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Beira is the fourth largest city in Mozambique. It lies in the central region of the country in Sofala Province, where the Pungwe River meets the Indian Ocean. Beira had a population of 397,368 in 1997, which grew to 533,825 in 2017. It holds the regionally significant Port of Beira which acts as a gateway for both the central interior portion of the country as well as the land-locked nations of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. Beira was originally developed by the Portuguese Mozambique Company in the 19th century, and directly developed by the Portuguese colonial government from 1947 until Mozambique gained its independence from Portugal in 1975.