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Tanzania has been spared the internal strife that has blighted many African states.

Domestic stability has not translated into economic prosperity for Tanzanians, however. Many of its people live below the World Bank poverty line, although the country has had some success in wooing donors and investors.

Geologically, the northeast of Tanzania has a number of volcanoes which appeared in the Great Rift Valley – Kilimanjaro, Meru and Oldonyo Lengai are the most famous ones – while to the northwest are the great lakes of Victoria (Africa’s largest) and Tanganyika (Africa’s deepest). The central area of the country is a large plateau of plains and arable land, while the eastern shores are hot and humid.


1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama visits Tanzanian coast. Portugal succeeds in controlling most of the East African coast, until it is ousted from Zanzibar in 1699 by Omani Arabs.

1884 – German Colonisation Society begins to acquire territory, ushering in an era of German control over mainland Tanzania, while Britain enjoys a protectorate over Zanzibar.

1916 – British, Belgian and South African troops occupy German East Africa. Three years later, the League of Nations gives Britain a mandate over Tanganyika – today’s mainland Tanzania.

1961 – Tanganyika becomes independent with Julius Nyerere as prime minister; Zanzibar gains independence in 1963.

1964 – Two territories unite as Tanzania.

1978 – Ugandans temporarily occupy a piece of Tanzanian territory and, in 1979, Tanzanian forces invade Uganda, occupying the capital, Kampala, and help to oust President Idi Amin.

1992 – Constitution amended to allow multi-party politics.

1998 – Al-Qaeda Islamist terror group bombs US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.

2001 – At least 31 people are killed and another 100 arrested in Zanzibar in protests against the government’s banning of opposition rallies calling for fresh elections.

Later the same year, tens of thousands of opposition supporters march through the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, in the first major joint demonstration by opposition parties in decades.

2012 – The Statoil and Exxon Mobil oil exploration companies make major discovery of gas reserves off the coast of Tanzania.

The population of Tanzania is more than 55 million.

In Tanzania, the most spoken languages are Swahili and English. Almost everyone there speaks more than one African language.

Education in Tanzania is provided by both the public and private sectors, starting with pre-primary education, followed by primary, secondary ordinary, secondary advanced, and ideally, university-level education. Free and accessible education is a human right in Tanzania. The Tanzanian government began to emphasize the importance of education shortly after its independence in 1961

Capital City: Dar Es Salaam

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