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location: EAST AFRICA / bordering Uganda, Lake Victoria, Kenya, Indian Ocean, Mozambique, Lake Malawi, Malawi, Congo-Kinshasa (across from Lake Tanganyika), Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda

capital: Dodoma, population 0.3 million, but the seat of government, as well as the economic and former political capital is Dar es Salaam, population 2.5 million (6% of the total).

population: 44 million

languages: Swahili, English

religion: Sunni Moslem, Christian

currency: Tanzanian Shilling (TZS)




After German and then British control at the start of the 20th century, Tanganyika transitioned to self-government, during the fifties and then to independence in 1961. Meanwhile, Zanzibar gained independence in 1963, initially becoming an Arab-led constitutional monarchy. However, following a bloody coup, Zanzibar was united with Tanganyika to form Tanzania in 1964, with popular support. The first President Nyerere turned Tanzania into a centralised autocratic socialist state. Growing inefficiency and an expensive war with Idi Amin weakened the country significantly, and Nyerere eventually stepped down in 1985, returning the country to multi-party democracy.


Tanzania is a diverse country, including African and Arabic populations, as well as ethnic Indians, Pakistanis, Europeans and Chinese. The African population alone includes at least 120 different tribal groupings speaking a variety of Bantu, Nilotic and Khoisan languages. The official language is Swahili or English (in the higher courts). Religious data is not collected, but it is estimated that the Islamic (predominantly Sunni) and Christian (diverse) segments account for approximately 70% of the population, with the former being concentrated in Coastal areas and trade routes. The total population amounts to 44 million.


Governance 12th,
Press Freedom 62th,
Corruption 126th,
Property Rights 74th


Nominal GDP amounted to TShs25.5 billion in 2008 (USD19.0 billion), equivalent to USD431 per capita, with a Gini coefficient of c.0.27 (Low). Agriculture makes up 26% of the economy, while property & construction adds a further 18%. Mining (predominantly Gold) makes up a relatively small amount of GDP, but is the main export product. Tanzania has a trade balance significantly in the red, resulting in a current account deficit of 10.9% of GDP. It is ranked 15th in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of ease of doing business, with the best score in Contract Enforcement.


Tanzania is the third largest gold miner in Africa, after South Africa and Ghana, with proven reserves of 1,000 tonnes, of which about 50 tonnes are mined each year. Tanzania also has significant deposits of diamonds, tanzanite and other precious gems. In addition, coal, uranium and industrial metals and minerals can be found. Tanzania’s water resources include Lakes Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa along the Western border and numerous rivers and smaller lakesenabling the use of nearly 6 million hectares of farmland. Mean average rainfall is around 1,071 mm per annum, while external water sources provide a further 205 cubic metres per capita (10% of the total).This provides42 million hectares of cultivable land, or 0.95 hectares per capita, although only 13% is thought to be cultivated.


Regionally, Tanzania is a signatory to the East African Cooperation Treaty, with Kenya and Uganda, which is also the core of the East African Community (EAC) which also includes Rwanda and Burundi. The EAC currently proposes Monetary Union by 2012, but most observers assume this will be delayed until at least 2015. Tanzania is also part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which includes the EAC and SADC countries. More broadly, Tanzania receives aid from the UK and US, but also benefits from investment from China.