United Republic of Tanzania : Society


Population density (per sq. km): 


Life expectancy: 
65 Years
Primary enrolment: 
81% (2013)

55.57 million (2016); 30 per cent of people live in urban areas and seven per cent in urban agglomerations of more than one million people; growth 2.9 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 39 per 1,000 people (48 in 1970); life expectancy 62 years (47 in 1970 and 51 in 1990).

Most of the people are of Bantu origin, with some 120 ethnic groups on the mainland, none of which exceeds ten per cent of the population. The biggest group is the Sukuma; others include Nyamwezi, Masai, Haya, Gogo, Chagga, Nyaliyusa and Hehe. The population also includes Asian and expatriate minorities. The people of Zanzibar are of Bantu, Persian and Arab origin.


The official language is Kiswahili (which is universally spoken in addition to various other African languages), and is the medium of instruction in primary schools. English is the second official language, the country’s commercial language, and also the teaching language in secondary schools and higher education.


Muslims 35 per cent, Christians 30 per cent, and a small number of Hindus, with most of the rest holding traditional beliefs; (in Zanzibar) Muslims virtually 100 per cent.


Public spending on health was two per cent of GDP in 2012. Muhimbili Medical Centre, Dar es Salaam, is the country’s principal referral centre and teaching hospital. Other referral hospitals are at Moshi, Mwanza and Mbeya. Some 53 per cent of the population uses an improved drinking water source and 12 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities (2012). Infant mortality was 36 per 1,000 live births in 2013 (142 in 1960). In 2013, five per cent of people aged 15–49 were HIV positive.


Public spending on education was six per cent of GDP in 2010. There are seven years of compulsory education starting at the age of seven. Primary school comprises seven years and secondary six, with cycles of four and two years. Some 81 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2009). The school year starts in January.

The principal public universities are the University of Dar es Salaam (established in 1970); Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro (1984, before which it was the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry of University of Dar es Salaam); and Open University of Tanzania (established for distance education in 1995). There are a number of private universities including Hubert Kairuki Memorial University (with faculties of medicine and nursing, in Dar es Salaam, established 1997); and International Medical and Technological University (Dar es Salaam, 1995). The female–male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 0.50:1 (2012). Literacy among people aged 15–24 is 74.6 per cent (2010).


The government-owned Daily News is published in English. Uhuru is owned by the ruling party (CCM) and is in Kiswahili. There are several independent newspapers including dailies The Guardian and Daily Mail, and weeklies The Arusha Times, Business Times and The Express, and several in Kiswahili.

The Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation provides public radio and TV services in Kiswahili and English. There are several private TV channels, and many private radio stations, especially in the urban areas.

The first private television channel was launched in mainland Tanzania in 1994, following the introduction of multiparty democracy, and public-service TV followed in 2001.

There are no private broadcasters or newspapers in Zanzibar, though many people on the islands receive mainland broadcasts and read the mainland press. TV Zanzibar and Voice of Tanzania–Zanzibar are both state-operated.

Some 15 per cent of households have TV sets (2011). There are nine personal computers per 1,000 people (2005).


Country code 255; internet domain ‘.tz’. There are many public phones throughout the country. Mobile phone coverage is limited to urban areas. Internet cafés are found in main towns; those in more remote places rely on satellite access. Postal services are good.

For every 1,000 people there are three landlines, 557 mobile phone subscriptions and 44 internet users (2013).

Public holidays: 

New Year’s Day, Zanzibar Revolution Day (12 January, 1964), Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume Day (7 April, Zanzibar only), Union Day (26 April), Labour Day (1 May), Saba Saba (Industry Day, 7 July), Nane Nane (Farmers’ Day, 8 August), Nyerere Day (14 October), Republic Day (9 December), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Religious festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Prophet’s Birthday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan, two days) and Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice).