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Tanzania, independent republic in East Africa consisting of the mainland, formerly Tanganyika, and the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. The mainland of Tanzania has Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia to its south; Zaïre, Burundi, and Rwanda to the west; Uganda and Kenya on the north; and the Indian Ocean to the east. Zanzibar and Pemba are separated from the mainland by the 22-mi- (35-km)-wide Zanzibar Channel. The capital is Dodoma.

Land and climate

Mainland Tanzania covers an area of 363,650 sq mi (942,626 sq km), including 20,650 sq mi (53,484 sq km) of inland water. The islands cover an area of 950 sq mi (2,461 sq km). A coastal belt, fringed by sand beaches, coral reefs, and mangrove swamps, leads inland to plains and plateaus 2,000 to 4,000 ft (1,219 km) above sea level with vast expanses of grasslands and open woodlands, as well as isolated hills and hill ranges. In this area is the Serengeti Plain, site of one of several national parks. To the north is Lake Victoria, and above the plateaus rise the Usambara, Pare, Kilimanjaro, and Meru mountains. Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,340 ft/5,895 m) is Africa's highest peak. The uplands extend to the south where they meet Lake Nyasa and the Ufipa Highlands. To the west lies Lake Tanganyika. Zanzibar and Pemba are coral islands and fertile. Their climate, like that of the coastal belt, is tropical. The inland climate is hot and dry for most of the year, and most humid in the highlands and along the western shore of Lake Victoria.


The vast majority of the people are black Africans, but there are also people of Asian, Arab, and European descent. Christianity and Islam, in roughly equal proportions, account for some three-quarters of the population. The rest of the people adhere to traditional beliefs. The official language is Swahili.


Tanzania's economy is chiefly agricultural. Coffee and cotton are primary exports, but other important exports include cloves from Zanzibar, pyrethrum, sisal, tobacco, and tea. Manufacturing is limited principally to processing agricultural products and industry is dominated by mining. Tanzania is a producer of diamonds.


Olduvai Gorge in North Tanzania is the site of the fossil remains of the earliest hominid. The remains have been dated to some 1.7 million years ago. In historical times, the coast and Zanzibar came under Arab control some time in the 8th century A.D. The Portuguese established a presence in the 16th and 17th centuries and introduced the slave trade, but were driven out by natives in 1698. Arabs from Oman established control of Zanzibar and set up on the mainland as well, conducting a flourishing trade in slaves and ivory throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The Germans established a mainland protectorate in 1891, but, after World War I, the regions passed to Britain through a League of Nations mandate. Tanganyika gained its independence in 1961 and was joined with Zanzibar in 1964. The capital was transferred from Dar-es-Salaam to Dodoma in 1975. Tanzania was directly involved in the overthrow of the regime of Idi Amin Dada in neighboring Uganda in 1978–79. During the 1980s, Tanzania's economic difficulties, brought about by trade deficits and debt, resulted in a decreased emphasis on a government-controlled economy. In 1985 Nyerere left office and was replaced by his recommended successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi. In 1998 Muslim fundamentalists carried out a bomb attack on the American embassy in Tanzania.


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