Zambia has more than 73 dialects spoken within its borders. English is the official language, as well as the language of business and media.

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Zambia’s official currency is the Kwacha, which breaks down into 100 ngwee. The ngwee coins are almost worthless and rarely used. Bring traveler’s checks in US dollars or South African rand, which you can change at exchange bureaus. Credit cards are usually accepted in tourist hotels, restaurants and larger shops in Lusaka and Livingstone, but not in rural areas. Lusaka and other major towns usually have ATMs.

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Zambia’s international country code is 260. To call another country from Zambia, dial 00 followed by the appropriate country code. Most public phones need tokens. Livingstone and Lusaka are the best places to find Internet cafes.

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Bills usually include a 10 percent service charge, but it’s against the law to tip in hotels. Tipping is usually discouraged anyway.

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Most people don’t have any trouble visiting Zambia, but the numbers of car hijackings and armed robberies are rising. Don’t leave any valuables in your car; theft and purse-snatching from cars is common in downtown areas. Violent robberies have been reported on the Cairo Road in Lusaka. Keep your valuables hidden and be aware of your surroundings.

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If you’re coming from an area infected with yellow fever, you’ll need a yellow fever vaccination certificate. It’s a good idea to get vaccinations for typhoid, polio, rabies and hepatitis A, as well as malaria preventions. There are often outbreaks of cholera, malaria and dysentery in the rainy season. HIV/AIDS is widespread. Bilharzia is also present, so don’t swim or wade in bodies of fresh water. Medical facilities are poor, and rural clinics rarely have any supplies. Make sure you have full medical insurance coverage that includes evacuation coverage. Only drink water that has been filtered or boiled or is in a sealed, branded bottle. Avoid street food.

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Zambia’s electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz and uses square plugs.

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Melisse Hinkle
A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has lived in four U.S. cities, spent a summer in Hawaii, made her way through wine-producing regions in Australia and New Zealand, and traveled around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Content Manager for the U.S. and Canada at Cheapflights.
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