Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964. Its first president, Julius Nyerere, called for self-reliance and socialism, but by the ’70s it became clear that the country was overwhelmed by economic problems. Nyerere resigned in 1985, and his successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, focused on attracting foreign investment and relaxing government control of the economy. His policies were successful and further implemented under Benjamin Mkapa. Poverty has decreased since the mid-‘80s, and tourism has become a significant industry, whilst agriculture remains the base on which the economy is built, accounting for over half of the country’s GDP.

Important Cities

Dodoma is the capital, but Dar es Salaam is the largest city – one of the fastest-growing in Africa – and the commercial centre, whilst also being the de facto seat of most government institutions.


The cool, dry months are from late June to September. October and November are temperate with intermittent rainfall, which sometimes lasts into December. Temperatures peak from late December into February (around 31°C), while mid-March until June marks the rainy season.


Citizens of the following African countries do not require visas, for stays of up to 90 days – Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe. For visitors from other countries, consult your local embassy or consulate.


Telecommunications in Tanzania remains unreliable, especially in rural areas. Outside the major urban centres mobile network coverage and Internet access is limited, although Vodacom Tanzania have designs on changing this, with the announcement that they will be investing about TZS150 billion in the next year in expanding and upgrading their network infrastructure in the country.

Travel Tips

Swahili is relatively easy to pick up, and a few words will stand you in good stead, particularly when dealing with taxi drivers. Crime is mostly limited to pick-pocketing and petty theft, but travellers should be vigilant, stick to busy, well-lit areas and avoid flaunting valuable items. Credit cards aren’t always accepted, so be sure to take ample cash in small denominations. Gratuities are only expected in big centres and tourist areas, where a 10% tip is standard.

Getting Around

Flying is recommended for inter-city travel. Tanzanians drive on the left side of the road, but traffic is chaotic and taxis are recommended over rental cars. Roads are not well maintained, and in rural areas a four-wheel drive vehicle is needed. Jeeps and motorbikes are popular rental choices on the island of Zanzibar.


Travellers entering Tanzania from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission are required to provide proof of their vaccination against the disease. Further to that, recommended vaccinations include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies and typhoid. Malaria prophylactics are recommended for all areas in Tanzania, bar those at an altitude of more than 1800m. Various diseases (such as dengue and sleeping sickness) are spread via insect bites, and tourists should wear insect repellent. Drink only purified water and well-cooked food, and avoid swimming in lakes, rivers and dams. HIV is a significant health problem.


Websites – www.tanzaniatouristboard.com and www.tanzania.org.za.

Fact File

Population: 43 million
Time zone: GMT+3
Plugs: Three-prong round and three-prong rectangular
Dialling code: +255 + area code + number required
Currency: Tanzanian shilling and US dollars – US$1=1614TZS
GDP growth rate (2010): 7%
Language: English and Swahili – the former being the main language of commerce

Jacqueline Cochrane

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