Tanzania

Population     49.25 Million

Geography

Tanzania is a large country, situated in East Africa and on the Indian Ocean. This geographically diverse country shares borders with a number of different countries, with Uganda and Kenya to its north; Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to its west; and Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi to its south.

The geography of Tanzania does not disappoint, as it includes some of Africa’s most well-known geographical features. Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, at 5,895 m (19,340 ft), is situated in the north of the country, near the city of Arusha. Not far from this magnificent site is the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact caldera and home to some of Africa’s most spectacular animals. The Serengeti, one of the world’s most famous national parks and a must not miss safari site, is also situated nearby, in the north of the country.

There are also a number of notable bodies of water in the country. To the east is situated the Indian Ocean, speckled with beautiful, well-known islands, including Zanzibar. Tanzania is also home to three of the best-known lakes in Africa: Victoria, in the north; Tangamyika, in the west; and Nyasa, in the south. Finally, the Rufiji River runs approximately 53 meters (175 feet), from the northeast to east of the country, emptying in the Indian Ocean.

People/Groups

Tanzania’s cultural diversity is only surpassed by a few countries in the world. The country has over 120 different tribes, with some of the world’s oldest groups, such as the bushmen who are scattered throughout the country, as well as most well-known, including the Masai, the tall, warrior tribe that occupies much of the north of the country. Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the country is comprised of native-Africans and one percent (1%) non-African, including Asian, Arabic and European.

Taking the diversity of the country into account, one of the most notable features of this east African country is that its people largely identify as Tanzanian, above identifying with a certain tribe. Perhaps as a result, the country has a long standing history of peace and acceptance amongst its many tribes.

Tanzania is not only ethnically diverse, but also religiously diverse. Approximately one third of the population identifies as Christian, a third as Muslim and the remaining with indigenous religions. Asian religions, such as Hindu, Buddhism and Sikh, are practiced by the Asian population.

Languages

While each of the over 120 tribes in Tanzania has their own, unique language, these languages are becoming less commonly used. The primary reason for this is a decision by the government to set the official language to Kiswahili (Swahili), in an effort to better unify the people. Additionally, English has been in use since colonization by the British and continues to be taught at the high school and university levels and there is a high level of fluency in both English and Swahili, throughout the country. While this may and should be viewed positively, as it has helped promote development and unity, it has also had a negative impact on the regularity in which other, native languages are used.

 

Political Structure

Tanzania is a republic, which gained its independence in 1964. The Constitution, which was rewritten once, in 1977, sets forth that the country’s legal system will be based on the British system of common law. The country has three branches of government, with a National Assembly, with a total of 295 members, heading the legislative branch and a president, limited to two terms of five years. Following the long reign of Julius Nyerere, from 1960 to 1985, Tanzania has had a consistent democratic government, with no president remaining in power for more than the ten-year limit. The current president is John Magufuli.

 

Art

There is a wealth of beautiful art in Tanzania, with each of the various ethnic groups having their own unique crafts to offer. As you wander around different areas, you will see various art stands and craft markets. Aside from just traditional items, there are also a number of very talented artists that are sure to send you home with something beautiful, whether it be something to wear, artwork to hang or a handcrafted wooden sculpture.

 

Some of the most unique items include:

  • Fabric (look especially for Masai tartans)

  • Kangas (colorful, sarong-like pieces of cloth with Swahili sayings)

  • Tinga-tinga paintings

  • Woven baskets

  • Jewelry

  • Wood carvings

  • Ostrich eggs (emptied and cleaned, then painted and decorated)

  • Masai shields

  • Tanzanite (purple gem-stone)   

 

Holidays

The religious diversity of Tanzania is reflected in the primary holidays celebrated in the country. Christmas and Easter are celebrated by the Christian communities and are often marked by colorful, traditional celebrations. Eid ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, is one of the most anticipated holidays of the Muslim community and those members of the large Indian population that identify as Hindu host colorful celebrations for Narrati and Diwali, two major holidays in the Hindu religion.

Saba Saba, on July 7, celebrating the founding of Tanzanian political parties and Nane Nane, on August 8, which celebrates the country’s farmers, are two large holidays, celebrated throughout the country, by all groups.

Other notable holidays include:

  • Zanzibar Revolution Day (January)

  • Karume Day (April)

  • Union Day (April)

  • Worker’s Day (May 1)

  • Mualinu Nyerere Day (October)

 

Universities

Higher education in Tanzania is a relatively new introduction, with the first university in the country being established in 1970. While the government is pushing an initiative to create a well-educated population by 2025, including assuring that there is an increase in enrollment in university and technical schools, there is still a significant amount of progress to make, as the current level of adults with university or equivalent remains significantly lower than other countries in the region.

The top universities in Tanzania include:

  • University of Dar Es Salaam

  • Sokoine University of Agriculture

  • Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences

  • Open University of Tanzania

  • Hubert Kairuki Memorial University

  • Mzumbe University

  • Institute of Finance Management

  • Mkwawa University College of Education

  • Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology

 

Literacy       67.8%

 

Imports/Exports

Political stability in Tanzania, coupled with strong resources, has led to consistent economic growth. The country has a long history of high growth and low inflation, which have allowed it to enjoy stronger economic stability than many of its African counterparts.

 

The top exports of Tanzania include:

  • Gold

  • Raw Tobacco

  • Precious Metal Ore

  • Other Oily Seeds

  • Copper Ore

 

The top imports include:

  • Refined Petroleum

  • Palm Oil

  • Packaged Medicaments

  • Cars

  • Wheat