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Madagascar is an island in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa, is the fourth-largest island in the world and previously known as the Malagasy Republic. The island is characterized by its early isolation from the continent and India due to the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian peninsula around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. There are over 200,000 species on the island and between 80 and 90 percent being endemic. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The capital city of Antananarivo (formerly Tananarive).

These early settlers began to move inland around 600 AD, clearing the central Highlands and planting taro and rice. These people became known as the Vazimba, while the remaining inhabitants on the southwestern coast became known as the Vezo. Trading posts were established along the northwestern coast, and the influence of the Arab culture spread. The island served as an important trading port during this time, and gave Africa a route to the Silk Road. both the Portuguese and French tried (unsuccessfully) to establish settlements on the island. Between 1680 and 1725, Madagascar transformed into a pirate haven with such notable pirates as William Kidd, Henry Every, John Bowen and Thomas Tew using Antongil Bay as a base for their operations. Merchant ships were plundered in the Indian Ocean, Red Sea and the Persian Gulf by said pirates. European ships were stripped of their silks, cloth, spices, and jewels, while Indian cargo ships were robbed of their coins, gold, and silver.

In 1895, France invaded and declared the island a colony. During their ruling, plantations were built for the exportation of crops, and additional school were built with education becoming mandatory between the ages of 6 to 13. On October 14, 1958, Madagascar was proclaimed an autonomous state within the French community. This provisional government ended in 1959 with the adoption of a new constitution and on June 26, 1960, Madagascar gained full independence. After Madagascar gained its independence, assassinations, military coups and disputed elections followed. In a military coup in 1975, Didier Ratsiraka took power and ruled until 2001, except for a short period of time when he was ousted in the early 1990's. In the presidential elections of December 2001, both Ratsiraka and his opponent, Marc Ravalomanana, claimed victory. Eight months later, following violence and economic disruption, a recount was held and Ravalomanana was declared Madagascar's newest president. In January 2009, a power struggle began between Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, former mayor of the capital, Antananarivo. On March 17, 2009 Ravalomanana resigned and assigned his powers to a military council loyal to him. The military supported Rajoelina and called Ravalomanana's move a ploy. The European Union, along with other international entities, refuses to recognize the new government. In the 2013 election, Hery Raonarimampianina was elected president.

Madagascar produces about two-thirds of the world's vanilla. The vanilla bean (or pod) is the only edible fruit-bearing orchid. Each flower opens only one day a year and must be hand-pollinated to produce a pod, which is very labor intensive. Madagascar vanilla has a creamy, sweet, velvety flavor that can be used to make dessert baked goods, ice creams, salad dressings and barbecue sauces. There is a wide variety of gems and semiprecious stones, including garnet, amethyst, tourmaline, and beryl, and the discovery of sapphires in Madagascar in the late 1990s was especially significant: by the beginning of the 21st century, about half of the world’s sapphires were mined in Madagascar. Mineral deposits include chromite, which is found north of Antananarivo and in the southeast at Ranomena; ilmenite (titanium ore) a source thought to represent one of the world’s largest reserves of titanium; low-grade iron ore, found in scattered deposits in the southern half of the island; and low-grade coal, north of Toliara and inland from Besalam. Nickel and cobalt are mined at Toamasina; the mine, opened in 2007, is among the largest in the world. contains smaller deposits of zircon, monazite, bauxite, lead, graphite, quartzite, jasper, gold, uranothorianite, bentonite, kaolin, columbite, and alunite. Although there are many narrow valleys and magnificent waterfalls, especially on the eastern escarpment, only a small number of them have been harnessed for electric power generation.

The Malagasy ethnic group forms over 90 percent of Madagascar's population and is typically divided into eighteen ethnic sub-groups. The largest and most dominant of the groups is the Merina people, who are scattered throughout the island. The name Merina (Imerina) is said to mean Elevated People, deriving from the fact that they lived on the plateau. The second largest group is the Betsimisaraka, then Betsileo, the Tsimihety, Sakalava, the Antandro, the Tanala,  and the Antaimoro. Most inhabitants of Madagascar speak Malagasy, the national language, which is written in the Latin alphabet. Although Madagascar is located geographically close to Bantu-speaking Africa, Malagasy is a standardized version of Merina, an Austronesian language. French is also widely spoken and is officially recognized. It is used as a medium of instruction, especially in the upper grade levels, as is Malagasy. English is also spoken and its use has increased.


Madagascar has a rich and diverse culture that is reflected in its wide variety of culinary offerings. Madagascar cuisine reflect the influence of Southeast Asian, African, Indian, Chinese and European migrants. French cooking techniques and influences are used in most of the meals prepared in Madagascar. Popular dishes includes: Romazava, Lasopy soup, akoho misy sakamalao or poulet saute a la Bordelaise.

The Austronesian, African, Arabic and European contribution formed a common basis for musicians and traditional singers of Madagascar. More than 100 musical instruments have since been listed as having secular origins. The ‘Valiha’ (zither pipe) and ‘marovany’ (a box zither) are the undisputed kings of traditional music instruments of Madagascar. The first is a cousin of the second, and both are played in most of the country as a legacy to the island’s Malayo-Polynesian heritage.


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UNESCO Heritage sites in Madagascar include:

1. Rainforests of the Atsinanan

The site consists of six national parks, and protects the island's unique biodiversity, which has evolved in isolation for 60 million years. The park was deemed to be in danger in 2010, when logging and hunting activities continued to escalate, despite a ban by Madagascar on exporting illegal timber.

2. Royal Hill of Ambohimanga

The royal city and burial site is a spiritual and sacred site which has created strong feelings of national identity for several centuries.

3. Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve

The canyon of the Manambolo River comprises karstic and limestone landscapes cut into peaks and a forest of limestone needles. It also holds undisturbed forests, lakes and mangrove swamps, which are the habitat for lemurs and birds.



Mauritius is an island country archipelago in the Indian Ocean, located in the eastern coast of the continent. The country includes the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues. The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues form part of the Mascarene Islands, along with nearby Réunion, a French overseas department. Mauritius, is a model of stability, racial harmony and economic prosperity, according to the BBC. The capital is Port Louis named after the naval port built by the French.


Mauritius was a Dutch colony, however, less than a hundred years after settlement the Dutch deserted the colonies.  Although not long after the Dutch abandoned Mauritius, the French arrived and constructed a naval base and shipbuilding center they called Port Louis. The French lost the island amidst the Napoleonic wars as Britain successfully overpowered the base in 1810. In 1936, following conflicts between the Indian community and Franco-Mauritians, the Mauritius Labor Party was founded. This coalition became a catalyst in the push for an independent nation, which was achieved in 1968. Recent elections having taken place in December 2014, in the l'Alliance Lepep and elected Sir Anerood Jugnauth of the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) as Prime Minister. Ameenah Gurib was sworn in 2015 as the first woman president. Her excellency is an internationally renowned scientist and biologist and hold expertise in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. The official language is English.

Since gaining their independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed into a diversified economy. Sugarcane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of the nation's export. Electricity is largely generated from imported petroleum, with a small percentage derived from hydropower. Sugar plantations often use bagasse—the fiber that remains from sugarcane after sugar-bearing juice is extracted—as fuel to produce electricity. Mauritius has few viable mineral resources. Basalt and lime are mined. Mauritius has the seventh-highest GDP per capita on the continent, according to World Atlas. In 2009, according to the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, the Mauritius government was rated the highest on the continent for its participation and human rights and its sustainable economic opportunity.

Subsequent to a Constitutional amendment in 1982, there is no need for Mauritians to reveal their ethnic identities for the purpose of population census. Official statistics on ethnicity are not available, besides the 1972 census was the last one to measure ethnicity. Approximately two-thirds of the population is of Indo-Pakistani origin, most of whom are descendants of indentured labourers brought to work in the sugar industry during the 19th and early 20th centuries. About one-fourth of the population is Creole (of mixed French and African descent).

Landmarks and major tourist sites include:

Cuisine in Mauritius is a blend of Creole, French, Chinese, European and Indian influences. Dishes from French cuisine have grown very popular in Mauritius. Popular dishes includes: Mazavaroo, Dholl pori, Gaak, Dim sum, Bol devire or bol renverse, Chow mein, Fish Vindaye, Aloud, Mithai, Victoria pineapples, Gateau patat douce.

Music in Mauritius Island, the cultural melting pot of the Indian Ocean, is at the crossroads of several musical styles. Sega is however the unifying musical genre. The Sega is a dance which originated from the ritual music of Madagascar and the mainland of Africa, and it is the Musical Expression of the Mauritian Way of Life: Joy and Liveliness. Originally sung by men and women who had been sold as slaves but whose souls had remained sensitive to music, the Sega is nowadays a folksong which has integrated itself within the framework of our folklore.

UNESCO Heritage sites in Mauritius include:

1. Aapravasi Ghat

Aapravasi Ghat was the first site chosen by the British government to take part in the "Great Experiment", where indentured laborers were used instead of slaves. Between 1834 and 1920, almost half a million contracted workers passed through Port Louis from India, either to work in Mauritius or to transfer to other British colonies.

2. Le Morne Cultural Landscape

The rugged mountain that juts into the ocean was used as a shelter by runaway slaves through the 18th and early 19th centuries. They formed small settlements in the caves and on its summit.



Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands located in the Indian Ocean, on the eastern part of the continent. Other nearby island countries and territories include Comoros, Mayotte (region of France), Madagascar, Réunion (region of France) and Mauritius to the south. With a population of about 94,228, it has the smallest population on the continent; however, it does have a larger population than the British overseas territory Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. The capital is Victoria situated on the island of Mahé.


Pre-European colonization the islands were known by Arab navigators on trading voyages, but were never inhabited. Eventually Seychelles was settled by France in the 18th century, but it wasn't long before the British fought for control. A lengthy struggle between France and Great Britain for the islands ended in 1814, when they were ceded to the latter. Although the new governor to the islands was British, he governed according to French rules, and allowed previous French customs to remain intact. Independence for the islands came in on June 29th 1976, after the Seychelles People's United Party was formed and led by France-Albert Rene, campaigning for socialism and freedom from Britain. Socialism was brought to a close with a new constitution and free elections in 1993. President France-Albert Rene, who had served since 1977, was re-elected in 2001, but stepped down in 2004. Vice President James Michel took over the presidency and in July 2006 was elected to a new five-year term. The current president, Danny Faure was sworn in as president in October 2016 and is to complete the five-year term of outgoing President James Michel, who resigned. President Faure was previously a vice president. He is a former finance minister, a governor of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the African Development Bank, according to the BBC.

After proclamation of independence, Seychelles has developed from a largely agricultural society to a market-based diversified economy, with agriculture being supplanted by rapidly rising and heavily dependent upon the service sector in general and the tourism industry in particular. Although the country is heavily dependent on imported food, however, copra (from coconuts), cinnamon bark, vanilla, tea, limes, and essential oils are exported. Seychelles has a modern fishing industry that supplies both domestic and foreign markets; canned tuna is a particularly important export product. Each year Seychelles draws thousands of tourists, many attracted by the islands’ magnificent venues for scuba diving, surfing, windsurfing, fishing, swimming, and sunbathing. The warm southeasterly trade winds offer ideal conditions for sailing, and the waters around Mahé and the other islands are afloat with small boats. The overall aspect of those islands, with their lush tropical vegetation, is that of high hanging gardens overlooking silver-white beaches and clear lagoons. Seychelles is also  home to an array of wildlife, including giant tortoises and sea turtles. Much of the land is protected as part of nature reserves. The country enjoys a high per capita income, good health care and education.

Upon gaining control of the island, the British allowed the French upper class to retain their land. Therefore, Seychelles has no indigenous population, the current Seychellois are composed of people who have immigrated. The largest ethnic groups were those of African, French, Indian and Chinese descent. Through harmonious socioeconomic policies and developments over the years, Seychelles is described as a fusion of peoples and cultures. Numerous Seychellois are considered multiracial: as a result of intermarriages the population is composed of mixed descent - blending from African, Asian and European descent to create a modern creole culture. The official languages are English, French, Seychellois Creole.


Evidence of this harmonious blend is also revealed in Seychellois food, incorporating various aspects of French, Chinese, Indian and African cuisine. Piquancy is one of the greatest assets of the Seychellois cuisine due to the combination of different spices, making it a must-taste experience for when you soon visit the Seychelles. Hundreds of aromas bring a unique exclusivity to the cooking world. Popular dishes includes: Brèdes, a native type of spinach, Carii coco, meat or fish curry with coconut cream, Bourzwa, a red snapper seafood delicacies, Tuna and King Fish are among the favorites, and they are often fried or grilled in a garlic-butter sauce.

Music and dance have always played a prominent role in the Seychelles' culture and in all types of local festivities. Many traditional bands were formed with the birth of ‘kanmtole’ and ‘kontredans’ -- traditional dances of European origin. musical instruments such as, Banjo, Accordion, Triangle, Drums, Violin and Acoustic Guitar are widely used. Several styles such as Sega, Moutya, Maloya, Zouk and Seggae are the most popular styles of music.

Landmarks and maor tourist sites include:

UNESCO Heritage sites in Seychelles include:

1. Aldabra Atoll

The Aldabra Atoll consists of four large coral islands and a lagoon, surrounded by a coral reef. The islands are home to the world's largest population of giant tortoises.

2. Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve

The natural palm forest is preserved in almost its original state. It consists of a well-preserved palm forest, flagship species made up of the island endemic coco de mer, as well as five other endemic palms. The coco de mer (Lodoicea maldivica), a monocot tree in the Arecaceae (palm family), has the largest seeds (double nut seed) of any plant in the world. Also unique to the park is its wildlife, including birds such as the rare Seychelles black parrot, mammals, crustaceans, snails, and reptiles. This forest, with its primitive plant and animal species, is a relict from the time when the supercontinent of Gondwana was divided into smaller parts, leaving the Seychelles islands between the present day Madagascar and India.



Somalia located in the Horn of the continent. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Kenya to the southwest. Somalia has the longest coastline on the continent in mainland and its terrain consists mainly of plateaus, plains and highlands. The capital, Mogadishu, is located just north of the Equator on the Indian Ocean. Somalia has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period.Ancient Somalia domesticated the camel during the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC, and developed a profitable trade system.

In antiquity, Somalia was an important commercial center. It is among the most probable locations of the fabled ancient Land of Punt. During the Middle Ages, several powerful Somali empires dominated the regional trade, including the Ajuran Empire, the Adal Sultanate, the Warsangali Sultanate, and the Geledi Sultanate. The Adal and Ajuuraan kingdoms flourished during the Middle Ages, and their successor states continued to thrive through the 19th century. In the late 19th century, through a succession of treaties with these kingdoms, the British and Italian empires gained control of parts of the coast and established the colonies of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland. In the interior, Mohammed Abdullah Hassan's Dervish State repelled the British Empire four times and forced it to retreat to the coastal region, and sparked one of the longest colonial resistance wars in history. Eentually due to British airpower, Mohammed Abdullah Hassan succumbed to defeat in 1920.


Britain withdrew from British Somaliland in 1960 in order to allow its protectorate to join with Italian Somaliland and form the new nation of Somalia. In 1969, a coup headed by Mohamed Siad Barre ushered in an authoritarian socialist rule that managed to impose a degree of stability in the country for a couple of decades. Following the regime's overthrow early in 1991, Somalia descended into decades of turmoil, factional fighting and anarchy. In June 2006, a coalition of clerics, business leaders and Islamic court militias, the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC), defeated powerful Mogadishu warlords and took control of the capital. President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed resigned from office in December 2008, and a month later Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was elected president.

Conflict continues in the southern and central parts of the country between government troops and extremist Islamist militants with links to al-Qaeda. A famine struck Somalia in 2011 following the worst drought of East Africa in 60 years. From 2005-2012 Pirates mainly operating out of Puntland - pose a major menace to shipping off the Somali coast, before falling away as a threat as a result of an international naval operation, according to the BBC. Relief from all over the world poured in, and by February 2012 the UN announced that the food crisis was over. In spite of the civil unrest, the economy has remained healthy, primarily based on livestock, money transfer companies and telecommunications. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmajo, was elected by MPs gathered under tight security in a hangar at the airport of the capital Mogadishu in February 2017.

By far the most important sector of the Somali economy is agriculture, with livestock raising surpassing crop growing and earning about three-fifths of Somalia’s foreign exchange. Deposits of the clay mineral sepiolite, or meerschaum, are among the largest known reserves in the world. Reserves of natural gas have been found but have not been exploited. Other mineral deposits such as, sea salt, tin, phosphate, gypsum, guano, coal, iron ore, and uranium.


About 85% of local residents are ethnic Somalis. They have traditionally been organized into nomadic pastoral clans, loose empires, sultanates and city-states. The Somali group are divided into numerous clans, which are groups that trace their common ancestry back to a single father. These clans, are subdivided into numerous sub-clans combine at a higher level to form clan families. Some of the major clans are the Daarood, Isaaq, Ogaden, the Hawiye, Dir and Tunni. Somali and Arabic are the official languages of the country, both of which belong to the Afro-asiatic family.

Cuisine in Somalia uses the cereals commonly grown across the country. The pastoral nomads live solely on dairy products, goat meat and grain brought with money earned from the sale of animals. Pasta is eaten in some of the more urbanized areas – particularly those parts of Somalia that came under the influenced of the Italians. The coastline provides for an abundance of seafood and fish. Popular dishes includes: Teff Pancakes with Ricotta and Spinach, Suqaar Lettuce Cups, Black Quinoa, Hulled Millet, Artichoke and Pomegranate Salad, Cabbage with Kashmiri Chilli and Sesame Seeds, Vegetable Risotto, Chickpea Pancakes with Turmeric, Chilli and Cumin, Canjeelo  (Canjeero or Laxoox), Cambuulo iyo Maraq (Rice with Adzuki Beans in a Spicy Tomato Sauce), Shushumow (Somali Crystallized Pastry Shells).

Somalia has a rich musical heritage centered on traditional Somali folklore. With the advent of Arabic and English invasion, the music of Somalia has resulted into a fine blend of both the African and the Arabic notes. The musical instruments that are used in the music of Somalia include frame drums from Egypt and the West Indian Lutes. The Islamic influence in Somali music is evident from the oud and the Egyptian style orchestra. Somali music also constitutes the Arabic microtonal scales and the pentatonic.

Landmarks and major tourist sites in Somalia include:

UNESCO Heritage sites in Somalia include:



Rwanda is a landlocked country in east-central Africa, located a few degrees south of the Equator. Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. Rwanda is often referred to as le pays des mille collines (French: “land of a thousand hills”). Rwanda is among the smallest countries on the continent with the highest  population density. The capital is Kigali, located in the center of the country on the Ruganwa River.

Rwanda's ethnic groups are structured into various clans: the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. The Tutsi Nyiginya clan grew to be the more dominant, and during the 19th century, under the reign of King Kigeli Rwabugiri, reached its greatest expansion. The territory of Rwanda was assigned to Germany as part of German East Africa in 1884. Under German ruling, the existing hierarchy remained intact, and power was delegated to the local chiefs. A more direct form of ruling came during World War I when Belgian forces introduced a more centralized power structure. During this time frame Belgium also improved educational, health, and agricultural endeavors. In 1959 the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, and some 150,000 driven into exile in neighboring countries.


The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and began a civil war in 1990. The war, along with numerous other political upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions, culminating in April 1994 in the genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the killing in July 1994. As a result, approximately 2 million Hutu refugees - many fearing Tutsi retribution - fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and the former Zaire. Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda, but several thousand remain in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda gained independence from Belgium July 1st. 1962. Paul Kagame became President of Rwanda in March 2000. In August of 2003, he won a landslide victory in the first national elections since his government took power in 1994. The country has made a remarkable recovery under the leadership of Kagame, and is now considered to be a model for developing countries, although to his critics he's a despot leader who tolerates no opposition, according to the BBC.


Rwanda has achieved stability, international integration and economic growth. The current government is one of the most efficient and honest on the continent and it is also regarded as the safest country in East and Central Africa, according to the World Atlas. Rwanda’s primary mineral resources are tin (cassiterite) and tungsten (wolfram); other resources include tantalite, columbite, beryl, and gold. Methane gas from Lake Kivu is used as a nitrogen fertilizer and is also converted into compressed fuel for trucks. The economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export and pyrethrum extract, tin, tantalite, and gold are the main minerals for export. Tourism is a fast-growing sector and is now the country's leading foreign exchange earner.

The major ethnic groups in Rwanda are Hutu constituting about 85% and Tutsi 14%, of the population as in Burundi, respectively. The Twa group constitute less than 1 percent of the population. There are three official languages: Kinyarwanda,  English, and French.

Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan culture, ceremonies, festivals, social gatherings in a form of storytelling. Drums are commonly used musical instrument and the most famous traditional and highly choreographed intore dance. The dance consists of three components: the umushagiriro, or cow dance, performed by women; the intore, or dance of heroes, performed by men; and the drumming, also traditionally performed by men, on drums known as ingoma. The best known dance group is the National Ballet; established by President Habyarimana in 1974, and performs nationally and internationally.


Cuisine in Rwanda is based on local staple foods produced by subsistence agriculture such as bananas, plantains (known as ibitoke), pulses, sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava (manioc). Dishes include; Bananas with Split Green Peas, Isombe (cassava leaves with eggplant and spinach), Mizuzu (fried plantains), Umutsima (a dish of cassava and corn), Kachumbari Cassava Porridge (Ubugali), Brochettes (Meat on a stick), Nyama choma (roasted meat).

Landmarks and major tourist sites inlude:


UNESCO Heritage sites in Rwanda include:


Tanzania is located in eastern Africa within the African Great Lakes region. It borders Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west; Zambia, Malawi, 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.

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 Sukuma, Nyamwezi, Chagga, 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 English. Swahili 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.

Landmarks and major tourist sites in Tanzania are vast - one-fourth of Tanzania’s land has been set aside to form an extensive network of reserves, conservation areas, and national parks, a number of which—include:

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 wildebeest, gazelle, 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.

Tanzania is the combination of two lands; Tanganyika and Zanzibar islands, which formed Tanzania on April 26th. 1964. Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere, became president of the two countries. Mr. Nyerere was the leader of Tanganyika. Tanganyika had its independence from Great Britain on September 12th. 1961 peacefully without any bloodshed. Zanzibar on the other hand, was led by the late Mr. Karume who led Zanzibar as a constitutional monarchy under its Sultan. On 12 January 1964, the African majority revolted against the sultan and a new government was formed with the ASP leader, Abeid Karume, as President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. In the first few days of what would came to be known as the Zanzibar Revolution, between 5,000 and 15,000 Arabs and Indians were murdered.

On 26 April 1964, Tanganyika united with Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The country was renamed the United Republic of Tanzania on October 29th of that year. The name Tanzania is a blend of Tanganyika and Zanzibar and previously had no significance. Under the terms of this union, the Zanzibar government retains considerable local autonomy. Also, both countries speak the same language SWAHILI, despite having over 200 tribes and dialects. On this website we treat them separately for the simple reason that it is a semi-autonomous.



Uganda is a landlocked country in Eastern part of the continent, bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, (Africa’s largest freshwater lake), shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda is in the African Great Lakes region. Uganda also lies within the Nile basin, and has a varied but generally a modified equatorial climate. Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country. The capital is Kampala. “Uganda is a fairy-tale. You climb up a railway instead of a beanstalk, and at the end there is a wonderful new world,” wrote Sir Winston Churchill, who visited the country during its years under British rule and who called it "the pearl of Africa." Indeed, Uganda embraces many ecosystems, from the tall volcanic mountains of the eastern and western frontiers to the densely forested swamps of the Albert Nile River and the rainforests of the country’s central plateau. The land is richly fertile, and Ugandan coffee has become both a mainstay of the agricultural economy and a favorite of connoisseurs around the world.


Bantu-speaking populations resided into the southern portion of the country some 2,300 years ago bringing with them ideas of social and political organization and developing unique iron working skills. Arab traders were first to occupy Uganda in 1830s. The British explorers followed in search of the source of the Nile. The region was placed under the charter of the British East Africa Company by the United Kingdom in 1888, and was transformed into a protectorate in 1894. In the late 19th century, laborers were brought from British India to East Africa to begin work on the Uganda Railway, and upon its completion nearly 7,000 of those workers decided to remain in East Africa, according to World Atlas.


Uganda gained independence on October 9th 1962. The first elections were held that same year and Mutesa, King of Buganda was the first president and Milton Obote as prime minister. Although post-independence followed a military coup, followed by a brutal military dictatorship which ended in 1979. From 1967-71, Milton Obote seizes power in a coup and abolishes Uganda's tribal kingdoms. In 1971 Idi Amin seized power and he ruled the country for the next eight years. His military dictatorial regime was responsible for the deaths of some 300,000 opponents. In 1972 Amin expelled thousands of Ugandan Asians. In his 1972 address to the nation, Amin shocked the world when he made this statement, "I am going to ask Britain, to take over responsibility for all the Asians in Uganda who are holding British passports because they are sabotaging the economy of the country." He accused the Asians of encouraging corruption, currency racketeering and bribery and said there was no room in Uganda for them. Many of the Asians fathers and grandfathers had been brought by the British to build the Ugandan railways. In 1980-85 - Milton Obote returns to power but he was deposed in a military coup as guerrilla war and human rights abuses under his administration claimed the lives of at least another 100,000 civilians. The current President and former Rebel leader Yoweri Museveni took power in 1986, heralding a period of stability and improved human rights, according to the BBC. He won the 2011 presidential elections after a 2005 constitutional amendment lifted presidential term limits, and went on to win again in 2016.

Uganda has transformed itself from a country with a troubled past to an example of stability and prosperity for other countries with similar past on the continent. It does have substantial natural resources of minerals and untapped reserves of crude oil and natural gas, and on a positive note, reforms have been put in place and the economy has grown some. Significant quantities of petroleum were discovered in the Lake Albertine rift basin in 2008 and 2009. There are reserves of copper, tungsten, cobalt, columbite-tantalite, gold, phosphate, iron ore, and limestone. Gold, coffee, tea, oil, tobacco,  base metals and products, cocoa beans, fish, maize, sugar, cement counts as important exports.

There are at least 32 languages spoken in Uganda. The ethnic groups, are divided between the “Nilotic North” and the “Bantu South.” Bantu speakers form the largest portion of Uganda’s population. The Bantu are sub-divided into the Ganda, the Soga, Gwere, Gisu, Nyole, Samia, Toro, Nyoro, Kiga, Nyankole, Amba, and Konjo. Nilotic languages—represented by Acholi (Acoli), Lango (Langi), Alur, Padhola, Kumam, Teso, Karimojong, Kakwa, and Sebei. English and Swahili are official languages and Ganda is also widely spoken.

Ugandan cuisine consists of traditional and modern cooking styles, practices, foods and dishes in Uganda, with English, Arab, and Asian (especially Indian) influences. Meat or chicken stews are popular in Uganda served with rice. Popular dishes includes: Posho (Maize soup); Chapatti (pastery mademade from wheat flour); Ugali (a stiff maize porridge); Matoke (a cooked plantain/banana mash). For a sweet dish, locals enjoy a type of doughnut called Mandazi. With Uganda’s many lakes and rivers, fish are an important food. Local fish include the Nile perch, tiger fish and the ngege tilapia. A favorite recipe serves tilapia with a peanut sauce.

Music in Uganda Uganda’s tribes are diverse and spread evenly throughout the country. The divide between the Nilotic peoples and the Bantu peoples is evident. Tribal music in Uganda, like in most African regions, is mainly functional. This means that most music and music activities usually have specific functions related to specific festivities like marriage, initiation, royal festivals, harvests and the like. The music is performed by skilled tribesmen who are good at various instruments and well versed with the stylistic elements of the music of their tribe. The Bantu-speaking people like the Banyankore, Bakonzo, Batoro and Banyoro  have traditional music forms, which includes: Ekitaguriro, Ekizina ky'abaishiri, Kurungi Ngweyo and Eky'omutwe gw'abarwane, among others. The common traditional dancing style is known as orunyege. The major traditional musical instruments in this region include endigindi (one-stringed fiddle), amakondere (trumpets), engoma (drums), omukuri (flute), and enanga (trough zither).

Landmarks and major tourist sites in Uganda include:

UNESCO Heritage sites in Uganda include:

1. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Located on the border of plain and mountain forests, the park in south-western Uganda is home to over 160 species of trees, over a hundred species of ferns, and various species of birds and butterflies. Many endangered species are within its boundaries as well, including the mountain gorilla.

2. Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Covering most of the Rwenzori Mountains, including Mount Margherita, Africa's third-highest peak, the park features glaciers, waterfalls and lakes in an Alpine landscape. It also features various endangered species and unusual flora.

3. Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi

The tombs, built after 1884, are a major example of prime architecture using organic materials, principally wood, thatch, reed, and wattle and daub. The tombs were almost completely destroyed by a fire in March 2010, prompting the World Heritage Committee to reluctantly mark the site as being in danger. The Ugandan government has since called for the reconstruction of the tombs, and UNESCO has agreed to mobilise funds for the project.

The African Great Lakes (Swahili: Maziwa Makuu) are a series of lakes constituting the part of the Rift Valley lakes in and around the East African Rift. They include Lake Victoria, the third-largest fresh water lake in the world by area, and Lake Tanganyika, the world's second-largest freshwater lake by volume and depth. Collectively, they contain 31,000 km3 (7400 cu mi) of water, which is more than either Lake Baikal or the North American Great Lakes. This total constitutes about 25% of the planet's unfrozen surface fresh water.

The large rift lakes of Africa are the ancient home of great biodiversity; 10% of the world's fish species live there.

Countries in the African Great Lakes region (sometimes also called Greater Lakes region) include Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,



Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometers (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba Island. The name Zanzibar is derived from the Persian zang-bâr signifying "black coast." In 1964 Zanzibar, together with Pemba Island and some other smaller islands, joined with Tanganyika on the mainland to form the United Republic of Tanzania. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic center is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site.

The first immigrants in Zanzibar were the Africans; the next were the Persians, who landed in Zanzibar in the 10th century. The Africans and the Persians assimilated. This African-Persian population converted to Islam and adopted many Persian traditions. (Even today, most of Zanzibar’s African population calls itself “Shirazi. Arabs had the deepest influence on Zanzibar, because the island’s position made it a perfect entrepôt for Arabs mounting slave expeditions. Arabs from Oman became especially important, for they began establishing colonies of merchants and landowners in Zanzibar. Eventually they became the aristocracy of the island. In 1861 Zanzibar was separated from Oman and became an independent sultanate, which controlled the vast African domains acquired by Saʿīd ibn Sulṭān. Under the sultan Barghash (reigned 1870–88), however, Great Britain and Germany divided most of Zanzibar’s territory. In 1890 the British proclaimed a protectorate over Zanzibar. most sultans were aligned with the British. the sultan’s authority was reduced by the British, however, a notable exception was Khālid ibn Barghash, who seized the throne upon the death of his uncle, Ḥamad ibn Thuwayn, on August 25, 1896. The British, interested in installing their own candidate as sultan, issued an ultimatum to Khālid: either stand down by 9:00 am on August 27 or be at war with Great Britain. Khālid refused to step down, which lead to the Anglo-Zanzibar War. The brief battle between Khālid’s supporters and the British Royal Navy took less than an hour and is considered the shortest war in recorded history. After Khālid’s defeat, the British-supported Ḥamud ibn Moḥammed was installed as sultan. In 1963 the sultanate regained its independence, becoming a member of the British Commonwealth. In January 1964 a revolt by leftists overthrew the sultanate and established a republic. The revolution marked the overthrow of the island’s long-established Arab ruling class by the Africans, who were the majority of the population. In April the presidents of Zanzibar and Tanganyika signed an act of union of their two countries, creating what later in the year was named Tanzania. Ali Mohamed Shein from the governing CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) party is the current president.


Zanzibar significant resources of coconuts, cloves, and cash crops. The island’s economy now depends on agriculture and fishing. Considerable areas of fertile soil and a favorable climate enable the production of a variety of tropical crops, most importantly cloves and coconuts. Zanzibar's main industries are spices, raffia, and tourism. In particular, the islands produce nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper; for this reason, the Zanzibar Archipelago, together with Tanzania's Mafia Island, are sometimes called the "Spice Islands."

Zanzibar Island have been mainly populated by a Bantu-speaking people known as the Hadimu and the Tumbatu Island was occupied by another Bantu-speaking people known as the Tumbatu. The language most widely spoken is a highly Arabicized form of Swahili (Kiswahili), a Bantu language that is extensively spoken in the African Great Lakes region. Among the Arabs, the language of the home is usually Swahili, and use of pure Arabic is confined to scholars and recent arrivals from Arabia. Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, and Konkani are spoken by the Asian communities, and English and Swahili are widely used and understood. Swahili is the de facto national and official language of Tanzania. Many local residents also speak Arabic, French and or Italian.

The cuisine of Zanzibar is often referred to as very fresh.  Almost nothing is packaged or bought in the supermarket. Everything comes directly from the farmer or fisherman. Zanzibar is the paradise of spices & flavors. A typical and widely used ingredient of Zanzibar cuisine is coconut. Key differences between Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania in the cuisine is that in Zanzibar they use a lot less oil, more spices and more seafood rather than meat. The spices from Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, paired with the wonderful natural ingredients and seafood from Zanzibar, makes Zanzibar food so delicious. Popular dishes includes: Biryani (cooked in a variety of spices, and then paired together with a meat or fish curry); Pilau Rice; Octopus Curry (mchuzi wa pweza); Zanzibar Mix, or Urojo (mix); Slipper Lobster Ceviche with Zanzibar Lime & Ginger dressing , pickled vegetables; Mandazi (the Swahili version of a doughnut); Zanzibar Pizza.

Zanzibar is blessed with a rich history of music; and a culture that has evolved over the centuries with a unique and varied selection of musical and cultural diversity. Taarab is a musical style that is very popular in Zanzibar. It is a form of local music that is a mix of sounds and styles from India, Arabia, and Africa. Taarab shows are as much about audience participation as they are about music. Although the music may be a bit harsh for Western ears, the show itself is great theater. Part of the tradition is for women to give money to the singer during the performance. Ngoma is the name given to an African dance – it is more about meeting together to take part and witness this dance, which is African in origin, accompanied by very fast rhythmic drumming and local instruments. Freddie Mercury of Queen became one of, if not the most famous Asian pop star in the UK and the U.S.

Landmarks and major tourist sites in Zanzibar include:

UNESCO Heritage sites in Zanzibar include:

1. Stone Town of Zanziba

A prime example of an East African coastal trading town, its urban fabric and townscape remains intact. Stone Town is located on the western coast of Unguja, the main island of the Zanzibar Archipelago. Former capital of the Zanzibar Sultanate, and flourishing centre of the spice trade as well as the slave trade in the 19th century, it retained its importance as the main city of Zanzibar during the period of the British protectorate. When Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined each other to form the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar kept a semi-autonomous status, with Stone Town as its local government seat.