Country Profile

Country Profile - Tanzania

Country Profile of Tanzania

President:  Samia Suluhu Hassan

Prime Minister: Kassim Majaliwa

Capital: Dar es Salaam

Land area: 945 087 kilometers squared

Population: 49,639,138; growth-rate: 2.8%; birth-rate:36.82/1000; life expectancy: 61.24

Monetary unit: Tanzanian shilling

Languages: Swahili and English (official), Arabic and many more local languages.

Ethnicity: Native African 99%, Asian, European and Arab 1%

Literacy rate: 67.8%

Economic summary: GDP/PPP $79.29 billion; real growth 7%; Inflation 7.8%; Imports $11.16 billion; exports 5.92 billion

Agriculture: Sugar, beer, cigarretes, sisal twine. Mining: Diamonds, gold and iron.

Tanzania is in East Africa on the Indian Ocean. To the north are Uganda and Kenya; to the west, Burundi, Rwanda, and Congo; and to the south, Mozambique, Zambia, and Malawi. Tanzania contains three of Africa's best-known lakes—Victoria in the north, Tanganyika in the west, and Nyasa in the south. Mount Kilimanjaro in the north is the highest point on the continent.

A republic state

Shortly after achieving independence from Britain in the early 1960s, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964. One-party rule ended in 1995 with the first democratic elections held in the country since the 1970s.

An invasion by Ugandan troops in Nov. 1978 was followed by a counterattack in Jan. 1979, in which 5,000 Tanzanian troops were joined by 3,000 Ugandan exiles opposed to President Idi Amin. Within a month, full-scale war developed. Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere kept troops in Uganda in open support of former Ugandan president Milton Obote, despite protests from opposition groups, until the national elections in Dec. 1980.

In Nov. 1985, Nyerere stepped down as president. Ali Hassan Mwinyi, his vice president, succeeded him. Running unopposed, Mwinyi was elected president in October. Shortly thereafter plans were announced to study the benefits of instituting a multiparty democracy, and in Oct. 1995 the country's first multiparty elections since independence took place

In 2005 presidential elections, foreign minister Jakaya Kikwete of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Party won with 80% of the vote.Prime Minister Lowassa resigned in February 2008 over a scandal involving an American energy company, Richmond Development, which was hired to provide Tanzania with generators to supply electricity to the country during a power shortage. The company never began the operation, yet Lowassa urged the government to renew the contract. Mizengo Pinda replaced Lowassa as prime minister

Zanzibar's semi-autonomous status and popular opposition have led to two contentious elections since 1995, which the ruling party won despite international observers' claims of voting irregularities. The formation of a government of national unity between Zanzibar's two leading parties succeeded in minimizing electoral tension in 2010.

The philosophy of "socialism and self-reliance" adopted by the Tanzanian government in the 1960s placed a high value on the provision of high-quality education, but it suffered badly during the poor economic years of the 1980s and early 1990s. Since then the education system has benefited from a return to free primary education and facilities made available by a range of providers, including communities, religious organisations and the private sector. However, according to the Human Development Report 2007, 31% of Tanzanian adults were illiterate in 2005.

Enrolment at primary level has risen from 59% in 2000/01 to 84% in 2007, according to the Household Budget Survey. However, the government has struggled to boost the number of teachers, which has been increasing at a much lower rate.

Approximately one in eight Tanzanian children die before their fifth birthday. Inadequate immunisation, poor nutrition and unsafe drinking water make children vulnerable to diseases such as measles, dysentery, cholera and tuberculosis. Malaria remains one of the nation’s biggest killers; however HIV has spread rapidly, leaving a trail of people widowed and children orphaned by AIDS. Among the poor, who cannot afford extra healthcare or absorb income losses, the effects of the disease are even greater.

Tanzania is one of the world's poorest economies in terms of per capita income, however, Tanzania averaged 7% GDP growth per year between 2000 and 2008 on strong gold production and tourism. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for more than one-quarter of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs about 80% of the work force.

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