Ready to discover a few fun facts about Tanzania?
Whether a trip to Tanzania is on your agenda or you’d just like to learn more about this East African nation, you’ve come to the right place!
Here’s our roundup of the most interesting Tanzania facts:
1. Tanzania is a country in East Africa slightly below the equator. As far as land borders go, its neighbors include Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, and Zambia. To its east is the Indian Ocean, and just off its coast are the Seychelles, Comoros islands, Madagascar, and even France, by way of Mayotte, one of the French overseas departments.
2. Tanzania is relatively large, both in terms of population and land area. At 365,756 mi2 (947,303 km2), it is the 31st largest country in the world by size. And, with around 57 million inhabitants (2020 estimate), Tanzania is the 25th most populous country in the world.
3. The capital of Tanzania is Dodoma, located in the center of the country. Set up by German colonists during the early 1900s as they were constructing the Tanzanian central railway (now known as the Central Line), Dodoma was declared to be the capital city in 1974, moving it away from Dar es Salaam. In the Bantu language Gogo, Dodoma means “it has sunk,” likely referring to a local legend where an elephant got stuck in mud or sank in quicksand. Today, Dodoma is home to around half a million residents.
4. Tanzania’s largest city is Dar es Salaam, located in the east of the country on the Swahili Coast. Until 1974 Dar es Salaam was the capital of Tanzania, and Dar es Salaam (sometimes written as Dar es-Salaam) is still home to many important government buildings which haven’t yet relocated to Dodoma. In Arabic, the name is translated to mean “a home of peace.” With a population of over 6.7 million (2020 estimate), Dar es Salaam is the seventh largest city in all of Africa.
5. We might all be Tanzanians, ancestrally speaking! The oldest remains of the genus Homo (we, Homo sapiens, are the only remaining, or extant, species under this genus) were found near Lake Olduvai (Olduvai Gorge), one of the world’s most important paleoanthropological sites. We, Homo sapiens, as well as earlier human species, such as Homo habilis and Homo erectus, all occupied this area in the distant past.
6. Tanzania is diverse culturally, ethnically, linguistically, and religiously. There are about 125 different ethnic groups located in Tanzania, including large populations of the Haya, Chagga, and Sukuma peoples. Among these groups, there are over 100 languages spoken; Swahili is the national language, while English is one of the most used languages. In Zanzibar, Arabic is also an official language. Most of the population (around 60%) practice Christianity, while another third (around 35%) follow Islam. The remaining people stick with various African traditional religions and customs.
7. Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa. Located in northeastern Kilimanjaro near the border with Kenya, Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano that rises 16,100 ft (4,900 m) from the land around it, making it 19,341 ft (5,895 m) above sea level. It is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, and it serves as the main feature of Kilimanjaro National Park.
8. Tanzania is home to some great lakes. Actually, Tanzania is located within the region of Africa known as the African Great Lakes. Lake Tanganyika is the world’s longest freshwater lake, and runs along the border between Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake, which is also shared with neighboring Uganda and Kenya. There’s also Lake Nyasa (known as Lake Malawi internationally and Lago Niassa in Mozambique), located in the south of Tanzania, which is the lake with more fish species than any other lake in the world, including 700+ species of cichlids alone!
9. More than one-third of Tanzania’s land is set aside for conservation. The government has protect some 38% of the country’s area, including designating 16 national parks and other forest areas and game reserves. The famous Serengeti region is located in northern Tanzania and is home to the one of the world’s largest terrestrial mammal migrations. Other areas include Mahale Mountains National Park, Mikumi National Park, and Ruaha National Park.
10. Zanzibar is a large archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. Known in Tanzania as the “Spice Islands,” the Zanzibar Archipelago includes Unguja Island, Pemba Island, Latham Island, Mafia Island, and several smaller islands. Unguja Island is the largest, and what many vacationers refer to when they say they’ve traveled to Zanzibar. Latham Island is an uninhabited coral island, and the Zanzibar islands are all popular with scuba divers and those seeking holidays on gorgeous waters.
11. Tanzania is home to 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Of these 7 sites, 3 are cultural, 3 are natural, and 1 is both cultural and natural (mixed):
- Kondoa Rock-Art Sites (cultural)
- Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (cultural)
- Stone Town of Zanzibar (cultural)
- Kilimanjaro National Park (natural)
- Selous Game Reserve (natural)
- Serengeti National Park (natural)
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area (cultural and natural)
Well, that’s all our Tanzania facts for now, and we hope you’ve found this post interesting and informative! Do you have any questions, feedback, or other facts about Tanzania we should include on our list? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!