Tanzania is located south of the equator and on the coast of the Indian Ocean and is the largest country in Eastern Africa with a land area of 881,289 sq. km in the mainland and 2,460 sq. km in Zanzibar and a population of 44.9 million of which 1,303,569 are in Zanzibar (2012 population census). It shares its borders with Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and the Indian Ocean with a coastline of 1,424 km in length. It is three hours ahead of GMT.
Tanzania is characterized by a narrow coastal belt with tropical beaches, an elevated plateau covered by savanna and bush, a Rift Valley, Mountains and a Crater. It has three major sea ports and various fresh water lakes.
The official language is Kiswahili but English for international correspondence. In addition, there are more than 120 tribal languages spoken in the country. However, one can rarely feel lost regardless of where one is in this vast country because Kiswahili is also the national language.
Tanzania brags of a tropical weather throughout the year and is semi-temperate as you move further inland. The hottest month is January with temperatures that go as high as 320C in Dar es Salaam and the coldest is July with temperatures as low as -40C in some areas of the Southern highlands. September is the driest month and April the wettest. The best times to travel to Tanzania for holiday or leisure should be between June and October when temperatures are warm and mild particularly if visiting Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and other coastal towns. Be prepared for lots of rain if you visit in April and May as this is when Tanzania usually has the long rains.
The main religions are Christianity and Islam. However, you can also find Hindus and other traditional religions.
Tanzania has a range of fascinating cultures of which the most famous is the proud Maasai, a pastoral population. There are more than 120 tribes in Tanzania which differ in their culture, customs and language. When you visit Tanzania you can learn about different medicinal plants, tribal rituals and traditional farming methods.
Towns and Cities
Tanzania has a few key regions with specific characteristics. Just to highlight a few, we have Arusha city which is at the foothill of Mount Meru and a popular 'safari' (which means journey in Swahili) centre where tourists and leisure travelers converge before departing for other sites. Dar es Salaam is the commercial capital which boasts of a huge natural harbour and other interesting sites. Dodoma is the capital and administrative city where the Parliament holds its sessions. Tabora is a historical town that was once the meeting point for slave traders, and later became a significant mission station. And as you travel towards the southern areas of the country you will pass through the southern highlands comprising the big four producers of staple food; Morogoro, Iringa, Mbeya and Ruvuma.
Tanzania is blessed with many and varied tourist attractions among which one of the seven natural wonders of Africa which holds the stature of a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Ngorongoro Crater which lies 110km west of Arusha city. We also have the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater which attracts over 500,000 visitors each year as it has the biggest population of animals on Earth. Other tourist attractions in Tanzania mainland include the Serengeti National Park the home of the wildebeest, Mount Kilimanjaro the highest mountain in Africa and a number of Game Reserves spread across the country.
In the Isles, we have the popular luxury destination of Zanzibar as well as the islands of Pemba and Mafia. These three islands are fondly known as the 'The Spice Islands' and offer a wide range of interesting and colorful experiences not to mention a variety of spices and essential oils.
Tanzania is also well known as the home of the rare and beautiful gemstone called Tanzanite which can be bought from reputable jewellery retailers in Arusha City and Dar es Salaam. We also have various souvenirs available in village and town markets and curio shops such as the famous 'Tinga Tinga' paintings, the colourful khanga, kitenge and batik fabrics as well as ebony carvings popularly known as 'makonde' because most of the carvers are of the Makonde tribe from Southern Tanzania.
Over the past two decades, Tanzania has been transformed from a centrally planned economy to a market-oriented system following the successful implementation of trade liberalization measures. The Government has taken deliberate steps to encourage private sector-led growth through restoration of market forces and less interference in commercial activities. These measures including privatization of state owned companies, reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers and fiscal/monetary reforms have opened doors for the expansion of private sector operations in all spheres of business.