Mozambique, One of the jewels of Africa

 

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Map of Mozambique's location in Africa
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Currency: 1 Metical (MZM) = 100 centavos
Capital: Maputo
Time: GMT +2
Main Languages: Portuguese
Climate: Tropical warm
Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz. The rounded three-pin plug

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Mozambique is situated on the south eastern coast of Africa. In the 1700s, the Portuguese were attracted by rumours of pearls. The capital city of Lourenco Marques was established in the southern reaches of the country. Today it is known as Maputo. 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.

Mozambique has persevered through violent civil war and terrible floods, and is slowly emerging from its ruinous past to once again stake its claim as one of the jewels of Africa. During the war of the 1970s and 80s, Maputo fell into a dismal state of disrepair, however it has worked hard to recreate some of its former glory, and today the bustling capital reveals many restored Portuguese-style colonial buildings, and offers culture and old world charm, along with numerous places to enjoy Mozambique's famous peri-peri prawns.

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 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.

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.

Currency

1 Metical (MZM) = 100 centavos. The official currency is the Metical (MZM), which is divided into 100 centavos. From January 2006 the currency will lose the last three zeros; a transition period will be in effect as the new bank notes come into circulation and both notes will continue to be used during this time. 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 Travelers cheques. ATMs are limited and tend to be unreliable, but local banks have branches in most cities.

Health

Visitors require a yellow fever certificate if travelling from infected areas. Malaria is a risk throughout the year in the whole country and is reported to be resistant to chloroquine. It is recommended that visitors take precautions against typhoid, bilharzia, hepatitis and cholera in particular. AIDS/HIV is prevalent. Diseases caused by unsanitary conditions are common throughout the country, and untreated water should be considered unsafe to drink. Hospital facilities are generally poor and outside the major cities of Maputo and Beira medical facilities are limited. Comprehensive medical insurance is essential.

Language

Portuguese is the official language. Many local African languages, such as Tsonga, Sena Nyanja, Makonde and Macua, are also spoken.

Tipping

Tipping is generally not expected, although in tourist areas a tip of 10 to 15% is appreciated.

Geography and Climate

The climate of Mozambique is typically tropical, with a wet season during summer, between October and March, and a dry season from April to September. There is little variation of temperatures between the seasons, differences confined being dependent on altitude. The wet season brings the heaviest rain along the coast, and cyclones are also experienced during this period.

Religion

A large portion of the population are Protestant and Roman Catholic with a minority following indigenous beliefs and Islam. People enjoy freedom of religion.

Entry Requirements

Visitors must have all tickets and documents necessary for return or onward journeys, as well as sufficient funds for their duration of stay. If coming for business or touristic purposes, a visa can be obtained on arrival (at airport only).

Internal Transport

Travel within the country can be conducted by road on good tar surfaces between major centres. For acccess to wilderness areas. air charter flights are the most convenient, or, in the case of very remote sites, 4X4 vehicles.