Tanzania Country Profile

LOCATION:Tanzania is located in East Africa. It is bordered by 8 countries with the Indian Ocean to its east, Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa in its northwest, Lake Tanganyika on its western edge and Lake Nyasa in the south-central. Its bordering countries, moving counter clockwise from 12 o’clock, are Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi and finally Mozambique.

GEOGRAPHY: Located just below the equator, Tanzania is 945,087 sq km, of which 59,050 sq km is made up of its 3 lakes. This area includes the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia which along with the mainland of Tanzania comprise the Nation of Tanzania. Comparatively, it occupies an area slightly larger than twice the size of the U.S. State of California. Its coastline with the Indian Ocean spans 1,424km. Tanzania also boasts Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa at 5,895 m. It is also home to the famed Serengeti Plains, the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater and intersected by the Great Rift Valley. These attractions, including Selous, the largest Game Park in Africa, make it a destination of nearly a million visitors each year.

POPULATION: Tanzania has population of 42,746,620, with a median age of 18.5 yrs and a life expectancy of 52.85 years. It should be noted that the low average life expectancy has been influenced heavily by the scourge of AIDS and a high infant mortality rate. Tanzania has over 130 tribes, united by the common language of Swahili. The Hazabe tribe, still living a life as hunters and gathers, is thought to be the second oldest people group in the world. Thirty percent of the population practices Christianity, 35% Islam and 35% retain their indigenous belief systems.However, the island of Zanzibar is over 99% Islam as a result of their early and long held colonization by Arab slave and spice traders. Tanzania has historically been home to the highest number of refugees in Africa. This population mainly comes from the war-torn countries of Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC.

Government and Political History: Tanzania is a democracy with a President, Prime Minster and Parliament. It gained its independence from Britain in 1964 when the mainland, formally known as Tanganyika, joined with Zanzibar to form the Nation of Tanzania. Its ruling party since independence has been Chama cha Mapindizi, (Party of the Revolution), and the president is Jakaya Kikwete. Tanzania is considered to be one of the most stable and peaceful countries on the continent of Africa, having been at peace for over thirty years, since they overthrew the infamous dictator of Uganda, Iddi Amin, in 1969, after Ugandan forces invaded northwestern Tanzania. Its capital city is Dodoma and its commercial center is the port city of Dar es Salaam.

Economy: While the economy of Tanzania has a steady growth rate above 7%, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with 36% of the population living below the national poverty line. The average household income (PPP) is only $1,500 USD. Over 80% of its population relies on sustenance farming to make their livelihood, with a significant portion of the population also relying on raising livestock and poultry. Their mining sector, especially for diamonds, gold and Tanzanite, a precious stone found only in Tanzania, comprise one of their most important industries. Tourism to its national parks, hosting more than any other country in Africa, is also an important factor adding to their GNP. Its export markets include coffee, cashew nuts and cotton.

(Unless otherwise noted statistics provided by the CIA World Factbook 2011)

~ Click here for A Map of Tanzania ~

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