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A Glimpse of Tanzania

Just south of Kenya, Tanzania’s almost 365,000 square miles makes it comparable in area to Texas plus Oklahoma.  With the continent’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro at 19,340 feet, in the northeast, Lake Victoria in the north, Lake Tanganyika in the west, Lake Malawi in the south and the Indian Ocean on the east coast, the country’s interior ranges from northern volcanic highlands to semi-desert in the center to highlands in the south – and is perhaps home to the best game-viewing in Africa.  Tanzania has a lot of superlatives:  the world’s largest intact caldera is Ngorongoro, Serengeti is the most famous wildlife park, and the earliest direct evidence of upright walking man, the Laetoli footprints, were discovered in Tanzania by Dr. Mary Leakey in 1979.  Two branches of the Great Rift Valley bisect the countr

Tanzania has more than 95,000 square miles of parks and reserves – 15% of the total land area and ranks as one of the world’s largest in terms of conserved land percentage.  The nominal capital is centrally located Dodoma, but in practice, the country’s hub is centered in Dar Es Salaam, the coastal port city of 1.5 million.  Of the 28 million citizens maybe ¾ are peasant farmers; Tanzania’s agricultural exports include coffee, tea, sisal, cotton, cashews and cloves.  Zanzibar, the Spice Island of centuries’ old international renown off the mainland coast, merged with Tanganyika (a former German colony then British mandate) in 1964…merging their two names created “Tanzania.”

120 tribes coexist harmoniously within the country, mostly of Bantu linguistic origin, with Kiswahili the official language and English a widely spoken second tongue.  Almost 2/3 of the country’s people are Christian, the remaining third Muslim, found mostly along the coast and islands…a legacy of the Arab presence here since the 10th Century.

As one of the world’s poorest countries Tanzania is slowly recovering from its disastrous experiment in radical socialism after liberation.  It is attracting investment in its rich natural resources, tourism is increasing and services to support this important industry segment are expanding.  With its conservation efforts and extraordinary wildlife populations, tourism will continue to grow in significance…and justly so, it is truly a remarkable country to visit.


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