About Tanzania

The flag of Tanzania was officially adopted on 30 June 1964. It was merged from the two flags of the independent countries Tanganyika and Zanzibar together that formed Tanzania in April of 1964.

The flag is divided diagonally by a yellow-edged black band from the lower hoist-side corner; the upper triangle (hoist side) is green and the lower triangle is blue; the banner combines colors found on the flags of Tanganyika and Zanzibar.

Green represents the natural vegetation of the country, gold its rich mineral deposits, black the native Swahili people, and blue the country’s many lakes and rivers, as well as the Indian Ocean.

More About Tanzania

National symbols:  the Uhuru (Freedom) torch and the giraffe.
National colors:  green, yellow, blue, and black.
National anthem: “Mungu ibariki Afrika” (God Bless Africa)

Over 28% of Tanzania’s land is set aside as national parks, conservation areas, and game and forest reserves, as game controlled areas.  This includes the Selous Game Reserve.

It is a travel enthusiast’s dream, offering you the Big 5 (African elephant, Black rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard), an incredible 1,064 species of birds, a most prolific wildlife with 430 different species of animals, the cradle of humanity, and a stunning landscape.

The Facts

Country Name:  United Republic of Tanzania

Conventional short form:  Tanzania

Former:  United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar

Etymology:  The country’s name is a combination of the first letters of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, the two states that merged to form Tanzania in 1964.

Government type:  Presidential Republic

Administrative Capital:  Dar es Salaam remains the de facto capital, the country’s largest city and commercial center and the site of the executive branch offices and diplomatic representation.

Legislative Capital:  Dodoma was designated the national capital in 1996 and serves as the meeting place for the National Assembly.

Population:   59,091,392 as of 2018, according to Worldometers by United Nations' estimates.  The population growth rate established in 2017 is 2.75%.

Ethnic groups:  99% African (95% are Bantu, consisting of more than 130 tribes) and the other 1% consist of Asian, European, and Arab races; Zanzibar – Arab, African, and mixed Arab and African.

Languages:  Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguja (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), and many local languages.

Note:  Kiswahili (Swahili) is the mother tongue of the Bantu people living in Zanzibar and nearby coastal Tanzania; although Kiswahili is Bantu in structure and origin, its vocabulary draws on a variety of sources including Arabic and English; it has become the lingua franca of central and eastern Africa; the first language of most people is one of the local languages.

Religions:  Mainland:  Christianity 61.4%, Muslim 35.2%, indigenous beliefs 1.8%, other 0.2%, unaffiliated 1.4%

Zanzibar:  almost entirely Muslim


The United Republic of Tanzania is the union of Tanganyika and the Islands of Zanzibar since 1964 when they achieved independence from the British and united on April 26 of said year.  The country has more than 130 tribes, each speaking different languages.

The area was mostly inhabited by Bantu farmers from the west and south and the Nilotic and related groups from the north, until Arab traders came in the eighth century introducing the slave trade.  Shortly after began the perpetual motion of colonization overthrow; the Portuguese in 1506, soon after, return of the Arabs, the German missionaries took over in the 1800s and ultimately the British at the end of World War I arrived. Finally, in 1961, Tanganyika established self-government, leading to independence.

Formerly a one-party state, Tanzania began changing its political system in 1993, and in 1995, the first democratic elections were held.  Zanzibar’s semi-autonomous status led to two contentious elections since 1995, which the ruling party won despite international claims of voting irregularities.  The formation of a government of their two leading parties succeeded in minimizing electoral tension in 2010.

Despite its problems with poverty, Tanzania is rich in natural resources and minerals; hydropower, tin, phosphates, iron ore, coal, diamonds, gemstones, gold, natural gas, and nickel.


There are three levels in Tanzania’s education system:  basic (two years pre-primary and seven years primary), secondary (four years junior and two years senior), and tertiary (three years).  Education is viewed as a source of livelihood options, providing skills, confidence, and the ability to be trained.  It offers you greater access to employment, gives you the opportunity for self-employment, and the chance for a consistent income and health care.

Definition of literacy rate: age 15 and over can read and write Kiswahili (Swahili), English, or Arabic

Total population:80.27%
Youth Males:87.45%
Youth Females:87.10%
(Youth is described as ages 15 – 24) Numbers taken from Countrymeters)


National Holidays and Festivals

April 26 (1964) Union Day (Tanganyika and Zanzibar)

New Year’s Day:   January 1

July 7 Saba Saba (Peasant’s Day):  This festival celebrates the founding of the Tanganyika African National Union in 1954

December 9 (1963) Independence Day:  Tanganyika won independence from the British

December 25:  usually spent with family and friends; most Christians attend church services

January 21:  Eid el Haj (a Muslim celebration)

Typical Foods

The most popular food in Tanzania is ugali, a porridge made by boiling cornmeal.  It is comparable to the grits eaten in the southern United States, and is often eaten with stew, vegetables, or meat.  The most commonly eaten meats are goat, chicken, and mutton.  Roasted corn is popular, and hot tea is the popular beverage and is always served when socializing.



Jambo - hello

Hujambo - how are you

Sijambo - I am fine

Jina langu ni - My name is

Asante - Thank you

Karibu - welcome

Kwa heri – Goodbye

Bei gani - How much is this

Habari ya asubuhi – good morning (to which you answer)

Mzuri – fine (followed by asking)

Habari yako – and you

Habari ya mchana – good afternoon (repeat the above)

Zuri sana – very good

la la salama – good night (to which you respond)

na we we pia – and you too

chakulacha jioni asante – for dinner, thank you

chakulacha mchana – for lunch, thank you

chai asubuih – for breakfast, thank you

tutaonana kesho – see you tomorrow


Tanzania calculates at 946,500 square kilometers (365,445 square miles), of which 885,000 (341,700) of those are land and 61,500 (23,745) are water.  This area includes the islands of Mafia, Pemba, and Zanzibar.  It ranks 32nd in size of all the countries in the world and compares to more than six times the size of Georgia; slightly larger than twice the size of California.  Border Countries are:  Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia.  Climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate in the highlands.

Average temperatures - Arusha

Arusha Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Min  (C°) 10 10 11 13 11 8 9 8 8 10 10 10
Max (C°) 28 28 27 25 22 21 20 22 24 26 27 27
Min  (F°) 50 50 52 55 52 46 48 46 46 50 50 50
Max (F°) 82 82 81 77 72 70 68 72 75 79 81 81

Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa and one of only two mountains on the continent that has glaciers, the other being Mount Kenya.  Tanzania is bordered by three of the largest lakes on the continent:  Lake Victoria (the world’s second largest freshwater lake) in the north, Lake Tanganyika (the world’s second deepest) in the west, and Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) in the southwest.

Over 28% of Tanzania’s land is set aside as national parks, conservation areas, and game and forest reserves, as game controlled areas.  This includes the Selous Game Reserve.  It is a travel enthusiast’s dream, offering you the Big 5 (African elephant, Black rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard), an incredible 1,064 species of birds, a most prolific wildlife with 430 different species of animals, the cradle of humanity, and a stunning landscape.

Tanzania General Information

What is Tanzania’s currency? What time is it in Tanzania? How can I make a call to or from Tanzania? When going on holiday to Tanzania for the first time, these are important questions most travelers ask – below we’ve tried to answer these frequently asked questions to the best of our knowledge at the time this was written (4/2018).


Tanzania is on Eastern African Time and has no daylight savings time.  This means it is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+3) and there is no time difference between their summer and winter months.


Tanzania’s currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS). At the time of writing (4/2018)

1 British Pound

1 US Dollar

1 Chinese Yuan

1 Israeli New Shekel

1 Euro                                           

= 3221.77 Shillings

= 2661.25 Shillings

= 0359.99 Shillings

= 0642.04 Shillings

= 2709.09 Shillings

Most camps and lodges charge in US$; very few now accept travelers’ checks, although most accept credit cards (Visa or MasterCard) but may charge a fee to do so. Buying Tanzania’s currency in Europe or America can be difficult; therefore, you may choose to wait until you arrive in Tanzania to exchange to local currency, since it is easy to do so at any ATM machine.

Tanzania’s International Dialing Code

The International Dialing Code for Tanzania is +255, followed by area codes [e.g. (0)22 for Dar es Salaam, or (0)27 for Arusha]. Calling from Tanzania, you dial 00 plus the relevant country code (44 for the UK, 1 for the USA).


The food served in Tanzanian safari camps varies, but is delicious; the equivalent of a reasonable restaurant in Europe or America.  They generally offer very few African choices.

In Tanzania’s towns and villages, the food is usually simpler. Plain grilled meat, such as nyama choma, is very popular, and often served with sauce, rice, chips, plantains or ugali (cornmeal or cassava mush). Indian cuisine is also wide spread. The locally brewed beer is very good, including Serengeti, Safari, Kilimanjaro, mbege (homebrew from the Chagga people) and banana beer.  Imported beers (e.g. Tusker from Kenya) and wine are also excellent.  Ice in your drinks is not common, so if you need ice, make sure to ask for it in advance.


Major infectious diseases

  • Food or waterborne diseases include bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid fever
  • Vector borne diseases include malaria, dengue fever and Rift Valley fever
  • Water contact diseases include schistosomiasis and leptospirosis
  • Animal contact disease found rabies reported in 2016

Tanzania is a tropical country and vaccines are sensible, especially the following; typhoid, polio, tetanus and yellow fever. Malaria is common and occurs all year round and you must take anti-malarial measures, especially in areas below 1,800 m!  If you make sure you are up to date on your vaccines, bring along mosquito repellent and drink bottled water, you should remain healthy throughout your journey in Tanzania.


Kiswahili and English are the official languages and spoken by most people living in Tanzania.  For more detail on the languages spoken in country, once again refer to About Tanzania then look under The Facts and you will find a section for Languages.


Virtually all camps and lodges have a laundry service, although you usually will need to have two nights in one location for laundry turn around.  Sometimes, because of religious taboos, women’s underwear cannot be included in laundry service.

Bringing Children to Tanzania

A few of Tanzania’s safari camps are suitable for children, others are not. Tanzania’s beach destinations are generally very good for relaxed family getaways. However, we feel that under six years old one is too young to appreciate all the sights, sounds and, yes, dangers that make up a good safari.  But when they reach the age of eight, they will be able to engage with the guide or someone from a local village.  These types of interactions, nature walks, and canoe activities are generally limited to children over the age of six.  Some lodges may have child minders, however, there will be additional charges to you and all will be different depending on where you stay.

You will also want to consider the fact that you will be exposing your young child to dangers and tropical diseases.  You should understand that from a predator’s point of view, the young of all species are an easy prey, so your child may be eyed speculatively, not to say appreciatively, by the big cats, who pick up on young excited voices.  We simply want to keep your child’s safety in mind, especially the very young. For detailed advice, contact our expert team.


Here is a very useful website that can answer more questions than we could possibly explain here on Visas for your convenience. If it does not answer some of your personal questions, there is a contact section available.


Weather and climate

Depending on where you are in Tanzania, the weather and climate varies considerably and if you look under our About Tanzania section then Geography, you will see an average temperature chart for Arusha for an average year.