Tanzania: Geography and Climate


Geographic Location: Tanzania is a country in East Africa, south of the equator. It borders Kenya and Uganda to the north, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia to the south, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda to the west. To the east, it is washed by the Indian Ocean. Along the coast lies a small plain, but most of the country is a plateau, the average height of which is about 1,290 meters above sea level. Small groups of mountains rise in the northeast and southwest. Volcano Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak (5,895 m), is located on the northeastern border. Through the territory of Tanzania runs the Great Rift Valley. Three of the greatest lakes of the continent are on the borders of Tanzania and partially within it: Lake Tanganyika (western border), Lake Victoria (northwestern border), Lake Nyasa (Malawi) (southwestern border). Tanzania also owns the islands of Zanzibar (the largest coral island off the coast of Africa) and Pemba. The total length of the land borders is 3,402 km. The total area is 945,203 sq. km.

The capital: Dodoma is the legislative capital of Tanzania and is located in the central part of Tanzania. Dar Es Salaam is the administrative center. The city is located on the east coast of Africa, on the shores of the Indian Ocean. It is the largest port in Tanzania and one of the largest ports on the east coast of Africa. An important economic center and seat of government.

Language: English and Swahili (official languages used for international communication). However, the native language of most Tanzanians is that of their ethnic group.

Religion: Slightly more than half of Tanzanians (55 – 60%) are Christians. The largest Christian denominations are Catholics (12.4 million), Lutherans (5.8 million), Pentecostals (2.35 million), and Anglicans (2 million). The proportion of Muslims is estimated at 30 – 32%. Muslims are in the majority in Zanzibar (97 %) and in many coastal regions. About 12% of the population adhere to the local autochthonous beliefs. Ethnic minorities include Hindus, Bahai, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, etc.

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Time: The time difference in Tanzania is 1 hour (relative to Moscow time). All territory of the country is in one time zone. In the country there is no daylight saving time difference, therefore the time difference stays the same during the whole year.

Climate: The climate in Tanzania is tropical, hot and humid on the coast, dry on the mainland. The temperature during the year can vary from +20 to +32 C, but on the coast never drops below +25 C. The warmest temperatures are in February and March, the coldest – in July and August. The rainy seasons (October-November – “short rainy season”, March-May – “long rainy season”) are different in different parts of the country. The dry season lasts 5-7 months. The best time to visit the north of the country – July-October and December-March; south – June-October; west – December-March and May-October. On the islands of Zanzibar and Mafia is best to vacation in July-October and December-March. During the season of “long rains” dramatically increases the risk of contracting malaria and gastrointestinal diseases. The hunting season is closed from April 1 to June 30, and in February-March the rains in the south of the country severely erode the soil.

Currency: Tanzanian Shilling (TZS), equal to 100 cents. Bills of 10000, 5000, 1000, 500 and 200 shillings and coins of 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 cents as well as 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 shilling are in circulation. 1 USD = 1609.33 TZS. Banks are open 8:30 to 16:00 Monday through Friday and 8:30 to 13:00 on Saturday. Currency can be exchanged at banks and exchange offices. The exchange receipt must be kept before leaving the country. It is not forbidden to change money at street moneychangers, but there is an extremely high risk of fraud. Credit cards are accepted only in large hotels and in very few stores. Traveler’s checks can be cashed at registered dealers or exchange offices (it is better to bring checks in USD).

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Mains voltage and types of power outlets: 220/240 V, AC 50 Hz; the plugs have three British-style sockets (adaptors for Russian plugs are required).

Customs: Import and export of local currency is prohibited, and all foreign currency must be declared. Duty free import of 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, a liter of spirits, food and household items (within personal needs). Gold and silver jewelry, stamps, coins, and food items are permitted “to the extent of personal needs. Jewelry must be accompanied by receipts from the store. The importation of small arms (without special permission), narcotics and pornography is prohibited.

It is forbidden to export ivory, rhinoceros horn, hides of wild animals, rare plants, seashells, gold, diamonds and some spices, such as carnations, without documents confirming their legality. To export some souvenirs it is necessary to specify in the declaration that they are exported for non-commercial purposes.

Population and culture: As of 2014, the country has a population of about 50 million people. The population is fairly unevenly distributed. About 80% of the country’s population lives in rural areas. About 120 different ethnic groups live in the country, the most numerous of which are Sukuma, Nyamwezi, Jagga, Ngonde, Haya, Hehe, Bena, Gogo and Makonde. Most of the ethnic groups belong to the Bantu peoples group, some belong to the Nilotic and Khoisan peoples. A small percentage of Tanzania’s population is of Indian, Arab, European, Chinese and other origin.

Tanzanian culture is a mixture of cultural features of different African countries, India, Britain, and other European countries, as well as Arab countries. The culture of the peoples of Tanzania has rich traditions. It is woodcarving: they are famous for their masks, sculptures, and everyday objects. In Zanzibar they keep the tradition of carving coconut shells, sawing in wood. Tanzania gave birth to the Tingatinga style of painting, named after the author – Eduardo Saidi Tingatinga. Tanzanians are very musical. Music, songs and dances accompany any celebration. Musicians play peculiar African harps, flutes, xylophones and various drums. Melodious songs are accompanied by intricate rhythmic accompaniment. Contemporary cultural development of Tanzania is greatly influenced by European theater, music and literature. Many amateur groups have been created in the country which put on plays by foreign and local authors. Jazz and western songs are widespread. The traditional African art of sculptures, painting is going through a new rise.

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cuisine: Cuisine in Tanzania is not distinguished by its sophistication. Usually British dishes (soups, steaks, fried chicken, boiled vegetables, puddings and instant coffee) are served in restaurants. Asian restaurants tend to do better, but there are not many. There are a large number of small African restaurants where you can try the local cuisine without risking your health. The main dishes in these restaurants are dishes based on bananas (unsweetened and tasting like potatoes) and meat (goat meat): nyama na ndizi (meat and bananas in stew) and bananas with meat roasted on a grill (grill). Most dishes are made from various types of meat of wild animals and birds. Beef and pork are traditionally expensive in these places. Tourists are usually offered all sorts of exotics: fillet of antelope, elephant stew, crocodile meat with banana salad, fried sides of warthog, slow-roasted nyama-choma or mishikaki (roast beef), nyama-kuku (chicken), etc. The usual side dishes include corn, pulses, various roots and rice as well as fried potatoes and pickled cabbage. On the coast, seafood is widely used. Here you should appreciate fried shrimp with lemon, excellent local lobster, octopus stew, char-grilled sea fish with spices, char-grilled fish in banana leaves, various shells, including local oysters, and seaweed salad.

Local beer is very cheap and delicious. The most popular brands are Safari, Kibo Gold, Kilimanjaro, and Tasker (usually Kenyan). Along with local beers, imported beers from Kenya or South Africa are sold, but they are more expensive. As for wine, the best is imported from Europe or South Africa. Of spirits: vodka from papaya “Cognaga”, liqueurs “Afrikoko” and “Amarula”, wines “Dodoma”. It is customary to finish meals with a cup of tea with milk and sugar, coffee or juices with ice. Due to the secular nature of the state, in Tanzania, even despite the strong Islamic tradition, you can buy imported alcoholic beverages in any hotel or store.

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Tipping: In Tanzania it is customary to tip. Usually in a restaurant it is 5-10% of the bill, for the luggage – about $ 1. Tip for the driver on safari is usually $5-10 per person per day.

Souvenirs: You can buy local clothes – balakhonas and shirts. An interesting gift will be the fabrics and blankets of the Maasai tribe. These are brightly colored cloths with local coloring. Lovers of painting can buy paintings – works of folk art Tingatinga depict the life of the Masai or animals of the savannah. A good souvenir is Makonde ebony products. These are usually small wooden sculptures, masks, statuettes of animals and people. Jewelry made of gold, tanzanite stone – a local variety of sapphire can be a precious souvenir of good quality. Tea, coffee, Maasai national music on CD are other options for popular gifts from Tanzania.

Airfare: There are no direct flights to Tanzania from Russia. Major airlines fly to all three international airports of the country: Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar (with a connection). The most convenient option is a KLM flight to Arusha or Dar es Salaam with transit through Amsterdam. The cheapest options are flights to the same Dar with Emirates, Swiss or Qatar. The airport fee on departure is 20 USD per person, it is not charged for children under two years and transit passengers. Airlines serving Tanzania are British Airways, KLM, Swiss International Airlines, Egypt Air, Air India, Ethiopian Airlines, Gulf Air, Kenya Airways, Royal Swazi, Emirates Airlines and Air Tanzania.

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