DESTINATION INFORMATIONS

From the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro to the savannah of the Serengeti, Tanzania boasts some of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet.  The country covers an area of 883,590 sq kms and its official languages are Kiswahili and English.

HISTORY
Tanzania has a history of overcoming obstacles.  Mainland Tanzania, then known as Tanganyika, was first really discovered by Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese navigator who explored the East African coast on his passage to India.  By 1506, the Portuguese controlled most of the eastern coast, albeit half heartedly as they made little effort to explore the forbidding interior.

By the early 18th century, an alliance of Omani Arabs and the indigenous dwellers had forced the Portuguese out of an area north of the Ruvuma River. The Omani Sultan, Seyyid Said, claimed the coastal stretch and made Zanzibar his capital in 1841.  In the late 1840s, two German missionaries, exploring the interior regions of Tanganyika, reached Kilimanjaro.  That triggered the race, and two British explorers, Richard Burton and John Speke, criss-crossed the interior until they reached Lake Tanganyika in 1857.

Not to be outdone, German colonists picked up the pace.  In 1884 Karl Peters, the founder of the Society for German Colonisation, signed a series of treaties with tribal chiefs in Tanganyika’s interior, who accepted German “protection”, in the form of the German East Africa Company, set up by the German government under Prince Otto von Bismark.  In 1886 and 1890, the German and British governments signed a series of agreements that carved up their respective spheres of influence in the interior of East Africa and along the coastal strip of Zanzibar.  The influence of German colonialism manifested itself in the forms of good crops and infrastructure with railroads and roads leading to Tanganyika, however the colonists’ presence also triggered African resistance.  The Maji Maji rebellion of 1905, which lasted 2 years, resulted in the deaths of an estimated 120,000 Africans. 

Germany’s influence ended with defeat in the First World War when control passed to Britain under a League of Nations mandate.  Following the end of World War II in 1946, the territory became a UN trusteeship still administered by Britain.  Gradually, Tanganyika moved towards self-rule and in 1954 Julius Nyerere, a school teacher educated abroad, founded the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU).  That set off a chain of key events.  Independence arrived in 1961, when the country became a republic under President Julius K Nyerere.  Zanzibar followed shortly afterwards, celebrating independence from British rule in 1963. 

On 26th April 1964, the year after, Zanzibar chose to unite with the mainland, forming the United Republic of Tanzania.  The following years saw the country go through political and economic upheaval.  Confronted by a lack of exportable minerals and a very basic agricultural system, Nyerere, with Chinese backing, issued the so called Arusha Declaration in 1967, which called itself self reliance based on cooperative farms and the nationalization of factories, banks and private companies.  Despite the backing of major institutions such as the World Bank, the Arusha plan ultimately failed due to inefficiency and corruption.  An early tripartite economic link between Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, although promising, came to an end in 1977 due to political differences.  That same year, Nyerere consolidated his power by merging the TANU party with Zanzibar’s ruling party, the Afro-Shirazi Party, to form the CCM, Revolutionary Party of Tanzania.

POPULATION
  With a geographical area over twice the size of California, Tanzania is home to roughly 43 million people on the mainland and an estimated million more on the island of Zanzibar.  45% of the population identifies as Christian, a further 35% are Muslims and 20% follow indigenous beliefs.

With over 120 tribes in the country, Tanzania is one of the most diverse countries in all of Africa; from the tall and graceful Maasai warriors, to the resourceful agricultural farmers of the Wameru.  The Sukuma tribe is the country’s biggest, making up around 13% of the population.  Despite this diversity, Tanzania has seen no ethnic or ideological conflict and enjoys peace and political stability.

The country also shares many cross border habits with its neighbours Kenya and Uganda, not least language, with Kiswahili spoken in all three.  Kiswahili and English are the country’s official languages.  The Swahili language also features prominently in Taarab music. 

Taarab is a major part of the social life of the Swahili people in the coastal areas, most notably Zanzibar and up along the Kenyan coast in Mombasa and Malindi. Literacy rates are 67% and primary school attendance is 74%.  Over 80% of the population is rural and derives its income from agriculture.

The largest city is Dar-es-Salaam formerly the country’s capital; although Dodoma, Tanzania’s third largest city was designated Tanzania’s capital in 1996, most official business continues to be carried out in Dar-es-Salaam.

GEOGRAPHY
 

The largest country in East Africa, Tanzania, is home to some of the most spectacular natural sites in the world.  Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, is located in the mountainous region in the country’s north east.  The Serengeti Plains extend into Kenya from the north west of the country.  The extraordinary biodiversity in the region is protected by the Serengeti National Park, a World Heritage Site, and just one of the country’s many conservation areas. 

Olduvai Gorge, “The Cradle of Mankind”, is in the eastern Serengeti Plains, and has provided some of the earliest evidence of humanity’s ancestors ever discovered.  Lake Victoria, on the border of Kenya and Uganda, is the largest lake in Africa; Lake Tanganyika, on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is the second longest and second deepest lake in the world, after Lake Baikal in Siberia.

Tanzania has borders with Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and DRC.  Together with Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, Tanzania forms part of the East African Community

ECONOMY
Since 1985, Tanzania has made great strides in economic development, earning it the praise of international organizations like the World Bank and the IMF.  Market-based reforms have led to macroeconomic stability, and the government continues to emphasize the role of the private sector as an engine of growth.  In its “Doing Business 2007” report, the World Bank listed Tanzania among its top ten reformers in bringing down the time and cost of starting a business.

The government is making headway in implementing the Tanzania Development Vision 2025, which lays down the route for Tanzania to become a middle income country by 2025.  GDP growth has remained over 6% for the last 5 years, at 6.2% for 2006.  The government predicted growth of 7.5% in 2007, rising to 7.7% in 2008.  Inflation fell from 32.6% in 1986 to 4.5% in 2005; in 2006, due to drought in that year, inflation was 7.3%, but by June 2007, inflation had fallen again to 5.9%.  It is expected to continue to decline.

Agriculture accounts for almost half of the country’s GDP.  In 2006, the sector grew by 4.1%.  The government is taking steps to diversify economic output; the tourism, manufacturing and mining sectors are registering healthy growth with the help of the government’s drive to attract investment and recruit private sector partners for development.

NATURAL RESOURCES
Tanzania posseses a wide range of under-explored and largely untapped natural resources.  The central plateau offers plentiful arable land, and the country has deposits of gold, iron, nickel, tanzanite and other gemstones.  Mining as an industry has made progress in the past few years – from no activity in 1998, the country has become Africa’s third largest gold producer after South Africa and Ghana.

In 2007, under an agreement with the Tanzanian government, Statoil commenced exploration for oil off the Tanzanian coast.  Natural gas exploration in the Rufiji Delta in the south of the country will extract gas from the proven reserves in the Songo Songo area.

The country’s impressive natural attractions make it an idea tourist destination.  Twice a year, the Serengeti plays host to the sight designated one of the seven tourist travel wonders of the world, when two million wildebeest, zebras and gazelle travel 500 miles, following the rains to survive.  Kilimanjaro attracts thousands of visitors a year, and the Ngorongoro Crater is popular for tourists on safari.

POVERTY REDUCTION AND PUBLIC HEALTH
At the moment, around half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line.  The government has drawn up several initiatives to combat poverty in the country, and efforts to implement these plans are in progress.  Tanzania Development Vision 2025 sets out the steps to be taken to make Tanzania a middle income country by this date.  The National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty is the development framework for achieving the aims of the Development Vision between 2005 and 2010.  The government has prioritized the education, infrastructure, health, agriculture and energy sectors for investment in the short term, since improvement in these sectors can deliver quick results in terms of alleviating poverty.

Optional Activities

-Arusha National Park  
-Balloon Safari in Serengeti
-Night game viewing in Lake Manyara National Park for   about 3 hours

 
     

CONTACT US

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kidana@journeysafrica.com
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