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Tanzania (tănˌzənēˈə, –zănˈēə, Swahili tänzänēˈä), officially United Republic of Tanzania, republic (2015 est. pop. 51,046,000), 364,898 sq mi (945,087 sq km), E Africa, formed in 1964 by the union of the republics of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. For a description of the island of Zanzibar, and its history until 1964, see Zanzibar. Other islands include Pemba and Mafia as well as several smaller islands. Mainland Tanzania is bordered on the south by Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia; on the west by Congo (Kinshasa), Burundi, and Rwanda; on the north by Uganda and Kenya; and on the east by the Indian Ocean. Lake Nyasa forms part of the southern boundary, Lake Tanganyika part of the western boundary, and Lake Victoria part of the northern boundary. Dar es Salaam is the former capital and largest city of the republic. The Tanzanian legislature moved to the new capital of Dodoma in 1996, but most government offices did not begin to move from Dar es Salaam until 2016.
Land and People
Mainland Tanzania falls into three major geographical zones—a narrow lowland coastal strip along the Indian Ocean; a vast interior plateau; and a number of scattered mountainous regions. The coastal zone (10–40 mi/16–60 km wide) receives considerable rainfall and has much fertile soil. The plateau (average elevation: 3,500–4,500 ft/1,070–1,370 m) extends over most of the interior and is cut in two places by branches of the Great Rift Valley. The western branch contains Lake Tanganyika and the eastern branch runs through central Tanzania about 500 ft (150 m) below the level of the plateau; the two branches merge just north of Lake Nyasa. The plateau receives little rainfall, but in most parts there is enough to support agriculture.
The Serengeti National Park, one of the country's several wildlife reserves, is east of Lake Victoria, and Lake Rukwa is in the southwest. The mountainous regions include Mt. Meru (14,979 ft/4,566 m) and Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,340 ft/5,895 m, the highest point in Africa) in the northeast; the Usambara, Nguru, and Uluguru mts. in the east; the Livingstone Mts. and the Kipengere Range near Lake Nyasa in the south; and the Ufipi Highlands in the southwest. Tanzania's few rivers include the Pangani, the Rufiji, and the Ruvuma (which forms part of the border with Mozambique), all of which flow into the Indian Ocean, and the Malagarasi River, which flows into Lake Tanganyika. In addition to Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, other important towns on the mainland include Arusha, Iringa, Kigoma, Morogoro, Mbeya, Moshi, Mtwara, Mwanza, Tabora, and Tanga.
The great majority of Tanzania's population is of African descent, and most of the peope speak Bantu languages. There are approximately 130 ethnic groups. Inhabitants of South Asian, European, and Arab descent constitute approximately 1% of the population. The Bantu-speaking peoples include the Sukuma (the republic's largest ethnic group), Bena, Chagga, Gogo, Ha, Haya, Hehe, Luguru, Makonde, Makua, Ngoni, Nyakyusa, Nyamwezi, and Nyaturu. In addition, the Masai speak a Nilotic language; the Sandawe speak a language akin to Khoikhoi; and the Iraqw speak a Cushitic language. The inhabitants of Zanzibar are mainly of Arab, African, or mixed Arab and African descent. Swahili and English are the republic's official languages; Arabic is also spoken, primarily on Zanzibar. About 30% of the mainland population is Christian, while 35% is Muslim, and another 35% follow traditional religious beliefs. The population of Zanzibar is almost completely Sunni Muslim.
The economy of Tanzania is overwhelmingly agricultural; plantations grow cash crops, including coffee, sisal, tea, cotton, pyrethrum, cashews, tobacco, sugarcane, and cloves (cultivated in Zanzibar and Pemba). Most of the population, however, is engaged in subsistence farming, growing corn, wheat, cassava, bananas, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, large numbers of cattle, sheep, and goats are raised. Timber is important and includes mahogany, teak, ebony, camphor wood, and mangrove. Manufactures include processed agricultural goods, beverages, wood products, and basic consumer items. Refined petroleum, fertilizer, aluminum goods, and construction materials are also produced. Diamonds, tanzanite, and other gemstones are mined; other minerals extracted in significant quantities include gold, salt, gypsum, phosphates, and kaolin. There are also tin mines in NW Tanzania and coal and iron ore deposits near Lake Nyasa. Natural gas from deposits around Songo Songo Island, off the S central coast, are used to produce electricity.
Tanzania has limited road and rail networks. The main rail lines run from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma (on Lake Tanganyika) and to Tanga, Moshi, and Arusha in the NE. The Tazara Railway (also known as the Great Uhuru or Tanzam Railway), built in the 1970s by the Chinese, connects Dar es Salaam with central Zambia, affording landlocked Zambia an alternative route to the sea. The principal exports are gold, coffee, cashews, diamonds and other gemstones, manufactures, and cotton. The principal imports are consumer goods, machinery, transportation equipment, industrial raw materials, crude oil, and foodstuffs. The leading trade partners are China, India, South Africa, and Canada.
In 1959, Dr. L. S. B. Leakey, a British anthropologist, discovered at Olduvai Gorge in NE Tanzania the fossilized remains of what he called Homo habilis, who lived about 1.75 million years ago. Tanzania was later the site of Paleolithic cultures. By the beginning of the first millennium A.D. scattered parts of the country, including the coast, were thinly populated. At this time overseas trade seems to have been carried out between the coast and NE Africa, SW Asia, and India.
By about A.D. 900 traders from SW Asia and India had settled on the coast, exchanging cloth, beads, and metal goods for ivory. They also exported small numbers of Africans as slaves. By this time there were also commercial contacts with China, directly and via Sri Vijaya (see under Indonesia) and India. By about 1200, Kilwa Kisiwani (situated on an island) was a major trade center, handling gold exported from Sofala (on the coast of modern Mozambique) as well as goods (including ivory, beeswax, and animal skins) from the near interior of Tanzania. By about 1000 the migration of Bantu-speakers into the interior of Tanzania from the west and the south was well under way, and the population there had been greatly increased. The Bantu were organized in relatively small political units.
In 1498, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, became the first European to visit the Tanzanian coast; in 1502, on his second visit there, he made Kilwa tributary. In 1505, Kilwa was sacked by Francisco d'Almeida, another Portuguese explorer, and by 1506 Portugal controlled most of the coast of E Africa. The Portuguese did not cooperate with the local people, and their impact was mostly negative—trade was disrupted, towns declined, and people migrated from the region. However, Kilwa's trade seems to have grown as a result of contact with the Portuguese. Toward the end of the 16th cent., the Zimba, a group from SE Africa, moved rapidly up the coast, causing considerable damage; in 1587 they sacked Kilwa and killed about 3,000 persons (roughly 40% of its inhabitants).
In 1698 the Portuguese were expelled from the E African coast (except for a brief return in 1725) with the help of Arabs from Oman. In the early 18th cent., the Omanis showed some interest in the commerce of E Africa, and this increased after the Bu Said dynasty replaced the Yarubi rulers in 1741. Oman's commercial activity was centered on Zanzibar (and, to a lesser extent, at Mombasa), from which it controlled the overseas trade of E Africa. By the early 19th cent. numerous towns on the Tanzanian coast had been founded or revived; these included Tanga, Pangani, Bagamoyo, Kilwa Kivinje (situated on the mainland near Kilwa Kisiwani), Lindi, and Mikandani.
The Caravan Trade
Sayyid Said, the great Bu Saidi ruler, took a great interest in E Africa and in 1841 permanently moved his capital from Muscat, in Oman, to Zanzibar. He brought with him many Arabs, who settled in the mainland towns as well as on Zanzibar. About the same time, new caravan routes into the far interior were opened up; the three main lines went from Kilwa and Lindi to the Lake Nyasa region; from Bagamoyo and Mbwamaji (near present-day Dar es Salaam) to Tabora, where one branch continued west to Ujiji (and on into modern Congo) and another went north to the Victoria Nyanza region; and from Pangani and Tanga northwest into modern Kenya via Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The caravans following the southern route obtained mainly slaves and ivory; along the more northerly routes ivory was the chief commodity purchased. As a result, the Swahili language (a blend of Bantu grammar and a considerable Arabic vocabulary) and culture gained new adherents. In the middle third of the 19th cent. several European missionaries and explorers visited various parts of Tanzania, notably Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tabora, Lake Victoria, and Lake Nyasa. From the 1860s to the early 1880s Mirambo, a Nyamwezi, headed a large state that controlled much of the caravan trade of central and N Tanzania. About the same time Tippu Tib, a Zanzibari, organized large caravans that passed through Tanzania to present-day Zambia and Congo, where ivory and slaves were obtained.
As the scramble for African territory among the European powers intensified in the 1880s, Carl Peters and other members of the Society for German Colonization signed treaties with Africans (1884–85) in the hinterland of the Tanzanian coast. By an agreement with Great Britain in 1886, Germany established a vague sphere of influence over mainland Tanzania, except for a narrow strip of land along the coast that remained under the suzerainty of the sultan of Zanzibar, who leased it to the Germans. The German East Africa Company (founded 1887) governed the territory, called German East Africa. The company's aggressive conduct resulted in a major resistance movement along the coast by Arabs, Swahili (whose main leaders were Abushiri and Bwana Heri), and other Africans that was only defeated with the help of the German government. A second Anglo-German agreement (1890) added Rwanda, Burundi, and other regions to German East Africa.
Because the company had proved to be an ineffective ruler, the German government in 1891 took over the country (which by then included the coast) and declared it a protectorate. However, it was not until 1898, with the death of the Hehe ruler, Mkwawa, who strongly opposed European rule, that the Germans succeeded in controlling the country. During the period 1905 to 1907 the Maji Maji revolt against German rule engulfed most of SE Tanzania; about 75,000 Africans lost their lives as a result of German military campaigns and lack of food. Under the Germans, several new crops (including sisal, cotton, and plantation-grown rubber) were introduced; the production and sale of other commodities (notably coffee, copra, sesame, and peanuts) was encouraged, and railroads were built to Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika and to Moshi. In addition, many new Christian missions, which included rudimentary schools for the Africans, were established.
During World War I, British and Belgian troops occupied (1916) most of German East Africa. In the postwar period the League of Nations made Tanganyika a British mandate, and Ruanda-Urundi (later Rwanda and Burundi), a Belgian mandate; the Portuguese gained control of some land in the southeast. The British, especially during the administration (1925–31) of Gov. Sir Donald Cameron, attempted to rule “indirectly” through existing African leaders. However, unlike N Nigeria, where the policy of indirect rule was first developed (see Frederick Lugard), Tanganyika had few indigenous large-scale political units. Therefore, African leaders had to be established in newly defined constituencies. The effect of British policy, as a result, was to alter considerably the patterns of African life in Tanganyika. After a slow start, the British developed the territory's economy largely along the lines established by the Germans. Increasing numbers of Africans worked for a wage on plantations, especially after 1945, when economic growth began to accelerate. Also after 1945 Africans gradually gained more seats on the territory's legislative council (which had been established in 1926).
Independence and Nyerere
In 1954, Julius Nyerere and Oscar Kambona transformed the Tanganyika African Association (founded in 1929) into the more politically oriented Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). TANU easily won the general elections of 1958–60, and when Tanganyika became independent on Dec. 9, 1961, Nyerere became its first prime minister. In Dec., 1962, Tanganyika became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations, and Nyerere was made president. On Apr. 26, 1964, shortly after a leftist revolution in newly independent Zanzibar, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged; Nyerere became the new country's first president. Abeid Amani Karume, the head of Zanzibar's government and leader of its dominant Afro-Shirazi party (ASP), became Tanzania's first vice president. Although formally united with the mainland, Zanzibar retained considerable independence in internal affairs.
In Feb., 1967, Nyerere issued the Arusha Declaration, a major policy statement that called for egalitarianism, socialism, and self-reliance. It promised a decentralized government and a program of rural development called ujamaa (“pulling together”) that involved the creation of cooperative farm villages. Factories and plantations were nationalized, and major investments were made in primary schools and health care. While Nyerere put some of the declaration's principles into practice, it was not clear if power in Tanzania was, in fact, being decentralized.
TANU was the mainland's sole legal political party and it was tightly controlled by Nyerere. In the early 1970s there was tension (and occasional border clashes) between Tanzania and Uganda, caused mainly by Nyerere's continued support of Uganda's ousted president, A. Milton Obote. However, in 1973, Nyerere and Gen. Idi Amin, Uganda's new head of state, signed an agreement to end hostilities. Tanzania supported various movements against white-minority rule in S Africa, and several of these organizations had offices in Dar es Salaam. In 1977, TANU and Zanzibar's ASP merged to form the Party of the Revolution (CCM). A new constitution was adopted the same year.
Hostilities with Uganda resumed in 1978 when Ugandan military forces occupied about 700 sq mi (1800 sq km) of N Tanzania and left only after having caused substantial damage. One month later, Tanzanian forces and Ugandan rebels staged a counterinvasion. Tanzania captured the Ugandan capital of Kampala in 1979 and drove Idi Amin from power. This campaign further depleted the country's already scarce economic resources. Tanzania maintained troops in Uganda after its victory and drew criticism from other African nations for its actions. In 1983, negotiations between Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda led to the reopening of the Kenyan border, which had been closed since 1977 after the collapse of the East African Community.
Tanzania after Nyerere
By the 1980s, it was clear that the economic policies set out by the Arusha Declaration had failed. The economy continued to deteriorate as alternating floods and droughts reduced agricultural production and exports. After Nyerere resigned as promised in 1985, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, president of Zanzibar, became head of the one-party government. He began an economic recovery program involving cuts in government spending, decontrol of prices, and encouragement of foreign investment; modest growth resumed. In 1992 the constitution was amended to allow opposition parties.
The 1995 multiparty elections, which were regarded by international observers as seriously flawed, were won by Benjamin William Mkapa, candidate of the ruling CCM. In the 1990s Tanzania was overwhelmed by refugees from the war in neighboring Burundi; by the end of the decade some 300,000 were in Tanzania, and the number subsequently grew. Tanzania began repatriating the refugees in 2002, and closed the last camp in 2009. More than 200,000 Burundian refugees who fled to Tanzania in 1972 also remained prior to 2009; many of these accepted an offer of Tanzania citizenship. Mkapa, who continued to pursue economic reforms, was reelected in 2000, but there were blatant irregularities in the vote in Zanzibar, where the opposition party, which favors greater independence for the island, had been expected to do well.
In 2005 the CCM candidate for president, Jakaya Kikwete won the election with 80% of the vote, and the CCM won more than 90% of the seats in parliament, but the voting in Zanzibar was again marred by violence and irregularities. A corruption investigation implicated the prime minister, Edward Lowassa, and two other cabinet members in 2008, leading them to resign in February; Kikwete subsequently re-formed the cabinet. The president was reelected in 2010 with more than 60% of the vote, while on Zanzibar the election was largely peaceful and the CCM candidate narrowly won the island's presidency. The CCM also won three quarters of the seats in parliament.
In the Oct., 2015, elections, the CCM candidate, John Magufuli, was elected president with 58% of the vote. The opposition had united for the first time around a single presidential candidate, former prime minister Lowassa, and the opposition called for a recount. The CCM also won a majority of the legislative seats, but it was smaller than in 2010. On Zanzibar, the election was annulled after the voting; the election commission there said there had been gross violations. The Zanzibari vote was nonetheless counted in the national presidential tally. The opposition accused the Zanzibari CCM of attempt to steal an election it had lost by rerunning it and boycotted the revote in 2016.
As president, Magufuli has campaigned to reduce wasteful government spending and corruption, but he also has banned opposition rallies and suppressed public and media criticism of his government. In the Nov., 2019, local elections, more than half the opposition candidates were disqualified from running and major opposition parties then boycotted the polls, which were won nearly exclusively by CCM candidates. The national elections in Oct., 2020, were again marked by outsized ruling party victories, with Magufuli winning 84% of the vote, the CCM candidate for Zanzibar's presidency winning 76%, and the CCM winning nearly all of the national legislative seats, including many in opposition strongholds. However, Magufuli's term was cut short by his death in March 2021, rumored to be from complications of COVID, but announced as heart failure. His vice president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, and became the country’s first female president; under Tanzania’s constitution, she will serve the rest of his five-year term.
See R. A. Austen, Northwest Tanzania under German and British Rule (1968); I. N. Kinambo and A. J. Temu, ed., A History of Tanzania (1969); J. C. Hatch, Tanzania (1972); C. R. Ingle, From Village to State in Tanzania (1972); I. N. Resnick, The Long Transition: Building Socialism in Tanzania (1981); J. Iliffe, A Modern History of Tanganyika (1981); M. Hood, ed., Tanzania and Nyerere (1988); D. Berg-Schlosser and R. Siegler, Political Stability and Development: A Comparative Analysis of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda (1990); J. Bresen et al., ed., Tanzania (1990).
a lake in East Africa, bordering on Zaïre, Tanzania, Zambia, and Burundi. Situated at an elevation of 773 m in a tectonic basin of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Tanganyika is approximately 650 km long and 40 to 80 km wide and occupies an area of 34,000 sq km. It is divided by an underwater sill into two deepwater basins; the maximum depth in the southern part is 1,470 m. Lake Tanganyika is the world’s second deepest lake, after Lake Baikal. The shoreline is predominantly even, with occasional small bays; it is partly elevated and steep and partly low-lying and bordered by a narrow plain.
Lake Tanganyika drains an area of 244,500 sq km. Its main tributaries are the Malagarasi and Ruzizi rivers. Its outlet is through the Lukuga River into the Lualaba River (the name of the upper Congo [Zaïre] River). The average annual influx is 64.8 cu km, including 40.9 cu km (63 percent) from atmospheric precipitation and 23.9 cu km (37 percent) from the rivers. Evaporation accounts for the great majority of water loss (61.2 cu km, or 94.4 percent); only 3.6 cu km, or 5.6 percent of the annual water loss results from water flowing out of the lake.
In the first half of the 19th century, an earthquake or landslide caused the formation of a natural dam in the Lukuga River valley, near the place where the river flowed out of Lake Tanganyika. As a result, Lake Tanganyika became a lake with no outlet, and over the course of several decades its water level gradually rose. In 1878 the dam broke and the water level fell; by the early 20th century the level had become stabilized. During the 20th century there has been a fluctuation of about 4 m in the water level, with an average annual fluctuation of 0.7 m. The lake’s highest levels are recorded in April and May, and the lowest in October and November.
There is turbulence on Lake Tanganyika, caused by the southeasterly trade wind; sometimes seiche is observed. The lake’s water is fresh, but with a high content of magnesium salts. The surface temperature of the water varies during the year from 23.6°-23.8° to 26.5°C; from a depth of 400 m to the bottom there is a constant temperature of approximately 23°C. The stable temperature stratification keeps the water mass from mixing; consequently, only the top layer (to depths of 100–200 m) is oxygen-rich and able to support life.
Approximately 75 percent of Lake Tanganyika’s fauna consists of endemic species, particularly among the fishes, shrimps, ostracods, decapods, copepods, and gastropods. Hippopotamuses, crocodiles, and many types of waterfowl are encountered. There is fishing in the lake; the main commercial fish is the ndagala (dagaa), a member of the family Clupeidae.
Lake Tanganyika is navigable. Ports on the lake include Kigoma, in Tanzania, which is linked by rail with the city of Dar-es-Salaam on the Indian Ocean; Bujumbura, in Burundi; and Kalima, in Zaïre. Lake Tanganyika was discovered in 1858 by the British explorers R. Burton and J. Speke.
REFERENCEOleinikov, I. N. “Ozero Tangan’ika: Opyt fiziko-geograficheskoi kharakteristiki.” Strany i narody Vostoka, 1969, fasc. 9. (Contains bibliography.)
I. N. OLEINIKOV