Tag Archive for: Travel Guide

Facts to assist you when travelling to Mali 

 

Mali population 

  • 23.3 million  

Capital and Largest City 

  • Bamako. 

Official Language(s) 

  • French. 

Currency 

  • West African CFA franc. 

Office Hours 

  • 07:30 – 16:00. 

Weekend 

  • Saturday – Sunday. 

Time Zone 

  • UTC.  

Calling Code 

  • +223. 

Tipping 

  • If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable. 

Embassies 

  • Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city. 

Government 

  • Colonel Assimi Goïta has been interim President of Mali as of 28 May 2021.  

Climate 

  • Mali is known to be one of the hottest countries in the world! The thermal equator, which matches the hottest spots year-round on the planet based on the mean daily annual temperature, crosses the country. Most of Mali receives negligible rainfall, and droughts are very frequent. Late June to early December is the rainy season in the southernmost area. During this time, flooding of the Niger River is common, creating the Inner Niger Delta. During the hottest season of the year, temperatures are high throughout the country. Timbuktu, Taoudenni, Araouane, Gao, Kidal, Tessalit are some of the hottest spots on Earth during their warmest months. 

Transport 

  • The main airport in Mali is the Lilongwe International Airport, located in Lilongwe. Mali’s transportation infrastructure is regarded as poor, even by regional standards, and deficiencies have limited economic growth and development. Mali has one railroad, including 729 kilometres in Mali, which runs from the port of Koulikoro via Bamako to the border with Senegal and continues on to Dakar. Mali’s main economic link to the coast is a paved road between Bamako and Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire. Because rate of automobile ownership is low, and formal government run public transit is sparse, informal buses and taxis abound in Malian urban centres. 

Economy 

  • Mali’s main industries include mining, manufacturing, and agriculture. 

Hospitality 

  • A common gesture in Mali that foreigners might not be familiar with, and might confuse them, is pursing your lips and making a buzzing sound, which means “nothing.” Unlike in western societies where burping is considered rude, in Mali, burping is considered a sign that one has enjoyed their meal. Often times, the cook or host will even consider burping a compliment. It is also impolite to shake hands or to eat with the left hand. 

Greetings 

  • Men shake hands when greeting one another. It is common to put your right hand to your chest, and this is a sign of respect. When meeting with longtime friends a hug is the common form of greeting. Women also shake hands with other female strangers and acquaintances. A verbal hello is appropriate as well. Close female friends will hug one another. It is not appropriate for people of the opposite sex to shake hands or hug. In such a case, a verbal greeting will suffice.  

Money 

  • The currency of Mali is the West African franc (XOF). The XOF is also the currency of six other independent states in Western Africa, such as Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. 

Transportation 

  • Foreign visitors who want to drive in Mali must have valid drivers license issued by the country of their residence. Driving in Mali is on the right-hand side of the road, and the minimum age for driving is 21. It is not permitted to use a handheld mobile phone whistle driving, and drivers caught doing this will face consequences accordingly. Driving under the influence of alcohol is also prohibited. 

Safety 

  • Mali is a developing African country and is one of the poorest countries in the world. Due to its high levels of poverty, Mali also has high crime rates and is therefore not a particularly safe country. Transport isn’t safe in Mali as Malian roads and vehicles are often unsafe and unreliable. Some drivers can be reckless and ignore traffic signs, and at random times there can also be cattle roaming on the roads. Visitors should be careful about displaying wealth or any belongings in public. Avoid walking unaccompanied in Mali altogether, be it during day or night. 

Culture 

  • Mali is home to many different tribes and ethnic groups. The largest of these groups is the Bambara, which accounts for 31% of the population. Other smaller ethnic groups include the Fula Macina, Soninke, Sanghai, and the Dogon (5%). Mali is a Muslim country. Approximately 90% of the country’s population ascribe to the Sunni Muslim faith. Minority religions in Mali include Christianity, most of which identify with the Catholic or Protestant denominations.  

Shops 

  • Due to it being a poor nation, Mali unfortunately does not have many grand modern shopping malls and amenities like that of which can be found in western countries. However, the country does have a number of supermarkets and shops where locals and visitors can get everything they need. 

 

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Facts to assist you while travelling to Sierra Leone.

 

Sierra Leone population

  • 4 million people.

Capital and Largest City

  • Freetown.

Official Language(s)

  • English.

Currency

  • Leone.

Office Hours

  • 08:00 – 16:00.

Weekend

  • Saturday – Sunday.

Time Zone

  • UTC.

Calling Code

  • +232.

Tipping

  • If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable.

Embassies

  • Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city.

Government

  • Julius Maada Wonie Bio is a Sierra Leonean politician, and the current president of Sierra Leone since 4 April 2018.

Climate

  • The climate of Sierra Leone is tropical. Although it could technically be classified as a tropical monsoon climate, it could also be described as a climate that is transitional between a continually wet tropical rainforest climate and a tropical savanna climate. There are two seasons. The dry season lasts from November to May, and the rainy season lasts from June to October. Average rainfall is highest at the coast, 3000–5000 mm per year, but precipitation decreases as you move further inland.

Transport

  • The main airport in Sierra Leone is the Lungi International Airport, located in Lungi. The country does not share rail links with adjacent countries. Because of widespread poverty, high petroleum prices and a large portion of the population residing in small communities, walking is often the preferred method of transportation in Sierra Leone. Major ports of Sierra Leone include Bonthe, Freetown, Pepel, and Queen Elizabeth II Quay.

Economy

  • Sierra Leone’s main industries include diamonds mining, small-scale manufacturing (cigarettes, beverages, textiles, footwear), petroleum refining, and commercial ship repair.

Hospitality

  • Sierra Leoneans are extremely polite and manner conscious. Locals give lots of attention to one’s neatness of dress and style of presentation, especially in urban areas. Courteous and eloquent greetings are important in their society. Elders are always respected. People in Sierra Leone are also generous, especially towards their guests. A “good” host is always a generous host. It is polite for guests to leave some food on the plate, thanking the host profusely for his or her generosity.

Greetings

  • Greetings in Sierra Leone vary according to ethnic group. In Krio, Hello is ”Kushe”. In Mende, it is ”Bua”, and in Temne it is ”Seke”.

Money

  • The Leone is the official currency of Sierra Leone. It is subdivided into 100 cents. The Leone is abbreviated as ‘’Le’’ placed before the amount.

Transportation

  • People in Sierra Leone drive on the right side of the road. The minimum age for citizens to drive a car is 18. Driving under influence in Sierra Leone is taken seriously, so make sure to abide by the local rules of the road. The maximum allowed speed limit is 70 km/h on urban roads. Children who are younger than 5 years are prohibited to be in the front seat of a moving vehicle.

Safety

  • Due to the high levels of poverty in Sierra Leone, it is not the safest country to travel to. Visitors face a high risk of pick pocketing and theft. It is best to treat crowded places with caution, and avoid other places entirely, if possible. Nightclubs and bars are typically hotspots for criminals, muggers, pickpockets, and prostitutes. Sierra Leone is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Africa. Although the seas close to the beach are generally safe for experienced swimmers, there has been a number of reported cases of drowning due to strong currents.

Culture

  • The two largest ethnic groups residing in the country are the Temne and Mende. Other ethnic communities in the country include the Limba, Kono, Loko, Fullah, Mandingo, and other smaller groups. While English is the country’s official language, the Mende and the Temne are the principal vernacular languages spoken in the south and north of the country. Krio is an English-based Creole language is a first language for only 10% of the population. However, this unique language is understood by nearly the entire population. Most of Sierra Leone’s population is Muslim, with the approximate percentage nearing a whopping 78.6%. They coexist with a smaller group of Christians, who account for about 20.8% of the population.

Shops

  • Sierra Leone has numerous stores, shopping centres, and malls that are modern like that of those in western countries, especially in its capital city. Therefore, shopping and entertainment should be no hassle. Sierra Leone also has some online shopping options.

 

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Facts to assist you while travelling to Niger.

 

Niger population

  • 2 million people.

Capital and Largest City

  • Niamey.

Official Language(s)

  • French.

Currency

  • West African CFA franc.

Office Hours

  • 08:00 – 12:30 and 14:30 to 17:00.

Weekend

  • Saturday – Sunday.

Time Zone

  • UTC +1.

Calling Code

  • +227.

Tipping

  • If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable.

Embassies

  • Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city.

Government

  • Mohamed Bazoum is a Nigerien politician who served as the 10th president of Niger from 2021 to 2023.

Climate

  • Niger’s subtropical climate is mainly very hot and very dry, with much desert area. In the extreme south there is a tropical climate on the edges of the Niger River basin. The terrain is predominantly desert plains and sand dunes, with flat to rolling savanna in the south and hills in the north.

Transport

  • Niger’s main airport is the Diori Hamani International Airport, located in Niamey. The Niger River is unsuitable for large-scale river transport, as it lacks depth for most of the year and is broken by rapids at many spots. Only a small percentage of Niger’s roads are paved. Nigeriens in both urban and rural areas rely on a combination of motor vehicles and animals for transport of themselves and commercial goods. Niger is a user of the Benin and Togo railway lines which carry goods from seaports to the Niger border.

Economy

  • The main industries in Niger that contributes towards its GDP include mining, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and manufacturing.

Hospitality

  • The most important attribute of the Niger people is their generosity. The people of Niger are known to be friendly, generous, and love goodness for each other. There are good people doing amazing work everywhere, especially in the month of Ramadan, when people will set up many food tables for breakfast of the poor. There is a huge giving culture in Niger. Charitable institutions compete in providing aid to the poor and the rich are interested in looking at those who are less fortunate than them and working to help them in all ways.

Greetings

  • A handshake with the right hand is the most common form of greeting amongst. Handshakes tend to be warm and linger quite a bit. Handshakes are often accompanied by a gesture in which the individuals touch their right hands over their heart. Women, on the other hand, will raise both hands on each side of the face during handshakes with other women. In some areas a kiss on each cheek may accompany the greeting as well. Due to its large Muslim population, people of the opposite sex often do not shake one another’s hands. Instead, a verbal greeting or nod of acknowledgment is the norm in most situations.

Money

  • The currency in Niger is the West African CFA franc. The West African CFA franc is officially recognised by the Nigerien government and can be used to settle all financial obligations in the country.

Transportation

  • Transport infrastructure in Niger is underdeveloped. The main mode of transport in Niger is via automobile, as there is no existing railway network. Fortunately, most roads within and between the major cities are paved, but as you travel towards the more rural areas, unpaved roads and gravel roads become a more frequent sight.

Safety

  • There are a number of risks that expats may face when travelling to Niger as the country experience trouble with petty crimes, violent crimes, and drug smuggling. Poverty in the capital cities perpetuate these cycles of crime, and it is therefore not considered safe to walk around at night. Additionally, there are health risks that are present such as a deficiency in sanitation. This means that the chances of contracting water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and cholera are relatively high. Malaria is another easily contactable disease that possess a threat to the health of Nigerien citizens. It is advisable that you get all necessary vaccinations ahead of time.

Culture

  • Niger strictly adheres to a group of customs and traditions. Visitors should be mindful of this as locals might deem it to be disrespectful to violate or be ignorant of these customs. Islam is the most widespread religion in Niger, where approximately 90% of the population is Muslim. The prevalence of Islam is influential on the country’s customs and traditions. Adherence to the teachings of the Islamic religion is important and necessary in Niger. Locals place emphasis on preserving the teachings of the Islamic religion, establishing religious rituals, exchanging gifts between relatives and friends, kindness to the poor, and providing all their needs throughout the year.

Shops

  • Niger has numerous stores, shopping centres, and malls that are modern like that of those in western countries, especially in its capital city. Therefore, shopping and entertainment should be no hassle. Niger also has online shopping options.

 

 

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Facts to assist you while travelling to Zambia.

 

Zambian population

  • 5 million.

Capital and Largest City

  • Lusaka.

Official Language(s)

  • English.

Currency

  • Zambian kwacha.

Office Hours

  • 08:00 – 17:00.

Weekend

  • Saturday – Sunday.

Time Zone

  • UTC +2.

Calling Code

  • +260.

Tipping

  • If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable.

Embassies

  • Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city.

Government

  • Hakainde Hichilema is a Zambian businessman, farmer, and politician who is the seventh and current president of Zambia.

Climate

  • The climate of Zambia in Central and Southern Africa is tropical but modified by altitude (elevation). In the Köppen climate classification, most of the country is classified as humid-subtropical or tropical wet and dry, with small patches of semi-arid climate in the south-west. There are two main seasons, the rainy season lasts from November until April and occurs during summer, while the dry season lasts from May until October and occurs during winter.

Transport

  • The main airport in Zambia is the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, located in Lusaka. Zambia has rail links with the DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola. Zambia also has many navigable rivers, lakes, and channels through swamps, which together reach a large proportion of the rural population. The country has 88 airports, eight of which have paved runways.

Economy

  • The main industries in Zambia that contributes to its GDP include agriculture, copper mining, manufacturing, fisheries and livestock, energy, electricity, tourism, media, and finance and banking.

Hospitality

  • Zambian’s traditionally serve a local dish called nshima at gatherings and have a standard set of etiquettes revolving around how nshima should be eaten. Nshima with ndiwo is the most important meal in Zambian culture. It holds significance in the traditional culture of the people as it is often shared alongside expressions, tales of hospitality and wisdom and folk tales. It is considered a sign of disrespect to serve left over nshima to an adult, as elders are typically shown more respect in the culture. Be careful not to over-indulge as Zambians believe that leaving some food behind on your plate indicates that you have been satisfied.

Greetings

  • Greetings always start with a handshake and a polite, “How are you?”. This is frequently followed by questions about the wellbeing of your family, or the conditions of your journey.

Money

  • The Kwacha (code: ZMW) is the currency of Zambia. The name kwacha is derived from the Nyanja, Bemba, and Tonga word for “dawn”. Its meaning alludes to the Zambian nationalist slogan of a “new dawn of freedom”. The name ngwee translates as “bright” in the Nyanja language.

Transportation

  • Zambia has over 91 000km of roads divided into trunk roads, main roads, and district roads, which connects rural areas to other trunk and main roads. Most trunk and main roads are paved while district roads can sometimes be partially paved or may even be gravel and dirt. The condition of these roads get worse during the rainy season. All trunk roads are tolled with toll gates being administered by the National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) and Road Development Agency (RDA). When travelling to Zambia, it is important that you remember to take this into consideration as you plan your budget.

Safety

  • Although Zambia is one of the safer countries in Africa, visitors are still advised to take whichever precautions they feel necessary. Mostly petty crimes occur, such as bag snatching and theft from parked cars. It is best to always keep your bags and other valuables secure and close to you. When traveling by car, keep the doors locked and the windows up at all times. Valuables should be kept out of sight as thieves may target travelers at transport hubs, crowded market areas and shopping precincts.

Culture

  • Zambian culture traditionally separated the roles of men and women. However, this practice is much less common in recent years, especially in the urban areas. In rural areas, women in are generally assigned the household tasks, children care, and work in the fields. Men are expected to do the fishing, hunting, and livestock management, as well as the family’s financial planning. Christianity is the religion of the majority of Zambians, and this is reflected in the contemporary culture of the citizens. Weddings and other important events are mostly in the traditional Christian style but often incorporates elements of indigenous customs and rituals.

Shops

  • Zambia has a number of modern shopping centres and malls that resemble those found in western countries. Shopping in this country should be hassle free, especially in the capital city and other urban areas. There are also a multitude of online stores for the convenience of all shoppers.

 

 

 

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