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Mozambique Facts and Information

Mozambique Facts for Visitors

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Indian ocean, Archipelago, Mozambique

Indian Ocean, Mozambique

Getty Images/Martin Harvey

Mozambique Basic Facts

Mozambique is a country with huge economic potential, still overcoming decades of civil war that finally ended in the early 1990's. Mozambique has a beautiful (2500 km) coastline with abundant islands and picture perfect beaches and reefs. The interior of the country is slowly recovering as it gets de-landmined. Wildlife in the country's national parks, which attracts visitors to neighboring countries, is making a slow comeback. Mozambique is known for its vibrant culture, a blend of African and Portuguese influences that translates into a fantastic music scene and excellent cuisine.

Location: Mozambique is located in south-eastern Africa, bordering South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania -- see map
Area: Mozambique covers an area of 801,590 sq km slightly less than twice the size of California, US and slightly more than Turkey.
Capital City: Maputo
Population: Around 23 million people live in Mozambique Language: Emakhuwa 26.1% and Xichangana 11.3% are the most common first languages in Mozambique but Portuguese is spoken by about a third of the population.
Religion: Catholic 23.8%, Muslim 17.8%, Zionist Christian 17.5%, and traditional beliefs 40%.
Climate: Mozambique has a tropical climate with warm temperatures year round. The main rainy season runs from October - April. Indian Ocean monsoons are common along the coast and the country is also prone to cyclones.
When to Go: Best time to visit is during the dry season when it is less humid, June - August.
Currency: New Mozambican metical (MZN) - Current Exchange Rate - 100 centavos = 1 metical

Mozambique's Main Attractions

  • Bazaruto Archipelago -- idyllic chain of islands in southern Mozambique with perfect beaches, excellent snorkeling and diving as well as romantic dhow cruises.
  • Pemba - once a major trading center for Arab and Portuguese traders, Pemba has a rich history, coupled with great beaches.
  • Quirimbas Archipelago - over 30 islands, unspoiled reefs, fantastic beaches and excellent wildlife from whales to elephants.
  • Gorongosa National Park - "Africa's Lost Eden" - A lovely national park busy getting restocked with wildlife and becoming an excellent safari destination once again.
  • Lake Niassa - known as Lake Malawi in Malawi, this beautiful freshwater lake is a pristine reserve that has remained largely undeveloped. Wildlife is making a comeback and the beaches are sublime.
  • Ilha de Mozambique - former capital of Mozambique, this wonderful fortified small island is filled to the brim with historical buildings reflecting its rich Arab, Swahili and Portuguese roots. Its many charms and historical significance has led UNESCO to declare it a World Heritage site.
  • Tofo - good destinations for budget travelers and easy drive from Johannesburg. Tofo beach offers good surfing, nice beaches and fun budget accommodation. Also easy access to the historical town of Inhambane.

Travel to Mozambique

Mozambique has two international airports in Maputo and Beira. Travelers are most likely to fly into the capital Maputo (in Southern Mozambique) - Mavalane International Airport (MPM). The airport lies 4 miles northwest of the city center and is home to Mozambique's national airline LAM. Regular flights from Johannesburg to Pemba are convenient to access the Quirimbas Archipelago.

Getting to Mozambique: Most travelers will fly via South Africa or Tanzania to reach their destinations in Mozambique (see more info). There are long distance buses from Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa across their respective borders. You can also take a ferry from Lake Malawi to the Niassa region.

Mozambique's Embassies/Visas: Every visitor needs a tourist visa, you can get them from the closest embassy, or at most land borders.

Politics and History

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.

Sources and More
CIA Factbook, Mozambique
Expert Africa - Mozambique
Mozambique - Siyabona Africa
Mozambique Wikitravel

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