NI Global Issues for Learners of English > Country profiles > Tanzania



Tanzania's flag

Map of Tanzania

Where Tanzania is

Area of Tanzania: 945,087 square kilometres

Consisting of two former British colonies, Tanganyika and Zanzibar, Tanzania became independent in 1964.

In the first years after becoming independent, there was hope for Tanzania's successful development. Literacy was improving; the many different peoples were united into one country, and the country's first president Nyerere was highly respected throughout Tanzania and the world.

However, wars, droughts, and falling commodity prices changed this. There was no more money for development. Education and health care suffered. Today Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world.


Information at a Glance


Population: 29.7 million.
23% Urban
Annual Growth in population: 2.9%
Religions: On the mainland - Christian 45%, Muslim 35%, native African beliefs 20%;
Zanzibar - more than 99% Muslim


Currency: Shillings
GNP per capita: $140 (1994)
Main Industries: Agricultural processing, diamond and gold mining, oil refining, shoes, cement, textiles, wood products, fertilizer, salt
External Debt per capita: $258 (1994)

Main exports: coffee, cotton, minerals, tea
Main imports: petroleum, machinery and transport equipment.


Life expectancy: 52.26 years
Infant mortality: 80.97 deaths/1,000 live births
   (Sweden: 4 per 1,000).
Average calories consumed: 92% of calories needed
Safe water: 50% of population has access. (In rural areas 30%)
AIDS is a serious problem,


While the government has stressed self-reliance for many years, the country still needs aid and loans.


IlIiteracy: 32% (1995)
Languages: Swahili is the official language.
Most Tanzanians speak Swahili as a second language. English is taught in all schools and is also widely spoken.

Income Distribution

The gap between rich and poor is increasing due to the economic changes required by the World Bank, the IMF and other groups.


Regions: coastal plains; central plateau; highlands in north, south.
Farming: Agriculture is an important part of the economy (50% of the GDP, 85% of exports, 90% of employment).
Natural resources: hydropower, tin, phosphates, iron ore, coal, diamonds, gemstones, gold, natural gas, nickel
Natural hazards: the tsetse fly; flooding on the central plateau during the rainy season; drought
: soil degradation; deforestation; desertification; destruction of coral reefs threatens marine habitats; recent droughts affected marginal agriculture .


Tanzaniašs first multi-party elections took place in 1995. These elections were won by the CCM party (Chama Cha Mapinduzi, the Revolutionary Party), which has ruled since independence.
The government is working hard to get rid of corruption.

Freedom & human rights

Generally good, although human-rights abuses in Zanzibar have caused some aid-giving countries to cancel the aid they were providing.

Position of women: Women are equal before the law but there is little participation by women in decision making.

Sources: The World Guide; Leading Issues in Economic Development 7th edition by Meier and Rauch; Tanzania country profile, the New Internationalist, 1997 by Clare Harvey. CIA Factbook 2000.

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Last modified 28 December 2000