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Info Africa - Tanzania

Tanzania, in eastern Africa, lies next to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi. On its eastern coast lies the Indian Ocean. The mainland of Tanganyika and the islands of Zanzibar joined to form the United Republic of Tanzania in 1964. Tanganyika, which gained independence in 1961, was a former colony of Germany, and later Britain. The father of the Tanzanian nation is Julius Nyerere; the man who rigorously fought for independence for the country. Tanzania has always been one of the most stable and peaceful African countries, although it continues to face economic problems. Tanzania is full of attractions with its wildlife-rich national parks such as Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, mainly in northern Tanzania. Tanzania boasts of having Africa’s highest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and parts of the borders are marked by Lake Victoria (world’s second largest freshwater lake) in the north, Lake Tanganyika in the west and Lake Nyasa in the south. On the eastern coast of Tanzania lies the city of Dar-es-salaam, a name coined by the Arabs, meaning “Haven of Peace.” Dar-es-salaam is the country’s commercial centre buzzing with businesses. The city itself is an eclectic mix of Swahili, German, Asian and British architecture, reflecting its colonial past and more recent history. Once the capital city, Dar-es-Salaam is a major port characterized by a metropolitan culture. As a commercial centre, it is endowed with beautiful beaches and a number of tourist hotels located along its coastline. Some of the attractions that fascinate visitors all year round include the National Museum, housing the skull of Nutcracker Man; Observation Hill, which contains the campus and facilities of the University of Dar es Salaam; and the Village Museum, which exhibits traditional housing and crafts. A home of about 4 million inhabitants, this industrial city whose infrastructure is currently enjoying increased investment, is 90 minutes by boat from the spice island of Zanzibar. The islands of Zanzibar and the coastline of the mainland are very much influenced by Arabic culture as a result of their long history. The Arabs set trading colonies in Zanzibar and in 1832, the Omani sultan moved his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar. Indians also arrived to this part of East Africa and remain settled in many parts of Tanzania, dominating mainly the private sector.  Zanzibar’s old Stone Town with narrow, winding streets filled with shops, bazaars, colonial mansions and mosques reflect the many years of Arab settlement. Tanzania has a variety of music genres. Taarab music, deriving its roots from Arabia and India, is played mainly in the coastal regions. This type of music is a blend of classical Swahili poetry, local rhythm and melody anchored in varying messages of societal values, love, commitment and emotional sentiments. Taarab music portraying richness of the Swahili language soothes the mind and soul.

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CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Country Flag: Tanzania's Flag

Divided diagonally by a yellow-edged black band from the lower hoist-side corner; the upper triangle (hoist side) is green and the lower triangle is blue

Nationality: Tanzanian(s)

Capital: Dar es Salaam

Population: 37,445,392

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 43.7% (male 8,204,593/female 8,176,489)
  • 15-64 years: 53.6% (male 9,906,446/female 10,178,066)
  • 65 years and over: 2.6% (male 422,674/female 557,124) (2006 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.83% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • age 15 and over can read and write Kiswahili (Swahili), English, or Arabic
  • 78.2% of the population is literate (male: 85.9%, female: 70.7%) (2003 est.)

Major religions: mainland - Christian 30%, Muslim 35%, indigenous beliefs 35%; Zanzibar - more than 99% Muslim


  • Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguja (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages
    note: Kiswahili (Swahili) is the mother tongue of the Bantu people living in Zanzibar and nearby coastal Tanzania; although Kiswahili is Bantu in structure and origin, its vocabulary draws on a variety of sources, including Arabic and English, and it has become the lingua franca of central and eastern Africa; the first language of most people is one of the local languages
Quick Facts
  • total: 945,087 sq km
  • land: 886,037 sq km
  • water: 59,050 sq km
  • note: includes the islands of Mafia, Pemba, and Zanzibar

Area comparative to Canadian province: slightly smaller than Ontario

Natural resources: hydropower, tin, phosphates, iron ore, coal, diamonds, gemstones, gold, natural gas, nickel

Environmental Issues:soil degradation; deforestation; desertification; destruction of coral reefs threatens marine habitats; recent droughts affected marginal agriculture; wildlife threatened by illegal hunting and trade, especially for ivory


The economy of Tanzania depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for almost half of GDP and provides 85% of the exports. This sector also employs 80% of the work force. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and various bilateral donors have provided funds to help rehabilitate Tanzania’s economic infrastructure as well as to help alleviate poverty. Donor assistance and solid macroeconomic policies contributed to the real GDP growth of more than 6% in 2005. Tanzania experienced long-term growth in 2005 as a result of improved industrial production and an increase in output of minerals. The economy is improving as a result of banking reforms which continue to help increase private-sector growth and investment.

Major industries:

  • agricultural processing (sugar, beer, cigarettes, sisal twine)
  • diamond
  • gold
  • and iron mining
  • salt
  • soda ash
  • cement
  • oil refining
  • shoes
  • apparel
  • wood products
  • fertilizer

Agricultural products:

  • coffee
  • sisal
  • tea
  • cotton
  • pyrethrum (insecticide made from chrysanthemums)
  • cashew nuts
  • tobacco
  • cloves
  • corn
  • wheat
  • cassava (tapioca)
  • bananas
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • cattle
  • sheep
  • goats

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Railways:3,690 km (2004)

Road map: 78,891 km (paved: 6,808 km, unpaved:72,083 km)(2003)

Currency: Tanzanian shilling (TZS)


Telephone lines in use: 149,100 (2003)

Cellular lines in use: 1.64 million (2004)

Television Stations: 3 (1999)

Radio Stations: AM 12, FM 11, shortwave 2 (1998)

Internet users: 333,000 (2005)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 8.8% (2003 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 1.6 million (2003 est.)

More Information

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