Colonial State Formation Without Integration: Tax Capacity and Labour Regimes in Portuguese Mozambique (1890s-1970s) Articles uri icon

publication date

  • August 2017

start page

  • 215

end page

  • 252


  • 2


  • 62

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0020-8590

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1469-512X


  • Samir Amin (1972) divided the African continent into three "macro-regions of colonial influence" with distinct socio-economic systems and labour practices: Africa of the colonial trade or peasant economy, Africa of the concession-owning companies, and Africa of the labour reserves. We argue that Mozambique encompassed all three different "macro-regions" in a single colony. We reconstruct government revenue (direct/indirect taxes) raised at a district level between 1930 and 1973 and find persisting differences in the "tax capacity" of the three regions throughout the colonial period. The tax systems, we claim, developed in response to existing local geographic and economic conditions, particularly to labour practices. Portuguese colonial rule adapted to and promoted labour practices such as migration and forced labour to maximize revenue. The extent to which the lack of integration played a role in the post-colonial state and fiscal failure should be studied further.