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Tanzania Destinations & Attractions

What to see & Where to Go

Tanzania is an East African country situated just south of the Equator. Tanzania comprises of more than 120 different indigenous African peoples, most of whom are today clustered into larger groupings. Because of the effects of rural-to-urban migration, modernization, and politicization, some of the smallest ethnic groups are gradually disappearing. As early as 5000 BCE, San-type hunting bands inhabited the country.  The Zaramo, a highly diluted and urbanized group, constitute another ethnic group of considerable size and influence. The majority of the Zaramo live in the environs of Dar es Salaam and the adjacent coastline. The Zanaki—the ethnic group smallest in number—dwell near Musoma in the Lake Victoria region. Julius Nyerere, the country’s founding father and first president (1962–85), came from this group.There are several groups of Africans present on the islands. Indigenous Bantu groups, consisting of the Pemba in Pemba and the Hadimu and Tumbatu in Zanzibar, have absorbed the settlers who moved from Persia in the 10th century. These groups and some of the descendants of slaves call themselves Shirazi. There are also small enclaves of Comorians and Somalis. Arab settlements were also established early, and intermarriage with the local people took place. Arab arrivals in the 18th and 19th centuries were from Oman and constituted an elite. The Omani immigrants in the early 20th century tended to be less affluent. Asians form a very small minority. Tanzania was formed as a sovereign state in 1964 through the union of the theretofore separate states of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Mainland Tanganyika covers more than 99 percent of the combined territories’ total area. Mafia Island is administered from the mainland, while Zanzibar and Pemba islands have a separate government administration. Dodoma, since 1974 the designated official capital of Tanzania, is centrally located on the mainland. Dar es Salaam, however, remains the seat of most government administration, as well as being the largest city and port in the country


Tanzania has two official languages, Swahili (kiSwahili) and English. Swahili, the national language, is a composite of several Bantu dialects and Arabic that originated along the East African coast and on the island of Zanzibar. 


Roughly one-third of the population is Muslim, the majority of whom are Sunni; the Shīʿite population of Tanzania includes an Ismāʿīlī community under the spiritual leadership of the Aga Khan. An additional one-third of Tanzanians profess Christianity, which in Tanzania includes Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, and Baptist sects. The remainder of the population is considered to hold traditional beliefs. The division is usually not as clear as official statistics suggest, since many rural Tanzanians adhere to elements of their indigenous religious practice. Almost the whole of the Arab and the African peoples of Zanzibar profess the Islamic faith. Traditional African beliefs also exist in conjunction with Islam. Among Muslims, the Sunni sect is adhered to by many of the indigenous people.


Common savanna species cover most of the drier inland areas—amounting to about one-third of the country—between altitudes of 300 and 1,200 m (1,000 and 4,000 ft). Two main types of closed-forest trees—low-level hardwoods and mountain softwoods—are found in high-rainfall areas on the main mountain masses and in parts of the Lake Victoria Basin. Wooded grasslands are widely scattered throughout the country. The drier central areas include bushlands and thickets. Grasslands and heath are common in the highlands, while the coast has mangrove forest. There are over 10,000 species of plants throughout the country.The 4 million wild mammals include representatives of 316 species and subspecies, notably antelope, zebra, elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, giraffe, and lion. Various types of monkeys are plentiful.There are over 230 species of birds found in the country, ranging in size from ostrich to warbler. Insect life, consisting of more than 60,000 species, includes injurious species and disease carriers. There are at least 25 species of reptiles and amphibians and 25 poisonous varieties among the 100 species of snakes. Fish are plentiful. The flora and fauna of Zanzibar and Pemba are varied. Mammals common to both are galagos, fruit-eating and insectivorous bats, genets, mongooses, small shrews, rats, and mice. Zanzibar has the leopard, Syke's monkey, civet, and giant rat. Unique species of tree coney are found on Pemba and Tumbatu Islands. There are also five unique mammals—Kirk's colobus (monkey), two elephant shrews, duiker antelope, and squirrel.