26 interesting facts about Tanzania

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From Africa’s highest mountain to some of the world’s most remarkable wildlife, these are the most interesting facts about Tanzania.

Interesting facts about Tanzania include its remarkable wildlife
Interesting facts about Tanzania include its remarkable wildlife (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: United Republic of Tanzania
Population: 62,092,761
Area: 947,300 sq km
Capital city: Dodoma
Major languages: Swahili, English, Arabic
Major religions: Christian 63.1%, Muslim 34.1%
Time zone: UTC+3 (East Africa Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Tanzania

1. Tanzania is a country located in East Africa bordering eight countries: Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

2. Tanzania is East Africa’s largest country, Africa’s 13th largest and the world’s 30th largest.
– Source: World Bank

3. Tanzania has been inhabited for at least 7,000 years. The country’s earliest people were hunters and gatherers, who lived in the region as far back as 5000 BC.
– Source: National Geographic

4. However, hominin footprints have been discovered in Laetoli, an archaeological site in northeastern Tanzania, which are believed to be over 3.6 million years. The footprints are thought to come from early human ancestors known as Australopithecus afarensis.
– Source: National Geographic

A map of  Africa with a red pin showing Tanzania
A map of Tanzania (Shutterstock)

5. Tanganyika and Zanzibar have come under Portuguese, German and British control since the 16th century. In 1961, Tanganyika became independent, followed by Zanzibar in 1963. In 1964, the Sultanate of Zanzibar was overthrown and the two states merged to create Tanzania.
– Source: BBC News

6. The Sultanate of Zanzibar used to be part of the Omani Empire. Oman’s capital was once moved to Africa: Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar. The then sultan, Said bin Sultan, liked the outpost so much he relocated the capital from Muscat to Zanzibar in 1832.
– Source: Britannica

7. The country’s name is a combination of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, from when the two states merged in 1964.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

8. The Tanzanian flag is made up of green and blue triangles separated by a black diagonal stripe with yellow borders. Black represents the people, green agriculture and the land, yellow the country’s mineral wealth and blue the Indian Ocean.
– Source: Britannica

The flag of Tanzania flying in front of a blue sky
The flag of Tanzania (Shutterstock)

9. Tanzania has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In Africa, only South Africa (10), Ethiopia (9), Morocco (9) and Tunisia (8) have more.
– Source: UNESCO

10. Freddie Mercury, legendary lead singer of the British rock band Queen, was born in Tanzania. He was born in 1946 on the island of Zanzibar. He was brought up there until eight years old when he went to school in India before permanently leaving for England with his family in 1964 following a revolution in Zanzibar.
– Source: BBC News

11. Tanzania is home to Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, at 5,895m (19,340ft). Kilimanjaro is also the world’s highest freestanding mountain, meaning it is not attached to a mountain range.
– Source: National Geographic

Mount Kilimanjaro towering above a tree
Mount Kilimanjaro (Shutterstock)

12. Tanzania is one of the best places in the world to see wildlife, including the celebrated Big Five game animals of lion, leopards, rhino, elephants and buffalo in the country.
– Source: Lonely Planet, National Geographic

13. The UNESCO-listed Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is known for its annual migration of millions of animals such as wildebeest, gazelles and zebras, and their predators. The migration has been described as “one of the most impressive natural events in the world”.
– Source: UNESCO, Lonely Planet

14. The UNESCO-listed Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is the world’s largest caldera and is also known for its diversity of wildlife. The conservation area’s landscape has been described as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the planet”.
– Source: UNESCO

Elevated view of the Ngorongoro Crater
Interesting facts about Tanzania include its unique geography such as the Ngorongoro Crater (Shutterstock)

15. Tanzania’s population includes over 120 different indigenous African peoples, although due to migration many of these are slowly disappearing.
– Source: Britannica

16. Tanzania is located along the East African Rift (or Great Rift Valley), where two tectonic plates are moving apart, essentially splitting the continent of Africa in two. The rift has been forming for 30 million years and causes extensive volcanism and huge lakes to form in the area.
– Source: National Geographic

17. As such, Africa’s largest lake is mainly located in Tanzania. Lake Victoria, also called Victoria Nyanza, has an area of 69,484 sq km (26,828 sq mi) and a coastline of 3,220km (2,000mi). It is also the world’s second-largest freshwater lake after Lake Superior in North America.
– Source: Britannica

A fishing boat during sunset on Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria (Shutterstock)

18. Lake Tanganyika is the longest freshwater lake in the world at 660 km (410mi) and the second deepest at 1,436m (4,710ft) after Lake Baikal in Russia. Tanzania shares Lake Tanganyika with DR Congo, Burundi and Zambia.
– Source: Britannica

19. Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s largest city and was named by the first sultan of Zanzibar. In Arabic, the name means “abode/home of peace”.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

20. Stone Town of Zanzibar used to be a principal trading town and was heavily influenced by Arab, Indian, and European cultures which are reflected in its architecture, port and townscape. The UNESCO-listed site was also one of the main slave-trading ports in East Africa.
– Source: UNESCO

An aerial short of the port of Stone Town in Tanzania
Stone Town in Tanzania (Shutterstock)

21. The capital city, Dodoma, means “it has sunk” in the native Gogo language. Legend has it, an elephant once drowned in the area during the rainy season and locals were so shocked by the event that ever since it’s been known as the place “it (the elephant) sunk.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

22. The highest altitude pizza delivery on land took place in Tanzania. In 2016, a pizza was delivered to the summit of Kilimanjaro. It took four days to deliver the pizza from a new restaurant to the top of the highest mountain in Africa.
– Source: Guinness World Records1, Guinness World Records2

23. Ugali is the Tanzanian national dish. Made from cassava or maize flour, the staple dish is usually served with a sauce containing meat, fish, beans or greens.
– Source: Lonely Planet

Ugali on  table with vegetables
Ugali is the Tanzanian national dish (Shutterstock)

24. The shortest war in history was fought in Tanzania. In 1896, the 40-minute Anglo-Zanzibar War was fought between the British Empire and the Sultanate of Zanzibar.
– Source: Britannica

25. Around 38% of Tanzania’s total land area is protected and 31% of all its total territorial (including marine) area is protected.
– Source: World Bank1, World Bank2

26. Some of the world’s most expensive timber comes from Tanzania. The under-threat species of mpingo tree (Dalbergia melanoxylon) is a dark, dense wood used widely in musical instruments such as clarinets, oboes and bagpipes.
– Source: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Mongabay

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Tanzania. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.