Officially the United Republic of Tanzania (Swahili: Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), was formed out of the union of two sovereign states namely Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Tanganyika became a sovereign state on the 9th of December, 1961 and became a Republic the following year. Zanzibar became independent on the 10th of December, 1963 and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar was established after the revolution of 12th January, 1964. The two sovereign republics formed the United Republic of Tanzania on 26th April, 1964. However, the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania is a unitary republic consisting of the Union Government and the Zanzibar Revolutionary Government.
Since 1996, the official capital of Tanzania has been Dodoma, where the country’s parliament and some government offices are located. Between independence and 1996, the main coastal city of Dar es Salaam served as the country’s political capital. Today, it remains Tanzania’s principal commercial city and de facto seat of most government institutions. It is the major seaport for the country and its landlocked neighbours.
The United Republic of Tanzania is located in Eastern Africa. To the north are Uganda and Kenya; to the west, Burundi, Rwanda, and Congo; and to the south, Mozambique, Zambia, and Malawi. The island of Zanzibar is separated from the mainland by a 35km channel. Tanzania is the world’s 31st-largest country. Compared to other African countries, it is slightly smaller than Egypt and comparable in size to Nigeria. The country is mountainous in the northeast, where Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, is situated. To the north and west are the Great Lakes of, respectively, Lake Victoria (Africa’s largest lake) and Lake Tanganyika (the continent’s deepest lake, known for its unique species of fish); to the southwest lies Lake Nyasa. Central Tanzania comprises a large plateau, with plains and arable land. The eastern shore is hot and humid, with the island of Zanzibar lying just offshore.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
A total of 128 languages are spoken in Tanzania, most of them from the Bantu family. After independence, the government recognized that this represented a problem for national unity, and as a result introduced the Swahili language into all primary schools to spread its use. Swahili and English are the official languages; however, the former is the national language. Although the many tribal languages are not actively suppressed, they do not enjoy the same linguistic rights as Swahili, and they face language extinction, with one, Kw’adza, having no known speakers. Arabic is widely spoken in Zanzibar. As of 2010, the estimated population is 43,188,000.The population consists of more than 120 ethnic groups, of which the Sukuma, Nyamwezi, Chagga, Nyakyusa, Haya, Hehe, Bena, Gogo, and the Makonde have more than 1 million members. Other Bantu peoples include the Pare, Zigua, Shambaa, and Ngoni.
Tanzanian cuisine is both unique and widely varied. Along the coastal regions (Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, and Pemba), spicy foods are common, and there is also much use of coconut milk. Regions in Tanzania’s mainland also have their own unique foods. Some typical mainland Tanzanian foods include rice (wali), ugali (maize porridge), chapati (a kind of bread), nyama choma (grilled meat), mshikaki (marinated beef), fish, pilau, biryani, and ndizi-nyama (plantains with meat). Commonly used vegetables include bamia (okra), mchicha (a kind of spinach), njegere (green peas), maharage (beans), and kisamvu (cassava leaves). Since a large proportion of Khoja Indians had migrated into Tanzania, a considerable proportion of Tanzanian cuisine has been influenced by Indian cuisine.