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United Republic of Tanzania

Did you know: 

Filbert Bayi took the Commonwealth Games Men’s 1,500 Metres record at the Christchurch Games (New Zealand) in 1974.

The country includes the highest and lowest points in Africa – the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro (5,895 metres above sea level) and the floor of Lake Tanganyika (358 metres below sea level).

Tanzanian national Dr William Shija was appointed Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in 2007, and Dr Asha-Rose Migiro served as UN Deputy Secretary-General 2007–12.

Key facts

Joined Commonwealth: 
55.57 million (2016)
7.0% annual change (2016)
World ranking 151
Official language: 
Kiswahili, English
GMT plus 3hr
Tanzanian shilling (TSh)


945,090 sq km
Capital city: 
Population density (per sq. km): 


The United Republic of Tanzania borders the Indian Ocean to the east, and has land borders with eight countries: (anti-clockwise from the north) Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (across Lake Tanganyika), Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. The country includes Zanzibar (consisting of the main island Unguja, plus Pemba and other smaller islands).

Main towns: 

Dodoma (capital, pop. 410,956), Dar es Salaam (commercial and administrative centre, 4.8m), Mwanza (706,453), Zanzibar Town (501,459), Arusha (416,442), Mbeya (385,729), Morogoro (305,840), Tanga (221,127), Kigoma (215,458), Songea (203,309), Moshi (184,292), Tabora (160,608), Iringa (151,315), Musoma (134,327), Sumbawanga (124,204), Shinyanga (103,795), Mtwara (100,626) and Kasulu (67,704).


There are 90,810 km of roads, 15 per cent paved. There are also two railway systems, extending to a total of 4,460 km, and running on two different gauges. One links Dar es Salaam with central, western and northern Tanzania and Kenya (Tanzania Railways Corporation, gauge one metre, extending to 2,600 km); the other links Dar es Salaam to Zambia (Tanzania–Zambia Railways Authority, or Tazara).

The main ports are at Dar es Salaam, Mtwara, Tanga and Zanzibar. Regular boat services carry passengers and freight between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. Ferries provide freight and passenger transport on Lake Victoria.

There are three international airports (Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar) and more than 50 local airports and airstrips. Because of the size of the country and scattered population, air services have become the most significant form of internal transport for official and business travel.

International relations: 

United Republic of Tanzania is a member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, African Union, East African Community, Indian Ocean Rim Association, Non-Aligned Movement, Southern African Development Community, United Nations and World Trade Organization.

United Republic of Tanzania was a member (with Kenya and Uganda) of the East African Community, which from 1967 had a common market and many shared services, but collapsed in 1977. The three countries again embarked on developing regional co- operation in 1993, bringing about progressive harmonisation of standards and policies across a wide range of activities, and launching a new East African Community in January 2001 and East African Customs Union in January 2005. The Community was enlarged in July 2007 when Burundi and Rwanda became members. United Republic of Tanzania hosts the headquarters of the East African Community in Arusha.


The country comprises several distinct zones: a fertile coastal belt; the Masai Steppe and mountain ranges to the north (with Mt Kilimanjaro rising to 5,895 metres); and a high plateau in the central and southern regions. There are over 61,000 sq km of inland water. Unguja Island (36 km from the mainland) is fertile, hilly and densely populated on the west side, low and thinly peopled in the east.


Varies with geographical zones: tropical on the coast, where it is hot and humid (rainy season March–May); semi- temperate in the mountains (with the Short Rains in November–December and the Long Rains in February–May); and drier in the plateau region with considerable seasonal variations in temperature.


The most significant environmental issues are drought, soil degradation, deforestation, desertification and destruction of coral reefs.


Lush tropical at the coast; the rest of the country, apart from urban areas, is savannah and bush. Forest and woodland cover 37 per cent of the land area, having declined at 1.1 per cent p.a. 1990–2010. Arable land comprises 16 per cent and permanent cropland two per cent of the total land area.


The national parks and game reserves cover 16 per cent of the country and include Serengeti National Park (famous for its vast migratory herds of plains animals, notably wildebeest, zebras, elands and kudus). Small bands of chimpanzees are found in the Gombe National Park along Lake Tanganyika. The steep mountain walls of Ngorogoro Park’s volcanic crater have provided protection and a natural enclosure for animals in an environment of great natural beauty. Rhino and elephant populations are still being depleted by poaching despite government protective measures. Some 36 mammal species and 44 bird species are thought to be endangered (2014).