Mozambique is a cultural melting pot, with influences ranging fro North African and Arab to Portuguese, and a vibrant society with much to offer from superb seafood to the ultimate scuba diving experience.

Mozambique offers a fascinating blend of culture, ranging from the early Bantu-speaking North African tribal inhabitants to the Arab traders and Portuguese colonialists who ruled until independence was gained in 1975. The architectural styles reflect this diverse history, from Manueline to gaudy 1930's-inspired Art Deco.

Mozambique's true treasure, though, is the stunning variety of coastal, riverine, mountain and forest environments, home to a splendid array of flora and fauna interspersed with traditional villages, and of course its coral fringed coastline with translucent tropical waters offering unrivalled scuba diving.

Mozambique borders on South Africa and Swaziland to the south, Zimbabwe to the west, Malawi and Tanzania to the north. Most of the tourist attractions are located along the southern coastline or are tucked away on islands such as those found in the unique Bazaruto and Quirimbas archipelagos.

As many as 17 ethnic languages are spoken in Mozambique, with Shangaan, Shona, Makua and Swahili dominating. Portuguese, however, is the country's official language and is still the everyday language used in commerce. Apart from the staff at upmarket resorts and lodges, English is not widely understood, and a few Shangaan phrases will elicit many smiles.

The cuisine of Mozambique centres around seafood with delectable gamefish, calamari and shellfish taking pride of place - most notably prawns, usually served with a piri-piri sauce. Cashew nuts, pineapples, papaya and coconuts are also widely used, with coconut water distilled into a lethar liquor called sura, only to be drunk by the more adventurous.