Officially known as the United Republic of Tanzania, is a country in Eastern Africa, within the African Great Lakes Region. It borders Uganda in the North, Kenya in the Northeast, Mozambique and Malawi to the South, Zambia to the Southwest, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC to the West. Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro is located in the Northeastern part of the country.
In the late 19th century, colonialism gained a foothold in Tanzania when Germany formed German East Africa, during the colonial era. Tanzania, then governed as Tanganyika was its own entity separate from Zanzibar. Following their respective independence in 1961 and 1963, the two land masses merged in April 1964 forming the United Republic of Tanzania.
Tanzania’s sprawling size is confirmed by the fact that three of Africa’s Great Lakes are partly within Tanzania. Thus we have Africa’s largest Lake-Victoria, Tanganyika-the continent’s deepest lake, as well as lake Malawi in the south.
LANGUAGE, TERRAIN, POLITICS AND LAND MASS SIZE:
Swahili is the prime language of this linguistically diverse East African country which boosts of over 100 different languages. Its spoken in parliamentary debate, the lower courts and in all primary schools. On the other hand, English is used in diplomatic circles, the higher courts, secondary schools and other institutions of higher learning.
In 1954, a spare, politically astute visionary by the name of Julius Nyerere appeared on the scene. His main pre-occupation was to unite Tanganyika and Zanzibar as a unified entity. This was realized on the 26 April 1964. In 1967 Nyerere proclaimed the Arusha Declaration codifying the principles of Socialism and Pan- Africanism that saw the Nationalization of several banks and industries. In 1992 the country’s constitution was amended, paving way for a multi- party system of governance.
At 947,303 square km, Tanzania is Africa’s 13th largest country, and the 31st in the World. It’s mountainous and densely forested in the Northeast and home to Kilimanjaro mountain. With 16 National Parks and a variety of game and forest reserves, it’s no wonder that 38% of Tanzania’s land is a protected area, strictly conserved. It is a member of the East African Community (EAC) and signatory to the East African Common Market Protocol of 2010. The provisions in this protocol are yet to be implemented due to work permit issues and a plethora of other bureaucratic, legal and financial hold ups. Tanzania’s population is estimated to be 55.5 million, a defector one party state with the Democratic Socialist Chama Cha Mapinduzi party retaining power since independence. This however does not dispute the fact that Tanzania remains a presidential constitutional Republic with the president’s office and National Assembly sitting in Dodoma effective 1996, Dar-es-Salaam, the country’s former capital and largest city, serves, both as a principle port and leading commercial center, in addition to hosting most government offices. Tanzania is also a member of Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The economy is primarily agriculture based, contributing 85% of the country’s exports and 25% of GDP. Maize is the largest food crop, followed by cassava and sweet potatoes. Sugar cane is the leading cash crop followed by cotton, tobacco and coffee. Industry and construction have taken major leaps, the mainstay of which is mining, quarrying, electricity generation, natural gas extraction, food processing, metal fabrication and medium level manufacturing.
Travel and Tourism contribute 17.5% of the country’s GDP. The country has a vibrant railway transport system with the Tazara Company serving Dar-es- Salaam and Zambia while Tanzania Railways Ltd connects Dar-es- Salam with Central and Northern Tanzania. The city’s transport system is managed by Dar Rapid Transit (DART), a world bank funded project connecting the suburbs of Dar-es-salaam to the city. The country has four airports and over 100 airfields.
In 2013 the communications sector was the fastest growing, expanding by 22.8%. Tanzania’s mobile phone subscribers’ index is slightly above Sub– Saharan average. Access to clean and safe water is poor because many utilities barely cover maintenance costs through revenues, due to low tariffs and poor efficiency. Government has however embarked on a sweeping program to reverse the trend.
DEMOGRAPHICS, EDUCATION, RELIGION, ART AND CULTURE:
The country’s population is unevenly distributed. Most of the people live on the Northern border or the Eastern coast. A bigger part of the country remains sparsely populated. 70% of the population is rural, consisting of 125 ethnic groups, key of these are the Sukuma, Nyamwezi, Chagga and Haya. There are also Arabs, Persians, Indians, European and Chinese communities. 61.4% of the population is Christian and 35.2% Muslim. 1.8 % practice traditional African religions. Education is compulsory until children reach the age of 15. Literacy rate in 2012 was estimated at 67.8% with a primary completion rate at 80%. In 2012 life expectancy was 61 years.
Unlike other East African countries, Tanzania has fared much better in terms of painting and sculpture. Its art styles have achieved International recognition. Predominant of the art styles is the Tinga-Tinga school of painting; it consists of brightly colored enamel paintings on canvass depicting people, animals and daily life.