WELCOME TO MOZAMBIQUE

We welcome you with open arms and hearts and the warmest, widest of smiles, excited to invite you to our homes. Come and experience our hospitality wherever you go and get in touch with our wide variety of fascinating cultures and local traditions. Our people are ready to show you our country’s natural wonders, draw you into the rhythm and soul of Africa, give you close encounters with our regal wildlife and take you on an unforgettable journey through our ancient and recent past.

We guarantee you will have incredible stories to tell …

MOZAMBIQUE FAST FACTS

Geography

Mozambique is located in south-eastern Africa, bordering South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania. Mozambique has a beautiful (2500km) coastline with abundant islands and picture perfect beaches and reefs.

Area: Mozambique covers an area of 801,590sq km slightly less than twice the size of California, US and slightly more than Turkey.

Capitals

Maputo

Political system

Almost five centuries as a Portuguese colony came to a close with independence in 1975. Large-scale emigration, economic dependence on South Africa, a severe drought, and a prolonged civil war hindered the country’s development until the mid 1990s. The ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) party formally abandoned Marxism in 1989, and a new constitution the following year provided for multiparty elections and a free market economy. A UN-negotiated peace agreement between Frelimo and rebel Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) forces ended the fighting in 1992. In December 2004, Mozambique underwent a delicate transition as Joaquim Chissano stepped down after 18 years in office. His elected successor, Armando Emilio Guebuza, promised to continue the sound economic policies that have encouraged foreign investment. President Guebuza was reelected to a second term in October 2009. However, the elections were flawed by voter fraud, questionable disqualification of candidates, and Frelimo use of government resources during the campaign.

Economy

At independence in 1975, Mozambique was one of the world’s poorest countries. Socialist mismanagement and a brutal civil war from 1977-92 exacerbated the situation. In 1987, the government embarked on a series of macroeconomic reforms designed to stabilize the economy. These steps, combined with donor assistance and with political stability since the multi-party elections in 1994, have led to dramatic improvements in the country’s growth rate. In spite of these gains, Mozambique remains dependent upon foreign assistance for more than half of its annual budget, and the majority of the population remains below the poverty line. Subsistence agriculture continues to employ the vast majority of the country’s work force and smallholder agricultural productivity and productivity growth is weak. Mozambique grew at an average annual rate of 9% in the decade up to 2007, one of Africa’s strongest performances. However, heavy reliance on aluminum, which accounts for about one-third of exports, subjects the economy to volatile international prices. In an attempt to contain the cost of living, the government implemented subsidies, decreased taxes and tariffs, and instituted other fiscal measures.

Tourism

For the past couple of years, Mozambique was said to be one of the leading tourist destinations in Southern Africa. Warm weather, ample sunshine and vast beaches have made this country a traveler’s paradise. However, a barbarous civil war, droughts, famine, floods and other natural calamities have badly affected Mozambique Tourism for certain periods of time. But currently, it has again started giving special emphasis to the tourism business.

Population

The total population in Mozambique was last recorded at 26.5 million people in 2014 from 7.7 million in 1960, changing 246 percent during the last 50 years. Nearly the total population (99.66%) is made up of indigenous tribal groups, including the Shangaan, Chokwe, Manyika, Sena, and Makua. Overall, there are 10 major ethnic clusters. The largest, residing north of the Zambezi, is the Makua-Lomwé group, representing about 37% of the total population. The Yao (Ajawa) live in Niassa Province. The Makonde live mainly along the Rovuma River. Other northern groups are the Nguni (who also live in the far south) and the Maravi. South of the Zambezi, the main group is the Tsonga (about 23%), who have figured prominently as Mozambican mine laborers in South Africa. The Chopi are coastal people of Inhambane Province. The Shona or Karanga (about 9%) dwell in the central region. Also living in Mozambique are EuroAfricans, accounting for about 0.2% of the population; Europeans, make up 0.06%; and Indians, constitute 0.08%.

Currency

The unit of currency in Mozambique is the meticais (M) which is divided into 100 centavos. If you are travelling in the southern parts of the country, South African Rands, US dollars and pounds sterling are also accepted and can be used to pay for accommodation. North of Beira US dollars and sterling are widely accepted.
Private exchange bureaus in Maputo usually offer better exchange rates than banks. Changing money on the black market is strongly discouraged.

Climate

Mozambique has a warm, tropical climate, although there are regional differences in climate throughout Mozambique, the highest temperatures are during the rainy season (November to April). April to November form Mozambique’s Dry Season, when temperatures are more comfortable. February is traditionally a windy month in Mozambique.

Communications

general assessment: a fair telecommunications system that is shackled with a heavy state presence, lack of competition, and high operating costs and charges
domestic: stagnation in the fixed-line network contrasts with rapid growth in the mobile-cellular network; mobile-cellular coverage now includes all the main cities and key roads, including those from Maputo to the South African and Swaziland borders, the national highway through Gaza and Inhambane provinces, the Beira corridor, and from Nampula to Nacala; extremely low fixed-line teledensity; despite significant growth in mobile-cellular services, teledensity remains low at about 35 per 100 persons

Provinces

Maputo; Gaza; Inhambane; Sofala; Manica; Zambezia; Tete; Nampula; Capo Delgado and Niassa.

National Symbols

The Mozambique flag was officially adopted in May 1983.
Green is symbolic of the fertile land, red the struggle for independence, yellow the country’s mineral resources, white signifies peace and black represents the African continent. The official emblem of Mozambique is displayed on the red triangle. The national emblem of Mozambique was adopted in 1990, and is composed of a gear wheel surrounded by corn stalks and sugarcane.
An AK-47 and hoe are crossed over a red sun and blue waves, representing defense, agriculture and the building of new life. The red star above symbolizes the spirit of international solidarity.

Languages

Portuguese remains the official language. It is spoken as a first language by only about 8.8% of the population and as a second language by about 27%. Different African ethnic groups speak their respective languages and dialects. The most prominent of these are Emakhuwa, spoken by about 26.1% of the population; Xichangana, by 11.3% of the population; Elomwe, by 7.6%; Cisena, 6.8%; and Echuwabo, 5.8%.

Religions

After independence the government, led by the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique; Frelimo), presented conflicting messages regarding religion. Although it confirmed a policy of open and free religious affiliation, Frelimo actively persecuted the country’s more than 20,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, and its overall political and ideological emphasis discouraged religious expression and organization. By the end of the 1980s, however, Frelimo had changed its approach, and religious organizations began to reemerge as an important popular force.
Almost half of the people now practice traditional religions, while about two-fifths adhere to some form of Christianity, and fewer than one-fifth are Muslims. Although Islamic communities are found in most of Mozambique’s cities, Muslims constitute the majority in only the northern coastal region between the Lúrio and Rovuma rivers.

Water

All tap water in Mozambique should be assumed to be unsafe to drink; even if it is not harmful it usually has some sediment that your stomach will not be used to. Most western oriented lodgings either provide a fresh water source or sell bottled water.

Animals and Plants

Thick forest covers the wet regions, where there are fertile soils, but the drier interior, which has sandy or rocky soils, supports only a thin savanna vegetation. Extensive stands of hardwood, such as ebony, flourish throughout the country. Mozambique has elephants, buffalo, wildebeests, zebras, palapalas, hippopotamuses, lions, crocodiles, nyalas, and other southern African game species. As of 2002, there were at least 179 species of mammals, 144 species of birds, and over 5,600 species of plants throughout the country.

Electricity

In Mozambique the standard voltage is 220 V. The standard frequency is 50 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type C / F / M

Airports

Vilankulo Airport in Vilanculos
Vilankulo Airport Aeroporto de Vilankulo is one of Mozambique’s International Airports utilised by LAM- Mozambique Airlines and Pelican Air Services for incoming and outbound flights from Johannesburg and Maputo to Vilankulo and the Bazaruto Island Archipelago.

Maputo International Airport in Maputo

Maputo International Airport, sometimes called Lourenço Marques Airport or Mavalane International Airport, is situated 3 km northwest of central Maputo. Mozambique’s largest airport is the centre for LAM Mozambique Airlines and Kaya Airlines, servicing regular flights within Africa. TAP Portugal offers flights to Lisbon in Portugal.

Beira Airport in Beira

Beira Airport supports scheduled international services by LAM- Mozambique Airlines (Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique) between Johannesburg, Dar Es Salam, Nairobi, Maputo, Nampula, Quelimane, Tete, Vilanculos and South African Airways to Johannesburg.

Travel by Road and Rail

In order to enter Mozambique by car you will need the original registration documents and if it is not your vehicle a letter from the owner granting permission to take the vehicle in to Mozambique. All foreign vehicles are required to have 3rd party insurance, which is available at many borders for R150, and also to pay road tax which is currently 26.50 Mts. Roads throughout the country are generally in poor condition, especially when compared to South Africa, although the stretch of the EN1 between Maputo and Inchope is in decent condition with the exception of the 120 km directly north of Vilankulo, which is still in decrepit condition and poses a serious challenge to any driver in a low clearance vehicle. The EN6 between the Machipanda border crossing with Zimbabwe and Inchope is in good condition, but deteriorates considerably between Inchope and Beira, becoming almost impassable at points. Note also that north of Vilankulo service stations are scarce – motorists may go 150 km between service stations so fill up at every opportunity.

There is only one train line in Mozambique, which connects Nampula with Cuamba (near the Malawi border). The train carries first, second and third class passengers and is usually packed.From Nampula, the train leaves around 5-6AM, although you should arrive earlier to buy tickets from the booking office at the station. The area is packed with people traveling towards Malawi so expect queues. Once on board the journey is long and slow but fairly efficient and will get to Cuamba mid-afternoon. From here chapas will take you to the border (Entre Lagos) as only freight trains use this bit of the line. Be warned that even hardened African travelers will likely find this stretch of road very rough – expect it to take a fair amount of time.

Entry requirements

All visitors (except citizens of Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe) need a visa. Until recently they could be obtained on arrival at some airports (Maputo, Vilankulo and Pemba), at some land borders and at Mozambican (and some British) embassies/high commissions/consulates. In August 2014 the US Embassy in Maputo has advised all travelers to obtain a visa prior to arrival, because the visas on arrival will no longer be available. Travelers lacking visas will be deported. Land borders may also charge a stamping fee on entry, which is generally US$2, but is often waived if you buy your visa at the border. In addition, you must use the visa forms provided at the consulate or border as self-printed versions will not be accepted; at borders, these are free, but Mozambican embassies/consulates generally charge US$1 for the form. A tourist visa is valid for 90 days after issue and permits a 30 day stay. This can be extended by a further 30 days at immigration offices in provincial capitals, but given the risk of passport theft, it is much safer to exit via a land border and re-enter to obtain a new visa.

There is a USD $100 a day fine for overstaying a visa.

Health and safety

Medical facilities and supplies of medicine are limited throughout the country. Only basic medical care is available locally and any serious condition necessitates an evacuation to South Africa. Physicians and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for medical care.

Unfortunately, Mozambique is still burdened by measles, a disease virtually eradicated in developed countries thanks to early vaccination. In June 2011, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention in acted a measles alert for Mozambique. Malaria and dengue fever are problems in all regions of the country at all times, but the risks spike in the rainy season of November to May.

There is also the low but rising threat of African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), which is transmitted by the tsetse fly. As the name suggests, it makes the victims feel uncontrollable drowsiness, but also insomnia at night along with fever, headache, and mood swings.

Not a health risk but a safety one: cyclones occasionally hit the coastal areas during the rainy season. They can get vicious and destroy homes, schools, hospitals, flood cities, and leave thousands homeless. Seek sturdy shelter in case of one and follow alerts from your embassy.

Risks are much the same as many other countries in Africa (and significantly less than some, including parts of South Africa). Nevertheless muggings, robberies, rape and murder do occur, so the normal precautions should be taken. Women absolutely should never walk alone on beaches. In particular it’s worth checking with local hostels and other travellers as to where dangerous areas are.

But in general the Mozambican people are extremely warm and friendly and you will encounter far less hassle than in almost all of the countries surrounding it.

Violence between FRELIMO and RENAMO has erupted recently, with many South African tourists having been attacked. The violence is only evident north of Vilanculos. If you stay south of this, you should be clear of any violence. Consult your local Ministry of Foreign Affairs for further information and to ensure that travel to Mozambique is still safe. It is advised that your report your presence to your country’s embassy in Maputo or consulate in another major city upon your arrival in Mozambique.

The police in Mozambique should be looked at with a wary eye, and placing trust in them should only be done as a very last resort.

Insisting on being taken to a police station is unlikely to improve your situation, with the exception of Maputo. The police have been known to rob tourists blind and throw them in a cell. Instead, mention contacting your embassy or the anti-corruption hot line to verify a fine, and always ask for a receipt.
If you have cause to go to a police station (e.g., filing a police report for insurance purposes after a theft) do not take any valuables or excessive currency with you, and try to always go with someone else.

Some useful information on Travelling in Mozambique

Credit Cards: Very important: Please never leave your credit card out of sight, under no circumstances. Credit cards are usually accepted at more upmarket hotels, but apart from this and ATM’s your credit card will be of little use.

Cash withdrawal: There is very little black market currency exchange, since the commercial exchanges offer the best market rate. You cannot exchange meticais outside Mozambique, but you can convert them back at exchanges prior to leaving the country. Also you cannot buy meticais outside Moçambique.
ATMs are present throughout the country; Standard, Millennium Bim, BCI, ProCredit and Barclays are the brands you are most likely to run in to. Standard accepts Visa & Mastercard, Millennium accepts all international cards including Maestro/Cirrus cards while Barclays doesn’t seem to accept any cards with great regularity. ATMs have transaction limits on withdrawals, which vary with the bank. Millennium Bim limits withdrawals to 3,000 Mts, BCI to 5,000 and Standard Bank to 10,000; you can always insert your card again to withdraw more money.

Very important: Please never accept any help from strangers

Banking Hours in Mozambique: Local banks have branches in most cities which are open from Monday to Friday, from 07:45 to 11:00 or 12:00. The main banks include Banco Commercial de Mozambique (BCM) and Banco Popular de Desenvolvimento (BPD), which both have branches throughout the country, as well as Banco Standard Totta.

Fuelling (gas) stations: accept cash only. Most of the bigger towns have fuelling stations available. When travelling between towns, fill your gas tank at every station, as distances between gas stations are great.

Animals on roads:

  • Take special care near animal crossing warning signs or signs warning of the absence of fences. The signs are there for a reason.
  • If you see one animal, expect that there are others nearby.
  • Use your high beams whenever possible. They will give you more time to spot and react to animals in the road.
  • Slowing down a little gives you and the animal more time to react – Be especially cautious at night

Shopping hours in Mozambique

Maputo is the metropolitan area in Mozambique and you will find many shops/restaurants open on weekends. However, outside the capital, most of these will close at noon on Saturday, only to open on Monday at 8 am. It can be quite inconvenient to shop after business hours as shops remain open only from 0800 to noon and then 1400-1730 hours, closing during lunch hours and afterwards. The exception to this is beer, you can buy beer anywhere and at anytime. Just listen to loud music blaring and follow it to find Mozambicans enjoying the brew and dancing.

Hitchhikers: It is not suggested that you pick up hitchhikers on any road in Mozambique.

Stolen Items: Should you be so unfortunate as to have a personal item stolen from your person or vehicle, please report to the nearest police station, where you will receive a claim number, and which can be used for insurance purposes.

Useful telephone numbers

Mozambique Police Service Emergency Number 119
Medical (Ambulance services) 117
Emergency Fire Department 198

Health & Safety tips on your tour in Mozambique

Sun protection

Visitors should wear a waterproof SPF sunscreen of at least 20 for the body and 30 for the face. Children and those with fair skin should wear SPF50 and hat especially between 11am and 4pm, reapplying frequently, especially after swimming. Sunglasses are also recommended as the African sun glare is also strong. Even on days when there is cloud cover, the same precautions should be taken, as the sun’s rays are magnified through the cloud. There’s no point in getting badly sunburned and then not enjoying your holiday to the fullest.

Ticks

Generally out in the early spring can be found in long grasses and trees. They may carry tick-bite fever, however it is easily treated. To help protect yourself, wear long trousers tucked into white socks, making the ticks more visible, and a hat to protect against ticks falling from trees. Always check your clothing and body for ticks, especially the legs, behind the knees, groin area, as well as the scalp and behind the ears.

Bilharzia

Avoid drinking or swimming in stagnant water that is not flowing or inhabited by fresh water snails. Chlorinated swimming pools are considered safe.

Dengue Fever

A viral illness that is transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. The mosquito that spreads dengue bites during the day and is more common in urban areas. Symptoms include fever, headache, severe joint, bone and muscular pain – hence its other name ‘breakbone fever’. There is no vaccine and prevention is through avoidance of mosquito bites.