Introduction

Located in central east Africa, Tanzania is bordered on the north, south and west by the countries Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. To the east of Tanzania is the Indian Ocean. The country is a unitary republic made up of 26 regions. The economy of Tanzania relies heavily on agriculture, which employs about 80% of the workforce, but due to the climate and geography of the country, cultivated crops are only grown on 4% of the land area. Tanzania has several other resources including gold and natural gas that help the economy. Tanzania is the third largest gold producer in South Africa, and other ores include platinum, uranium, diamonds, and iron ore. Tourism to places like the Serengeti also contribute to the economy.

People

The population of Tanzania was roughly 41 million as of 2009, with a growth rate of about 2%. About 95% of the native Africans are of Bantu origin, but population also includes those of Indian, Arab, and Pakistani descent. There are also small communities of Chinese and European ethnic groups as well. These non-African ethnic groups make up only 1% of the population. The people of Tanzania have a fairly low life expectancy, primarily because of HIV and AIDS, and the overall population only lives to 51 years of age.

Geography

Covering approximately 587,277 square miles, Tanzania is the 31st largest country in the world. The mountain area in the northeast region of Tanzania includes Mount Kilimanjaro, an inactive stratovolcano. The country's highest point of elevation is located in these mountains at 19,331 feet above sea level. Not only is this the highest point in Tanzania, but also the highest point on the entire African continent. The climate is tropical and the temperature for most of the country rarely gets below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, while in the highlands, temperatures can range between 50 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

History

Tanzania was originally inhabited by communities of hunters and gatherers for thousands of years. The Bantu people came from western Africa into the country about two thousand years ago, around the time when iron working skills were developed along with political and social organizations. The Europeans first arrived in the coastal region in 1498, and claimed most of the coast by 1525. World War I brought about an invasion attempt by the British, but it was stopped by the Germans. The British tried to indirectly rule through African leaders that were already established. Julius Nyerere became the country's first president in 1964. The economy of Tanzania fluctuated over the years, and is still in flux today. Although Tanzania is struggling, it still perseveres with the help of the agricultural business and tourism.

Famous Attractions

Possibly one of the most famous tourist attractions in Tanzania is the Serengeti, situated in the northwestern region and running to the southwest towards Kenya. This is the world's longest and largest overland migration area and consists of many game reserves and national parks. Many animals can be seen here including zebras, gazelles, blue wildebeests, and buffalo. Located in the city of Dar es Salaam is the National Museum, which opened in 1940 next to the Botanical Gardens, and contains rock painting replicas, various archaeological finds and a footprint cast of a 3.6 million year old hominid. Also located in the city of Dar es Salaam is the oldest surviving building of Old Boma. This building was first constructed in 1867 to accommodate guests of Sultan Seyyid Majid. The coral walls of Old Boma still stand, as does a door from Zanzibar.

Nightlife

The nightlife in Tanzania is filled with music and other entertainment. Along with various bars and nightclubs, there are also restaurants and local hotels with entertainment. In the city of Zanzibar, there is a food market in the section known as Stone Town. Here visitors can get a taste of sugar cane juice, Indian food, and seafood. This is a wonderful spot to see the sun set and enjoy the nice breeze in the evening. Once the sun goes down Stone Town becomes somewhat of a big fair. Along with food being sold, other shops stay open outside with lighting provided by kerosene lamps.

Culture

Tanzania is filled with over one hundred languages, most of them originating from the Bantu. There is no official language technically in Tanzania, however Swahili is the most widely spoken. There are many branches of the Bantu ethnic group, and each has its own language. Other languages spoken include English, French and a few Indian languages such as Portuguese and Gujarati. The country's population is evenly distributed in terms of religious practices. One third are Muslim, one third are Christian, and the final third follow indigenous religious beliefs. About 99% of the Muslims live in the city of Zanzibar.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Tanzania is very unique and has a lot of variety. In the coastal areas of the country, spicy food is the norm, and coconut milk is widely used in these areas. Further inland foods include fish, rice, plantains, bread known as Chapati, and vegetables such as spinach, okra, and green peas. Beverages include tea, particularly Chai tea. This is normally drunk in the morning with a pancake breakfast accompanied by bread rolls, known as Visheti, Samsoa, Bagia, as well as many others. Chai tea is also drunk in the evening when it is cooler. The tradition is to sit outside on the front porch and drink Chai tea while playing cards or a game called Bao. Coffee is also a popular drink and is usually accompanied by Kashata, a sweet snack made with coconut meat or groundnuts.