Tanzania is in East Africa on the Indian Ocean. To the north are Uganda and Kenya; to the west, Burundi, Rwanda, and Congo; and to the south, Mozambique, Zambia, and Malawi. Its area is three times that of New Mexico. Tanzania contains three of Africa’s best-known lakes—Victoria in the north, Tanganyika in the west, and Nyasa in the south. Mount Kilimanjaro in the north, 19,340 ft (5,895 m), is the highest point on the continent. The island of Zanzibar is separated from the mainland by a 22-mile channel.
Arab traders first began to colonize the area in 700. Portuguese explorers reached the coastal regions in 1500 and held some control until the 17th century, when the sultan of Oman took power. With what are now Burundi and Rwanda, Tanganyika became the colony of German East Africa in 1885. After World War I, it was administered by Britain under a League of Nations mandate and later as a UN trust territory.
Although not mentioned in old histories until the 12th century, Zanzibar was always believed to have had connections with southern Arabia. The Portuguese made it one of their tributaries in 1503 and later established a trading post, but they were driven from Oman by Arabs in 1698. Zanzibar was declared independent of Oman in 1861 and, in 1890, it became a British protectorate.
Facts & Figures
President: Jakaya Kikwete (2005)
Prime Minister: Mizengo Pinda (2008)
Land area: 342,100 sq mi (886,039 sq km); total area: 364,898 sq mi (945,087 sq km)1
Population (2014 est.): 49,639,138 (growth rate: 2.8%); birth rate: 36.82/1000; infant mortality rate: 43.74/1000; life expectancy: 61.24; density per sq mi: 123.1
Capital (2011 est.): Dar es Salaam, 3.588 million
Monetary unit: Tanzanian shilling