Africa Basic Information Guide
Did you know? Liberia in West Africa was a new country colonised in 1820 by freed slaves from the United States. The country established a system of government based on the US in 1847, and was also one of the founding members of the United Nations. For more background info on Africa before you go, read on.
Visa requirements differ between countries in Africa. Some entry visas will need to be arranged prior to travel and others are easier to obtain as you travel, especially on a long trip. For example, Australian passport holders don’t require a visa to enter Mauritius or advance visas for some countries in southern Africa, but will need to sort one out prior to entry into countries such as Benin or Egypt. If you are travelling on a passport from a country other than Australia, some destinations may require you to obtain a visa that may not apply to Australian passport holders. Please be aware this information is only a guide. For accurate and up-to-the-minute visa information for your passport and holiday destination, refer to the country's local embassy.
Africa uses a variety of country-specific currencies according to your holiday destination including South African Rand, Egyptian Pounds, Mauritian Rupees, Moroccan Dirhams and Kenyan Shillings, while Euros are used in the regions that belong to the European Union. The West African CFA Franc and Central African CFA Franc are also used by multiple countries, but are not interchangeable. For the exact info on your travel destination’s currency, see our currency section.
Cuisines on the African continent vary widely according to local produce, climate, religious beliefs and even cooking techniques. In North Africa you can be chowing down on spicy couscous, tagines and sweet pastries, while in South Africa you can expect a preponderance of meat in fragrant curries (also big in Mauritius, Kenya, Ghana and the Seychelles), braais (barbecues) and biltong (dried meat or jerky). Over in the west and central regions of Africa, starchy staples like fufu and banku are served with soups and stews, whereas in the Horn of Africa, stews and bean pastes are paired with flatbreads and rice dishes. You’ll also see influences in regional meals from countries as varied as India as well as the former colonial powers like Portugal adding spice to the local cuisines.
From techno clubs in entertainment hubs like Cairo, Jo’Burg and Cape Town to late-night parties in hotel discos in Casablanca, Nairobi and Hammamet, Africa has no shortage of dance venues, open-air bars, lounges, pubs and even boats to get your groove on. Cape Town in South Africa boasts one of the most vibrant after-hours scenes on the continent, while Nairobi in Kenya, Accra in Ghana and Swaziland also vie for the top African party spot. And while backpacker-style pubs go off, you’ll also need to dress to impress (i.e. no thongs!) to get into some of the amazing hotel bars, exclusive clubs and upmarket complexes where the music ranges from reggae on the beach and belly dancing in Cairo baladi bars to South African rap styles and karaoke jams.