Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania , is a large country in Eastern Africa within the African Great Lakes region. Parts of the country are in Southern Africa. It is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west; Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambiqueto the south; and by the Indian Ocean to the east. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain, is in northeastern Tanzania.
Tanzania's population of 51.82 million (2014) is diverse, composed of several ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. Tanzania is a presidential constitutional republic, and since 1996, its official capital city has been Dodoma, where the President's Office, the National Assembly, and some government ministries are located.Dar es Salaam, the former capital, retains most government offices and is the country's largest city, principal port, and leading commercial centre.
European colonialism began in mainland Tanzania during the late 19th century when Germany formed German East Africa, which gave way to British rule following World War I. The mainland was governed as Tanganyika, with the Zanzibar Archipelago remaining a separate colonial jurisdiction. Following their respective independence in 1961 and 1963, the two entities merged in April 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania.
A large central plateau makes up most of the mainland, at between 900 m and 1800 m. The mountain ranges of the Eastern Arc and the Southern and Northern Highlands cut across the country to form part of the Great Rift Valley.
A land of geographical extremes, Tanzania houses the highest peak (Mount Kilimanjaro), the lowest point (the lake bed of Lake Tanganyika), and a portion of the largest lake (Lake Victoria, shared with Uganda and Kenya) on the African continent.
Tanzania's weather varies from humid and hot in low lying areas, such as Dar es Salaam, to hot during the day and cool at night in Arusha. There are no discernible seasons, such as winter and summer -- only the dry and wet seasons. Tanzania has two rainy seasons: The short rains from late-October to late-December, a.k.a. the Mango Rains, and the long rains from March to May.
Many popular resorts and tourist attractions on Zanzibar and Mafia Island Marine Parkclose during the long rains season, and many trails in the national parks are impassable during this period. For that reason, in most cases tours are restricted to the main roads in the parks. Travelers should plan their trip accordingly.
During the dry season, temperatures can easily soar to above 35°C in Dar. You should seek shelter from the sun during the midday heat and use copious amounts of sunblock, SPF 30+.
Best times to visit are:
- June to August: This is the tail-end of the long rainy season and the weather is at its best at this time of year -- bearable during the day and cool in the evening. However, this is not necessarily the best time of year for safaris, as water is plentiful in the parks and animals are not forced to congregate in a few locations to rehydrate, as they do in the middle of the dry season right after Christmas.
- January to February: This is the best time to visit the Serengeti. It is usually at this time that huge herds of Wildebeest, Zebra and Buffalo migrate to better grazing areas. At this period you could observe some of the 1.5 million Wildebeest that inhabit the Serengeti undertake their epic journey. Be advised this is most likely the hottest time of year in Tanzania, when even the locals complain about the heat. You've been warned!
Wildlife and conservation
Approximately 38% of Tanzania's land area is set aside in protected areas for conservation.Tanzania has 16 national parks, plus a variety of game and forest reserves, including the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In western Tanzania, Gombe Stream National Park is the site of Jane Goodall's ongoing study of chimpanzeebehaviour, which started in 1960.
Tanzania is highly biodiverse and contains a wide variety of animal habitats. On Tanzania's Serengeti plain, white-bearded wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus mearnsi) and other bovids participate in a large-scale annual migration. Tanzania is also home to about 130 amphibian and over 275 reptile species, many of them strictly endemic and included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red Lists of different countries. Tanzania has developed a Biodiversity Action Plan to address species conservation.
According to the 2012 census, the total population was 44,928,923. The under 15 age group represented 44.1% of the population.
The population distribution in Tanzania is extremely uneven. Most people live on the northern border or the eastern coast, with much of the remainder of the country being sparsely populated. Density varies from 12 per square kilometre (31/sq mi) in the Katavi Region to 3,133 per square kilometre (8,110/sq mi) in the Dar es Salaam Region.
Approximately 70% of the population is rural, although this percentage has been declining since at least 1967. Dar es Salaam (population 4,364,541 ) is the largest city and commercial capital. Dodoma (population 410,956 ), located in the centre of Tanzania, is the capital of the country and hosts the National Assembly.
The population consists of about 125 ethnic groups. The Sukuma, Nyamwezi, Chagga, and Haya peoples have more than 1 million members each. Approximately 99% of Tanzanians are of African descent, with small numbers of Arab, European, and Asian descent. The majority of Tanzanians, including the Sukuma and the Nyamwezi, are Bantu. The Nilotic peoples include the nomadic Maasai and Luo, both of which are found in greater numbers in neighbouring Kenya.
The population also includes people of Arab, and Indian origin, and small European and Chinese communities. Many also identify as Shirazis. Thousands of Arabs and Indians were massacred during the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964. As of 1994, the Asian community numbered 50,000 on the mainland and 4,000 on Zanzibar. An estimated 70,000 Arabs and 10,000 Europeans lived in Tanzania.
Some albinos in Tanzania have been the victims of violence in recent years. Attacks are often to hack off the limbs of albinos in the perverse superstitious belief that possessing the bones of albinos will bring wealth. The country has banned witch doctors to try to prevent the practice, but it has continued and albinos remain targets.
According to 2010 Tanzanian government statistics, the total fertility rate in Tanzania was 5.4 children born per woman, with 3.7 in urban mainland areas, 6.1 in rural mainland areas, and 5.1 in Zanzibar. For all women aged 45–49, 37.3% had given birth to eight or more children, and for currently married women in that age group, 45.0% had given birth to that many children.
Current statistics on religion are unavailable because religious surveys were eliminated from government census reports after 1967. Religious leaders and sociologists estimated in 2007 that Muslim and Christian communities are approximately equal in size, each accounting for 30 to 40% of the population, with the remainder consisting of practitioners of other faiths, indigenous religions, and people of "no religion".
According to estimates from 2014, 61.4% is Christian, 35.2% of the population is Muslim, 1.8% practice Traditional African religion, 1.4 are unaffiliated with any religion, and 0.2 consisting of other religions. In the mainland while more than 99% in Zanzibar are Muslim. Of Muslims, 16% are Ahmadiyya, 20% are non-denominational Muslims, 40% are Sunni, 20% are Shia and 4% are Sufi.
The Christian population is mostly composed of Roman Catholics and Protestants. Among Protestants, the large number of Lutherans and Moravians points to the German past of the country, while the number of Anglicans point to the British history of Tanganyika. Pentecostals and Adventists are also present due to missionary activity. All of them have had some influence in varying degrees from the Walokole movement (East African Revival), which has also been fertile ground for the spread of charismatic and Pentecostal groups.
On the mainland, Muslim communities are concentrated in coastal areas; there are also some large Muslim majorities in inland urban areas and along the former caravan routes. A large majority of the Muslim population is Sunni. The Muslim population of Dar es Salaam, the largest and richest city in Tanzania, is mainly Sunni.
There are also active communities of other religious groups, primarily on the mainland, such as Buddhists, Hindus, and Bahá'ís.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. As of 2014, Tanzania's gross domestic product (GDP) was an estimated $43.8 billion, or $86.4 billion on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis. Tanzania is a middle-power country, with a per capita GDP of $1,813 (PPP), which was 32% below the average of $2,673 for the 45 sub-Saharan African countries and ranked 23rd among those countries.
From 2009 through 2013, Tanzania's per capita GDP (based on constant local currency) grew an average of 3.5% per year, higher than any other member of the East African Community (EAC) and exceeded by only nine countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Tanzania's largest trading partners in 2012 for its US $5.5 billion in exports were South Africa, Switzerland, and China. Its imports totalled US $11.7 billion, with Switzerland, China, and the United Arab Emirates being the biggest partners.
Tanzania weathered the Great Recession, which began in late 2008 or early 2009, relatively well. Strong gold prices, bolstering the country's mining industry, and Tanzania's poor integration into global markets helped to insulate the country from the downturn. Since the recession ended, the Tanzanian economy has expanded rapidly thanks to strong tourism, telecommunications, and banking sectors.
According to the United Nations Development Program, however, recent growth in the national economy has benefited only the "very few", leaving out the majority of the population. Tanzania's 2013 Global Hunger Index was worse than any other country in the EAC except Burundi. The proportion of persons who were undernourished in 2010–12 was also worse than any other EAC country except Burundi.
The level of poverty in Tanzania is very high. Tanzania has made little progress towards reducing extreme hunger and malnutrition. The 2010 Global Hunger Index ranks the situation as “alarming”. Children in rural areas suffer substantially higher rates of malnutrition and chronic hunger, although urban-rural disparities have narrowed as regards both stunting and underweight. Low rural sector productivity arises mainly from inadequate infrastructure investment; limited access to farm inputs, extension services and credit; limited technology as well as trade and marketing support; and heavy dependence on rain-fed agriculture and natural resources.
Approximately 68 percent of Tanzania's 44.9 million citizens live below the poverty line of $1.25 a day and 16 percent of children under 5 are malnourished. The most prominent challenges Tanzania faces in poverty reduction are unsustainable harvesting of its natural resources, unchecked cultivation, climate change and water- source encroachment, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
There are very few resources for Tanzanians in terms of credit services, infrastructure or availability to improved agricultural technologies, which further exacerbates hunger and poverty in the country according to the UNDP. Tanzania ranks 159 out of 187 countries in poverty according to the United Nation’s Human Development Index (2014).