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Country Overview - Mozambique


About Mozambique

Situated on the south-eastern coast of Africa, Mozambique has persevered through a violent civil war and terrible floods, and is emerging from a ruinous past to once again stake its claim as one of the jewels of Africa.
The 1,500 miles (2,500km) of palm-fringed coastline is washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and graced with long white beaches, excellent coral reefs and strings of pristine islands.
The idyllic Bazaruto archipelago, off the coast of the Inhambane province, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, consisting of four main islands that make up one of the most beautiful places on the continent. The islands offer a classic tropical getaway, with superb fishing, water sports, shaded beaches, surf, and a marine park offering outstanding diving and snorkelling opportunities.
Attracted by rumours of pearls in the 1700s, the Portuguese established the capital city of Lourenzo Marques, or Maputo as it is known today, in the southern reaches of the country.
It became one of the most stylish cities in Africa, with broad avenues lined with jacaranda and acacia trees, sidewalks paved with mosaics, tall buildings and a unique Mediterranean/African atmosphere that attracted a wealthy cosmopolitan crowd. The civil war left the city in a dismal state of disrepair, and although still tainted by shabbiness, Maputo is slowly recovering some of its former glory, and today the bustling capital reveals many Portuguese-style colonial buildings, and offers culture and old world charm, along with numerous places to enjoy Mozambique's famous peri-peri prawns.
Lying just off the coast of Maputo is the popular Inhaca Island, which has extensive coral reefs, a fascinating maritime museum and historical lighthouse.
Most of the wildlife reserves are located in the central and southern parts of the country, with the exception of the important Niassa Reserve on the northern Tanzania border, and although largely decimated during the civil war, they are currently being restocked and improved with large populations of elephant, buffalo and antelope. North of Maputo there are beautiful beaches and a number of centres that offer some of the best fishing in the world, particularly the areas around Guinjata Bay and the Mozambique Channel.

The Basics

Time: Local time is GMT +2.

Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. The rounded three-pin plug is common, particularly near the border with South Africa and in Maputo. Two round- and flat-pin plugs are also found.

Money: The official currency is the New Metical (MZN), which is divided into 100 centavos. In the southern parts of the country, South African Rand, US Dollars and Pounds Sterling are also accepted to pay for accommodation. Credit cards are accepted in some upmarket hotels in Maputo, but facilities throughout the rest of the country are limited; it is advisable to carry cash or travellers cheques. ATMs are limited and tend to be unreliable, but local banks have branches in most cities.

Currency Exchange Rates
MZN1.00 = US$ 0.04
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Portuguese is the official language, and there are 13 main national languages spoken.
English is taught in secondary schools, but is only spoken in the southern tourist regions.

Entry requirements for Americans: United States passport holders require a passport and a visa.
Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans must have a passport, but a visa is not required for a stay of up to 30 days.

Passport/Visa Note: If coming for business or touristic purposes, a visa can be obtained on arrival at the airport valid for a maximum of 30 days, however it is strongly recommended that visitors apply for visas in advance due to frequent problems with the visa service on arrival. Visa applicants must submit the original passport that should be valid at least 6 months from date of submission and have at least 1 blank page for visa stamp (amendment pages are not acceptable). Visitors must have all tickets and documents necessary for return or onward journeys, as well as sufficient funds for their duration of stay. Any visitor who has been to a country where yellow fever exists (list on WHO) must present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate on arrival, or face vaccination at a cost.

Travel Health: Health regulations in Mozambique require visitors to have a yellow fever certificate if travelling from infected areas. Malaria is a risk throughout the year in the whole country. Cholera and other water-borne diseases are prevalent during the rainy season. Diseases caused by unsanitary conditions are common throughout the country, and untreated water should be considered unsafe to drink. The government has declared tuberculosis (TB) a national emergency and it is expected to be a problem for the next 15 years. Hospital facilities are generally poor and outside the major cities of Maputo and Beira medical facilities are limited. Comprehensive medical insurance is essential and it is recommended that visitors carry personal medical supplies with them.

Tipping: Tipping in Mozambique is not customary, although in tourist areas a tip of 10% is expected.
Safety Information: Safety in Mozambique is not usually an issue for visitors. However, many unexploded landmines lie scattered about the country and visitors are advised that it is extremely risky to wander off well-travelled paths and roads; local information should be sought before going off-road outside provincial capitals. Violent crime is on the increase, including car hijackings and armed robbery. In the cities, particularly Maputo, muggings, bag snatching and pick-pocketing is common, and visitors are advised to be alert in public places, to keep valuables out of sight and to avoid walking anywhere at night. Identity documents should be carried at all times. All visitors, especially women, should not walk alone on any beach in Mozambique as there have been several severe attacks (and rapes) on tourists. Overland travel after dark is not recommended and travellers should be especially alert when driving near the Mozambique-South African border. Police checkpoints are common and foreigners are at risk of frequent harassment. Many roads can become impassable in the rainy season (November to April), when there is also a risk of cyclones.

Local Customs: Taking photographs of public buildings is prohibited by law. Identity documents should be carried at all times.

Business: Mozambique has largely been cut off from foreign investment and has only in recent years started opening up to the worldwide business community. Conducting business in Mozambique can be difficult as many people only speak Portuguese, or their own ethnic language. Translators are hard to come by, and most are found in Maputo. Generally business in Mozambique follows the Portuguese model in terms of business etiquette - punctuality is important, dress is usually conservative (though lightweight materials are recommended). Women, in particular, should dress conservatively and modest behaviour is encouraged. Meetings usually start and end with a handshake, and business cards are exchanged. Business hours are usually 7.30am or 8am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

Communications: The international dialling code for Mozambique is +258. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). City/area codes are also in use, e.g. (0)1 for Maputo, (0)22 Xai Xai. Outgoing international calls, other than for South Africa, must go through the operator. Two mobile phone GSM 900/1800 networks provide limited coverage in and around Maputo, Beira, some coastal locations and a few other isolated towns. Internet cafes are available in Maputo.

Duty Free: Travellers to Mozambique may enter the country with the following items and not incur customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 250g tobacco, perfume for personal use, and 750ml of spirits. Drugs are strictly prohibited and a permit is required for firearms and ammunition.

Two main seasons, one wet and the other dry, divide the climatic year. The wet season, from November to March, has a monthly average temperature of between 26.6C and 29.4C (80F and 85F), with cooler temperatures in the interior uplands. The dry season lasts from April to October and has June and July temperatures averaging 18.4 to 20C (65 - 68F). The average annual rainfall is greatest (about 56 inches) over the western hills and the central areas, and lowest in the Zambezi lowlands averaging 16 to 32 inches.

Attractions Mozambique offers visitors numerous things to see and do, as well as dozens of beaches that are perfect for just lazing around on... See the enormous sand dunes and freshwater lakes of Bazaruto Island, or visit Benguerra Island's forests and wetlands. History enthusiasts will enjoy Maputo's Museum of the Revolution or the historic lighthouse on Inhaca Island.

Other attractions include Africa's second largest artificial lake, Cahora Bassa, and 'the place where Noah parked his Ark', Gorongosa National Park. Go horse riding on the beach in Vilanculos, or scuba diving in its turquoise waters, and take a trip on a Pemba Bay dhow. Ponta d'Ouro is good for swimming with dolphins, or surfing one of the most perfect waves in the world!

The best time to visit Mozambique is during the spring, from about August to November, when the weather is at its most pleasant (comfortable temperatures and some short rain storms).

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