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 lie 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 45 interesting facts about Tanzania, let’s explore the known and unknown sides of this East African country and its uniqueness.
Interesting facts about Tanzanian culture and people
Fact 1: Tanzania is made up of 130 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.
Fact 2: 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.
Fact 3: Dar es Salaam, a city in eastern Tanzania, is the largest city in the county. It’s also the largest Swahili-speaking city in the world and has given birth to many great men in Africa’s history.
Fact 4: Being a former European colony, Tanzanians have adopted football and rugby as their favorite sports.
Fact 5: The de-facto national dish of Tanzania is the humble Ugali. It’s a simple porridge made with either maize, millet, or sorghum flour.
Fact 6: 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.
Fact 7: Mpingo trees, found in Tanzania is the costliest timber in the world. It’s used to make elegant furniture and fine music instruments.
Fact 8: 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.
Fact 9: 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.
Fact 10: Freddie Mercury, the frontman vocalist, and songwriter of rock band Queen, was born in Zanzibar, Tanzania
Fact 11: 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.
Fact 12: 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.
Fact 13: 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.
Fact 14: 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.
Fact 15: 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. Classic drunkard!!
Fact 16: 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.
Fact 17: 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.
Fact 18: 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.
Fact 19: 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
Fact 20: 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.
Fact 21: Lake Victoria also happens to be the largest tropical lake and the second largest freshwater lake in the world.
Fact 22: Tanzania has an island called the Mafia. How cool is that!! The other two major islands are Zanzibar and Pemba.
Fact 23: 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 like flies.
Fact 24: The GDP of Tanzania is $44.9 billion, which is grossly inadequate given its size. In comparison, the top three richest men in the contemporary world earn more than its GDP.
Fact 25: 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.
Fact 26: 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.
Fact 27: As a tourism booster, the government has set up hot-air balloons in the Serengeti National Park.
Fact 28: The principal foreign export of Zanzibar is cloves. Also known as the Spice Islands, it is the largest producer of cloves in the world.
Fact 29: Tourism is one of the most vital parts of the Tanzanian economy. Over 2 million tourists visit this East-African nation each year and its growing every year.
Fact 30: Tanzania is slowly industrializing and has started exporting shoes and cigarettes apart from cash crops and mineral resources.
Fact 31: The minerals industry remains the core sector through which the government pays its bills. Gold is a major mineral and Tanzania is the third largest African producer of the mineral, after South Africa and Ghana.
Mount Kilimanjaro Facts
Fact 32: Mount Kilimanjaro is Tanzania’s poster boy. The iconic mountain is the highest peak in Africa and a place of amazing beauty.
Fact 33: Mount Kilimanjaro is a world in itself, with a staggering five different types of climatic zones, from hot tropical forests to arid snowcapped peaks. In comparison, the whole of the US has a total of 7 climatic zones.
Fact 34: Mount Kilimanjaro is a lone wolf and likes to stand alone. Geographically speaking, it is a free standing mountain, meaning it’s not a part of any mountain range. In fact, it’s the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.
Fact 35: A German geologist named Hans Meyer was the first person to climb the Mount Kilimanjaro in October 1889. From then, a number of amazing feats have been accomplished, over the climbing of this mountain.
Fact 36: Bernard Goosen from South Africa was the first person to scale to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro on a wheelchair. This was an extraordinary feat, but the next achievement will blow up your mind.
Fact 37: Kyle Maynard, who has no legs and no arms, became an inspiration for millions, when in 2012 he crawled up to the highest peak of Mount Kilimanjaro without any prosthetics or help.
Fact 38: According to the Guinness World Records, the highest delivery point of the humble pizza is in Mount Kilimanjaro. The pepperoni pizza was delivered at 5897 m (19,341 ft.) after traveling 745 km over 4 days.
Facts about poverty in Tanzania
Fact 39: Tanzania may have untold geographical riches but remains submerged in poverty. Despite being surrounded by three of the largest lakes of the world, water scarcity has turned into a nightmare for rural areas. As of 2009, nearly one-third of the country had no access to clean drinking water.
Fact 40: Farms and cattle depend solely on rain and years of drought years bring mass starvation and famine. The 2010 Global Hunger Index ranks the food situation as “deeply alarming”.
Fact 41: Nearly 40% of the whole population lives in extreme poverty, and nearly 60% lives below the World Bank designated poverty line of $1.25 a day.
Fact 42: One of the key reasons for poverty is the low pace of urbanization. More than 80% of the population lives in rural areas, which lack basic civic amenities like electricity, sanitation facilities, and education.
Fact 43: Tanzania receives close to 5000 million dollars of aid from the world, most of it being paid by the UK and the US.
Fact 44: Major corruption scandals have however neutralized the international aid and many countries have toned down direct payment to the Tanzanian government.
Fact 45: A number of NGOs both local and international help in various social problems like education and food security.
Quick/fast facts about Tanzania
|Capital City||Dodoma (6.1630° S, 35.7516° E)|
|Largest City||Dar es Salaam (6.7924° S, 39.2083° E)|
|Total area||947,300 sq km|
|Population||52,482,726 ( July 2016 est.)|
|Currency||Tanzanian shilling (TZS)|
|Religion||Christianity, Islam and others|
|Official Language||Swahili and English|
|Borders||Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique|
|Independence||The East African country of Tanzania, which was previously known as Tanganyika, formally gained its independence from Great Britain on December 9, 1961. One year later, on December 9, 1962, Tanganyika became a republic, and on April 26, 1964 merged with the newly-independent archipelago nation of Zanzibar.|
|Languages spoken||Swahili, English, Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan and other minor languages|
|Official name||United Republic of Tanzania|
|National Anthem||Mungu ibariki Afrika
(God Bless Africa)
|Motto|| "Uhuru na Umoja" (Swahili)
"Freedom and Unity"
|Form of government||Republic|
|Life expectancy||62.2 Years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
|Climate||varies from tropical along coast to temperate in highlands
|Terrain||plains along coast; central plateau; highlands in north, south
|Natural resources||hydropower, tin, phosphates, iron ore, coal, diamonds, gemstones, gold, natural gas, nickel
|Birth rate||36 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
|Death rate||7.8 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
|Sex ratio||0.99 male(s)/female (2016 est.)|
|National symbols||Uhuru (Freedom) torch, giraffe|
|National colors||green, yellow, blue, black|
|National anthem||"Mungu ibariki Afrika" (God Bless Africa)|
|GDP - per capita (PPP)||$2,900 (2015 est.)|
|Industries||agricultural processing (sugar, beer, cigarettes, sisal twine); mining (diamonds, gold, and iron), salt, soda ash; cement, oil refining, shoes, apparel, wood products, fertilizer
|Exports||gold, coffee, cashew nuts, manufactures, cotton
|Imports||consumer goods, machinery and transportation equipment, industrial raw materials, crude oil
|Time Zone||EAT (UTC+3)|
|Internet country code||.tz|
|Drives on the||Left|