SOFALA, a seaport town on the east coast of Africa, at the mouth of a river of the same name to the south of 20° S. lat., the seat of a Portuguese commandant. It is now a wretched place of about 1000 inhabitants, with not more than twenty European residents, and, as its port is obstructed with sandbanks, there is only a small coasting trade with Chiluan and Inhambane. But Sofala was formerly a town of considerable importance, with a harbour capable of holding a hundred large vessels. Previous to its conquest by the Portuguese in 1505 it was the chief and populous centre of a wealthy Mohammedan state ; and the first governors of the Portuguese East African possessions were entitled captains-general of Sofala. The identification of Sofala with Solomon's Ophir, to which Milton alludes (Par. Lost, xi. 399-401), is untenable.
See Bull. Geogr. Soc. Mozambique (1882) for an account of the Softila mines ; and, generally, EcInsi, Climate i., 8th section ; Dapper ; Baines, The Gold Regions of South Africa (1877); and Burton's notes to his edition of Camoens.