Marques is the terminus on the main line to Pretoria 352 miles, which crosses into the Transvaal at Komati River 55 miles inland.
The beautiful Polona Beach, on the eastern edge of the town, with its picturesque background of red cliffs and masses of luxurious vegetation, is one of the finest stretches of sand on the southern african coast.The cooler months are from May to September, and the town is a popular resort particularly for visitors from the Transvaal.
Lourenço Marques has much of the atmosphere of the Continent, with its boulevards, mosaic pavements, and open air cafes, and the cosmopolitan crowds seen in the streets. There are night-clubs both in Lourenço Marques and at points a few miles along the Beach Road.
Delagoa Bay was first visited by Europeans when one of Vasco da Gama’s captains put in there in 1502; and the town takes its name from Lourenço Marques, a Portuguese trader who settled in the vicinity in 1544. Over a long period, the Portuguese sent a vessel yearly to Delagoa Bay from Mozambique, but this was discontinued early in the eighteenth century.
A Dutch settlement in 1721 was withdrawn several years later after suffering very heavy losses from fever. A party of Austrian traders who established themselves in 1777 were expelled by the Portuguese in 1781 and in 1787 the Portuguese built and occupied a small fort on the site of the present town. During the last century, recurring disputes between the Portuguese and British regarding occupation of the territory led, in 1875, to the French President, Marshall MacMahon, being asked to arbitrate. His decision was in favour of Portugal.
The railway connecting Lourenço Marques with Pretoria was opened in 1895.
Principal shipments made at Lourenço Marques are coal, chrome ore, asbestos, copper, sugar, copra, sisal, vegetable oils and citrus.