Tanzania is an African nation of over 45 million people on a land area of 945,037 square kilometers. It is located on the east coast of Africa, on the Indian Ocean, and includes the offshore islands of Zanzibar and Pemba (which are 2,450 square km). As of 2010 there are at least 48 people to every square kilometer, and increasing steadily.

The Tanzanian People

Dodoma, with a population of 210,000 is the official capital of Tanzania, but Dar es Salaam (meaning, Harbor of Peace), is the de facto capital with 3,349,134 as its population. The latter is recognized as the center of all that is happening in this country. Only 26.4% are urbanites. All the rest are out in the rural areas and villages.

Life expectancy of a Tanzanian is 55 years of age. Almost half of Tanzanians (45%) are under the age of 15. It will be interesting to see where they take their country in the next decade or two.

The Tanzanian people are more than 150 idigenous ethnic groups. English and Swahili are the official languages, and the promotion and great use of Swahili is blurring some tribal divisions, so it plays a part in unifying the people. Swahili is the only spoken language of 2% of the total population.

The Bantu comprise 121 of those people groups. Some of their names, starting with the largest are; Sukuma, Gogo, Haya, Nyamwezi, Ha, Makonde, Hehe, Nyakyusa, Luguru, Shambala, Turu, Bena, Iramba, Chagga, Pare, Mwera, Makhuwa, and Yao. There are also the Niotic with 8 people groups, the Cushitic with 7 groups, and the Khoisan with yet another 7 groups.

Then there are still others, about 1.7% of the total, that include the South Asian, Arab, and Chinese. Plus some refugees like Burundi, Rwanda Hutu, Somalis, and Congolese.


69% of Tanzanians are literate - that is, they can read and write. That is quite something when you consider there there are 127 languages in Tanzania. As already mentioned Swahili and English are the official languages, and the promotion of Swahili helps to unit some of those people groups, especially if they don't have a strong tie to their local African people group.

The Bible has been translated into nine of the languages. 15 more languages have the New Testament. 32 others have at least a few portions of Scriptures in their language. About 43 languages have Bible translation works in progress.

The Tanzanian people, particularly those who are literate, are eager for reading material. It is very easy to hand out tracts and any free literature. Everyone wants something to read.

The Economy

As Pastor Gervase Masanja often says, "Tanzania is one of the very poorest countries in the world. If a person has a job, a wage of $1 a day is considered good." The majory subsist in an agricultural way. The nation has heavy debts and a weak infrastructure, but it continues to draw aid from other countries because of the political stability and its dedicated leaders.

The health and education sectors need lots of investment and work yet.

Tanzania has rich mineral deposits, and there is tremendous potential in mining. The tourist industry is just beginning to catch on to all that it could become, for Tanzania is a beautiful country, with many exotic animal. Safaris cater to the wealthy visitors. The beaches of Zanzibar are a great tourist destination too.

Political History

In 1961 this country, known as Tanganyika, gained its independence from Britain. Zanzibar followed in 1963. Then these two countries united as a one-party federal socialist republic the year after that, with Zanzibar keeping a sizable degree of autonomy.

This system changed in 1992 to a multi-party democracy.

Tanzania has been a stable country and government for 50 years, while the countries around them have had their troubles. Zanzibar has had some difficulties internally.

flag of Tanzania