Mozambique Country Guide

The Republic of Mozambique is situated on the southeast coast of Africa along the Indian Ocean. It is surrounded by Tanzania in the north, Malawi and Zambia in the northwest, Zimbabwe in the west and Swaziland and South Africa in the southwest. It was discovered by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1498, and was colonized by Portugal in 1505.

Mozambique is the ultimate African vacation destination with something for everyone!

This Mozambique Country Guide gives some useful background information about this wonderful country. A great way to see the local things to see and do in Mozambique and experience the local culture is by taking a Mozambique tour.

Mozambique Country Guide

Useful information on this page includes:

Climate/Weather Top

Check out our Mozambique weather page for some handy information regarding the climate and weather in Mozambique. Our six-day Mozambique weather forecast will help in planning the upcoming week's activities.

Communication Top

Mozambique currently has one state-owned mobile phone provider, Mcel. South African-owned Vodacom Mozambique has been licensed to operate in Mozambique. There are possibilities of a third operator entering this space. Mcel offers GPRS (data and internet) connectivity. The APN for Internet is isp.mcel.mz and for WAP it is wap.mcel.mz with the IP address 10.1.4.35. The service is still not very dependable and users are advised to check the phone manual for setting instructions.

Interne in Maputo is widely available, in its many internet cafes and in all major Mozambique hotels. Both the service providers have recently begun to offer internet options on mobile phones. Internet access out of Maputo has yet to pick up, with slow intermittent coverage in tourist destinations such as Inhambane, Xai-Xai, Bazaruto, and at major hotels such as the Pemba Beach hotel in Pemba.

Currency/Money Top

The currency in Mozambique is the metical (plural – meticais). In 2006, the metical nova família (new family metical) was introduced, with 1000 old meticais equivalent to one new metical.

All major towns in Mozambique have ATMs that are usually managed by Banco Internacional de Moçambique (BIM). They accept only Visa cards and not MasterCard. 

Most banks offer the option to change US dollars without charging any commission; however, note that most BIM branches do not offer this service. South African Rands are generally accepted in southern Mozambique. You can cash travellers cheques only at Standard Bank, for which you would need to present the original purchase receipt and pay a charge (minimum US $35 commission for every transaction).

Electricity Top

The current used in Mozambique is 220V/50Hz (European plug outlets).

Embassy Locations Top

For a list of Mozambique embassies around the world and foreign embassies within Mozambique, check out http://www.embassy-worldwide.com/.

General Information Top

Population: 21.6 million people
Total Area: 799,380 sq km
Capital: Maputo
Time Zone: UTC + 2.

For current time in Mozambique - Maputo, click on this link to TimeAndDate.com.

Geography Top

Mozambique is the world's 35th largest country, almost the size of Turkey. Located on the southeast coast of Africa, it is landlocked on three sides by land and on its east coast by the Indian Ocean.

The Zambezi River bisects the country into two topographical regions. In Northern Mozambique, the narrow coastline leads inland to hills and low plateaus, and further west to rugged highlands such as the Niassa highlands, Namuli or Shire highlands, Angonia highlands, Tete highlands and the Makonde plateau. In southern Mozambique, the lowlands are wide expanses of land with the Mashonaland plateau and Lebomo Mountains situated further in the deep south. The country is served by five principal rivers and several smaller ones – the largest and most important is the Zambezi.

Health Top

Mozambique is plagued by a couple of diseases, mainly caused by poor hygienic conditions. Water, unless treated, is unsafe for consumption. Visitors travelling from yellow fever infected areas into the country are required to produce a vaccination certificate. With inadequate medical facilities and lack of access to any medical aid outside of Maputo and Beira, visitors are advised to arm themselves with comprehensive medical insurance and essential personal medical supplies. 

Malaria is prevalent all over country, all year round. Cholera and other waterborne diseases are common during the rainy season. The Mozambican government believes that the widely prevalent tuberculosis (TB) is a national emergency that will take about 15 years to eradicate. 

Travellers to East Africa are advised to observe all safety precautions, as malaria and diarrhoea constitute high-risk diseases in these areas.

History Top

The latter part of the 19th century witnessed Portugal and several other European powers wrestle for control of the various countries in Africa. This political wrangling led Portugal to aggressively strengthen control over its colonies. With the country wild and vast, the government was compelled to lease large areas of land to private firms, who quickly earned notoriety for the abuse of their workers. This began the resistance against colonial power, and the independence movement soon gained momentum following the Mueda Massacre of 1960, where Portuguese troops ruthlessly gunned down villagers who were protesting peacefully for independence.

The first democratic elections were held in October 1994. The Frelimo party won the elections by a narrow margin over the Renamo party. The 1999 election reached the same result; however, this was followed by violence and disputes. The situation has since assumed a semblance of calm. 

December 2004 saw the Frelimo candidate Armando Guebuza succeed Chissano as the president, powered by a convincing majority. Though there remain areas where the government has not performed well, the troubled country is enjoying peace and stability after a long time.

Language Top

Mozambique is a multicultural land with myriad influences on its language and traditions. A number of Bantu languages are native to Mozambique. As a remnant of colonial influencePortuguese remains the official language, with Mozambique a full member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. Ethnologue records that about 43 languages are spoken in this country.

Though Portuguese is the official language of the nation and is believed to be the most widely spoken, only 40% of the population speak it. White Mozambicans and mestiços accounting for the 6.5 % of the citizens who speak Portuguese as their first language, while 33.5%, mostly Bantus, use Portuguese as their second language. Bantus speak many different languages. The most commonly spoken are Swahili, Ndau, Makhuwa, Sena, and Shangaan – which, over time, have also drawn many words from Portuguese. Apart from Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese and Hindu are spoken among immigrant communities. Almost all educated Mozambicans can also speak English as their second or third language. English is taught in most schools and several businesses necessitate the use of English.

Location Top

Mozambique is located in Southern Africa. To view a map of Mozambique, check out our interactive Mozambique map.

Public Holidays Top

Follow the link  to view a current list of public holidays in Mozambique.

Religion Top

Mozambique is a multi-religious society. As per the 1997 census, 23.8% of the population are Roman Catholic and 17.5% are Protestants, while Muslims comprise 17.8% of the population. About 17.8% of the population have other beliefs, while the remaining 23.1% hold no religious beliefs.

The Roman Catholic Church has established twelve dioceses at Beira, Tete, Chimoio, Nampula, Gurué, Lichinga, Maputo, Inhambane, Nacala, Pemba, Quelimane, and Xai-Xai with the archdioceses at Beira, Maputo and Nampula. According to official figures, in the diocese of Chimoio, 7.44% of the population is Catholic while in the Quelimane diocese, 87.50% of the population is Catholic. 

Northern Mozambique is predominantly populated with Muslims who are organized into several tariqa or brotherhoods – the Qadiriya or Shadhuliyyah branch. There are also two national Muslim organizations – the Conselho Islamico de Moçambique (reformists) and the Congresso Islamico de Mocambique (pro-Sufi).The country also has Indo-Pakistani associations as well as Shia and Ismaili communities.

Visas/Passports Top

With the exception of South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Botswana, foreigners must possess a valid visa to enter Mozambique. These can arranged for a fee of US $87 ( dependent on exchange rate and the payments can be in USD or ZAR) at most borders, except the Tanzanian border. As there are usually long queues at these visa counters, visitors are advised to procure their visas in advance, especially while travelling to Mozambique by bus from Johannesburg. 

Visas can be extended at the immigration offices in all the provincial capitals of Mozambique. You can obtain visas for neighbouring countries at most borders posts except Tanzania. Visas to Tanzania are charged at US $50 – you will also need to submit two photos at the visa counter in the Tanzanian High Commission in Maputo (working hours: 8 am to 11 am). The visas are usually issued within 24 hours.

Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.