Facts about Tanzania

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Shortly after achieving independence from Britain in the early 1960s, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964. One-party rule came to an end in 1995 with the first democratic elections held in the country since the 1970s. Zanzibar's semi-autonomous status and popular opposition have led to two contentious elections since 1995, which the ruling party won despite international observers' claims of voting irregularities.

Geography of Tanzania

Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Kenya and Mozambique
6 00 S, 35 00 E
total: 945,087 sq km
note: includes the islands of Mafia, Pemba, and Zanzibar
water: 59,050 sq km
land: 886,037 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly larger than twice the size of California
Land boundaries:
total: 3,861 km
border countries: Burundi 451 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 459 km, Kenya 769 km, Malawi 475 km, Mozambique 756 km, Rwanda 217 km, Uganda 396 km, Zambia 338 km
1,424 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
varies from tropical along coast to temperate in highlands
plains along coast; central plateau; highlands in north, south
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Kilimanjaro 5,895 m
Natural resources:
hydropower, tin, phosphates, iron ore, coal, diamonds, gemstones, gold, natural gas, nickel
Natural hazards:
flooding on the central plateau during the rainy season; drought
Environment current issues:
soil degradation; deforestation; desertification; destruction of coral reefs threatens marine habitats; recent droughts affected marginal agriculture; wildlife threatened by illegal hunting and trade, especially for ivory
Geography - note:
Kilimanjaro is highest point in Africa; bordered by three of the largest lakes on the continent: Lake Victoria (the world's second-largest freshwater lake) in the north, Lake Tanganyika (the world's second deepest) in the west, and Lake Nyasa in the southwest

Population of Tanzania

40,213,160 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 43.7% (male 8,204,593/female 8,176,489)
15-64 years: 53.6% (male 9,906,446/female 10,178,066)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 422,674/female 557,124)
Median age:
17.7 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
96.48 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 45.64 years
male: 44.93 years
female: 46.37 years
Fertility rate:
4.97 children born/woman
noun: Tanzanian(s)
adjective: Tanzanian
Ethnic groups:
mainland - native African 99% (of which 95% are Bantu consisting of more than 130 tribes), other 1% (consisting of Asian, European, and Arab); Zanzibar - Arab, native African, mixed Arab and native African
mainland - Christian 30%, Muslim 35%, indigenous beliefs 35%; Zanzibar - more than 99% Muslim
Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguju (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages
note: Kiswahili (Swahili) is the mother tongue of the Bantu people living in Zanzibar and nearby coastal Tanzania; although Kiswahili is Bantu in structure and origin, its vocabulary draws on a variety of sources, including Arabic and English, and it has become the lingua franca of central and eastern Africa; the first language of most people is one of the local languages
definition: age 15 and over can read and write Kiswahili (Swahili), English, or Arabic
total population: 78.2%
male: 85.9%
female: 70.7%


Country name:
conventional long form: United Republic of Tanzania
former: United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar
Government type:
Dar es Salaam; note - legislative offices have been transferred to Dodoma, which is planned as the new national capital; the National Assembly now meets there on regular basis
Administrative divisions:
26 regions; Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Iringa, Kagera, Kigoma, Kilimanjaro, Lindi, Manyara, Mara, Mbeya, Morogoro, Mtwara, Mwanza, Pemba North, Pemba South, Pwani, Rukwa, Ruvuma, Shinyanga, Singida, Tabora, Tanga, Zanzibar Central/South, Zanzibar North, Zanzibar Urban/West
26 April 1964; Tanganyika became independent 9 December 1961 (from UK-administered UN trusteeship); Zanzibar became independent 19 December 1963 (from UK); Tanganyika united with Zanzibar 26 April 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar; renamed United Republic of Tanzania 29 October 1964
National holiday:
Union Day (Tanganyika and Zanzibar), 26 April (1964)
25 April 1977; major revisions October 1984
Legal system:
based on English common law; judicial review of legislative acts limited to matters of interpretation; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Jakaya KIKWETE (since 21 December 2005); Vice President Dr. Ali Mohammed SHEIN (since 5 July 2001); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Jakaya KIKWETE (since 21 December 2005); Vice President Dr. Ali Mohammed SHEIN (since 5 July 2001)
note: Zanzibar elects a president who is head of government for matters internal to Zanzibar; Amani Abeid KARUME was reelected to that office on 30 October 2005
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ballot by popular vote for five-year terms (eligible for a second term); prime minister appointed by the president.
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Bunge (274 seats - 232 elected by popular vote, 37 allocated to women nominated by the president, 5 to members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives; members serve five-year terms); note - in addition to enacting laws that apply to the entire United Republic of Tanzania, the Assembly enacts laws that apply only to the mainland; Zanzibar has its own House of Representatives to make laws especially for Zanzibar (the Zanzibar House of Representatives has 50 seats, directly elected by universal suffrage to serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Permanent Commission of Enquiry (official ombudsman); Court of Appeal (consists of a chief justice and four judges); High Court (consists of a Jaji Kiongozi and 29 judges appointed by the president; holds regular sessions in all regions); District Courts; Primary Courts (limited jurisdiction and appeals can be made to the higher courts)


Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for more than 40% of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the work force. Topography and climatic conditions, however, limit cultivated crops to only 4% of the land area. Industry traditionally featured the processing of agricultural products and light consumer goods. The World Bank, the IMF, and bilateral donors have provided funds to rehabilitate Tanzania's out-of-date economic infrastructure and to alleviate poverty. Long-term growth through 2005 featured a pickup in industrial production and a substantial increase in output of minerals led by gold. Recent banking reforms have helped increase private-sector growth and investment. Continued donor assistance and solid macroeconomic policies supported real GDP growth of nearly 7% in 2007.

$51.07 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 43.2%
industry: 17.2%
services: 39.6%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
19.22 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 80%, industry and services 20%
revenues: $2.235 billion
expenditures: $2.669 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 18.9%
hydro: 81.1%
other: 0% 
agricultural processing (sugar, beer, cigarettes, sisal twine), diamond and gold mining, oil refining, shoes, cement, textiles, wood products, fertilizer, salt
coffee, sisal, tea, cotton, pyrethrum (insecticide made from chrysanthemums), cashew nuts, tobacco, cloves, corn, wheat, cassava (tapioca), bananas, fruits, vegetables; cattle, sheep, goats
gold, coffee, cashew nuts, manufactures, cotton
Export partners:
China 10.2%, India 8.8%, Canada 8.1%, Netherlands 5.2%, Kenya 4.6%, Japan 4.5%, UK 4.2%, Germany 4% 
consumer goods, machinery and transportation equipment, industrial raw materials, crude oil
Import partners:
South Africa 12.9%, China 9.7%, India 6.5%, UAE 5.6%, Kenya 5.5%, UK 4.1%, Zambia 4.1%, Bahrain 4% 
Tanzanian shilling (TZS)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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