Tanzania Country Facts

tanzania-mapCountry: United Republic of Tanzania

Background/History: Shortly after achieving independence from Britain in the early 1960s, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the United Republic 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.

Geography: Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean between Kenya and Mozambique.

Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa and one of only two mountains on the continent that has glaciers (the other is Mount Kenya); bordered by three of the largest lakes on the continent: Lake Victoria (the world’s second-largest freshwater lake) in the north, Lake Tanganyika (the world’s second deepest) in the west, and Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) in the southwest.

Area: 947,300 sq km. More than six times the size of Georgia; slightly larger than twice the size of California.

Climate: varies from tropical along coast to temperate in highlands

Population: 52,482,726 (July 2016 est.)

Population Growth Rate: 2.77% (2016 est.)

Fertility Rate: 4.83 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Infant Mortality Rate: 41.2 deaths/1,000 live births

Life Expectancy at Birth: 62.2 years

HIV/AIDS Adult Prevalence Rate: 4.69% (2015 est.)

Literacy: 70.6% (age > 15) (2015 est.)

Language: 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

Capital: Dodoma. Executive branch and diplomatic representation remain in Dar es Salaam, the largest city and commercial capital.

Government: Presidential Republic

Religion: Christian 61.4%, Muslim 35.2%, folk religion 1.8%, other 0.2%, unaffiliated 1.4%

Currency: Tanzanian shilling (TZS)

GDP-per capita: $2900 (in 2015 US dollars) (2015 est)

Labor Force:  80% agriculture, 20% industry and services (2002 est.)

Agriculture 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

Economy: Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest economies in terms of per capita income, but has achieved high growth rates based on its vast natural resource wealth and tourism. GDP growth in 2009-15 was an impressive 6-7% per year. Dar es Salaam used fiscal stimulus measures and easier monetary policies to lessen the impact of the global recession. 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; agriculture accounts for 7% of government expenditures. 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 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. The Tanzanian shilling weakened in 2015 because of lower gold prices, election-related political risk, and outflows from emerging market currencies generally.


(Information obtained from the World Fact Book 2016 and other sources)