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Tanzania Facts

The United Republic of Tanzania was formed when the republic of Tanganyika merged with the republic of Zanzibar in 1964 following the end of British colonial rule.

Capital city:

Main City:


Dar es Salaam




Swahili & English

Democratic, Stable

Currency: Tanzanian Shilling
Size: 945,087km2 \ 364,900mile2
Coastline: 1,424km \885miles


32 million


Religion: Christian & Muslim
Climate: Average Temp: 27ºC (80ºF)





Tanzania Flag

Tanzania Flag

Green stands for the land.
Gold symbolises the country's mineral wealth.
Black represents the Tanzanian people.
Blue represents the sea.


Brief History

Persian and  Arabs settled in 7th and 10th centuries and their descendants were know as Shirazis or Swhaili.  In the late 15th century the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama explored the East African coast.  By 1506, the Portuguese claimed control over the entire coast.  The Germans arrived in Tanganyika in the 1880s, and the British took over in 1919.  Tanganyika finally gained independence in 1961, whilst Zanzibar gained independence in 1963.  The United Republic of Tanzania was formed when the republic of Tanganyika merged with the Republic of Zanzibar in 1964.


The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama explored the East African coast.  By 1506, the Portuguese claimed control over the entire coast.

1850s European exploration of the interior began.
1886 German/ Anglo agreement divided East Africa.
1919 Treaty of Versailles awarded the British a League of Nations mandate to take Tanganyika from German control.
1947 Tanganyika Became a Trust Territory of the UN under control of the British.
1961 Tanganyika gained independence; Julius Nyerere became 1st President.
1963 Zanzibar gained Independence.
1964 United Republic of Tanzania formed, uniting Tanganyika & Zanzibar.



Tanzania is vast and covers almost a million square kilometres, with a coastline of almost a thousand kilometres.  The Rift valley is split in two; the Western and Eastern Rift Valleys, with the Central Plateau between these two branches.  At 5895m, Mt Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain, (and the world's tallest free-standing mountain), and lies near the northern boundary of Tanzania.  Part of Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest freshwater lake lies in Tanzania, as does part of Lake Tanganyika, the second deepest lake in the world.  The Tanzanian government is committed to conservation, and has set aside 14% of its land as parksSelous Game Reserve is Africa’s largest park, covering 5% of Tanzania’s area.


Government and Economy

The Tanzanian mainland and Zanzibar have separate presidents, each serving 5 year terms, and the judicial branch is based on the English common law system.  The country is divided into 25 regions - 20 on the mainland and 5 on the islands - which are further divided into 130 districts.  Tanzania remains one of the world's poorest countries.  However, agriculture is a significant industry and accounts for almost half the country's GDP, and export of coffee, cotton and cashew nuts provides revenue.  Mining activities include diamond, gold and tanzanite mines.



People and lifestyle

Tanzania has a population of more than 32 million people, with over 120 different ethnic groups, most of whom are descendents of the Bantu.  The majority of Tanzanians live in rural areas, although about 2 million people live in its largest city, Dar es Salaam.  Family life is important and life's important events are celebrated by the entire family clan in these rural areas.  However, life is tough and infant mortality rates are high and life expectancy is low, with men living to 43 years, and women living to 46 years.  Despite the poverty, Tanzania boasts one of Africa's highest literacy rates (78%).  About a third of the population practices each of indigenous beliefs, Islam and Christianity, whilst almost all Zanzibaris and Pembans practice Islam.



Language and Arts

Swahili is the national language and one of over 87 spoken languages in Tanzania, whilst English is the second national language.  The word Swahili comes from sawahili, which is Arabic for "of the coast".

Drums have been used historically for significant events, whilst dances of indigenous groups express a variety of emotions.  The famous ngoma is a traditional dance used to celebrate special occasions.  Tribal groups vary in dance styles - the Maasai leap in the air and chant, the Sukuma hold live snakes, whilst the Makonde shake their bottoms!  The Makonde are renowned for their mask and figurine wood carvings, whilst the Maasai produce stunning designs on their shields and spears as well as decorative beadwork in ceremonial collars.  Zanzibaris carve doors with elaborate designs reflecting the island's Arabic heritage - the oldest is said to date back to 1694.


Leisure and Festivals

Tanzanians enjoy socialising and transmit social and cultural values through storytelling to both young and old.  Popular folklore stories include those about the Kibo and Mawenzi, two of Mt Kilimanjaro’s peaks.  Bao is a popular board game that involves playing with seeds on a board with four rows of hollow pits carved into it.  Tanzanians enjoy sport such as soccer, netball and running.  Despite a lack of funding, some runners have won medals at international events such as the Commonwealth Games, even breaking world records in the 1970s.

Independence Day is celebrated on 9 December with military parades and the Uhuru Torch race (Uhuru is Swahili for independence).  The annual Dhow festival occurs on Zanzibar island, with many events including dhow races.  Islamic Tanzanians celebrate the end of the fasting period, Ramadan, with Idd-El-Fitr and during Idd-El-Hajj, the wealthier Muslims take a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.


Local Food

The staple food of most Tanzanians is ugali, a dough-like porridge – eaten with meat, stew or vegetables.  In the coastal regions, the staple food is pilaf, or rice.  A favourite snack is the sweet, fried bread mandaazi.  Sugarcane juice is a favourite drink, and seafood is popular on Zanzibar Island.

Tanzania caters for international travellers and has a wide variety of restaurants to suit all tastes.



Information obtained from:
Wakabi W. (2004). Tanzania. Times Editions - Marshal Cavendish, Singapore.



Presidents of Tz









Market Day




Maasai Beadwork



Bao Game




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