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SafetyTravel Safety: Africa: Mozambique

Mozambique: Republic of Mozambique
Capital: Maputo
Population: 19,607,519
Currency: metical (MZM)
Languages: Portuguese (official), indigenous dialects
Religions: indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%
Borders: Malawi 1,569 km, South Africa 491 km, Swaziland 105 km, Tanzania 756 km, Zambia 419 km, Zimbabwe 1,231 km

Mozambique, a developing country in southern Africa, has steadily rebuilt its economy and civic institutions since ending a 16-year civil war in 1992. The country stabilized following Mozambique 's first multi-party elections in October 1994 and will be electing a new president in 2004. Despite high economic growth rates in recent years, Mozambique remains among the world's poorest countries. Facilities for tourism in Maputo, the capital city, are steadily improving but remain limited in other areas, as most of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available.

Overland travel after dark is extremely dangerous due to poor road conditions, lack of emergency services, and the increased potential for vehicle hijacking. Visitors should be particularly vigilant when driving near the Mozambique-South Africa border. Official Americans serving in Mozambique are prohibited from overland travel outside Maputo city limits after dark and are encouraged to travel in convoys of two or more vehicles when outside of the city during daylight hours. Police checkpoints are common and police officers frequently harass foreigners. Due to residual landmines, overland travelers are advised to remain on well-traveled roads or seek local information before going off-road outside of Maputo and other provincial capitals.

The biggest threat facing U.S. citizens visiting Mozambique is violent crime. Street crimes, including muggings, purse snatching, and pick-pocketing, are common, both in Maputo and secondary cities. While violent crimes against foreigners remain relatively infrequent, Americans have been victims of rape, sexual assault, and armed robbery in the past year. Visitors must be vigilant when out in public areas and should not display jewelry or other expensive items. Isolated areas should be avoided because joggers and pedestrians frequently have been mugged, even during daylight hours. Visitors are advised not to walk at night, even in well-known tourist areas.

Despite efforts to increase police presence in areas frequented by foreigners, the police are poorly paid, poorly equipped and lack the professionalism that U.S. citizens are accustomed to in the United States. Mozambican law requires that all persons carry an identity document, such as a passport, when out in public and produce it if requested by police. A notarized copy of the biographic page and the Mozambican visa are acceptable. There are certain areas in the city of Maputo where pedestrian traffic is prohibited (e.g., in front of the presidential offices located north of the Hotel Polana on the sea side of Avenida Julius Nyerere). Demonstrations are infrequent but should be avoided.

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Mozambique 's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mozambique are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Medical facilities are rudimentary, and medicines are not always consistently available. Maputo 's Sommerschield Clinic can provide general and basic emergency services and accepts major credit cards. Doctors and hospitals outside Maputo generally expect immediate cash payment for health services.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions, which differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mozambique is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of public transportation: Poor
Urban road conditions/maintenance: Poor
Rural road conditions/maintenance: Poor 
Availability of roadside assistance: Poor

Reconstruction of most roads damaged during the flooding of 2000 has been successful, and travel on the roads north of Maputo is once again possible. Additionally, a new toll road has improved travel between Maputo and South Africa. However, banditry along major highways continues to threaten the safety of road travelers. Periodically, the U.S. Embassy has restricted embassy personnel from traveling on certain roads or has imposed certain restrictions on road travel. Embassy personnel are prohibited from traveling outside cities after dark because of the increased risk of banditry, poor road conditions in some areas, the poor maintenance of many vehicles in the country (e.g. no headlights or rear lights), as well as the threat imposed by livestock that graze on roadsides. Travel outside Maputo often requires a four-wheel drive vehicle, which creates an additional security risk since these vehicles are high-theft items. Public transportation is extremely limited. Travelers contemplating overland travel may wish to contact the U.S. Embassy for the most current information on road travel safety.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at For specific information concerning Mozambique 's driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Mozambican embassy in Washington, DC. For international driving permits, contact AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance.

As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Mozambique, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Mozambique 's civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA internet home page at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229- 4801.

Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

March 1, 2004

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