As one of the poorest nations on the planet, Mozambique is full of social conditions that lead to crime, poverty, inequality, corruption, and an ineffective justice system.
Robberies, assault, and carjackings are all common. Homicides tend happen in waves in between periods of relative calm.
However, according to the U.S. Department of State, the rate of violent crime is about the same as most other African countries, and the chances of being a victim are the same as a major American city. Still, while in Mozambique, you should be just as cautious as if you were anywhere else in Africa.
Most crime is concentrated in Maputo and the country's secondary cities. Criminals are forceful and ruthless, often work in groups, and carry firearms. Expats and tourists have been targeted in the past, so be sure not to display any signs of wealth: jewelry, running shoes, cameras and purses should be left in the hotel or hidden extremely well.
Maputo's coastal road (Avenida Marginal) has seen a spike in crime, and should be avoided, especially between the Southern Sun Hotel (the old Holiday Inn) and the Waterfront Restaurant. Pedestrians and joggers have been mugged there, even in daylight.
Although coastal resort towns are much safer than the big cities, they are not crime-free. South African tourists have reported being robbed in the southern province of Inhambane and in the town of Chissibuca.
Walking at night is especially risky, and should be avoided, even in well-known tourist areas. Crimes do happen in public, in plain view of witnesses.
Women should never walk alone on the beach or take the bus unaccompanied. Unfortunately, attacks on female tourists have been increasing.
Law enforcement is weak, so don't expect the police to be very helpful. If anything, they'll just try to get a bribe from you. Emergency services are slow to respond due to bad road conditions and heavy pedestrian traffic. This delay is a facilitating factor for criminal activity.
If you're driving, don't stop to pick up motorists or pedestrians in distress. Though this may seem cruel, it could be a ruse by hijackers, so it's safer to keep driving and report it to a police station.
Flights to Mozambique often go through Johannesburg, South Africa, where the theft of goods from luggage is a ongoing problem. Checked baggage should be secured with locks or a plastic wrapping service.
Valuables like currency, electronics, jewelry, cosmetics and running shoes should be taken in carry-on luggage. It's recommended to have a complete inventory of items in checked baggage just in case a theft occurs. It might help with a claim.
Political demonstrations are rare in Mozambique, but if one happens, be vigilant. Protests can begin suddenly or change locations without warning.
While most tend to be peaceful, they can turn ugly quickly. On September 2010, protests against rising food prices erupted in violence. Two years before that, another against petrol prices also went bad.
Make sure you carry identification at all times, and present it upon request. Notarized copies of the main passport page and the visa are usually enough, though you might be hassled for originals.
Possession, use, or sale of illicit drugs is forbidden. Penalties are severe.
Homosexual activity is illegal, so LGBTQ travelers are advised to be discreet at all times.
Pedestrian traffic is outlawed in certain areas, like the presidential offices on Avenida Julius Nyerere and the Praça dos Herois in Maputo. Photographing certain buildings is also illegal. Seek permission if you're not sure.
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