This article was published in D&B’s special edition: Celebrating 43 Years of Mozambique’s Independence
Bathed in the Indian Ocean, untampered with, and inhabited by people who will welcome you with hearts full of kindness is how one can describe the Republic of Mozambique.
The country shares borders with the Indian Ocean, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and South Africa. The largest city in Mozambique and its capital is Maputo. Half of the 30.53 million population of Mozambique speaks Portuguese, second only to the Bantu language. Other common languages include Swahili, Sena, and Makhuwa.
Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources. The country’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture, but growth has been observed across other industries including food and beverages, chemical manufacturing and aluminum, and petroleum production. The tourism sector is also expanding. Among Mozambique’s main trading and economic partners are Belgium, Brazil, Portugal and Spain, apart from South Africa which is the country’s biggest hub for foreign investment.
Tourism used to be a very profitable industry in the pre-independence period. Gorongosa National Park, halfway between Zimbabwe and Beira, was especially a huge tourist attraction. After independence from Portugal in 1975, the Mozambican Civil War between 1977 and 1992 decimated the tourism industry, and attempts at wildlife conservation faced a severe decline. Organized tourism in the country had absolutely ceased by 1978. Despite its tourism assets, Mozambique has the lowest tourist numbers in comparison to all its neighbors, except maybe Malawi. However, the tourist operators resuscitated their confidenceby the end of civil conflict in Mozambique, and the country is now working towards revamping and further developing its tourism industry.
By the end of the 1990s, tourism became the fastest growing sector in Mozambique’s economy. A Minister for Tourism was appointed in 1999. In 2003 tourism contributed about 1.2% to the country’s GDP, far below the Sub-Saharan average of 6.9%. However, 2005 saw the tourism industry grow by 37%, the fastest growth rate in the world in this industry.
Currently, the tourism sector contributes only 5.6% to the GDP of Mozambique, but it has so much untapped potential. As an example of unspoilt destinations that would attract tourists, the country has several national parks and clean beaches. The capital Maputo too boasts of architecture from the colonial-era and provides an exhibit of attractive natural setting with the deep-water harbor of Maputo Bay. The city is also the cultural and commercial hub of the country.
Mozambique has preserved its African cultural heritage through food, music, and art, and has given the environment and ecology the respect they deserve. The top 11 exotic tourist locations in the country include:
- Bazaruto Archipelago: This is a beautiful island resort and underwater marine park with great diving activity geared to cater to high-end tourism.
- Cahora Bassa: This is a hydro-electric dam on the Zambezi River and is the second largest man-made lake in Africa.
- Gorongosa National Park: It runs across 4,000 square kilometers and is located at the southern end of the Great East African Rift Valley. It includes the valley floor and parts of surrounding plateaus.
- Quirimbas Archipelago and National Park: The cluster of islands is known for its diving sites, some measuring up to 400 meters. The National Park spans an area of 7,500 square kilometers and the 11 most southerly islands are partly surrounded by mangroves. The park was established in 2002.
- Ilha De Mozambique: This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was once the capital of Mozambique under Portuguese rule.
- Ponta d’Ouro:A great dive spot that is easily accessible from South Africa as well as Maputo.
- Tofo Beach: A backpacker’s haven on the coastline East of Inhambane.
- Vamizi Island: A tropical island with beautiful private villas; amazing place for world-class fishing and deep sea diving.
- Vilanculos: The gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago, this forms the largest Sea Park in Africa with excellent scuba diving and snorkeling provisions. It is also well-known for its deep sea fishing.
- Niassa Reserve: This reserve in Cabo Delgado Province and Niassa Province covers an area of over 42,000 square kilometers. It is the largest protected area in Mozambique. The reserve is part of the Trans-Frontier Conservation Area.
Mozambique hosts a plethora of activities for the adventurous travellers including sunset cruises, snorkeling, horse-riding, dolphin tours, and scuba diving.
According to popular tourist guide websites, Mozambique makes for a perfect holiday destination for the following reasons:
- Affordable travelling costs and amenities since being a war-ravaged country, Mozambique is in a constant effort to re-build its international image.
- Mozambique has the largest protected marine area in Africa which makes its marine reserves a much craved-after destination.
- Bewitching beaches and secluded islands dense with frangipani, baobab, and tropical birds.
- A display of true African culture with establishments like the Nucleo de Art a.k.a Art Nucleus, which is an overflowing hub of creativity. More than a hundred sculptors, painters, and artists are hosted there, with many depicting political history in their art.
- Off-the-beaten track safaris that let you explore nature in its raw form.
The official tourism website for Mozambique is a perfect display of the warmth and hospitality, one can expect to experience while there. Apart from making all the popular destinations and expansive information about them available, the tourism ministry of the country has also strived to provide clear instructions on how to obtain visa, how to find your way around the country, the modes of transportation, phenomena to look out for, and of course, the food and festivals that are an absolute must for the sake of a unique experience.
Tourists travelling to Mozambique, unless their country has been included in the visa-exemption list, can obtain visa on arrival in the country, making the land extremely accessible. Countries that are on Mozambique’s exemption list include: Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. People from these countries can travel to Mozambique without visa for up to three months.
The currency in Mozambique is called the New Metical, meticais in plural, and is divided by 100 centavos. As per calculations in March 2018, USD 1 was equal to 61 meticais and €1 was equivalent to 76 meticais.