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Tanzania: a Profile

INTRODUCTION: Tanzania has often attracted attention abroad as an exemplary African nation. In part, this can be attributed to the gentle leadership and charisma of President Julius Nyerere. Tanzania's social and political transformations have been both dynamic and gentle. Unlike the largely rhetorical radicalism of other emerging countries, Tanzania's policies for change have been put into practice. Since independence, significant progress has been made in social services, though problems in the country's economic development have kept Tanzania's political and economical goals from full realization. Tanzania's political environment is more stable than in many African nations. Only Zanzibar, which has a distinct history and culture, has seen serious political conflicts.

FORMAL NAME: The United Republic of Tanzania (short name, Tanzania).

CAPITAL: Dodoma (administrative capital); Dar es Salaam (the commercial capital).

INDEPENDENCE: Tanganyika, Dec. 9, 1961; Zanzibar, Dec. 10, 1963; United Republic of Tanzania, April 27, 1964.

AREA: Area: 362340 square miles. It is the largest East African country.

POPULATION: Population for the years, 1977, 1985, 1990, 1993, 1994, and 1995, are 16.9, 21.73, 25.63, 28.02, 28.85, 30.34 million respectively.

LANGUAGE: Swahili and English are the official languages. Bantu, Nilo-Hamitic and Khoisan languages and Arabic are also spoken.

GOVERNMENT: Head of State: Benjamin William Mkapa (President since 1995). Head of Government: Frederick Sumaye, Prime Minister. Vice-president: Omer Ali Juma.

CONSTITUTION: April 25, 1977; revised in October, 1984.

POLITICS: In 1992, a one-party system was changed to a multi-party system.

FOREIGN RELATIONS: politically nonaligned; heavily dependent on Scandinavian and Chinese aid, IMF, World Bank, and donors.

ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS: the country comprises 25 regions, twenty on the mainland and 5 on Zanzibar and Pemba. Most regions contain about four or five districts.

RELIGIONS: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and traditional beliefs.

GEOGRAPHY: Bordered by Uganda and Kenya to the north; Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi to the south; Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire to the west; and the Indian Ocean to the east. The mainland has several distinct geographical divisions: the Coastal Plains, whose width varies from 16 to 64km and whose vegetation is luxuriant and tropical; the Masai steppe: the north side 213-1067m , 698-3500ft above sea level; the high plateau, located in the south towards Zambia, and Lake Nyasa.
Savanna and bush cover almost 50% of Tanzania's land; the remaining land is semi-desert, with the exception of the coastal plains. More than 53,000 sq. km are covered by inland water, mostly lakes (see LAKES) formed in the Rift Valley. Zanzibar and Pemba are islands about 45km off the coast to the northeast of the mainland.

CLIMATE: Tropical and coastal areas are hot and humid, with the rainy season lasting from March to May; the Central Plateau is dry and arid; the northwestern highlands are cool and moderate with rainy seasons from November to December and February to May.

NATURAL RESOURCES: Hydropower potentials, tin, phosphates, iron ore, coal diamonds, gemstones, gold, natural gas, and nickel.

MAJOR CITIES: Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Tanga, Zanzibar, Mwanza, and Arusha.

ECONOMY: The economy of Tanzania is based on agriculture, which accounts for 60% of its GDP and more than 80% of employment and export earnings. Most Tanzanians are farmers living in rural villages. Forests cover about 50% of the country. Wood and charcoal supply more than 90% of its energy. Livestock: ca 13 m cattle, 5 m sheep, and 280,000 pigs. Hydroelectric potential: 830 million kw. Hydropower provides more than 70% of electrical power. Mining and industrial sectors are relatively small, contributing 15% of the nation's GDP. Major Industries: agricultural products (sugar, beer, cigarettes, sisal, oil refining, shoes, cement, textiles, wood products, fertilizers are also important products). Important minerals: diamond, gold, tin and coal. Principle exports: coffee, cotton, cashew nuts, tobacco, tea, diamonds. Main imports: food, fuels, machinery and equipment. External Debt: 6.7 billion dollars (1993 estimates).

TRANSPORTATION: Railways: total railway lines about 3,569 (1995). Highways: total 55,600 kilometers; paved roads, 20, 572 kilometers; unpaved roads, 35,028 kilometers (1992 estimates).

COMMUNICATIONS: Domestic telephone system: open wire, microwave radio, relay, trapospheric scatter; 137,000 (1989); International telephone system: satellite earth station, 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean & 1 Atlantic Ocean).

Number of telephones: 137,000 (1989).
Radio broadcast stations: AM 12, FM4.
Number of radios: 640,000 (1992).
Television stations: 2 (1987).
Number of Televisions: 45,000.

PORTS: Three major ports on the Indian Ocean: Dar es Salaam, Tanga, and Mtwara; several inland ports on Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika.

EDUCATION: Primary education is free; secondary students pay fees. 50% of children attend primary and 4% secondary school. Adult literacy high (90%). Leading educational institutions: University of Dar es Salaam, Open University of Tanzania, Institute of Kiswahili Research, Sokoine University of Agriculture, College of National Education, College of Business Education, and Dar es Salaam Technical College.

ENVIRONMENT: Increasing demand for firewood poses a threat of deforestation. Protected land constitutes 14% of total land area.

TOURISM: Tourism has increased tremendously since 1990. A valid passport is required for entry. Visas required by all except for: a) nationals of Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Brunei, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cyprus, Grenada, Indonesia, Kenya, Kiribati, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Namibia, Sao Tome, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tonga, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia and Zimbabwe; b) holders of Tanzanian re-entry pass).

MEMBERSHIP OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: UN (11/1/64); OAU (foundation member 5/63); ECA; ADB; Southern African Development Community; Commonwealth; ACP-EU Convention; Non-Aligned Movement; Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

IMPORTANT NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: the National Museum of Tanzania (Dar es Salaam, f. 1937, ethnographic, archaeological and historical collections and other materials from Olduvai and other early Stone Age sites); Zanzibar Government Museum (Zanzibar, items relating to exploration in East Africa); University of Dar es Salaam Library (acts as library of legal deposit); National Archives (Dar es Salaam); Zanzibar Government Archives; Africa Center for Research in Oral Traditions and African Languages (Zanzibar); Tanzania Publishing House Ltd. (Dar es Salaam); Seregeti National Park (covers 5,000 square miles, has about a million animals, including 2,000 lions); Lake Manyara National Park (covers 123 square miles with an 88-square mile lake, has herds of buffalo, baboons and more than 350 species of birds); Arusha National Park (various animals including buffalo, rhinoceroses, elephants, giraffes, and warthogs).

MILITARY: Total armed forces: Active, 49,600; Army: 45,000; Navy: 1,000; Air Force: 3,600; Para-Military: 14,000; Reserves: 85,000.

MAJOR WORKER ORGANIZATIONS: Organization of Tanzania Trade Unions; Union of Tanzania Workers (Juwata); Workers' Department of Chama Cha Mapinduzi.

MAIN NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES: Daily News, Uhuru, Mzalendo, Sunday News, Mfanya Kazi, Kipanga, The Express, Business Times, The East African, The African Review, Elimu Haina Mwisho, Taamuli, Mbioni, Ukulima wa Kisasa, and Tanzania Trade Current.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS: January 1, January 12 (Zanzibar Revolution Day), Good Friday, Easter Monday, April 26 (Union Day), May 1 (International Workers' Day), July 7 (Saba Day), Id ul Fitr, Id ul Adha and Birth of the Prophet, December 9 (Independence Day), December 25 [1]

[1] Uwechue, Ralph (ed.) 1996. Africa Today, Africa Books Limited

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