About Mozambique

  • Mozambique is a country in Southeast Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest.
  • Country’s economy is based largely on agriculture, but industry, mainly food and beverages, chemical manufacturing, aluminium and petroleum production, is growing.
  • Since 2001, Mozambique’s annual average GDP growth has been among the world’s highest.
  • The country is drained by five principal rivers and several smaller ones with the largest and most important the Zambezi.
  • Mozambique is forecast to be one of the fastest growing countries in the next 10 years, helped by exports of coal and natural gas.
  • Mozambique is still a very poor country with half its people living on less than $1 a day.
  • The largest island in the archipelago, Bazaruto Island is about 23 miles (37km) long and four miles (7km) wide, surrounded by magnificent stretches of white sand. Enormous sand dunes comprise the eastern strip, while the interior contains large freshwater lakes frequented by a wide variety of water birds such as flamingos, and is inhabited by crocodiles.
  • Benguerra is the second largest island of the Bazaruto Archipelago, less than half a mile (1km) south of Bazaruto and like its neighbour, has stunning beaches, large sand dunes and freshwater lakes. Its forest and wetland areas attract a huge variety of birds and animals, while its surrounding reefs offer some of the best diving and snorkelling opportunities on the African continent.
  • Situated in the Tete Province in Mozambique, the Cahora Bassa Lake is Africa’s second-largest artificial lake. The Cahora Bassa Dam system is the largest hydroelectric scheme in southern Africa and it is one of the three major dams on the Zambezi river system, the others being Kariba and Itezhi-Tezhi.
  • Often referred to as ‘the place where Noah parked his Ark’, Gorongosa National Park was a playground for the rich and famous back in the 1960s, lured by the abundance of wildlife in the area. The subsequent years of war and poaching decimated the wildlife count but programmes have since been put in place to restore the park’s previous status as one of the richest wildlife refuges in the world.
  • Spanning an area of 42,000 square kilometres (10 million acres), the Niassa Game Reserve is the largest protected area in Mozambique, and one of the most pristine wilderness areas in the whole of Africa. Twice the size of South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park (making it roughly the size of Denmark), the Niassa Reserve boasts a high concentration (if not massive variety) of wildlife, incredibly varied bird life, and absolutely stunning natural scenery.

Fun Facts about Mozambique

  • Maputo Elephant Reserve is home to a herd of 350 elephants, whose habitat was under threat.
  • Polygamy is traditionally practiced and until recently was quite common. In 1981, Frelimo instituted a law designed in conjunction with OMM that established monogamous marriage, and by which both spouses share ownership of property and decisions about where to live.
  • Some of the richest coral reefs are in Mozambique. There are over 1,200 species of fish that have been identified in the coastal waters of Mozambique.
  • Mozambique is only smaller than twice the size of the state of California in the United States of America.
  • There are 147 airports in Mozambique, although only 22 have tar runways.
  • Maputo in Mozambique is known as the City of Acacias in reference to acacia trees commonly found along its avenues.
  • Some of the scenes from Blood Diamond starring Leonardo Di Caprio was shot in Maputo.
  • The country has a tropical climate that can produce heavy flooding along the rivers. In 2001 flooding along the Zambezi River valley forced 70,000 people to flee their homes, and the World Bank estimated that a total of 491,000 were displaced by floods throughout the country.
  • Literacy rate of Mozambique is very low. Total adult literacy rate in 2005-08 was 54%.
  • The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has had a significant impact on the population of Mozambique. The UN estimated that 13% of adults between the ages of 15–49 were living with HIV/AIDS in 2001. The AIDS epidemic causes higher death and infant mortality rates, and lowers life expectancy.

Historical and Cultural Facts about Mozambique

  • Bantu speakers migrated to Mozambique in the first millennium, and Arab and Swahili traders settled the region thereafter.
  • It was explored by Vasco da Gama in 1498 and first colonized by Portugal in 1505. By 1510, the Portuguese had control of all of the former Arab sultanates on the east African coast. Portuguese colonial rule was repressive.
  • Guerrilla activity began in 1963, and became so effective by 1973 that Portugal was forced to dispatch 40,000 troops to fight the rebels. A cease-fire was signed in Sept. 1974, and after having been under Portuguese colonial rule for 470 years, Mozambique became independent on June 25, 1975.
  • In multiparty elections in 1994, President ChissanĂ³ won. In Nov. 1995, the country was the first nonformer British colony to become a member of the British Commonwealth. The president’s disciplined economic plan was highly successful, winning the country foreign confidence and aid.
  • The diet of rural residents is based on the cassava root, which is called mandioca in Portuguese. Its importance is testified to by its name, which translates as “the all-sufficient.” This malleable food source can be baked, dried in the sun, or mashed with water to form a porridge. In its most common form, it is ground into a coarse flour along with corn and then mixed with cassava leaves and water. The resulting dough is served in calabashes.
  • Greetings are lengthy and involve inquiring into the health of each other’s family. People generally stand close together and are physically affectionate.
  • The animism practiced in Mozambique includes sorcerers, wise men and women, and witch doctors or traditional healers, who are capable of communicating with spirits and act as go-betweens for the rest of the people. The healers are well versed in the medicinal uses of local plants as well as spiritual healing.
  • Literary production has been limited because of poverty and a low literacy rate. There is a strong oral tradition of storytelling, and many of the country’s contemporary writers draw on that tradition. Literary writing has historically been tied to resistance to Portuguese colonialism and for this reason was largely censored before independence. Writers such as Luis Bernardo Honwana were imprisoned for their work. Honwana is also a documentary filmmaker but is best known for the book We Killed Mangy-Dog, which combines personal and cultural autobiography.
  • Wind instruments known as lupembe, used by the Makonde tribe, are made from animal horns, wood, or gourds. The marimba, a kind of xylophone that has been adopted in Western music, originated in Mozambique, where it is popular with the Chopi in the south. Chopi musicians also use the mbira, strips of metal attached to a hollow box and plucked with the fingers. The musical style is similar to West Indian calypso and reggae.
  • In the northern coastal region and islands of Mozambique, it’s common to come across women with faces covered with a natural white mask, called mussiro or n’siro. The purpose of the mask seems to have evolved over time. Nowadays it tends to be considered more as a means of beautifying the skin, but according to oral accounts, mussiro masks used to carry other subliminal messages related to the civil status of women.

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Best Season: All year
Popular Location: Maputo, Tofo, Vilanculos, Bazaruto Archipelago, Ponta Do Oura


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