The current United Republic of Tanzania is formed of two previously independent nations, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The nation of Tanganyika achieved independence from Britain on December 9, 1961, and Zanzibar followed on December 10, 1963. Both became Republics shortly after becoming independent, and formed the United Republic of Tanzania on April 26, 1964. The current chief of state and head of government is President Jakaya Kikwete, who has been in charge since December 2005. Elections for the positions of President and Vice President are held every five years, and the President appoints the Prime Minister. The legislative branch, a unicameral National Assembly, or Bunge, has 357 seats, with 102 of them reserved for women that are nominated specifically by the President.
Tanzania is located in Eastern Sub-Saharn Africa, on the coast of the Indian Ocean South of Kenya and North of Mozambique. Tanzania is the largest East African country, and its area includes not only mainland Tanzania but also the islands of Mafia, Pemba, and Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean. Tanzania is home to many famous National Parks and Game Reserves such as the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Selous Game Reserve, Tarangire, Gombe Stream, and Lake Manyara. Partially due to the many game reserves, Tanzania has a large concentration of wild animals. Tanzania has a multitude of natural attractions including the Great Rift Valley, Ngorongoro Crater, and Mount Kilimanjaro- the highest point in Africa and one of only two mountains on the continent that has glaciers. Tanzania is also bordered by three of the largest lakes on the continent. Most notable are Lake Victoria to the North, the world’s second-largest freshwater lake, and Lake Tanganyika to the West, the world’s second-deepest lake.
Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest economies in terms of per capita income. The GDP, accounting for purchasing power parity, was $63.44 billion in 2011. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, more than ¼ of the GDP, which provides 85% of exports and employs about 80% of the work force. The main agricultural products are coffee, sisal, tea, cotton, pyrethrum, cashew nuts, tobacco, cloves, corn, wheat, cassava, and bananas. The main industries of Tanzania are agricultural processing (sugar, beer, cigarettes, sisal twine), mining (diamonds, gold, iron), salt, soda ash, cement, oil refining, shoes, apparel, wood products, and fertilizer. Tanzania’s main natural resources include hydropower, tin, phosphates, iron ore, coal, diamonds, gemstones, gold, natural gas, and nickel. Their main exports are gold, coffee, cashew nuts, manufactures, and cotton and their main export partner is China, which receives 15.6% exports.
The current environmental issues include soil degradation, deforestation, desertification, destruction of coral reefs threatening marine habitats, recent droughts affecting marginal agriculture, and wildlife threatened by illegal hunting and trade, especially for ivory. Tanzania is party of various international environmental agreements including Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change- Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, and Wetlands Agreements. These environmental issues are potential obstacles to development of Tanzania, as development and environmental conservation often go hand-in-hand. This awareness is shown in an increase of sustainable development initiatives in the area, especially in rural Tanzania.
The national language of Tanzania is Kiswahili, although Arabic is more commonly spoken in Zanzibar. Another difference between Zanzibar and the mainland is religion. On the mainland the population is 30% Christian, 35% Muslim, and 35% Indigenous beliefs while Zanzibar is comprised of 99% Muslims. The national symbol of Tanzania is the Uhuru (Freedom) Torch, and the National anthem is “Mungu Ibariki Afrika,” or “God Bless Africa.” The flag of Tanzania is shown below.