Tanzania is a land of spectacular beauty and one of the largest countries in Africa. It lies on the east coast of Africa, just south of the Equator. It borders Kenya to Uganda the north. To the west – Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Zambia, and Malawi and Mozambique to the south.
It covers an area of 945,000 sq. km, the size of Denmark, France, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom combined. It also incorporates several offshore islands, including Unguja (Zanzibar), Pemba and Mafia Island.
Tanzania comprises coastal lowland, volcanic highlands, the Great Rift Valley and Africa’s highest peak – Mount Kilimanjaro. Tanzania is the only country in the world, which has allocated at least 25 percent of its total area to wildlife national parks and protected areas.
The total protected area is equivalent to the size of the Federal Republic of Germany and Belgium combined.
The economy is still suffering from slow growth and a shortage of foreign exchange, agriculture in particular, from poor availability of credit and equipment. However coffee, cotton, sisal, tea and diamonds are in rich supply and Zanzibar is the world’s third largest producer of cloves. State reforms have cut inflation and the budget deficit, bringing a rise in inward investment and a return to positive growth.
Tanzania is in the bottom 10% of the world’s economies in relation to per capita income.
The GDP (PPP) is 1,715 $, (nominal) 703 $. The economy is dependent on agriculture and tourism. 80% of the countries workforce is employed in agriculture. The local currency is Tanzanian shilling (TZS), however USD are also widely used.
Tanzania gained independence from Britain in the 1960’s and the first democratic elections since the 1970’s were held in 1995. Former President Julius Nyerere’s philosophy of Ujamaa (African Socialism) guided Tanzania’s development for 21 years until he retired in 1980. His successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, oversaw a relaxation of these policies and moved the country towards its first multiparty elections. Then Benjamin Mkapa, a former journalist took over as the third President of Tanzania (1999-2005). The non-acceptance by some Zanzibaris of their union with Tanganyika is still a problem and separatism is a growing force. Tanzania is a presidential constitutional republic and the current President is Jakaya Mristo Kikwete, who took office in 2005.
According to the 2014 estimates, the population was almost 52 million people. Most people live on the Northern border and on the east coast. Approximately 70% of the population is rural, and Dar es Salaam is the biggest city with close to 4,7 million inhabitants.
There are more than 120 different ethnic groups of which Sukuma, Nyamwezi, Chagga, and Haya have more than 1 million members. Both Sukuma and Nyamwezi are so-called Bantu, which is used as a general label for 300-600 ethnic groups in Africa who speak Bantu languages, in which Swahili is the largest. You also have Nilotic people which include the Luo and more famous nomadic Maasai.
More than 93% of Tanzanians say that religion is very important in their lives. Although hard to measure exactly, recent surveys have indicated that Tanzania is predominantly a Christian country (60%). Divided in 50/50 Catholic and Protestants. A large Muslim minority (35%) is divided in 41% Sunni, 15% Shia, 20% Ahmadiyya and 20% “just Muslim”).
Muslims are generally concentrated in coastal areas and in Zanzibar (where close to 99 % of the population is Muslim).
While Swahili and English are the official Tanzanian Languages, over 100 different languages are spoken in Tanzania, making it the most lingually diverse country in eastern Africa. Today, about 10% of Tanzanians speak Swahili as a first language, and up to 90% speak it as a second language. Thus; most Tanzanians speak both Swahili and a local language.