Do you know the location or size of Tanzania? Do you know how many different tribes live in Tanzania? What is tanzanite? Did you know that time runs differently in Swahili terms? What is Swahili?
The above questions and any many more are answered in Facts & Figures (source: The World Factbook) or Tourist Information sections, where we have provided information to familiarise you with Tanzania and to make your decision to visit easier.
Stunning natural beauty and amazing wildlife of Tanzania can be seen in many National Parks and Reserves. For more information on which park or reserve to visit, have a look in our Parks & Reserves section, under Safaris.
Information referring to tourists is displayed within our Tourist Information section.
Area: 947.300 sq km (mainland Tanganyika 885.800 sq km, Zanzibar Archipelago with Mafia 2.500 sq km, water (lakes) 59.000 sq km).
Location: Eastern Africa, just south of Equator; (Longitude between 29 degrees and 41 degrees East of Greenwich, Latitude 1 degrees and 12 degrees South of Equator). Kenya sits astride the Equator, which borders with Tanzania. Tanzania also shares borders with Uganda; Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda in the west; Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique in the south and Indian Ocean to the east.
Altitude: Central plateau: from around 1200 m above sea level (metric converter).
Capital: Dodoma (administrative capital).
Other Major Cities: Dar es Salaam (business capital; population 4.8 million – 2014 est.), Mwanza, Arusha, Mbeya, Bukoba etc.
Language: Official languages are Swahili and English; tribes also speak their own languages.
Literacy: 70% of total population aged 15 years and over can read and write Swahili (Kiswahili), English or Arabic.
Currency: Tanzanian Shilling (TZS), which is divided into 100 cents. Paper notes: 10.000, 5.000, 2.000, 1.000 and 500; Coins: 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1.
Government: Multiparty Democracy with CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi; Party of the Revolution) as a current Ruling Party.
Head of State:
National Flag: Black for the People, Green for the Land, Blue for the Adjoining Sea and Golden for the Mineral wealth.
Time Zone: GMT + 3 hours with no daylight saving.
International Dialing Code:
Internet Domain: .tz
Electricity and Plugs: 230 V, 50 cycles, AC; in general the plugs are British three-square-pin and two-round-pin. Adapters are available.
GDP: 1900 US$ per capita (2014); 270 US$ per capita (2004).
Major Exports: Agriculture: coffee, tea, cotton, cashew, sisal, cloves. Minerals: gold, diamonds, tanzanite and other gemstones, nickel, iron, coal.
Distances: Tanzania is a large country (twice the size of California; 3-times the size of Italy) and distances between cities or national parks can be lengthy.
Here you will find information to help you get ready for your memorable visit to Tanzania! It is a rather large section, as we wanted to group as much information as possible. More information about Tanzania is available in our Facts & Figures or FAQ sections; if the information you need cannot be found, please do not hesitate to contact us! We will do our best to assist you.
Generally the ‘high season’ with more expensive accommodation and air-fare rates lasts from June till March. The ‘low season’ is during the ‘masika’, from March/April until May/June, and at that time you will often be able to save considerably on accommodation expenses. But do note that some lodges and hotels close during that time for annual maintenance.
If you are wondering what to bring for trekking or safari, take a look at our recommended list (FAQ section). There is no need to bring too much clothing, as laundry services are available in most accommodation properties. Also some airlines limit their complimentary luggage allowance to only 15-20 kg (metric converter). Do not forget to bring your camera and enough memory cards (with replacement batteries) to ensure to make your trip memorable; also remember to protect your equipment from dust on safari and from cold on your trekking.
The Great Rift Valley, stretching in the middle of the country, has created many fascinating topographical features, former volcanoes, which you can trek (Ngorongoro) with one of them still active (erupting daily), the Maasai “Mountain of God”, Ol Doinyo Lengai. Do not forget Mt. Kilimanjaro reaching 5895 m (highest peak of Africa) in all its majesty representing the ultimate challenge to every adventurer.
Tanzania possesses stunning beaches – hundreds of miles of palm-fringed sandy beaches and the exotic islands of Zanzibar (Unguja Island), Pemba and Mafia. White sandy beaches are synonymous with relaxation. Come for diving or snorkeling or just relax and swim in the warm, inviting Indian Ocean. Observe the amazing ‘underwater world’ and incredible coral reefs. Zanzibar is one of the rarest places in the world where corals are still alive in volume. Maybe catch an exotic fish or two – the choice is huge including yellowfin tuna, kingfish, marlin, barracuda, horse-mackerel, sailfish, rock cod or wahoo. Shore fishing or deep sea fishing is a trilling sport.
Enthusiastic golfers can play the game, as Tanzania offers many excellent courses.
A valid passport is considered to be the one with at least one empty page for visas and expiry date at least 6 months after your arrival.
Most visitors require a visa when entering Tanzania with exception of citizens of certain Commonwealth countries. If you did not secure your visa in advance (from Embassies or High Commissions), you may obtain it at all points of entry (International Airports (see next section) and bigger land borders: Sirari, Namanga, Taveta, Horohoro with Kenya; Mutukula with Uganda; Rusumo with Rwanda; Kabanga with Burundi; Kasesya and Tunduma with Zambia; Mwandenga with Malawi and Kalambo with Mozambique). Visa needs to be paid in US$ dollars, with 2004 and younger bills. The fee may vary and is liable to change but for most visitors amounts US$50 (same for adults and children); USA citizens are currently charged US$100 (bilateral agreement). Please note that NOT everybody can obtain a visa at Tanzania entry point – it is allowed for the citizens of EU and European countries, the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and a few others.
Proof of yellow fever vaccination is officially required upon your entry into Tanzania, if you are coming to East Africa from a yellow-fever-endemic area (most of the sub-Saharan Africa) or spending over 12 hours in transit in yellow-fever-endemic countries. The same applies for cholera.
If you consider driving in Tanzania, the best option is to acquire an International Driving Permit before leaving home (if your visit is going to be more than a month!). Please note that driving is on the left side!
Students will benefit with an International Student Identity Card on train fairs, airline tickets, entries to museums and archeological sites.
It is essential that you arrange individual Travel Insurance covering personal accident, medical expenses and repatriation, trip cancellation, theft and loss of personal effects.
Before departing remember to make copies of your important travel documents (in case originals get lost or stolen) – passport, airline tickets, health card, insurance, Traveller’s Cheque serial numbers and other documents. Leave one set of copies at home with your family or friends (or scan them and email to yourself so you can check worldwide); one copy bring with you but do not keep together with the originals.
Citizen of the countries of the European Union, who do not have an Embassy or High Commission of their own country in Tanzania, can turn for help to an Embassy or High Commission of any EU country.
The following items are tax free when entering Tanzania: one litter of spirits, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, and 250ml of perfume. It is illegal to export ivory, and wildlife products, seashells and turtle shells in any form (even simple jewellery). When buying valuable gemstones, remember to obtain receipt; you can be asked to present it to the custom officials on your departure.
03 January 2015
|Eid al-Moulid (Maulidi)
(it depends on the moon sighting)
|Zanzibar Revolution Day|
03 April 2015
06 April 2015
|Karume’s Day (Zanzibar)|
17 June 2015
|The beginning of the holy month of Ramadan
(it depends on the moon sighting)
|Saba Saba (77) Day|
17 July 2015
(it depends on the moon sighting)
|Nane Nane (88) Farmers’ Day|
24 Sept 2015
|Eid al-Kebir (Eid al-Haji)
(it depends on the moon sighting)
|Mwalimu Nyerere’s Day and Climax of ‘Uhuru Torch Race’|
|Major Shops, Tourist Services||Monday to Friday 8.30 a.m. to 5/6 p.m.; normally closed during lunch time from 12.30 to 2 p.m.; open on Saturday mornings with a few also on Sunday mornings.|
|Banks||Monday to Friday 8.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.;
Saturday until 11.30 a.m.
|Post Offices||Monday to Friday 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.;
Saturday until noon.
|Government Offices||Monday to Friday 7.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.;|
|Museums||Daily 9.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.|
Note that stated business hours are general and can differ from town to town.
If you feel feverish, immediately look for a doctor or if on safari with us, advise us immediately so we can assist you.
On the mainland coast and Zanzibar you can enjoy fresh tropical fish, lobster and shrimps.
Larger towns have a good selection of international cuisine including Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants. Some restaurants even serve meat from wild animals like giraffes, crocodile, zebra and antelopes; do not worry, endangered species do not appear on the menus, so bon appetite!
Vegetarians will enjoy a wide selection of exotic fruits; most restaurants cater well for vegetarians.
Price of a meal in a local restaurant vary from a half of US$ to 3-4 US$. Middle-range restaurants with international cuisine offer meals from 5-30 US$; upper class will charge from 20 US$ to several hundred US$ for a meal.
Non-alcoholic drinks beside water include chai (tea), kahawa (coffee), sodas and different types of juices.
Tanzanian lager (Safari 5,5%, Serengeti 4,8%, Kilimanjaro 4,5% Tusker 4,2%) is generally good and costs from 1 to 3 US$. The most popular bottled spirit is Konyagi (35% of alcohol), costing around 3 US$ for a half of liter. You may want to try very tasteful papaya or banana wine!
History of Tanzania: Tanzania is the ‘Cradle of Mankind’ as it was here in Olduvai Gorge that Dr Louis Leakey discovered the fossilised remains of Homo Habilis or ‘handy man’, calculated to be 1.75 million years old and the ancestor of the modern man.
Tanzania was occupied by various African tribes; most recently by the Maasai from Kenya, who have retained their proud traditions. Arab merchants visited the coast some 2000 years ago and settled in Zanzibar around the eight century AD, later establishing trade routes into the interior.
The intermarriages of Arabs and local African people created a new community with their own language – Kiswahili (Swahili), whose word for a journey, safari, has become the international description of a trip into the wild!
The Portuguese established temporary settlements in the 16th century, supplemented by the Omanis in the late 17th century who developed infamous slave trade.
The first Europeans to show an interest in Tanganyika, as the mainland was then known, were missionaries of the Church Missionary Society in the 19th century, Johann Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann, who in the late 1840s reachedKilimanjaro. A number of missionary societies began to take an interest in East Africa after 1860.
The scramble for Africa by the European powers at the end of the 19th century led to occupation of the mainland by Germany although Zanzibar became a British protectorate. After the First World War, Germany was forced to surrender its territory to British.
Tanganyika achieved independence in 1961. Zanzibar became independent two years later and shortly afterwards joined with the mainland to become the United Republic of Tanzania.
2.5 million BC – Homo Habilis emerges in the heart of East Africa, sticking around until 1.5 million BC.
1.75 million BC – Homo Erectus, a bigger and brighter hominid, emerges.
50.000 BC – Homo Sapiens in East Africa begin experimenting with stone tools.
10.000 BC – The New Stone Age begins when stone-making techniques and the use of fire are mastered and early communities form based on the hunting and gathering of food.
1000 BC – Agricultural techniques are introduced by people from what is known now Ethiopia; farming begins in the farmlands and Rift Valley regions of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.
400 BC – Greek geographer Herodotus travels south from Cairo hoping to reach the source of the Nile.
100 BC – Bantu people start arriving from Niger Delta armed with iron tools; a new are of colonisation and population expansion begins.
AD 150 – Ptolemy produces a map of Africa showing the river »Nillus«, the two lakes called »Nili Paludes«, and the »Lune Montes« (the Rwenzoris or Mountains of the Moon).
500 – Arabs sail around the Horn of Africa trading ivory, gold and slaves for glass, metal spearheads and later Indian spices and Chinese porcelain.
700 – Arabs found several trading settlements on the East African coast and introduce Islam (founded by the prophet Mohamed in Arabia around AD 600) to East Africa.
1100 – Islam is now practised widely all along the coast and Swahili (a mix of Arabic and African languages) is spoken.
1300 – The large Bantu kingdom of Chwezi is established in the west of East Africa (Uganda).
1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama sails around the Cape of Good Hope and up the East African coast.
1506 – Portuguese succeed in controlling most of the East African coast.
1500s – Nillotic people (originally from the southern Nile Valley) migrate into East Africa.
1600s – Omani ships continually threaten Portuguese trading stations and finally re-establish Arab control along the coast.
1699 – Portuguese ousted from Zanzibar by Omani Arabs.
1700s – Another wave of Nilotic people, the Maasai, spread into northern Kenya and then down the Rift Valley into Tanzania. Smaller Bantu groups as Chagga in the Kilimanjaro area, retreat to high ground for safety.
1832 – The Sultan of Oman, Seyyid Said, moves his capital and entire court toZanzibar. The slave trade flourishes.
1862 – A port of Dar es Salaam is founded by Sultan of Zanzibar.
1873 – Sultan Barghash of Zanzibar is strong-armed by the British into signing a treaty banning the slave trade.
1884 – German Colonisation Society begins to acquire territory on the mainland.
1886 – The Berlin Conference divides East Africa between Britain and Germany by drawing a line from Lake Victoria to the Indian Ocean. North of the border is British territory, to become Kenya and Uganda. South of the border is German East Africa, to become Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi; except for a narrow piece of territory along the coast which remained the authority of the Sultan of Zanzibar, and the island of Zanzibar, which becomes a British protectorate.
1890s – Plantations of sisal, rubber, cotton, coffee and tea begin to be established.
1905-06 – Indigenous Maji Maji uprising takes place in German East Africa which is suppressed by German troops.
1914-18 – During WWI German and British forces, both made up from European and African soldiers, engage in a long campaign in East Africa.
1919 – The League of Nations gives Britain a mandate over German East Africa, who rename it Tanganyika.
1929 – Tanganyika African Association founded.
1946 – United Nations converts British mandate over Tanganyika into a trusteeship.
1919 – Julius Nyerere and Oscar Kambona transform the Tanganyika African Association into the Tanganyika African National Union.
1961 – Tanganyika gains independence with Julius Nyerere as prime minister.
1962 – Tanganyika becomes a republic with Julius Nyerere as the first president.
1963 – The Sultanate of Zanzibar gains independence.
1964 – Sultanate of Zanzibar is overthrown by Afro-Shirazi Party in a violent, left-wing revolution; Tanganyika and Zanzibar merge to become Tanzania, with Nyerere as president and the head of Zanzibar government and leader of the Afro-Shirazi Party, Abeid Amani Karume, as vice-president. The capital of Tanzania is Dar es Salaam.
1967 – Nyerere introduces ujamaa system of government to Tanzania (Arusha Declaration). It combines expects of Marxist socialism and African tradition, emphasising the importance of collectivism, nationalisation and self-reliance.
1972 – The head of the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council is assassinated. A few years later in an attempt to cement the union of Zanzibar and the mainland Nyerere authorises formation of a one-party state and creates the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, or Party of the Revolution) that still dominates Tanzania politics.
1974 – A new capital of Tanzania becomes Dodoma located in the central Tanzania. Dar es Salaam still remains an industrial and trade capital of Tanzania.
1977 –The East African Economic Community of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda collapses, badly affecting Tanzania ’s economy. The border with Kenya is closed.
1978 – Uganda invades north-western Tanzania annexing some 1200 sq km.
1979 – A Tanzanian »people’s army« launches a major counter-attack and goes on to »liberate« Uganda virtually unopposed; the Ugandan capital Kampala is occupied and its President Idi Amin ousted.
1985 – President Nyerere retires and is replaced by the president of Zanzibar, Ali Hassan Mwinyi.
1992 – Tanzanian president Mwinyi, under pressure of major donors, legalises opposition parties and multiparty elections are scheduled. Economic liberalisation begins.
1995 – Tanzania holds its firs multiparty elections, which go relatively smoothly on the mainland; less so on Zanzibar. Benjamin Mkapa is chosen as a President in Tanzania’s first multiparty election.
1999 – October – Julius Nyerere dies.
2000 – Benjamin Mkapa is elected for a second term, winning 72% of the vote.
2001 – Rallies and demonstrations of opposition supporters in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam.
2001 – Huge new gold mine, Bulyanhulu, opens near northern town Mwanza, making Tanzania Africa’s third largest producer of gold.
2001 – Presidents of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya launch regional Parliament and Court of Justice in Arusha to legislate on matters of common interest such as trade and immigration.
2004 – Presidents of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya sign protocol in Arusha over proposed customs union, intended to boost trade.