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Country Guides for Africa


Zimbabwe The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia from the South Africa Company in 1923. A 1961 constitution was formulated that favored whites in power. In 1965 the government unilaterally declared its independence, but the UK did not recognize the act and demanded more complete voting rights for the black African majority in the country (then called Rhodesia). UN sanctions and a guerrilla uprising finally led to free elections in 1979 and independence (as Zimbabwe) in 1980. Robert MUGABE, the nation's first prime minister, has been the country's only ruler (as president since 1987) and has dominated the country's political system since independence. His chaotic land redistribution campaign begun in 2000 caused an exodus of white farmers, crippled the economy, and ushered in widespread shortages of basic commodities. Ignoring international condemnation, MUGABE rigged the 2002 presidential election to ensure his reelection. Opposition and labor groups launched general strikes in 2003 to pressure MUGABE to retire early; security forces continued their brutal repression of regime opponents.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout Southern Africa and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal. Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. All travelers to malaria-risk areas in Southern Africa, including infants, children, and former residents of Southern Africa, are at risk for malaria. All travelers to a malaria-risk area should take one of the following drugs (listed alphabetically): atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (in special circumstances).

Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) are other diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.

Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, is found in fresh water in this region. Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools) in Southern African countries.

Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if possible and always use seat belts.

There is no risk for yellow fever in Southern Africa. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):

See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not complete the series as infants.

To stay healthy, do...

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an “absolute 1-micron or less” filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. “Absolute 1-micron filters” are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
  • If you visit an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
    • Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
    • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
    • Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
    • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
    • Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
    • Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
    • Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
    • DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
    • Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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SAFETY AND SECURITY: The political, social, economic, and security situation in Zimbabwe remains fluid. Crime, especially burglaries and carjackings, is a serious problem. There are also ongoing incidents of land seizures, police roadblocks, political violence, intimidation in urban and rural areas, and business closures. U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Zimbabwe should be aware that they are taking a risk in visiting any commercial farms, or straying outside normal tourist areas. The behavior of police or military personnel is not always predictable or rational. In November 2002, Zimbabwean police outside of Mutare killed an American citizen at a roadblock. Tourists may also be subject to harassment or arrest for photographing roadblocks, occupied commercial farms, and government buildings or installations.

Victoria Falls is a major tourist destination and is considered relatively safe, but visitors are urged to use the same security precautions they would exercise in any urban area of the developing world. While Harare is a clean and pleasant city, street crime is a serious problem, particularly in tourist areas. Harare has experienced a significant rise in the number of serious crimes committed during the past year. Although the vast majority of these crimes were non?violent, there has been an increase in the use of firearms. The downtown sector of Harare is a particularly high?crime area.

U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Zimbabwe should be aware of continuing conditions that could affect their safety, including the outbreak of sporadic demonstrations driven by deteriorating economic conditions. Demonstrations occur in both urban and rural areas. Clashes between police and demonstrators have sometimes resulted in injuries to demonstrators as well as innocent bystanders. Political activity can also result in serious violence, and U.S. citizens are urged to avoid all political rallies and demonstrations.

Other ongoing conditions that could affect the safety of tourists in Zimbabwe include the occupation of commercial farms by the National War Veterans' Association and others. The war veterans have not targeted resident U.S. citizens for violence, but American tourists and residents should avoid areas where war veterans are active. In May 2002, an American was assaulted on an occupied farm by so-called war veterans.

Zimbabwe has experienced serious nationwide fuel shortages since January 2003, and most gas stations around the country do not have sufficient fuel supplies. Travelers should carefully assess their fuel situation, keep their tanks full, and carry extra fuel before making any long-distance journeys.

U.S. citizens participating in nature and rafting excursions in Zimbabwe should be aware that even with an organized tour group, tourists are often allowed to participate in activities that may pose great risks to personal safety. Tragic attacks involving wildlife have occurred at Mona Pools. Visitors to Nyanga should avoid Pungwe Falls, Mterazi Falls, and the Honde Falls. There have been numerous incidents of armed robbery, theft, assaults, and attempted rapes reported at these sites. Land mines along the Mozambique border, situated beyond the main tourist areas, make travel to that border area potentially hazardous.

CRIME: Carjacking, street crime, rape, and credit card fraud are on the rise. Much of the increase in crime is due to high rates of unemployment and deteriorating economic conditions. Americans and other foreigners are perceived to be wealthy and could be targeted by criminals who operate in the vicinity of hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls in Harare and in major tourist areas such as Victoria Falls.

Travelers should watch their luggage at airports, railway and bus stations, and when making calls from public telephones. Travelers are advised to avoid displaying or carrying unnecessary valuables in public. Items such as passports, money, jewelry, and credit cards should be placed in hotel safety deposit boxes when not being used. Visitors should not carry large sums of money or multiple credit cards while shopping and should be cautious when leaving banks and automatic teller machines.

Teams of thieves frequently prey on victims in the downtown area of Harare. Purse snatchers will often work in teams of two with one person acting as a diversion. A typical mugging involves a group of young males who surround and overwhelm their victim in a public area. Tourists and out of town shoppers continue to be considered lucrative targets. Cell phones are of particular interest to local thieves.

Travelers should avoid driving at night outside the low-density suburban areas. Car doors should be locked and windows rolled up. Handbags, wallets, and other items should be placed under car seats or in the trunk of the car. While stopped in traffic, drivers should look around to identify potential trouble and should leave sufficient maneuver room between their vehicle and the one in front. Travelers who suspect that their vehicle is being followed should drive to the nearest police station or some other public area for assistance. Drivers should be alert to "smash and grabs," where thieves break the windows of cars stopped at stop lights and take items from inside the car. Drivers should also be cautious of persons offering assistance in the event of a flat tire.

Travelers are encouraged to make two photocopies of the biographic/identification page of their passport. They should leave one copy at home with friends or relatives and carry the second copy with them for identification and purposes.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at

CURRENCY REGULATIONS: Travelers to Zimbabwe are usually required to pay for all lodging with credit cards or internationally convertible currency such as U.S. dollars or British pounds. Zimbabwean currency, even if obtained by exchanging foreign cash or travelers checks in Zimbabwe, may not be accepted for payment of hotel bills or tour packages. There have been recent instances in which Zimbabwean authorities seized foreign currency from tourists/visitors who were unable to present documentation that they declared these funds when entering the country.

It is illegal to exchange foreign currency for local currency with anyone other than an authorized currency dealer affiliated with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Authorized currency dealers include the major banks, such as Standard Chartered and Barclays. Street vendors and private individuals may also offer this service, but they should be avoided. Travelers engaged in illegal money transactions and observed by the police will be immediately arrested and jailed pending a hearing before a magistrate court.

Given the current economic situation in Zimbabwe, using a credit card could significantly increase the cost of purchases because credit card companies use the official government rate when calculating the cost in U.S. dollars.

Additionally, vendors and shopkeepers often base their charges on a rate higher than the official exchange rate.

GAME PARKS: Zimbabwe offers opportunities for observation of wildlife in its natural habitat. Many tour operators offer structured, safe excursions into parks and other wildlife viewing areas for close observation of flora and fauna. However, travelers should keep a safe distance from animals and remain in vehicles or other protected enclosures when venturing into game parks.

HUNTING SAFARIS: Tourists who wish to hunt in Zimbabwe must be accompanied by a licensed operator, who is required to be registered and licensed by the Zimbabwe Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Travelers to Zimbabwe should ask for the operator's license number when booking a hunt and should check the authenticity of the license by contacting the Zimbabwe Association of Tour and Safari Operators (ZATSO) at: or

Source: U.S. Department of State

tropical; moderated by altitude; rainy season (November to March)

Source: CIA World Factbook

Zimbabwe's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport, visa, return ticket, and adequate funds are required. U.S. citizens traveling to Zimbabwe for tourism, business, or transit can obtain a visa at the airports and border ports-of-entry, or in advance by contacting the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Washington, D.C. American citizens considering travel to Zimbabwe to visit tourist destinations, including eco-tourist sites or hunting safaris, or for business purposes, are advised that the Government of Zimbabwe has declared that American visitors with proper documentation will be allowed entry without difficulty. However, the Government of Zimbabwe has also signaled an intention to refuse entry to Americans who are believed to have a bias against the Zimbabwean government. In some instances, Zimbabwean immigration officials have used materials found in searches of travelers and their luggage as an explanation to refuse entry.

U.S. Citizens who intend to work in Zimbabwe as journalists must apply for accreditation with the Zimbabwean Embassy at least one month in advance of planned travel. It is no longer possible to seek accreditation within Zimbabwe at the Ministry of Information. Journalists attempting to enter Zimbabwe without proper advance accreditation may be denied admission or deported. Journalists seeking to file stories from Zimbabwe must comply with the requirements of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which requires that journalists seek accreditation by paying a $100 (U.S.) application fee and, if accredited, a $500 (U.S.) accreditation fee.

Travelers should obtain the latest travel and visa information from the Embassy of Zimbabwe, 1608 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009; telephone (202) 332?7100. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Zimbabwean Embassy or Consulate. Upon arrival in Zimbabwe, travelers should keep all travel documents readily available, as well as a list of residences or hotels where they will stay while in Zimbabwe. Travelers to Zimbabwe must carry some form of identification at all times.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Zimbabwe is 2 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Zimbabwe would be 7:00 pm

The unit of currency in Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwean dollar (ZWD).

Look up the current exchange rate using's Universal Currency Converter

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