Tanzania Facts

Compassion has been working in Tanzania since 1999. Through our work there, we gather Tanzania facts about children in poverty. These Tanzania facts and statistics provide a good picture of the reality of poverty and how Compassion is making a difference.

Poverty is a common problem in the country of Tanzania but Compassion is working to change this. The Tanzania facts tell a discouraging story, but Compassion is bringing hope in the midst of this discouragement. Our programs are changing the statistics one child at a time.

Don't let the hopelessness of Tanzania facts overwhelm you. You can make a difference to a child in Tanzania today!

Tanzania

Compassion Tanzania began registering children into its centers in July 1999. Currently, more than 63,500 children are assisted at more than 230 church-based child development centers. Most of the centers are located in the area surrounding the city of Arusha, with the exception of a cluster of centers in Babati, a small town approximately 62 miles to the southeast. Compassion Tanzania is growing quickly to reach out to a constantly growing number of Tanzanian children living in poverty. We strive to illustrate God's love for them and provide them with numerous opportunities they might not have otherwise.

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Tanzania Map

Tanzania Map 270x350 jpg

Learn About Tanzania
History

Tanzania's history is intertwined with the history of numerous other people groups from all over the world. The United Republic of Tanzania is a union of Tanganyika and the Islands of Zanzibar. Tanganyika and Zanzibar achieved independence from the British in the early 1960s and united on April 26, 1964, to form Tanzania. Tanzania has more than 130 tribes with different languages.

When Arab traders arrived in the region in the eighth century, the area was largely inhabited by Bantu farmers who had migrated from the west and south, and by the Nilotes and related people groups from the north.

By 1506, the Portuguese had claimed control of the coastal region of Tanganyika but were overthrown by the early 1700s. German missionaries were the first Europeans to travel into the interior of Tanganyika in the mid-1800s, and by 1884, Germany had begun colonizing the country. However, at the end of World War I, Tanganyika became a trust territory under British control. Over the years, the Tanganyikans increased their role in their government and finally established self-government that led to their independence from Great Britain in 1961.

Zanzibar fell under Portuguese control in the late 1500s but a century later, Arabs regained the power they had lost. The spices of Zanzibar attracted traders from all over the world and in the early 1820s, Great Britain took a commercial interest in Zanzibar and also sought to end the slave trade there. In 1876, the sale of slaves in Zanzibar was finally prohibited. Indirect British rule through Arab sultans continued largely unchanged until after World War II. In 1963, Zanzibar became fully independent of Great Britain.

Until recently, Tanzania was a one-party state, but in 1990, the country began to change its political system. In 1995, the first multiparty parliamentary and presidential elections were held.

The country is currently under the leadership of President Jakaya Kikwete, who has been in power since December 2005.

Despite its problems with poverty, Tanzania is home to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, and is rich in natural resources and minerals. With the introduction of economic reviews, Tanzanians hope for an increase in their standard of living.

Education

Tanzania's education system has three different levels: basic, secondary and tertiary. Basic education consists of two years of pre-primary education and seven years of primary education. Secondary education consists of four years of junior secondary education and two years of senior secondary education. Children at Tanzania's tertiary level of education spend three or more years in school. 

The education system in Tanzania is viewed as the source of livelihood options. An education provides people with skills, confidence and the ability to be trained. Typically, those who are educated have better access to employment, can be self-employed, have a better chance of a consistent income and better access to health care and nutrition. 

Religion

The constitution provides for freedom of religion; however, there are some limits on freedom of religion.

Muslims perceive government discrimination in favor of Christians in schools, the workplace and places of worship.

There are generally amicable relations among religions in society; however, there continues to be increased tension between Muslims and Christians and between secular and fundamentalist Muslims. In addition, on Zanzibar, some Muslims remain concerned that the 2001 Mufti Law, which allows the Zanzibari government to appoint a mufti to oversee Muslim organizations, authorizes undue government control of religious affairs. While Muslim-Christian relations are generally stable in rural areas, there are tensions in urban centers due to some Muslim groups' claims of discrimination in government hiring and law enforcement practices. There are also increasing religious tensions between Christians and Muslims. For example, during recent Muslim religious rallies in urban centers, some participants publicly criticized Christianity, offending some Christians and, on occasion, resulting in fighting.

Religion may be taught in public schools in the form of a class on religion but it is not part of the national curriculum. Such classes are generally taught on an ad hoc basis by parents or other volunteers but must be approved by the school's administration and/or parent and teacher association.

The law prohibits preaching or distribution of materials that are considered inflammatory and represent a threat to the public order.

The government has banned religious organizations from involvement in politics and politicians are banned from using language intended to incite one religious group against another or to encourage religious groups to vote for certain political parties. The law imposes fines and jail time on political parties that campaign in houses of worship or educational facilities.

Source: U.S. Department of State, International Religious Freedom Report, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, November 8, 2005, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2005/51499.htm.

Culture

Art

Masks, animals, people and other items carved out of ebony or rosewood are common art forms. Also prevalent are batiks, images put onto cloth through a process using dyes and wax. Hand-woven baskets are another traditional art form.

Music

Tanzanian music is influenced by Swahili. The music is popular in the country and even dominates East Africa. Zanzibar also has a taraab, or sung poetry, tradition.

Holidays and Festivals

New Year's Day, January 1
Eid el Haj, January 21: a Muslim celebration
Union Day, April 26: On this day in 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar became a United Republic.
Saba Saba, July 7: Also called Peasants' Day, Saba Saba is a festival celebrating the founding of the Tanganyika African National Union in 1954.
Independence Day, December 9: Tanganyika won independence from the British on this day in 1961 and Zanzibar did so on the same day in 1963, so the day is celebrated by all Tanzanians.
Christmas, December 25: A day usually spent with family and friends; most Christians attend church services also

Sports and Games

Children enjoy playing marbles, tag and soccer. Due in part to British influence, rugby is also a popular sport in Tanzania.

Typical Foods

The most popular food in Tanzania is ugali, a porridge made by boiling cornmeal. This dish is comparable to the grits eaten in the southern United States. Ugali is often eaten with stew, vegetables or meat. Goat, chicken and mutton are the most commonly eaten meats. Roasted corn is also popular and is sold on almost every street corner. Hot tea is a popular beverage and is always served when people are socializing.

Ugali
Creamed wheat or grits 
chicken broth
salt to taste

Cook the cereal in the chicken broth, according to package instructions on the cereal box and eat with stew, vegetables or meat.

Greetings

Kiswahili 
Jambo (Hello)
Hujambo? (How are you?)
Sijambo. (I am fine.)
Jina langu ni ... (My name is ...)
Ahsante. (Thank you.)
Kwa kheri (Goodbye)
Bei gani? (How much is this?)

Compassion in Tanzania

Compassion Tanzania began registering children into its centers in July 1999. Currently, more than 63,500 children are assisted at more than 230 church-based child development centers. Most of the centers are located in the area surrounding the city of Arusha, with the exception of a cluster of centers in Babati, a small town approximately 62 miles to the southeast. Compassion Tanzania is growing quickly to reach out to a constantly growing number of Tanzanian children living in poverty. We strive to illustrate God's love for them and provide them with numerous opportunities they might not have otherwise.

Tanzania Facts & Figures

Visit the Compassion blog to learn more about our work in Tanzania.

Tanzania United States
Capital Dar es Salaam Washington, D.C.
Population

41,048,532 (July 2010 estimate)

Note: Estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS.

307,212,123 (July 2010 estimate)
Languages

Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguja (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages Note: Kiswahili (Swahili) is the mother tongue of the Bantu people living in Zanzibar and nearby coastal Tanzania; although Kiswahili is Bantu in structure and origin, its vocabulary draws on a variety of sources, including Arabic and English, and it has become the lingua franca of central and eastern Africa; the first language of most people is one of the local languages.

English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 2.7%, other 0.7% (2000 census)
Religions Mainland: Christian 30%, Muslim 35%, indigenous beliefs 35%; Zanzibar: more than 99% Muslim Christian 78.5% (Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%), Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4% (2007 est.)
Literacy rate

Definition: Age 15 and over can read and write Kiswahili (Swahili), English, or Arabic.
Male: 77.5%

Female: 62.2% (2002 census)
Male: 99%

Female: 99% (2003 estimate)
Percentage of population using improved drinking water sources

Urban: 85%

Rural: 49%
(2004 estimate)

Urban: 100%

Rural: 94%
(2006 estimate)

Percentage of population using adequate sanitation facilities

Urban: 53%

Rural: 43%
(2004 estimate)

Urban: 100%

Rural: 99%
(2006 estimate)

Climate Varies from tropical along coast to temperate in highlands Mostly temperate but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in the Great Plains west of the Mississippi River and arid in the Great Basin of the southwest; low winter temperatures in the northwest are warmed occasionally in January and February by Chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
Percentage of population urbanized 25%
(2008 estimate)
82%
(2008 estimate)
Life expectancy Male: 50.56 years

Female: 53.51 years (2010 estimate)
Male: 75.65 years

Female: 80.69 years (2010 estimate)
Under-5 mortality rate

118/1,000
(2006 estimate)

8/1,000
(2008 estimate) 
GDP per capita $1,400 (2009 estimate) $46,000(2009 estimate)
Monetary unit Tanzanian shilling (TZS) U.S. dollar (USD)
Number of people living with HIV/AIDS 1.4 million (2007 estimate) 1.2 million (2007 estimate)
Percentage of population living below
$1 a day
58% (1995-2005 study)
Data not available
Sources for facts: The World Factbook, 2010; The State of the World's Children, 2008