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Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda on the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the west, and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique on the south. To the east it borders the Indian Ocean.

Background History

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 ended 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. The formation of a government of national unity between Zanzibar's two leading parties succeeded in minimizing electoral tension in 2010


Country Name:

  • conventional long form: United Republic of Tanzania
  • conventional short form: Tanzania
  • local long form: Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania
  • local short form: Tanzania
  • former: United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar


  • name: Dar es Salaam
  • population: 3,207,000
  • geographic coordinates: 6 48 S, 39 17 E
  • time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 26 April 1964; Tanganyika became independent on 9 December 1961 (from UK-administered UN trusteeship); Zanzibar became independent on 19 December 1963 (from UK); Tanganyika united with Zanzibar on 26 April 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar; renamed United Republic of Tanzania on 29 October 1964

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Jakaya Kikwete (since 21 December 2005); Vice President Mohammed Gharib Bilal (since 6 November 2010)
  • head of government: President Jakaya Kikwete (since 21 December 2005); Vice President Mohammed Gharib Bilal (since 6 November 2010)
  • 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); election last held on 31 October 2010 (next to be held in 2015)

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral National Assembly or Bunge

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Permanent Commission of Enquiry; Court of Appeal; High Court; District Courts; Primary Courts

People & Society


  • 43,601,796 (global rank: 30)
  • growth rate: 1.96% (global rank: 55)


  • noun: Tanzanian(s)
  • adjective: Tanzanian

Major Cities:

  • Dar es Salaam (capital): 3.207 milion

Ethnic Groups:

  • mainland - African 99% (of which 95% are Bantu consisting of more than 130 tribes), other 1% (consisting of Asian, European, and Arab); Zanzibar - Arab, African, mixed Arab and African


  • mainland - Christian 30%, Muslim 35%, indigenous beliefs 35%; Zanzibar - more than 99% Muslim


  • Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguja (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 53.14 years (global rank: 205)
  • male: 51.62 years
  • female: 54.7 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 65.74 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 22)
  • male: 72.42 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 58.87 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS (2009 est.):

  • adult prevalence rate: 5.6% (global rank: 12)
  • people living with AIDS: 1.4 million (global rank: 6)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 69.4%
  • male: 77.5%
  • female: 62.2%


Tanzania is one of the world's poorest economies in terms of per capita income, however, Tanzania average 7% GDP growth per year between 2000 and 2008 on strong gold production and tourism. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for more than one-quarter of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs about 80% of the work force. The World Bank, the IMF, and bilateral donors have provided funds to rehabilitate Tanzania's aging economic infrastructure, including rail and port infrastructure that are important trade links for inland countries. Recent banking reforms have helped increase private-sector growth and investment, and the government has increased spending on agriculture to 7% of its budget. Continued donor assistance and solid macroeconomic policies supported a positive growth rate, despite the world recession. In 2008, Tanzania received the world's largest Millennium Challenge Compact grant, worth $698 million. Dar es Salaam used fiscal stimulus and loosened monetary policy to ease the impact of the global recession. GDP growth in 2009-11 was a respectable 6% per year due to high gold prices and increased production.
Gross Domestic Product:
  • GDP (PPP): $63.44 billion (global rank: 85)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $1,500 (global rank: 198)
  • real growth rate: 6.1% (global rank: 42)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 27.8%, industry: 24.2%, services: 48%


  • currency: Tanzanian Shillings (TZS)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 1,571


  • population below poverty line: 36%
  • unemployment rate: NA

Agricultural Products:

  • coffee, sisal, tea, cotton, pyrethrum (insecticide made from chrysanthemums), cashew nuts, tobacco, cloves, corn, wheat, cassava (tapioca), bananas, fruits, vegetables; cattle, sheep, goats


  • agricultural processing (sugar, beer, cigarettes, sisal twine); mining (diamonds, gold, and iron), salt, soda ash; cement, oil refining, shoes, apparel, wood products, fertilizer

Exports Commodities:

  • gold, coffee, cashew nuts, manufactures, cotton

Imports Commodities:

  • consumer goods, machinery and transportation equipment, industrial raw materials, crude oil



  • Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Kenya and Mozambique


  • total: 947,300 sq km (global rank: 31)
  • land: 885,800 sq km
  • water: 61,500 sq km
  • comparative: slightly larger than twice the size of California


  • varies from tropical along coast to temperate in highlands

Land Use:

  • arable land: 4.23%
  • permanent crops: 1.16%
  • other: 94.61%

Natural Resources:

  • hydropower, tin, phosphates, iron ore, coal, diamonds, gemstones, gold, natural gas, nickel

Current Environmental 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

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: Tanzania still hosts more than a half-million refugees, more than any other African country, mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, despite the international community's efforts at repatriation; disputes with Malawi over the boundary in Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) and the meandering Songwe River remain dormant
  • refugees (country of origin): 352,640 (Burundi); 127,973 (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • human trafficking: Tanzania is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; the incidence of internal trafficking is higher than that of transnational trafficking; girls from rural areas are taken to urban centers and Zanzibar for domestic service; some domestic workers fleeing abusive employers fall prey to sex trafficking; boys are subjected primarily to forced labor on farms, but also in mines, in the informal sector, and possibly on small fishing boats; smaller numbers of Tanzanian children and adults are subjected to conditions of forced domestic service and sex trafficking in surrounding countries, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, France, and possibly other European countries; trafficking victims, primarily children from neighboring countries such as Burundi and Kenya, are sometimes forced to work in Tanzania's agricultural, mining, and domestic service sectors; some also are forced into prostitution in brothels
  • illicit drugs: targeted by traffickers moving hashish, Afghan heroin, and South American cocaine transported down the East African coastline, through airports, or overland through Central Africa; Zanzibar likely used by traffickers for drug smuggling; traffickers in the past have recruited Tanzanian couriers to move drugs through Iran into East Asia.

Published: Monday, September 08, 2008