tanzania overview crater tanzania africa

Tanzania Overview


Since 1977 the country has been governed by the single party "Chama cha Mapinduzi" (CCM, Party of the Revolution), a movement of socialist ideology led by the "father of the homeland" Julius Nyerere, who freely left power in 1985.
In October 1995 there were the first multi-party elections. The CCM won the elections and on November 23rd, 1995 Benjamin Mkapa became president of the Republic (who is also head of the Government); the president was reconfirmed in 2000.
The opposition, divided and unstable, failed to offer itself as an alternative to the 1995, 2000 and 2005 elections.
On December 20th, 2005 Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete became president of the republic. Edward Ngoyayi Lowassa was appointed Prime Minister. Then he resigned because of some scandals.
The current president, John Magufuli, began his term on November 5th, 2015; he chose Majaliwa Kassim Majaliwa as prime minister.
They lead a very stable parliament, as their party, the CCM, holds the majority of seats.


At a religious level, Christians (Catholics and Protestants almost equal in number) constitute the 40% of the population, followed by Muslims (35%) and followers of traditional religions (25%).
In Zanzibar instead Muslims (99%) clearly prevail, followed by Christians (1%).
However, a recent study by the United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor suggests that 62% of the population is now Christian, with 35% of Muslims and 3% of other religions.

Languages and Ethnic Groups

Kiswahili and English are both official languages of the country.
Kiswahili is considered the common language and is known everywhere except for particularly remote areas.
English is mostly used in urban contexts and especially in the academic, legal, financial and foreign relations sectors. Therefore it is used by a small minority of the population.
The first language learned by a Tanzanian is the dialect of his own ethnicity, in Tanzania there are about 120 tribal dialects and about 125 different tribes.
The majority of the inhabitants belong to ethnic groups of Bantu family, such as sukuma, nyamwezi, hehe-bena, gogo, bahaya, makonde, chagga, ha and nyakyusa.
We also find the Masai nomads and the Luo: both groups are present mainly near the neighboring Kenya. Finally, there are two small aboriginal tribes that belong to the Khoisan family.
Most of the population of the island of Zanzibar is native of the mainland except for one group, the shirazi, whose origins date back to the island's first Persian settlers; almost all the inhabitants of the island have a high percentage of Arab blood.
Non-African residents of the mainland and Zanzibar constitute the 1% of the population and are mainly represented by Indo-Pakistanis, Arabs and Europeans.


Like most African countries, Tanzania is characterized by a vast heritage of traditional music, linked to dance and rituals, diversified according to the different ethnic groups present in the area. Traditional Tanzanian music survives especially in small rural communities.
The populations of the coast, of Swahili culture, have their own musical tradition, with Arab and Indian influences, whose main expression is the taarab, once court music of the Omani sultanates, and today entered in the popular tradition and played, for example, during special social occasions such as weddings.
Another musical genre typical of modern Tanzania is the muziki wa dansi, a reworking, with texts in Swahili, of the native African rumba of Zaire.

In Tanzania the figurative arts are traditionally linked to the artistic decoration of objects of concrete use, be it practical (for example objects of furniture and clothing) or ritual (for example masks).
In the figurative arts there is a clear distinction between the Swahili culture, which also in this sector draws on the Arab and Middle Eastern tradition, and that of the hinterland, closer to the Bantu culture of the rest of southeastern Africa.

The most famous form of figurative art in modern Tanzania is the Tinga-tinga, a naive pictorial style born as a "tourist art" but later became a real art school and differentiated on two levels: a relatively low one, oriented to the tourist market, and a more refined one that finds place in art galleries not only in Tanzania or Africa.


Generally the Tanzanian meal consists of a single course with multiple ingredients.
The basic dish of Tanzanian cuisine, as in other African countries, is a cornmeal mush or other cereals such as millet, sorghum, wheat and even banana or cassava flour.
In Tanzania it is called "ugali" and in most cases it is accompanied by vegetables (mchicha) and beans, dry minnows (dagaa), potatoes and less frequently peas.

Due to its high cost, rice is considered a delicious dish, often used during ceremonies and parties, especially accompanied by beef. Another very simple and typical dish is fried chicken with chips. The pig is most consumed in the inland regions where Muslims are the minority.
Famous are the skewers of grilled meat (mishkaki) and roasted spicy meat (nyama choma). Occasionally you can find game meat, especially hare.

In the use of spices we note how important is the Indian and Arab influence especially in Zanzibar and on the coast (the most used spices are: cumin, cardamom, curry, carnation flowers, ginger, cinnamon, etc.).
Almost everywhere you can find chapati, sambusa and samosas (dumplings stuffed with minced meat and onion or potatoes), pilau rice (spicy), chicken masala and tandoori (spice mix).
Some of these dishes are accompanied by a very hot chili pepper (pili pili).

The kind of fish consumed in Tanzania is freshwater and not seawater, it mainly consumes tilapia and Nile perch.

Various types of vegetable or fish soups are typical of the coast.
Some less common dishes are the beef bone soup, entrails soup (mtori), banana soup with meat and coconut (ndizi nyama).

Noteworthy is the variety of fruit that can be tasted: bananas, avocado, coconut, papaya, mango and many others.

The national drink is tea (chai), less consumed are milk and coffee; coffee is mainly cultivated for export.
Particularly common are fresh fruit juices flavored with tamarind, mango, pineapple, sugar cane juice with ginger (Zanzibar specialty) and ginger drink (tangawizi).

The largest consumed alcoholic beverage is beer, several brands are produced in Tanzania.
In addition, wine is produced from the fermentation of banana, agave, palm and other native plants that is generically defined "pombe", but takes on different names depending on the area of production and the plant from which it is derived.
Grape red wine is produced in the Dodoma region, it is not very common due to the high costs.
Konyagi and Amarula whiskey cream, imported from South Africa, are highly appreciated.


It is good practice to leave a small tip for the local service (guides, drivers, helpers, etc.).
It is suggested but not mandatory, it is a widespread practice and in these contexts it is a possibility for those who receive it to supplement their earnings, justified by a service rendered.

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