Location: East Africa.
Time: GMT + 3.
Area: 945,087 sq km (364,900 sq miles).
Population: 39.3 million (CIA estimate 2007).
Population Density: 41.5 per sq km.
Capital: Dodoma. Population: 2.4 million (UN estimate 2003).
The United Republic of Tanzania lies on the east coast of Africa and is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; by Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west; by the Indian Ocean to the east; and by Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The Tanzanian mainland is divided into several clearly defined regions: the coastal plains, which vary in width from 16 to 64km (10 to 39 miles) and have lush, tropical vegetation; the Masai Steppe in the north, 213 to 1,067m (698 to 3,500ft) above sea level, which gives rise to two prominent mountains, Kilimanjaro, 5,895m (19,341ft) above sea level and Africa's highest peak, and Mount Meru, 4,565m (14,973ft); and there's a high plateau in the southern area towards Zambia and Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi).
Savannah and bush cover over half the country, and semi-desert accounts for the remaining land area, with the exception of the coastal plains. Over 53,000 sq km (20,463 sq miles) is inland water, mostly lakes formed in the Rift Valley and Tanzania's share of Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika, both on its western border. Lake Victoria covers 69,490 sq km (26,832 sq miles), which is Africa's largest lake and 49% of it lies in Tanzania. With maximum depths of 1,470m (4,821ft), Lake Tanganyika is estimated to be the deepest lake in Africa and is 673km (420 miles) long and averages 50km (31 miles) across; 41% of its area lies in Tanzania. The United Republic of Tanzania includes the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, about 45km (28 miles) off the coast to the northeast of the country.
Federal Republic since 1964. Tanganyika gained independence from the UK in 1961. In 1964, Tanganyika joined with Zanzibar, which had been a British protectorate until 1963, and became Tanzania.
Head of State
President Jakaya Kikwete since 2005.
Zanzibar is semi-autonomous and has its own parliament and president (President Amani Karume since 2000).
Head of Government
Prime Minister Edward Lowassa since 2005 (outgoing).
Prime Minister Edward Lowassa announced his resignation in February 2008 after being implicated in an energy deal corruption scandal.
Ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) remains the overwhelmingly dominant force in Tanzanian mainland politics. President Benjamin Mkapa stood down in 2005. He was succeeded by the long-serving foreign minister Jakaya Kikwete. The Civic United Front (CUF), with a strong power base on Zanzibar (most notably the island of Pemba), managed to secure 19 parliamentary seats there. Elections on the island were closely contested between CCM and CUF and marred by violence, intimidation and serious allegations of rigging. These incidents only serve to underscore Zanzibar's increasing dislocation from the rest of Tanzania and what many perceive as a drive for autonomy amongst some islanders.
Kiswahili and English are the official languages. The terms Swahili and Kiswahili are used interchangeably, though the term Swahili normally refers to the people while Kiswahili refers to the language. Originating along the coast, Kiswahili is a Bantu language with many words derived from Arabic. Other African languages such as Bantu and those of Nilo-Hamitic and Khoisan origin are also spoken in more remote regions.
Muslim, Christian, Hindu and traditional beliefs.