Capital cities: Dar es salaam (executive), Dodoma (legistrative)

Other citiesArusha, Zanzibar

Terrain: Varied

Population: 58.01 million (2019 est.)

Religion: Christian 63%, Muslim 35%, other (traditional, Hindu, Sikh, Baha'i) 2%

Languages: English and Swahili (official), Swahili (national)


Tanzania is in East Africa on the Indian Ocean. To the north are Uganda and Kenya; to the west, Burundi, Rwanda, and Congo; and to the south, Mozambique, Zambia, and Malawi. Its area is three times that of New Mexico. Tanzania contains three of Africa's best-known lakes—Victoria in the north, Tanganyika in the west, and Nyasa in the south. Mount Kilimanjaro in the north, 19,340 ft (5,895 m), is the highest point on the continent. The island of Zanzibar is separated from the mainland by a 22-mile channel.

Arab traders first began to colonize the area in 700 AD. Portuguese explorers reached the coastal regions in 1500 and held some control until the 17th century, when the sultan of Oman took power. With what are now Burundi and Rwanda, Tanganyika became the colony of German East Africa in 1885. After World War I, it was administered by Britain under a League of Nations mandate and later as a UN trust territory. British rule ended in 1961 when Tanganyika became indepenent.

Although not mentioned in old histories until the 12th century, Zanzibar was always believed to have had connections with southern Arabia. The Portuguese made it one of their tributaries in 1503 and later established a trading post, but they were driven from Oman by Arabs in 1698. Zanzibar was declared independent of Oman in 1861 and, in 1890, it became a British protectorate.

Zanzibar islands gained independence from Britain in December 1963. A month later, the bloody Zanzibar Revolution, in which thousands of Arabs and Indians were killed, led to the establishment of the Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba. In April, 1964 Zanzibar united with Tanganyika and the new republic that was formed was named the United Republic of Tanzania, of which Zanzibar remains a semi-autonomous territory.