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Brief History

Tanzania, officially known as the United Republic of Tanzania, is a unitary republic composed of 26 mikoa (regions). It is probably one of the oldest known continuously inhabited areas on Earth. Tanzania gained its independence on April 26, 1964. After Tanganyika and Zanzibar both got their independence from the United Kingdom in 1961 and 1963 respectively, they united to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar; renamed United Republic of Tanzania 29 October 1964. One-party rule came to an end in 1995 with the first democratic elections held in the country since the 1970s. On the other hand, Zanzibar's semi-autonomous status and popular resistance have led to two contentious elections since 1995, which the ruling party won despite international spectators’ claims of voting abnormalities. The current head of state is President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, elected in 2005.

Geography

Tanzania, capital Dodoma, is located in Eastern Africa covering an area of 947,300 square kilometers. It is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean. Tanzania’s climate varies from tropical along coast to temperate in highlands. Tanzania is mountainous in the northeast, where Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, is situated. Tanzania contains many large and ecologically significant wildlife parks. The government of Tanzania through its department of tourism has embarked on a campaign to promote the Kalambo water falls in southwest Tanzania's region of Rukwa, which are the second highest in Africa and are located near the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika. Tanzania is rich in natural resources such as hydropower, tin, phosphates, iron ore, coal, diamonds, gemstones, gold, natural gas, and nickel.

People

Tanzania has a population of 41,892,895. It comprises many ethnic groups, mainly African 99% (of which 95% are Bantu consisting of more than 130 tribes) and others 1% (consisting of Asian, European, and Arab); Zanzibar - Arab, African, mixed Arab and African .The official language is Kiswahili or Swahili and English, as well as many local languages. The literacy rate is 69.4%. Its religions are distributed among 30% Christians, 35% Muslims, and 35% indigenous beliefs. There are also active communities of other religious groups, primarily on the mainland, such as Buddhists, Hindus, and Baha'is.

Government

The government of Tanzania is subject to a republic system comprised where the president is both chief of state and head of government. Its legal system is based on English common law where judicial review of legislative acts is limited to matters of interpretation. It has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. Tanzania’s chief of state is President Jakaya Kikwete (since 21 December 2005) and the vice president is Dr. Ali Mohammed SHEIN (since 5 July 2001). Its official currency is the Shilingi (Shilling in English), where 1,452 shillings are equivalent to US$1.

Economy

Tanzania is in the bottom 10% of the world's economies in terms of per capita income, the latter being US$440. However, Tanzania’s economy is a reflection of its relatively stable political situation. The economy has progressed steadily since the implementation of macroeconomic stabilization and structural reform program in the mid-nineties.

Tanzania has an agricultural economy whose chief commercial crops are sisal, coffee, cotton, tea, tobacco, pyrethrum, spices, and cashew nuts. Agriculture accounts for 48% of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the workforce. Topography and climatic conditions, however, limit cultivated crops to about 4% of the land area.

Extraction of natural gas began in the 2000s, but with the lack of overall development, the extraction of these various resources was hampered, and even up to the present there has been effort to develop the natural resource sector but no major quantifiable results. However, commercial production of natural gas from the Songo Songo Island in the Indian Ocean off the Rufiji Delta commenced 2004, with natural gas being pumped in a pipeline to the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, with the bulk of it being converted to electricity by the public utility and private operators

Industry is mainly concerned with the processing of agricultural materials for export and local consumption. Tanzania has vast amounts of natural resources including gold, diamonds, coal, iron ore, uranium, nickel, chrome, tin, platinum, coltan, niobium and other minerals. It is the third-largest producer of gold in Africa after South Africa and Ghana. Tanzania is also known for the Tanzanite gemstones. Tanzania also has dozens of beautiful national parks like the world famous Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, that generate income with a large tourism sector that plays a vital part in the economy.

Recent public sector and banking reforms and new legislative frameworks have all helped increase private-sector growth and investment which reached 18.1% of GDP (2009). Short-term economic progress also depends on curbing corruption. Continued donor assistance and solid macroeconomic policies supported a positive growth rate with a percentage of 4.9% Of GDP in 2009, despite the world recession.

There are three major airlines in Tanzania, and two railway companies. It is part of the East African Community and a potential member of the planned East African Federation.

Tanzania has an inflation rate of 11.6% (2009), and a Gross National Income (GNI) of US$ 431.93.


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