Victoria Falls (Lozi: Mosi-oa-Tunya, “The Smoke That Thunders”; Tonga: Shungu Namutitima, “Boiling Water”) is a waterfall on the Zambezi River in southern Africa, which provides habitat for several unique species of plants and animals. It is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and is considered to be one of the world’s largest waterfalls due to its width of 1,708 m (5,604 ft).
David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view the Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855, from what is now known as Livingstone Island, one of two land masses in the middle of the river, immediately upstream from the falls near the Zambian shore. Livingstone named his sighting in honour of Queen Victoria, but the Sotho language name, Mosi-oa-Tunya—”The Smoke That Thunders”—continues in common usage. The World Heritage List officially recognises both names. Livingstone also cited an older name, Seongo or Chongwe, which means “The Place of the Rainbow”, as a result of the constant spray.
The nearby national park in Zambia is named Mosi-oa-Tunya, whereas the national park and town on the Zimbabwean shore are both named Victoria Falls.
By the end of the 1990s almost 400,000 people were visiting the falls annually, and this was expected to rise to over a million in the next decade. Unlike the game parks, Victoria Falls has more Zimbabwean and Zambian visitors than international tourists; the attraction is accessible by bus and train, and is therefore comparatively inexpensive to reach.
Both countries permit tourists to make day trips across the border to view the falls from both viewpoints. Visitors with single-entry visas are required to purchase a visa each time they cross the border; visas can be obtained at both border posts.