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 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; note - legislative offices have been transferred to Dodoma, which is planned as the new national capital, and the National Assembly now meets there on a regular basis; the executive branch with all ministries and diplomatic representation remains in Dar es Salaam
  • 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 John Magufuli (since 5 November 2015); Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan (since 5 November 2015)
  • head of government: President John Magufuli (since 5 November 2015); Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan (since 5 November 2015); note - Zanzibar elects a president who is head of government for matters internal to Zanzibar; Ali Mohamed Shein elected to that office on 31 October 2010, sworn in 3 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 25 October 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


  • 49,639,138 (global rank: 26)
  • growth rate: 2.8% (global rank: 18)


  • noun: Tanzanian(s)
  • adjective: Tanzanian

Major Cities:

  • Dar es Salaam (capital): 4.838 million; Mwanza 789,000

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;
    note -  Kiswahili (Swahili) is the mother tongue of the Bantu people living in Zanzibar and nearby coastal Tanzania; although Kiswahili is Bantu in structure and origin, its vocabulary draws on a variety of sources including Arabic and English; it has become the lingua franca of central and eastern Africa; the first language of most people is one of the local languages

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 61.24 years (global rank: 191)
  • male: 59.91 years
  • female: 62.62 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 43.74 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 22)
  • male: 45.78 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 41.64 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 4.95% (2013 est.) (global rank: 13)
  • people living with AIDS: 1,400,500 million (2013 est.) (global rank: 7)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 67.8%
  • male: 75.5%
  • female: 60.8%



Overview: Tanzania is one of the world's poorest economies in terms of per capita income, but has achieved high growth rates based on gold production and tourism. GDP growth in 2009-14 was an impressive 6-7% per year. Tanzania has largely completed its transition to a market economy, though the government retains a presence in sectors such as telecommunications, banking, energy, and mining. The economy depends 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 infrastructure, including rail and port, that provide 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. The financial sector in Tanzania has expanded in recent years and foreign-owned banks account for about 48% of the banking industry's total assets. Competition among foreign commercial banks has resulted in significant improvements in the efficiency and quality of financial services, though interest rates are still relatively high, reflecting high fraud risk. All land in Tanzania is owned by the government, which can lease land for up to 99 years. Proposed reforms to allow for land ownership, particularly foreign land ownership, remain unpopular. In 2013, Tanzania completed the world's largest Millennium Challenge Compact grant, worth $698 million, and in December 2012 the Millennium Challenge Corporation selected Tanzania for a second Compact. Dar es Salaam used fiscal stimulus and loosened monetary policy to ease the impact of the global recession. In late 2014 a highly publicized scandal in the energy sector involving senior Tanzanian officials resulted in international donors freezing nearly $500 million in direct budget support to the government.
Gross Domestic Product:
  • GDP (PPP): $92.53 billion (global rank: 84)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $1,900 (global rank: 204)
  • real growth rate: 7.2% (global rank: 17)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 26.9%, industry: 25.2%, services: 48%


  • currency: Tanzanian Shillings (TZS)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 1,647.8


  • 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 (manioc, 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: 16.37%
  • permanent crops: 2.43%
  • other: 81.2%

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: dispute with Tanzania over the boundary in Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) and the meandering Songwe River; Malawi contends that the entire lake up to the Tanzanian shoreline is its territory, while Tanzania claims the border is in the center of the lake; the conflict was reignited in 2012 when Malawi awarded a license to a British company for oil exploration in the lake
  • refugees (country of origin): 55,870 (Democratic Republic of the Congo); 34,739 (Burundi)
  • human trafficking: Tanzania is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; the exploitation of young girls in domestic servitude continues to be Tanzania's largest human trafficking problem; Tanzanian boys are subject to forced labor mainly on farms but also in mines, in the commercial service sector, in the sex trade, and possibly on small fishing boats; internal trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking and is usually facilitated by friends, family members, or intermediaries offering education or legitimate job opportunities; trafficking victims from Burundi, Kenya, Bangladesh, Nepal, Yemen, and India are to work in Tanzania's agricultural, mining, and domestic service sectors or may be sex trafficked
  • 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: Friday, May 1, 2015

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.