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Facts at a glance
  • Official name: The United Republic of Tanzania (Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania).
  • Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Kenya and Mozambique.
  • Capital city: Administrative capital: Dodoma. Commercial capital: Dar es Salaam.
  • Area: Total: 945,087 sq km, land: 886,037 sq km, water: 59,050 sq km. Note: includes the islands of Mafia, Pemba, and Zanzibar.
  • Borders:Total: 3,861 km. Border countries: Burundi 451 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 459 km, Kenya 769 km, Malawi 475 km, Mozambique 756 km, Rwanda 217 km, Uganda 396 km, Zambia 338 km.
  • Climate: Tanzania’s climate is predominately tropical. Coastal areas are usually hot and humid, but on the beaches a sea breeze cools the air considerably. The average day temperature is 30°C. Tanzania has two rainy seasons – the long rains from late March to June and the short rains from November to January. The long rains fall in heavy downpours, often accompanied by violent storms, but the short rains tend to be much less severe. The hottest time of the year is from December to March, before the long rains begin. The coolest months are June, July and August, when the weather is often overcast. In high-altitude areas such as Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro Highlands, temperatures can fall below freezing.
  • Population: 41,892,895 (2010 est.) 
  • Ethnic make-up: There are approximately 120 tribal groups in Tanzania, most of which are so small that one hundred tribes combined would only account for one-third of the total population. As a result, no tribe dominates either politically or culturally. About 95% of Tanzanians are of Bantu origin, the largest tribes being the Sukuma (approximately 13% of the population), the Nyamwezi, Makonde, Haya and Chagga. The Maasai and several smaller groups, including the Arusha and Samburu, are of Nilotic origin. There is also a small but economically significant Asian and Arabic population. According to the most recent census, Tanzania is one of the least-urbanised countries in sub-Saharan Africa, urban dwellers making up only 11.5% of all mainland Tanzanians.  
  • Religion: Mainland - Christian 30%, Muslim 35%, indigenous beliefs 35%; Zanzibar - more than 99% Muslim. 
  • Language: Kiswahili or Swahili (official), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages.
  • Communication: International Direct Dial is available. The country code for Tanzania is +255. The outgoing international code is 00 for the United States, or 000 for all other countries. Public call boxes in post offices and main towns operate on a card system, available from most small shops. Several cellular phone companies operate in Tanzania and roaming lines work near most major cities and towns. Internet cafes are plentiful in major city centres.
  • Currency: The Tanzania shilling (Tsh or TZS), divided into 100 cents. There is no limit to the importation of foreign currency. 
  • Currency exchange: Most hotels offer forex facilities, though sometimes at disadvantageous rates. Forex facilities remain open at the main airports. 
  • Banking: Banks and bureau de change are available at airports and in all major towns. Banking hours are from Monday - Friday 8.30 am - 3.00 pm, Saturdays 8.30 am - 1.30 pm. A few branches in the major towns are open until 4.00 pm. Please note that banks are closed on Sundays. 
  • Credit cards and traveller’s cheques: Credit cards (Access, MasterCard, Visa, American -Express, and Eurocard) are accepted only at major lodges, hotels, and travel agents. A surcharge may be added for this service. ATM and 24-hour cash machines are available in branches of major banks. Travellers’ cheques in pounds sterling or US dollars are recommended, though it may be difficult to exchange them outside the main cities. 
  • Tipping: Tipping is appreciated. Most hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge.
  • Time: GMT +3 all year-round.  Tanzania maintains an almost constant 12 hours of daylight. Sunrise is typically 06.30 and sunset at 18.45. 
  • Electricity: 220-240 volts AC.  
  • Water: Tanzanian tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled water is readily available.
  • Landscape: Plains along the coast; central plateau; highlands in the north. Kilimanjaro (5, 895 m) is the highest point in the country and in Africa. Tanzania is bordered by three of the largest lakes on the continent: Lake Victoria (the world's second-largest freshwater lake) in the north, Lake Tanganyika (the world's second deepest) in the west, and Lake Nyasa in the southwest. 
  • The national parks and reserves: The game parks of Tanzania have been set aside by the government as wildlife and botanical sanctuaries that enjoy a high degree of protection and management. 25% of Tanzania is gazetted as national parks and reserves making conservation a major element in land use.  Tanzania has more than 20 game reserves including the world’s largest, the Selous. Five game reserves have been declared and there are about 50 game-controlled areas totalling more than 120,000 square kilometres. Forest reserves make up 15% of the country. 
  • Biosphere reserves: Lake Manyara National Park, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. 
  • World Heritage Sites: Ngorongoro Conservation area, Selous Game Reserve and Serengeti National Park.
  • National museums and historical sites: Olduvai Gorge, The National Museum of Dar es Salaam, The Catholic Mission and prison of Bagamoyo, Ujijii Cultural Centre, Sukuma Museum, Mwanza, The Amboni Caves and Hot Springs, the Tongoni Ruins, the National Museum of Zanzibar (also the Kidichi Persian Baths, the House of Wonders, the Arab Fort, Livingstone’s House, Mangapwani Slaves Caves, the Maruhubi Palace, the Old Slave Market and the People’s Palace).
  • Flora: Tanzania’s forests offer over 50 tree species and 200 species of shrubs.
  • Fauna: The East African plains support some of the last great herds of wildlife left in the world, offering a greater number and diversity of species than any other continent: Tanzania offers over 80 major species, including ‘The Big Five’ (elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino and leopard), and 600 species of butterfly.
  • Avifauna: From glacial mountain to savannah plain, semi desert to tropical rainforest, Tanzania’s botanical versatility supports more than 1,000 bird species. 
  • Entry requirements: A valid passport. Most visitors to Tanzania require a visa to enter the country. Three-month single-entry tourist visas are available from all Tanzanian embassies (price subject to nationality). For further information contact: 
  • Health certification: The yellow-fever vaccination is no longer officially required when entering Tanzania; however this is still a requirement for Zanzibar. 
  • Vaccinations: A number of vaccinations are recommended for visitors to Tanzania (check with your doctor in advance). 
  • Malaria: Malaria is endemic in tropical Africa and protection against it is necessary. 
  • HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS is a serious problem throughout Africa. 
  • Medical insurance: Travellers to Tanzania are recommended to obtain medical insurance prior to arrival. 
  • Security: Tanzania is a safe country to travel in. Tanzanians are warm-hearted and generous people and are eager to help visitors get the most out of their stay. Tanzania is a politically stable, multi-democratic country. As in all countries, a little common sense goes a long way and reasonable precautions should still be taken, such as locking valuables in the hotel safe and not walking alone at night.
  • Travelling to Tanzania: 
  • By air: Tanzania has three international airports: Dar es Salaam International Airport (which handles most international flights), Kilimanjaro International Airport and Zanzibar International Airport. 
  • Dar es Salaam International Airport
  • Located 15 km southwest of Dar es Salaam and takes approximately 25 minutes to reach by car from downtown. 
  • Kilimanjaro International Airport
  • Lies 40 km from Arusha and takes approximately one hour to reach by car. Shuttle bus services to the airport run regularly from both Arusha and Moshi.
  • Zanzibar International Airport
  • Located approximately 7 km from the centre of Stone Town.  
  • By road:From the north, paved roads connect the Kenyan capital of Nairobi with Arusha and cross the border at the Namanga post. A number of shuttle buses, leaving twice daily between the two cities, also follow this route. The trip takes approximately 4 - 6 hours.
  • From the south, the road from Malawi enters Tanzania at Karonga before continuing onwards to Mbeya. There are no viable bus services along this route. 
  • Driving: Driving (international driving licence required) in Tanzania is on the left-hand side and traffic signs are international. 
  • Public transport
  • Buses and taxis operate in most towns. Price is open to negotiation and should be decided in advance. 
  • Dressing: Tanzania has no winter and lightweight clothing is worn all year-round. It is considered insulting by local tradition to dress scantily or improperly.
  • Do’s and don’ts: It is an offence to: deface a Tanzanian banknote; urinate in public; sunbath topless; hire a prostitute; buy or take drugs; remove wildlife products from Tanzania, export products made from elephant, rhino or sea turtle derivatives, or to remove coral. Swearing and blasphemy are inadvisable. Visitors are requested to stand when the Tanzanian anthem is played, or the national flag raised or lowered. They are also advised that photographing the president without prior permission or any military installation is not permitted. 
  • Photography: It is considered courteous to ask people if you may take their picture before doing so, particularly in the more far-flung rural areas. A small (token) payment for the photograph may be expected, rather more as a form of polite appreciation than anything else. 

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