Tanzania – Country & People

Tanzania - Country and People

Tanzania – with this word we associate vast savannahs covered with acacias and thousands of wild animals, high mountains, lava deserts, rain forests, tropical beaches and islands. Yes, all this is Tanzania, but this diverse country has much more to offer.

The country is located in East Africa, bordering Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo to the west and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The capital is Dodoma, but the seat of government is Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania has a tropical climate, but there are nevertheless large regional differences due to the respective altitude. At the coast it is always hot with a high humidity. On the central plateau in the interior, temperatures and humidity are lower. During the day it is often hot and at night, especially in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area it is often very cool. In the west, near the big lakes, it is similar to the coast, also the precipitation is higher there. A very pleasant, moderate climate can be found in the Usambara Mountains. Only in the two rainy seasons it is hot and humid there. In the north there are two rainy seasons per year. The small rainy season (November and December) during which hardly any restrictions in travelling are to be expected and the big rainy season (approx. mid-March to May). In the south and southwest there is only one rainy season from November to April. On the coast it can rain all year round, with most rainfall in April/May and the least from June to September.

People & Language
Around 40 million inhabitants with more than 125 different, mostly Nilotic languages have since then lived peacefully together in a colourful multi-ethnic state. Tanzania is politically very stable, has not experienced any tribal or ethnic conflicts and is a safe country to travel to. Swahili is the national language, and English is also spoken as the “lingua franca”. The population growth in Tanzania is very high. The majority of the ethnic groups belong to the Bantu people. The population is made up of many different groups. The Sukuma make up 12%, followed by the Nyamwezi, Hehet/Bena, Haya, Swahili, Chagga and the Massai. People from India, Pakistan, Arabia and Europe also live here. An interesting fringe group with only about 1,000 people is formed by the last bushmen of Tanzania, the Hadzabe. They are still traditional hunters and gatherers, live from and with nature and still use Stone Age tools. The Hadzabe, also called Hadza, live in the regions around Lake Eyasi. They feed on game meat, tubers, edible leaves and berries as well as honey. Similar to the bushmen in southern Africa, they speak a click language. Another ethnic minority are the Datoga, semi-nomadic cattle herders, similar to the more well-known Masai. Visits to both tribes can be organised by us. From the fees that the local authority collects from the tourists, these ethnic groups will be supported.

Faith & Culture
Faith plays an important role in Tanzania. Christianity is widespread with 43%, followed by Islam with 38% (mainly on the coast and the offshore islands). Despite all this, ancestral culture as well as natural and tribal customs still play an important role in the lives of the people.

Since independence, the Tanzanian education system has been greatly improved. The school system was strongly influenced by the British system due to colonisation. School attendance is compulsory until the age of 15. Attendance at the seven-year primary school is free of charge. After that, pupils attend secondary school, which comprises a total of six years. Officially, school fees have been abolished since 2002, but parents still have to contribute to the costs of food, transport, school uniform and books, which means that children cannot attend school, especially in the poorer rural areas. In the urban areas there are private or international schools whose attendance is associated with high school fees. Tanzania has several universities and other higher education institutions.

From about the 8th to 9th century onwards, Swahili culture spread along the coast due to long-distance trade with the Arab countries. Oman became the predominant coastal power. In the 18th century the slave trade flourished and exerted great influence on the inland. In the 19th century, the Sultan of Oman moved his seat of power to Zanzibar. This was followed by German colonisation (German East Africa 1885 to 1918). In the 1st World War Germany lost the colony to the allied troops. Tanzania, then still “Tanganyika”, gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1961 and formed the United Republic of Tanzania together with the island of Zanzibar in 1964. Since October 2015 John Magufuli is the fifth President of Tanzania.