Background information; By

The United Republic of Tanzania is a union of two entities: the mainland of Tanzania, formerly known as Tanganyika, and Zanzibar, a group of islands off the Indian Ocean Coast. Zanzibar is small, with around 2,600 sq. m of territory in the two main islands of Unguja and Pemba or about the size of Luxembourg in the European Union. The mainland of Tanzania, on the other hand, is very large, about 945,000 or somewhat larger than France and Germany combined. Tanzania is bordered by Mozambique to the south and, moving clockwise, Malawi (partly across Lake Nyasa) and Zambia to the South West. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) across Lake Tanganyika to the west, Burundi and Rwanda to the northwest, Uganda and Kenya (partly across Lake Victoria (Nyanza) to the north, and the Indian Ocean to the east. Tanzania shares control over several large bodies of water with its neighbors. It has a 1,420 km shoreline on Lake Tanganyika to the west, and a 305 km shoreline on Lake Nyasa to the southwest. Its Indian Ocean Coastline is some 1,300 km long. The terrain comprises hot and humid plains along the coast, a plateau in the central area, and cooler highlands in the north and south. The northeast border with Kenya is dominated by Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. Southwards is the central plateau reaching elevations above 2000 m. annual rainfall varies from 500 mm to 1000 mm over most of the country. The highest rainfall of 1000 mm to 3000 mm occurs in the northeast of the Lake Tanganyika basin and in the Southern Highlands. Currently, the country is divided into 31 regions, five (5) in Zanzibar and twenty – six (26) in the Tanzanian mainland (read on Around Tanzania) within the section of this superb Web site. There were only 21regions in the mainland until March 2012, when five (5) new regions were announced; Geita, Katavi, Njombe, Songwe and Simiyu. Physically, the largest of the regions is Tabora on western Tanzania, with an area of just over 76,000 sq. km. There are over 120 ethnic groups in Tanzania. The largest of these is the Sukuma, followed by the Nyamwezi (the dominant group in Tabora region), and the Chagga. In Zanzibar, the dominant group is Shirazi. Despite this huge ethnic diversity or perhaps because of it – there has been little tribal strife in modern Tanzania. Christianity, Islam, and traditional African faiths all have followers in the Mainland, though the proportions appear to be in dispute. Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim.


For a little over 40 years, until the end of World War II, Tanganyika was a German colony, at first controlled by the German East African Company and then by the German state. After the war, control passed to the British. The British also controlled Zanzibar which had an Arab Sultan but had become a British Protectorate by 1890. The Germans launched the modernization and industrialization process, for example by beginning the construction of the railway line that goes through Tabora, and the British continued it. Tanganyika became autonomous in May 1961 and fully independent in December 9th, 1961, led by Prime Minister Julius Kambarage Nyerere. A year later it became a republic, with Nyerere as President.  Zanzibar became independent in 1963 and united with Tanganyika on April 26th, 1964, to form the United Republic of Tanzania. President Nyerere governed with a one party state for most of his time in office until he stepped down in 1985. His policy of African socialism, called “Ujamaa” (after a Kiswahili word meaning brotherhood or Kinship) had mixed success, with the economy suffering from the inefficiencies associated with collective farming, a large bureaucracy and poor incentives. Nonetheless, the party he founded in 1977, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Party of Revolution – CCM), has been in power continuously since its founding and has won all over 5 multi – party elections since 1995. The CCM now espouses a more private – sector – led approach to securing economic growth. The present President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, was sworn – in as Tanzania’s first female president on March 19,2020 to replace John Pombe Joseph Magufuli who suddenly died from an underlying heart condition. Magufuli was laid to rest on Friday March 26 at his ancestral village in Chato – Geita Region.

The region

Tanzania is a member of two major regional organizations. One of these is the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Although it is now primarily an economic organization, SADC began in 1980 with an objective that was as much political as economic to reduce dependence on then apartheid South Africa. It has evolved considerably since then and hopes one day soon to achieve a customs union. Negotiations were also launched in June 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to create a Tripartite Free Trade Area with two other regional organizations – the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community. The current membership of SADC stands at 15. These members including Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland (currently known as Etswatin), Tanzania, Madagascar, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Second regional organization to which Tanzania belongs is the East African Community (EAC). The EAC is one of the oldest regional co – operation arrangements in Africa. There was a custom Union among Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, then Tanganyika by 1927. It was followed by the East African High Commission (1948 – 1961), the East African Common Services Organization (1961 – 1967), and the (first) East African Community (1967– 1977). Even after the collapse of the first EAC, the member states continued their search for areas of co – operation and the eventual result was the rebirth of the EAC in July 2000. The EAC has set very ambitious goals for itself. It intends to be far more than a free (or preferential) trade area. The idea is to move from a custom union to a Common Market to a Monetary Union to, finally, political federation. The EAC Customs Union became operational on 1st January 2005. Burundi and Rwanda became full members of the EAC on 1st July 2007 and joined the Customs Union two years later. Years later on, South Sudan joined and became full remembers of the EAC, and very recently in 2022, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also became the full members of the EAC.

The economy

The Tanzanian economy has been doing quite well lately. Real GDP has grown at 6 to 7 percent for the past several years.


  • OFFICIAL NAME: United Republic of Tanzania
  • CAPITAL: Dodoma (Location of Legislature; executive in Dar es Salaam
  • FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary republic based on multiparty parliamentary democracy.
  • HEAD OF STATE: President Samia Suluhu Hassan
  • LOCATION: East Africa (Lies between latitudes 1°00’ and 11°00’S and Longitudes 30°00’ and 40°00’ E.
  • BORDER COUNTRIES: Tanzania borders Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, and (across Lake Tanganyika) the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
  • SURFACE AREA: 947,300 sq. km of which water surface covers 61,500 sq. km.
  • CLIMATE: Tropical along the coast and temperate in the highlands. Annual rainfall varies from 500 mm to 1000 mm over most of the country. Highest point Kilimanjaro 5,895 metres above sea level

POPULATION: (61.7 million people, according to the results of August 23th, 2022.

  • RELIGIONS: Christianity, Islam and Traditional African faiths. Estimates of the proportions vary. The census does not ask about religious affiliation
  • LANGUAGE: Kiswahili is the official language, along with English, which is the language of higher education and the higher levels of administration and business. Arabic is widely spoken in Zanzibar islands. There are also many local languages as well.
  • ETHNIC GROUPS: More than 130 ethnic groups in Tanzania
  • Currency: Tanzanian shilling (TZS)
  • PHYSICAL FEATURES: Coastal plains, eastern plateaus, eastern rift valley, central valley, Southern highlands and western rift valley, lakes, rivers, miombo woodland and mountains.
  • INDEPENDENCE: 9th December 1961 (Tanzania mainland, formerly known as Tanganyika) and on 26th April 1964 (Zanzibar and Tanganyika unite to form the united republic of Tanzania). The country has an executive president, elected by universal suffrage; he/ she is the head of state.
  • ALTITUDE; To 5895 meters above sea level.
  • MAJOR TOURISM ATTRACTIONS: Wildlife areas, beaches, mountains, archaeological site and cultural heritage.
  • BEST TIME TO VISIT; November to February and June to September.
  • TIME: Three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT + 3 hour)
  • ECONOMY: Mainly agriculture, tourism, and minerals.


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