Country Profiles:
Tanzania

Tanzania is located in eastern Africa within the African Great Lakes region. It borders Kenya and Uganda to the north; RwandaBurundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west; ZambiaMalawi, and Mozambique to the south; and the Indian Ocean to the east. Tanzania is considered one of the oldest known (continuously inhabited) areas on the planet and fossil remains of humans and pre-human hominids have been found there dating back over two million years. Tanzania is also home to Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain on the continent and the second deepest lake in the world, Lake Tanganyika. Tanzania became a sovereign nation in 1964 when Tanganyika and Zanzibar became separate states. Dodoma, since 1974 the designated official capital of Tanzania and Dar es Salaam, (the former capital) however, serves as the primary location where governmental administration functions are conducted, as well as being the largest city and port in the country.

The first European to reach the coast of East African was Vasco da Gama, an explorer from Portugal in 1498. Arabs from Oman drove the Portuguese out in the early 18th century, and claimed the coastal strip. In the late 19th century, Germany conquered the regions that are now Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi, and incorporated them into Tanganyika, a part of German East Africa. After World War II, Tanganyika became a UN territory under British control, and subsequent years witnessed Tanganyika moving gradually toward self-government and independence – which they achieved relatively peacefully in 1961.

UNESCO Heritage sites in Tanzania include:

1. Kilimanjaro National Park

The volcanic massif Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest point at 5,895 meters (19,341 ft), and is surrounded by a park with savanna and forest featuring numerous mammals.

2. Kondoa Rock-Art Sites

Two millennia of rock carving, many of high artistic value, have been found at 150 shelters in the site. They tell the tale of socio-economic development from hunter-gatherer to agro-pastoralism.

3. Ngorongoro Conservation Area

The site features a concentration of wild animals in a crater beside the active volcano Oldonyo Lengai. The area is named after Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera within the area. The conservation area is administered by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, an arm of the Tanzanian government, and its boundaries follow the boundary of the Ngorongoro Division of the Arusha Region.

4. Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara

The site features the remains of two ports used extensively for trade across the Indian Ocean from the 13th and 16th century. It was placed onto the list of List of World Heritage in Danger by the World Heritage Committee in 2004, citing “the continuing deterioration and the serious threats affecting the property of the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara.” Conditions subsequently improved and the site was removed from the World Heritage in Danger list in 2014.

3. Selous Game Reserve

The park’s vegetation varies from dense thickets to open wooded grasslands, and features large numbers of elephants, black rhinoceros, cheetahs, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles. It was placed onto the list of List of World Heritage in Danger by the World Heritage Committee in 2014 due to widespread poaching, especially of elephants and rhinoceros.

4. Serengeti National Park

The vast savanna is known for the annual migration for herds of wildebeestgazelle, zebras, and their predators.

5. Stone Town of Zanzibar

A prime example of an East African coastal trading town, its urban fabric and townscape remains intact.

Shortly after achieving independence from Britain, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964.

Power was handed over to Ali Hassan Mwinyi in 1985, and by October 1995, the country’s first multiparty elections were held in which Mwinyi was elected. The former foreign minister Jakaya Kikwete, was elected president in 2005 with 80% of the vote. The current president, John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for his energetic road-building drive and reputation for honesty as minister, came to power in 2015. President John Magufuli promises to boost economic performance and fight corruption.

Tanzania’s economy relies mostly on agriculture, employing 80% of the workforce. Export cash crops such as Coffee and cotton counts for the most foreign exchange for the country. However, other exports include cashew nuts, tea, tobacco, and sisal. Zanzibar was also once the source of more than nine-tenths of the world’s cloves, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The two main natural resources are gold and natural gas. Gold is an important resource and the country’s most valuable export. Natural gas is exported to various markets overseas. Other mineral resources are diamonds, kaolin, gypsum, tin, and various gemstones, including tanzanite, large deposits of coal, phosphate, and nickel. Tanzania is home to two renowned tourism destinations – mount Kilimanjaro, and wildlife-rich national parks such as the Serengeti, although the Serengeti has become a target for poachers, according to the BBC.

There are about 125 ethnic groups in Tanzania. The SukumaNyamweziChagga, and Haya peoples each have a population exceeding 1 million. Approximately 99 percent 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. Tanzania has two official languages, Swahili (kiSwahili) and EnglishSwahili is the national language, and is a composite of several Bantu dialects and Arabic. Swahili is the lingua franca of the country, and virtually all Tanzanians speak it.

Cuisine in Tanzania is as rich as the diversity found in the country – a fusion of diverse cultural influences. Tanzanian cuisine is based on three main ingredients: Coconut and its derivatives are used to cook most of the dishes; Plantains; and Beans. Every Tanzanian meal contains one or a combination of these ingredients. Also, groundnuts are used as spices to add some flavors to the dishes. Popular dishes includes: Coconut Bean Soup; Pilau (or Pilaf); Ugali (The National dish); Nyama Choma; Ndayu; Ndizi Kaagan.

There are many types of traditional dances and traditional musical instruments. A traditional guitar was a big fiddle with a resonator made from a coconut shell and this was common along the Coast. The “marimba” is a common musical instrument among many tribes especially around Dodoma. The small wooden box is the resonator for an array of metal springs of different lengths which are touched by the thumb to produce music. The drum is one of the most important African musical instruments. There are various types, shapes and sizes. Drums were also used in traditional days to announce arrival or departure of traditional leaders or to keep a rhythm or morale to farming societies through a dance called Gobogobo. Some drums were used to summon people to meet the ruler or as battle cry.

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