50 Interesting Facts About Tanzania

Last updated on December 8th, 2019

Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania, is a place where nature is at its wildest. It is surrounded by three great lakes of Africa – Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi. Vast swathes of Savanah grasslands decorate Tanzania’s hinterlands and the real beauty of the country shines through its amazing biodiversity and wildlife.

Beyond the eastern shores lies the splendid island-city of Zanzibar, which has anchored itself in the passage of history as a city of many ideas and cultures. Absorbing the vibes from faraway lands, it is rightly called the gateway to Africa.

With these 50 interesting facts about Tanzania, let’s explore the known and unknown sides of this East African country and its uniqueness.

Facts about Tanzanian culture and people

1. Tanzania is made up of at least 120 tribes, each significant in their own way. Each of them is culturally distinguished by their unique masks, hand-woven baskets, batiks, poetry, items carved out of ebony or rosewood, etc.

2. Over 120 languages are spoken in Tanzania, most of them from the Bantu family. The kiswahili language (Swahili) is the official language of Tanzania and Kenya.

3. Tanzanians prefer drinking tea in the morning as a breakfast beverage and coffee in the evening.

4. The use of left hand to greet someone is considered impolite and rude in Tanzania.

5. Zanzibar, a port city of Tanzania, is a cosmopolitan hotspot which dominates East African culture. Its long history with Arab rulers, Indian workers, Portuguese traders and European colonizers have created a unique blend of traditions, cuisine, music, dance forms, and arts.

6. Dar es Salaam, a city in eastern Tanzania, is the largest city in the country. It’s also the largest Swahili-speaking city in the world and has given birth to many great men in Africa’s history.

7. Being a former European colony, Tanzanians have adopted football and rugby as their favorite sports.

8. The de-facto national dish of Tanzania is the humble Ugali. It’s a simple porridge made with millet or sorghum flour.

Maize meal ugali and sukuma
Maize meal ugali and sukuma. Source – Wikipedia.org

9. In Tanzania, even the lakes are sculptors. Lake Natron, a highly alkaline water body, is known to turn birds and other animals into ghastly stone statues.

10. Mpingo tree, found in Tanzania produces the costliest timber in the world. It has exceptional mechanical properties that make it perfect for carving and it has a beautiful finish.

11. In fact, the Mpingo trees is also known as the music tree of Africa, as its wood has been used to make traditional musical instruments since ancient times.

12. Tanzania has a weird solution for raiding elephants that stray into farmlands – “Throw condoms filled with chili powder at them”, and it totally works. Looking at the brighter side, earlier they used to throw spears.

13. Freddie Mercury, the frontman vocalist, and songwriter of rock band Queen was born in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

14. Tanzanians love hip hop music and has created Bongo Flava, which is an amalgamation of international styles like reggae, afrobeat, blues, rasta and dancehall with local musical traditions like taarab and dansi.

15. Kinjikitile Ngwale was an interesting man living in Tanzania during the 1900’s, who led a revolution against the German colonizers. The uprising was known as Maji Maji revolution and is an important moment in the country’s history.

16. The problem was Kinjikitile Ngwale believed himself to be possessed by the spirit of a snake and claimed that a “magical” portion called “maji” would turn German bullets into powder. He was hanged a month later for treason.

17. Tanzania is a friendly country in diplomatic circles, but the country did declare war on neighboring Uganda on October 30, 1978. Tanzania totally owned the Ugandans and won a victory after 5 months.

Read: facts about Uganda

18. The 1978 war was actually caused by a shady bar-fight. It all started when a single Ugandan soldier crossed over to Tanzania for a drink, but ended up firing at locals.

Tanzanian Flag

Tanzania Flag
Tanzania Flag. Source – CIA

19. The flag of Tanzania consists of a black and yellow band, diagonally cutting out two triangles. The upper portion is green in color while the lower is blue.

20. The flag carries in it the 4 elements of Tanzania’s daily life. The green represents nature’s beauty, the yellow represents the mineral deposits of the country, the black represents the people, while the blue represents the great lakes.

21. Zanzibar, being so cool, gets to have its own flag. The colors of the flag remain the same as that of Tanzania, but the style is different.

22. Before Tanzania merged with Zanzibar in 1964, it was known as Tanganyika and had its own flag – a green background cut into half by a black and yellow band.

Tanzania’s geography and economy

23. The world’s longest river, the Nile is most synonymous with the world’s first civilization – The Egyptian Civilization. This river originates from Lake Victoria, Tanzania.

24. Lake Victoria also happens to be the largest tropical lake and the second largest freshwater lake in the world.

Tanzania on map

25. Tanzania has an island called the Mafia. The other two major islands are Zanzibar and Pemba.

26. The three islands of Tanzania are a favorite holiday destination for lovers of all things tropical. Scuba diving, local seafood, and all night long beach festivals attract tourists in a large number.

27. The country has designated 25% of its land to wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. It’s among the highest in the world, and the total area is greater than the size of Germany.

28. The most famous national park of Tanzania is the Serengeti National Park when a million wildebeests cross over to the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya. This migration is so epic, that it is named as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

29. As a tourism booster, the government has set up hot-air balloons in the Serengeti National Park.

30. Tanzania is home to the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera, or volcanic depression. The crater has an area of 264 kilometers. It is estimated to have formed about 2.5 million years ago.

31. In total area comparison, Tanzania (947,300 sq km) is just a little bit more than twice the size of California (423970 sq km).

32. According to the CIA, all land in Tanzania is owned by the government which can lease land for up to 99 years.

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