Map of Tanzania
Tanzania - a land of incredible natural beauty and wonder
Country and People
The former German East Africa
The United Republic of Tanzania, with an area of 942,755 km² (about two and a half times the size of Germany), resulted from the union of Tanganyika, Zanzibar and Pemba on the 12T April 1964. The name of the state was created from TANganyika + ZAnzibar + AzaNIA (the former Greek name for the East African coast). From 1890 to 1918 Tanzania, including today's states of Burundi and Rwanda, was called "German East Africa" and was the fourth German colony besides Namibia (formerly German SouthWest Africa), Togo and Cameroun. Until its independence in 1961, Tanzania was a British trustee - ship and mandated territory. Official languages are Kisuaheli and English; the capital is Dodoma, whereby de facto Dar es Salaam is the capital and center of administration and government.
A country with unparralled beauty and diversity
Tanzania is truely fascinating due to its outstanding diversity of many lakes, mountains and its enormous variety of animal and plant life. Indeed, the country boasts the biggest coherent population of wildlife in all of Africa. The Selous Game Reserve has the biggest elephant population of the world.
And two of the five highest mountains in the entire continent are to be found in Tanzania. The highest of all is Mount Kilimanjaro (the roof of Africa), which peaks at 5,895 meters and is entirely the highest detached mountain in the world. The second highest mountain in the country (which is only 1,300 meters less in height than "Kili") is Mount Meru, which stands at 4,566 meters. "The floor of Africa" is the bottom of Lake Tanganyika (700 meters below sea level), and is the deepest, longest and second biggest lake in Tanzania; which, with other waters such as Lake Victoria in the North and the waters off the shores of Zanzibar, combine to be the biggest water surface in Africa.
The largest islands of East Africa (Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia) are situated off the Tanzanian shore.
In general, Tanzania has an underlying equatorial climate condition; but due to the extremely varied landscape, it can vary. For instance, some regions along the African Rift Valley (where there are height differences of more than 2,000 m in a range of only a few kilometers), extremely different climatic conditions can be found. Typically, sultry and hot tropical climate only exist along the coastal region and on the islands.
The different forms of vegetation in Tanzania range from alpine deserts of lava rubble down to the grasslands of the steppes, to the permanent ice-cap on the Kibo, the highest summit on Mt. Kilimanjaro. More than two thirds of the country are covered by immense dry forests and savannas. The slopes of Kilimanjaro are overgrown with immense tropical rain forests.
Protection of wildlife and nature is on record level
About 250,000km² of the state area are dedicated to the protection of nature and wildlife. The National Parks and Game Reserves alone, take up 16% of the country's total land area; making Tanzania the leader in conservation on the entire African continent. The National Parks are financed by economic aid, donations and foreign support, like the successors of Bernhard Grzimek, the founding father of the Serengeti National Park. Since 1995, Tanzania established it's first maritime National Park with the Mafia Island Marine Park. Regions like the Ngorongoro Crater are distinguished as Conservation Areas. The Maasai are allowed to live in these areas in harmony with the highly protected wild animals. Only game hunting is permitted in the so-called Game Reserves where there is no population growth. These areas are mostly reserved for professional hunters from foreign countries. To hunt in the Game Controlled Areas it is necessary for one to buy a game licence. Forest Reserves are protected mountain rain forests which are protected from felling and are maintained not only as an ecological water reservoir, but also as a vital habitat for wildlife.
The economy - Agriculture as main profit source
Tanzania is considered one of the poorest countries in the world. 90% of the population is actually gainfully employed, working mostly in the agricultural sector. The primary export commodities are: coffee, tea, bananas, cotton wool and tobacco. Other consumption crop yields are: sisal, wheat, maize and millet. Cattle and goats are bred mostly for self-sufficiency; however, an exception to this is the Maasai, who breed cattle as a social status symbol. Besides agriculture and tourism, mining (gold, diamonds and other semi-precious gems) adds to the country's economy.
People and tribes
One main aspect of Tanzania (in comparison to other African countries) is it's stability in it's home affairs. This is mainly due to the fact that none of it's approximately 130 different tribes have more than 3 million people. The country is thus governed by a "we-feeling," where by and large one feels more like a Tanzanian in general and not so much an ethnical group.
Most of the 33 million inhabitants live in the towns on or near the coast, and on the slopes of Kilimanjaro and the Usambara Mountains.
Religious faith is important to Tanzanians. About 43% are Christians, 38% Moslems, 1% Hindu and the remaining 18% are followers of traditional religions and of ancestor cult.
Art and culture
Traditional carvings and pottery, metal workmanship and blacksmith art posess (besides their functional value) a connection to religion and mythology. Many older objects of art find their actual application in rites and festivals, combined with dance, music, songs and religious festivals and offerings. Wooden carvings and sculptures don't have a big tradition in east Africa. This handcraft was introduced by the Arabians, Indians and from the Europeans in the 19th century. On the other, hand pottery goes back a long ways. Traditional pottery is made without any potter's wheel and is mostly done by women. Ornaments are either cut in, painted or molded and are produced using an open fire. Many try to earn an income as painters and paint mainly due to the tourist demand. Traditional music in east Africa is a unit of dance, religion and rituals. The most important instrument is the drum. The Kisuaheli word ngoma describes everything that has to do with musical performances, but it also is the word for drums.
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