Background Notes: Tanzania

PA/PC Source: Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs Date: May 15, 19925/15/92 Category: Country Data Region: Subsaharan Africa Country: Tanzania Subject: Travel, History, International Organizations, Trade/Economics [TEXT] Official Name: United Republic of Tanzania


Nationality: Noun and adjective--Tanzanian(s); Zanzibari(s). Population: 26 million. Annual growth rate: 3.5%. Ethnic groups: More than 130. Religions: Muslim 33% (Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim), animist 33%, Christian 33%. Languages: Kiswahili (official), English. Education: Attendance--86% (primary). Literacy (1990): 79%. Health: Infant mortality rate--106/1,000. Life expectancy--49 yrs. (male), 54 yrs. (female). Work force: Agriculture--90%. Industry, commerce, and government--10%.
Area: Mainland--942,623 sq. km. (363,950 sq. mi.); slightly smaller than New Mexico and Texas combined. Zanzibar--1,658 sq. km. (640 sq. mi.). Cities: Capital--Dar es Salaam (1.4 million); Dodoma (future capital--159,000), Zanzibar Town (110,000), Tanya (176,000), Mwanza (160,000), Arusha (95,000). Terrain: Varied. Climate: Varies from tropical to arid to temperate.
Type: Republic. Independence: Tanganyika 1961, Zanzibar 1963; union formed 1964. Constitution: 1984. Branches: Executive--president (chief of state and commander in chief), two vice presidents (one of whom is also President of Zanzibar), prime minister, and deputy prime minister. Legislative-- unicameral National Assembly (for the union), House of Representatives (for Zanzibar only). Judicial--(mainland) High Court, Court of Appeals, high courts, resident magistrate courts, district courts, primary courts; (Zanzibar) High Court, people's district courts, Islamic courts. Political party: Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM--Revolutionary Party). Suffrage: Universal over 18. Administrative subdivisions: 25 regions (20 on mainland, 3 on Zanzibar, 2 on Pemba). Defense: 4% of GDP. Flag: Diagonal yellow-edged black band; green field at upper left, blue field at lower right.
GDP: $5.9 billion. Annual growth rate: 4.3%. Per capita income: $240. Natural resources: Hydroelectric potential and largely unexploited natural gas, iron, coal, nickel, gemstone, and gold deposits. Agriculture (47% of GDP): Products--cashew nuts, cloves, coconut, coffee, cotton, corn, pyrethrum, rice, sisal, sugar, tea, tobacco. Industry (8% of GDP): Types--textiles, agricultural processing, light manufacturing, oil refining, cement, fertilizer. Trade (1989): Exports--$380 million: cashews, cloves, coffee, cotton, sisal, tea, tobacco. Major markets--UK, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Italy. Imports--$1.2 billion: petroleum, manufactured goods, textiles, machinery and transport equipment, foodstuffs. Major suppliers--UK, Germany, Japan, US. Official exchange rate (1992): 300 Tanzanian shillings=US$1. US economic aid received (1970-92): more than $400 million.


Population distribution in Tanzania is extremely uneven. Density varies from 1 person per square kilometer (3/sq. mi.) in arid regions to 51 per square kilometer (133/sq. mi.) in the mainland's well-watered highlands and 134 per square kilometer (347/sq. mi.) on Zanzibar. More than 80% of the population is rural. Dar es Salaam is the capital and largest city; Dodoma, located in the center of Tanzania, has been designated to become the new capital. The African population consists of more than 130 ethnic groups, of which only the Sukuma has more than 1 million members. The majority of Tanzanians, including such large tribes as the Sukuma and the Nyamwezi, are of Bantu stock. Groups of Nilotic or related origin include the nomadic Masai and the Luo. Two small groups speak languages of the Khoisan family unique to the Bushman and Hottentot peoples. Cushitic-speaking peoples, originally from the Ethiopian highlands, reside in a few areas. Although much of Zanzibar's African population came from the mainland, one group known as Shirazis traces its origins to the island's early Persian settlers. Non-Africans residing on the mainland and Zanzibar account for 1% of the total population. Asians, including Hindus, Sikhs, and Goans number 50,000 on the mainland and 4,000 on Zanzibar. An estimated 70,000 Arabs and 10,000 Europeans reside in Tanzania. All ethnic groups have their own language, but the national language is Kiswahili, a Bantu-based tongue with strong Arabic borrowings.


Northern Tanganyika's famed Olduvai Gorge has provided rich evidence of the area's prehistory, including fossil remains of some of humanity's earliest ancestors. The discoveries made by Dr. and Mrs. L.S.B. Leakey and others strongly suggest East Africa as the site of human origin. The coastal area first felt the impact of non-African influence as early as the 8th century, with the arrival of Arab traders. By the 12th century, traders and immigrants came from as far away as Persia (now Iran) and India. They built a series coastal cities and trading states, including Kilwa, a settlement of Persian origin that lasted until the Portuguese destroyed it in the early 1500s. The Portuguese navigator, Vasco da Gama, touched the East African coast in 1498 on his voyage to India. By 1506, the Portuguese claimed control over the entire coast. This control was nominal, however, for the Portuguese did not attempt to colonize the interior. By the early 18th century, Arabs from Oman drove out the Portuguese from the area north of the Ruvuma River. They established their own garrisons at Zanzibar, Pemba, and Kilwa and carried on a lucrative trade in slaves and ivory. Little is known of the history of Tanganyika's interior during the early centuries of the Christian era. It is believed to have been inhabited originally by groups using a click-tongue language similar to that of Southern Africa's Bushmen and Hottentots. Although remnants of these early tribes still exist, most were gradually displaced by Bantu farmers migrating from the west and south and by Nilotes and related northern peoples. Some of these groups had well-organized societies and controlled extensive areas when the Arab and European slavers, traders, explorers, and missionaries penetrated the interior in the first half of the 19th century. European exploration of Tanganyika's interior began in the mid- 19th century. Two German missionaries reached Mt. Kilimanjaro in the 1840s. British explorers Richard Burton and John Speke crossed the interior to Lake Tanganyika in 1857. German colonial interests were first advanced in 1884, when Karl Peters, who formed the Society for German Colonization, concluded a series of treaties by which tribal chiefs in the interior accepted German protection. Prince Otto von Bismarck's government backed Peters in the subsequent establishment of the German East Africa Company. In 1886 and 1890, Anglo-German agreements were negotiated that delineated the British and German spheres of influence in the interior of East Africa and along the coastal strip previously claimed by the Omani Sultan of Zanzibar. In 1891, the German Government took over direct administration of the territory from the German East Africa Company and appointed a governor with headquarters at Dar es Salaam. Although the German colonial administration brought cash crops, railroads, and roads to Tanganyika, its harshness provoked African resistance, culminating in the Maji Maji rebellion of 1905- 07. The rebellion temporarily united a number of southern tribes and ended only after an estimated 120,000 Africans had died from fighting or starvation, German colonial rule of Tanganyika ended with World War I. Control of most of the territory passed to the United Kingdom under a League of Nations mandate. After World War II, Tanganyika became a UN trust territory administered by the United Kingdom. In the following years, Tanganyika moved gradually toward self- government and independence. In 1954, Julius K. Nyerere, a schoolteacher, organized the Tanganyika African National Union political party (TANU). TANU-supported candidates were victorious in the Legislative Council elections of September 1958 and February 1959. In December 1959, the United Kingdom agreed to establish internal self-government following general elections in August 1960. Nyerere was named chief minister of the subsequent government. In May 1961, Tanganyika became autonomous, and Nyerere became Prime Minister under a new constitution. Full independence was achieved on December 9, 1961. Mr. Nyerere was elected President a year later. On April 26, 1964, Tanganyika united with Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, renamed the United Republic of Tanzania, on October 29. In 1977, TANU and the Afro-Shirazi Party of Zanzibar merged into a single party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) (Revolutionary Party), and the union was ratified in a new constitution later that year. The merger was reinforced by principles enunciated in the 1982 union constitution and reaffirmed in the 1984 constitution.
An early Arab/Persian trading center, Zanzibar fell under Portuguese domination in the 16th and early 17th centuries but was retaken by Omani Arabs in the early 18th century. The height of Arab rule came during the reign of Sultan Seyyid Said (1804-56). He encouraged the development of clove plantations by using the forced labor of the island's indigenous population. Zanzibar also became the base for the Arab slavers, whose raids depopulated much of the Tanganyikan interior. By 1840, Said had transferred his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar and established a ruling Arab elite. The island's commerce fell increasingly into the hands of traders from the Indian sub-continent whom Said encouraged to settle on the island. Zanzibar's spices attracted ships from as far away as the United States. A US consulate was established on the island in 1837. The United Kingdom's early interest in Zanzibar was motivated by commerce and British determination to end the slave trade. In 1822, the British signed the first of a series of treaties with Sultan Said to curb slavery. The sale of slaves was finally prohibited in 1876. In carrying out its policies, the United Kingdom gained a supremacy that was formally recognized in the Anglo-German agreement of 1890, making Zanzibar and Pemba a British protectorate. British rule through the sultan remained largely unchanged from the late 19th century until after World War II. Zanzibar's political development began in earnest after 1956, when provision was first made for the election of six non- government members to the Legislative Council. Two parties were formed: the Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP), representing the dominant Arab and Arabized minority, and the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP), led by Abeid Karume and representing the Shirazis and the African majority. The first elections were held in July 1957, and the ASP won three of the six elected seats, with the remainder going to independents. The ZNP polled only a small percentage of the total votes. Following the election, the ASP split; some of its Shirazi supporters left to form the Zanzibar and Pemba People's Party (ZPPP). The January 1961 election resulted in a deadlock between the ASP and a ZNP-ZPPP coalition. The elections that followed the granting of self-government in June 1963 produced similar results. Zanzibar received its independence from the United Kingdom on December 19, 1963, as a constitutional monarchy under the sultan. On January 12, 1964, the African majority revolted against the sultan and a new government was formed, with the ASP leader, Abeid Karume, as President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. The Zanzibar Government retained considerable local autonomy under the terms of its political union with Tanganyika in April 1964. Abeid Karume was named first Vice President of the union government, a post he held until his assassination in April 1972. Aboud Jumbe, also a member of the ASP and the Revolutionary Council, was appointed to succeed Karume. In 1981, 32 persons were selected to serve in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. The election was the first since the 1964 revolution. In 1984, Jumbe resigned and was replaced by Ali Hassan Mwinyi as both President of Zanzibar and First Vice President of Tanzania. In the election of 1985, Mwinyi was elected President of the United Republic of Tanzania; Idris Wakil was elected President of Zanzibar and Second Vice President of Tanzania.


Tanzania is a de jure single-party state with a strong central executive. The president is assisted by two vice presidents, one of whom serves as prime minister. The prime minister must be chosen from among the members of the National Assembly and is the government leader in the National Assembly. The president and the assembly are elected concurrently by direct popular vote for 5-year terms. Julius Nyerere, who had served as President since the Tanzanian union was established in 1964, was succeeded by Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Union Vice President and President of Zanzibar, in 1985. Idris Wakil, speaker of the Zanzibari House of Representatives, was chosen to run for President of Zanzibar and ex-officio second vice president of the union. Under the Tanzanian constitution, the president and the first vice president cannot both be from either the mainland or Zanzibar. If the president dissolves the assembly, he or she must stand for election as well. The president must select the cabinet from among National Assembly members but has the power to appoint up to 15 assembly members. The unicameral assembly has 244 members, 169 of whom are elected from the mainland and Zanzibar. All must be members of the CCM. Two candidates, both approved by the CCM Party, compete in each district. The remaining members are appointed by the government and various "mass organizations" associated with the party. Assembly actions are valid for Zanzibar only in specifically designated union matters. Zanzibar's own House of Representatives has jurisdiction over all non-union matters. Tanzania has a five-level judiciary, combining the jurisdictions of tribal, Islamic, and British common law. Appeal is from the primary courts through the district courts and resident magistrate courts to the high courts and the Court of Appeals. Judges are appointed by the chief justice, except those for the Court of Appeals and the High Court, who are presidential appointees. Although Zanzibar has its own constitution, it is subject to the provisions of the union constitution. The Zanzibari court system parallels the legal system of the union, and all cases tried in Zanzibari courts, except for those involving constitutional issues and Islamic law, can be appealed to the Court of Appeals of the union. For administrative purposes, Tanzania is divided into 25 regions--20 on the mainland, 3 on Zanzibar, and 2 on Pemba. Since 1972, a decentralization program on the mainland has worked to increase the authority of the regions. In 1983, the government reinstated 99 district councils to further increase the power of local authorities. Of the 99 councils operating in 86 districts, 19 are urban and 80 are rural. The 19 urban units are classified further as city (Dar es Salaam), municipal (Arusha, Dodoma, Tanga), and town councils (the remaining 15 communities). On the mainland, regional commissioners are also ex-officio members of the National Assembly. The regional and area commissioners are assisted by appointed development directors and other functional managers, who, in turn, form a council charged with administering the region or district in close collaboration with CCM party officials. Regional and district party secretaries assist in coordinating activities between the party and the political jurisdictions.
Principal Government Officials
President--Ali Hassan Mwinyi First Vice President--John Malecela Second Vice President and President of Zanzibar--Salmin Amour Prime Minister--John Malecela Foreign Affairs Minister--Benjamin Mkapa Ambassador to the United States--Charles Musama Nyirabu Ambassador to the United Nations--Wilbert Chagula Tanzania maintains an embassy in the United States at 2139 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-939-6125).


The Revolutionary Party (CCM) is, in theory, the primary source of policy in the social, political, and economic fields. It provides nearly all top government leaders and plays a leading role in the government's nation-building plans. The party's control structure is closely interwoven with the government's. Tanzania has sought to achieve political and economic development within an egalitarian framework. Since 1962, Nyerere has used the Kiswahili word ujamaa (familyhood) to describe the kind of communal cooperation his government seeks to foster. Tanzanian goals were set forth in more conventional socialist terms in the TANU constitution and reaffirmed in February 1967 in a party document, the Arusha Declaration, which enunciated the principles of "socialism and self-reliance." The declaration "asked the government to consolidate its control over the means of production, prepare development plans that Tanzania could carry out without depending on foreign assistance, and place greater emphasis on improving rural living standards." The declaration prescribed a code of conduct for party and government leaders. The code prohibited receiving more than one salary, directorships in private firms, ownership of rental properties, or shares in any private company. Ministerial and civil service salaries had been reduced earlier in a move toward a more equitable distribution of income. Shortly after the declaration, Nyerere announced the full or partial nationalization--with compensation--of various private interests, including all commercial banks; a number of food- processing, manufacturing, and trading firms; and some of Tanzania's leading sisal estates. On the third anniversary of the declaration, the president nationalized Tanzania's privately owned English-language newspaper and began transferring the remaining private import-export firms and all wholesale businesses to the public sector. In 1971, the government nationalized all rental property valued at more than $14,000. Cooperatives, which once numbered more than 2,000, were abolished in 1972. However, in an effort to stimulate agricultural production and collect goods more efficiently in Tanzania's decentralized markets, cooperatives were reapproved in 1982. The national education system was also revamped to provide basic agricultural training for primary- school-aged children.


Agriculture provides about 47% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and 90% of employment. Lack of water and diseases borne by insects, particularly the tse tse fly, limit agriculture. In addition to some diamond mining, coffee, cotton, sisal, tea, cashews, meat, tobacco, coconut products, pyrethrum, and cloves accounted for $380 million in export earnings in 1989. The industrial sector is one of the smallest in Africa. It grew only 1.9% annually in the 1970s and declined in the 1980s to constitute less than 8% of the GDP. Main industrial activities include textiles, oil refining, cement, fertilizer, producing raw materials for the industrial sector, manufacturing import substitutes, and processing agricultural commodities. The government pursues a policy of socialism and self- reliance. Producer prices are set nationally, and surplus commodities are purchased and marketed through state corporations. Many manufacturing enterprises are state controlled. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, external events--including oil price shocks, the collapse of the East African Community (in 1977), a war with Uganda, and drought--aggravated domestic economic problems caused by inefficient domestic economic policies. A foreign-exchange crisis occurred because agricultural export earnings waned, food imports mounted, and industrial expansion stagnated, due to shortage of raw materials, spare parts, and equipment. Despite its past record of political stability, Tanzania has attracted little foreign investment. The government is willing to consider joint ventures with foreign concerns in areas where private technical and managerial expertise are needed. US private investment has been limited to refining and processing primary commodities. One US firm has entered into a minority partnership with the government on the management of gas reserves and petroleum marketing facilities. In the early 1970s, China was the largest single aid donor to Tanzania. Most of China's $400 million aid was dedicated to building and equipping the Tazara Railroad between Dar es Salaam and Zambia's copper belt. In recent years, major donors have included the World Bank, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Germany. In 1986, the government announced a recovery program stressing food, shelter, drinking water, education, and health care at the village level. This produced significant increases in agricultural production and financial support by bilateral donors. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have provided funds to rehabilitate basic economic infrastructure.
Zanzibar's economy and foreign exchange are dependent largely on the production of cloves, grown mostly on Pemba. A recent decline in demand for cloves has reduced foreign-exchange earnings needed to support Zanzibar's development programs. Zanzibar is determined to reduce its dependence on cloves and has sought international help in diversifying export crops and lessening its reliance on imported food. It still imports much of its staple requirements, petroleum products, and manufactured articles. Manufacturing on the island is limited to import substitution, such as cigarettes and shoes, and processed agricultural products. All industries are government-owned. After the revolution in 1964, the government took over large Arab-owned estates and distributed small plots to Africans.


More than 40,000 personnel participate voluntarily in the Tanzanian People's Defense Forces (TPDF). The majority are in the army; Tanzania's air force and navy are very small. Paramilitary forces consist of a police marine unit, the police field force, and a large citizen's militia.


Tanzania bases its foreign policy on the concept of nonalignment. It has long supported majority rule and self- determination for all of southern Africa and has been a principal supporter of liberation groups there. Tanzania enjoys particularly close ties with neighboring Uganda, Zambia, and Mozambique. In 1977, the partnership of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda in the East African Community, established 10 years earlier, was dissolved. The breakup resulted in suspension of nearly all trade between Tanzania and Kenya and closure of the border to most tourist travel. The border was reopened in 1984, and relations with Kenya have improved significantly.


The United States enjoys friendly relations with the United Republic of Tanzania and has historically sought to assist Tanzania's economic and social development through bilateral and regional programs administered by the US Agency for International Development (AID). From 1953 to 1982, total US economic assistance was about $348 million in loans, grants, and PL 480 Title II (Food for Peace) funds. The program continues to provide food assistance. In the 1970s, AID focused on strengthening national institutions in agriculture and, to a lesser degree, in health. Food crops and livestock were emphasized, as was training for improving the health of children and mothers. Training in general has remained an important part of the AID program, and more than 1,857 Tanzanians have received either long-term or short-term training, primarily in the United States. The Peace Corps program, reintroduced in 1979, provides assistance in fisheries, forestry, agriculture extension, education, and health.
Principal US Officials
Ambassador--Edmond DeJarnette, Jr. Deputy Chief of Mission--Victor L. Tomseth Director, AID Program--Thomas H. Reese III Public Affairs Officer (USIS)--Donna Marie Oglesby The US Embassy in Tanzania is located at 36 Laibon Road, Dar es Salaam.
Further Information
Available from the Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402: American University. Tanzania, A Country Study. For information on economic trends, commercial development, production, trade regulations, and tariff rates, contact the International Trade Administration, US Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230.


Travel: Visas and inoculations against cholera and yellow fever are required for entry. Health requirements change; check latest information. Climate and clothing: Lightweight, tropical clothing is worn year-round, although in the cooler season (June-September), a light wrap is useful in the evenings. Due to cultural sensitivities, conservative dress is recommended. Health: Community sanitation controls are generally enforced. Tapwater is not potable. Water should be boiled and filtered and fruits and vegetables carefully prepared. Malaria suppressants are recommended. Telecommunications: Direct-dial telephone and cable services are available to the UK, US, and other parts of the world. 220V electric current. Tanzania is eight standard time zones ahead of eastern standard time and does not observe daylight-saving time. (###)