The landscape of mainland Tanzania is generally flat and low along the coast, but a plateau at an average altitude of about 1200 m (about 4000 ft) constitutes the greater part of the country. Isolated mountain groups rise in the northeast and southwest. The volcanic Kilimanjaro (5895 m/19,340 ft), the highest mountain in Africa, is located near the northeastern border. Three of the great lakes of Africa lie on the borders of the country and partially within it. Lake Tanganyika is located on the western border, Lake Victoria on the northwest, and Lake Nyasa (Malawi) on the southwest. Lakes Nyasa and Tanganyika lie in the Great Rift Valley, a tremendous geological fault system extending from the Middle East to Mozambique. Zanzibar, separated from the coast of the mainland by a channel some 40 km (some 25 mi) wide, is about 90 km (about 55 mi) long and covers an area of 1658 sq km (about 640 sq mi). It is the largest coral island off the coast of Africa. Pemba, some 40 km (some 25 mi) northwest of Zanzibar, is about 68 km (about 42 mi) long and has an area of approximately 984 sq km (380 sq mi). Both Zanzibar and Pemba are mostly low-lying.
Elevation and distance from the sea control the climate of Tanzania. On the mainland coastal strip along the Indian Ocean, the climate is warm and tropical, with temperatures averaging 27° C (80° F) and rainfall varying from 750 to 1400 mm (30 to 55 in). The inland plateau is hot and dry, with annual rainfall averaging as little as 500 mm (20 in). The semi-temperate highlands in the southwest are better watered. The climate on the islands is generally tropical, but the heat is tempered by a sea breeze throughout the year. The annual mean temperature for the city of Zanzibar is 29° C (85° F) maximum, and 25° C (77° F) minimum; for Wete in Pemba, 30° C (86° F) maximum and 24° C (76° F) minimum. Most rain falls from December through May. Tanzania also can experience substantial fluctuations in rain amounts from one year to the next.
Diamonds are by far the most important of the minerals currently being exploited in Tanzania. Since 2000 investment in gold mining n Mwanza, Shinyanga and Tabora regions has been on the increase and so too has been the quantity of gold produced. Tanzanite, a precious metal named after the country is found only in Tanzania. Large deposits of coal and iron ore are known to exist in the southern region. Search for oil deposits is still going on especially in the southern area. Forestland constitutes one of the most substantial natural resources of the country. Among the many hardwoods found are mahogany and camphor wood. The country abounds in wildlife, including antelope, zebra, elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah, and monkey.
The population of Tanzania consists mostly of members of more than 120 black African groups, the majority of which speak a Bantu language. The largest ethnic groups are the Sukuma and the Nyamwezi, each representing about a fifth of the country's population. Other groups of significant size include the Haya, Ngonde, Chagga, Gogo, Ha, Hehe, Nyakyusa, Nyika, Ngoni, Yao, and Masai. The population also includes people of Indian, Pakistani, and Goan origin, and small Arab and European communities. Three-quarters of the people live in rural areas. About one-third of the population follows traditional religions. Islam is the religion of about one-third of the people and is dominant on Zanzibar. Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian denomination of Tanzania, with some 6 million adherents. Swahili and English are the official languages of Tanzania, but many people continue to use the language of their ethnic group.
The population of Tanzania (1995 estimate) is about 30,742,000, giving the country an overall population density of about 33 persons per sq km (about 84 per sq m). Yet the population distribution is irregular, with high densities found near fertile soils around Kilimanjaro and the shores of Lake Nyasa, and comparatively low density throughout much of the interior of the country. Still, the government reversed a policy of resettling people in registered villages after its effectiveness proved limited. The largest city and seat of government, Dar-es-Salaam, has a population of about 3,500,000 (2000). Other major cities are Mwanza (400,000), a port on Lake Victoria, and Tanga (250,000), an industrial center and seaport. Zanzibar (157,634) is the largest city on the island. Dodoma (220,000) has been designated as the eventual capital of Tanzania.
Primary education is compulsory in Tanzania, but not enough schools are available to accommodate all of the children, and only 50 percent of eligible children are enrolled. But because of adult education campaigns, more than 90 percent of people over the age of 15 are literate. In the early 1990s government schools were attended annually by some 3.5 million elementary pupils and about 167,000 secondary students. In addition, many children attended private schools, which were mostly run by religious groups. However, since mid 1990 individuals are free to establish and run private schools. Institutions of higher education enrolled about 5300 students per year. Major schools included the University of Dar es Salaam (1961) and Sokoine University of Agriculture (1984), in Morogoro.
Tanzanian culture is a product of African, Arab, European, and Indian influences. Traditional African values are being consciously adapted to modern life. Among the libraries in Tanzania are the National Central Library, the British Council Library, and the American Center Library, all in Dar es-Salaam. The University of Dar es-Salaam has an important library, and a lending service at the Dar es-Salaam Technical College (1956) circulates books by mail throughout the country. Zanzibar has several community and school libraries in addition to the Museum Library and the Zanzibar National Archives. The National Museum of Tanzania is located at Dar es-Salaam. The Zanzibar Government Museum is located in the city of Zanzibar.
The economy of Tanzania is primarily agricultural. About 80 percent of the economically active population is engaged in farming, and agricultural products account for about 85 percent of the annual exports. The country is the world's largest producer of sisal and cloves. With per capita income an estimated $110 a year, Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. Government programs once called for a form of socialism, and most banks were nationalized in 1967. An economic recovery program announced in the mid-1980s generated increases in agricultural production and financial support from donor nations, and the government has adopted financial restraints recommended by the International Monetary Fund. The estimated annual national budget in the early 1990s included $495 million in revenues and $631 million in expenditures, including capital projects costing $118 million.
Most of the world production of cloves comes from Zanzibar and Pemba islands, and are the islands' principal export. For the country as a whole, chief exports are coffee, cotton, and tobacco. Tea, sisal, cashews, and peppers are also exported. The principal food crops for domestic consumption include cassava, corn, sorghum, rice, millet, sweet potatoes, and plantains. The livestock population includes about 13.2 million cattle, 9.1 million goats, 3.7 million sheep, and 26 million poultry.
Yearly timber production in Tanzania in the early 1990s totaled about 35.5 million cu m (about 1.3 billion cu ft), nearly 95 percent of which was used as fuel. Timber includes camphor, podo, and African mahogany. The annual fish catch in the early 1990s was about 400,300 metric tons, more than 85 percent of which was caught in inland waters, especially Lake Victoria. Sardines and tuna were caught in the Indian Ocean.
Tanzania is rich in diamonds. Gold mining is expanding, and small-scale mining of large deposits of coal and tin has begun. Deposits of salt, lead, iron ore, tungsten, pyrochlore, kaolin, phosphates, and magnesite are also located in the country, and petroleum is being sought. Annual diamond production in the early 1990s was about 150,000 carats.
Most manufacturing in Tanzania consists of the processing of raw materials, including coffee, grain, sisal, kapok, jute, and coir. In the 1970s basic industries, such as vehicle assembling, were begun, and cement and tannery facilities were expanded. Approximately 70 percent of Tanzania's electricity is produced in hydroelectric plants; major facilities are on the Pangani and Great Ruaha rivers. Total annual electricity output in the early 1990s was about 600 million kilowatt-hours.
The currency unit is the Tanzanian shilling, which replaced the East African shilling in 1966 (479.9 Tanzanian shillings equal U.S.$1; 1993). In 1967 Tanzania nationalized most banks, amalgamating them into the National Bank of Commerce, although liberalization policies adopted in the early 1990s again allowed the opening of privately owned banks. The bank of issue is the Bank of Tanzania (1966). In the early 1990s the imports of Tanzania were valued at about $1.4 billion annually, and exports totaled about $422 million. Coffee, cotton, tobacco, cloves, tea, cashews, and sisal made up the bulk of exports. Main imports were petroleum, machinery, transportation equipment, iron and steel and other metals, and food and live animals. Principal trading partners for exports are Germany, Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, Kenya, Hong Kong, and the United States; chief partners for imports are Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. Considerable foreign exchange is also derived from tourists, about 250,000 of whom visited Tanzania annually in the early 1990s, double the number from five years earlier. Most come to see Kilimanjaro and Serengeti National Park. Tanzania was a member of the East African Community, an economic alliance with Uganda and Kenya that collapsed in 1977.
Tanzania has some 3555 km (some 2210 mi) of railroad, including lines linking Dar es Salaam to Lake Tanganyika, with branches to Mwanza, Mpanda, and Arusha. The Tanzania-Zambia Railway (Tazara), opened in 1975, provides a link between Dar es Salaam and Zambia. All these lines are currently being rehabilitated and expanded. Of some 81,900 km (about 50,900 mi) of roads, less than 5 percent are paved. Steamships and airlines link the mainland with Zanzibar. The major seaports are Dar es Salaam and Mtwara. Airports serving Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar city, and elsewhere provide inter-territorial services and international connections. The national airline is Air Tanzania. Tanzania has a national radio network; in 1973 color television service began in Zanzibar. Three daily newspapers are published. Influential dailies include Uhuru and the Daily News, both published in Dar es-Salaam.
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing are the main sources of employment in Tanzania. The main labor organization is the Union of Tanzania Workers, with about 500,000 members.
The United Republic of Tanzania was formed on April 26, 1964, by the adoption of an Act of Union between Tanganyika, on the mainland, and the island of Zanzibar. The nation is governed under a constitution of 1977, as amended. The internal affairs of Zanzibar are administered under a constitution of 1985.
The chief executive of Tanzania is a president, who is popularly elected to a five-year term. The president appoints a vice president (who must represent Zanzibar if the president comes from the mainland, and vice versa) and a prime minister and cabinet.
The legislature of Tanzania is the unicameral National Assembly. It has 244 members, 169 of whom (119 from the mainland and 50 from Zanzibar) are popularly elected to terms of up to five years. Most of the rest of the members are either appointed, represent statutory organizations, or sit by virtue of being commissioners of the country's regions.
The highest tribunals in Tanzania are the court of appeal and the high court. Lesser courts include district and primary courts. People's courts function in Zanzibar.
The mainland is divided into 20 regions, Zanzibar into 3 regions, and Pemba into 2 regions. The governments of the regions are headed by regional commissioners. The 1985 constitution of Zanzibar provides for a popularly elected president and a 75-member house of representatives (50 elected, 25 appointed).
The country's leading political party is the Revolutionary Party of Tanzania (Chama Cha Mapinduzi). It was formed in 1977 by the amalgamation of the Tanganyika African National Union and Zanzibar's Afro-Shirazi party. Opposition parties were legalized in 1992.
The government of Tanzania has undertaken several programs to improve educational, working, and health conditions.
In the early 1990s the armed forces of Tanzania had 49,500 members-45,000 in the army, 3500 in the air force, and 1000 in the navy. Paramilitary groups in the country included the 85,000-member Citizens' Militia.
Tanzania was formed by the federation of Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 1964. The histories of the two areas are very different.
In January 1964 Nyerere survived an abortive military coup; later, in an effort to strengthen his government against revolutionary violence, he opened discussions with Prime Minister Karume of Zanzibar that led to the formation of Tanzania in April.
The Nature of the Federation
Contributed by: Harry A. Gailey