Tanzania (officially in Swahili: Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania = United Republic of Tanzania) is a republic in East Africa and consists of the former Tanganyika and the islands of Zanzibar (Unguja actually) and Pemba. The Mafia Archipelago is formed by the 50-km-long island of Mafia, a dozen smaller islands and numerous coral rocks. Tanzania is bordered in the north to Kenya (769 km) and Uganda (396 km), in the south to Mozambique (756 km), Malawi (475 km) and Zambia (338 km) and in the west to the Democratic Republic of Congo (459 km), Rwanda (217 km) and Burundi (451 km). Tanzania is bordered to the east in its entirety to the Indian Ocean and the other limits exist for a large proportion of water in the western Lake Tanganyika, in northwest Lake Victoria and Lake Malawi in the southwest, while the border with Mozambique formed by the Rovuma River. The total area is 945,087 km2 of Tanzania and Tanzania is about 22.5 times as large as the Netherlands or as large as France, Germany and Belgium together. It is also the largest country in East Africa.
The mainland of Tanzania has an amazing variety of landscapes. very significant is the Great Rift Valley, which originates in Turkey and via the Red Sea to Ethiopia and splits into an eastern and western part. The western arm of the Rift Valley goes via Uganda to Tanzania, the eastern arm comes through Kenya into Tanzania. The total length of the Great Rift Valley is more than 9,700 kilometres.
As a result of the emergence of the Great Rift Valley also several large lakes came to existence, including Lake Natron, Lake Manyara and Lake Tanganyika, where at 1,430 meters depth the lowest point of Africa can be found. Tanzania has many large and small rivers, but none of them are navigable. A number of rivers float into salt water, the Pangani, Ruvu, Rufiji and Rovuma mouths in the Indian Ocean, the Kagera in the Mediterranean Sea and the Malagarasi in the Atlantic Ocean. Because of the many rivers and lakes, Tanzania has more surface water than any country on the continent of Africa.
The presents of volcanic activity, Africa's highest mountain, the volcano Kilimanjaro (5,895 meters) rose up at what now is the border with Kenya. Tanzania still has a working (stratospheric) volcano in the north by Lake Natron, the Ol Doinyo Lengai or "Mountain of God '. The mountain is 2,890 meters high with eruptions in 1917, 1926, 1940 and 1966-67 and the crater filled with lava since 1983. Mount Meru is the fourth highest mountain in Africa. Tanzania also has a fairly narrow coastal strip and a flat to slightly hilly central plateau with an average altitude of 1,200 meters. The dominant landscape in Tanzania is the savannah (in the Serengeti), a landscape with mostly pasture and the odd tree here and there. Furthermore, it has beautiful steppe landscape and tropical forests. The Ambori Caves are the largest cave system in East Africa with ten caves that provide access to a network of limestone tunnels with an estimated 200 km length. The largest caves are thirteen meters high.
Located in the heartland of Tanzania, Dodoma is the nation's official political capital and the seat of government in the country. Comparably much smaller and less developed than the country's commercial centre, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma remains a centre for national politics. Situated on the eastern edge of the southern highlands, the city of Dodoma is surrounded by a rich agricultural area and pleasant scenery. Dodoma has many places and items of interest to recommend it to the passing visitor. It is the centre of Tanzania's growing wine industry and the Tanganyika Vineyards Company is active in promoting its products.
Historically, Dodoma was a stopover on the overland caravan route that travelled from the Swahili Coast inland toward Lake Tanganyika. Early in the 20th century, the city became a major point on the Central Line railway, which carried agricultural crops for export to the harbour in Dar es Salaam. In recent times, the towns' economic base has declined in favour of the coastal city, but in the early days of Tanzanian independence, there was a popular political motion to move the entire government to the town in the southern highlands. These days, the government legislature meet in Dodoma, and divide their time between the inland city and Dar es Salaam on the coast.
The Tanzanian population consists of 98% from Africans and consists of approximately 120 tribes, mostly Bantu speaking, which in the past came from West and North Africa. The oldest group of residents speak Khoisan (a so-called "click language"), a language which is also similar to the Hottentots from southern Africa. The Cushitic speaking tribes came from Ethiopia and Somalia to Tanzania. The largest tribes are those of the Sukuma, Nyamwezi, Haya, Nyakyusa and Chagga and with each more than 1 million members. In addition to the African population also Nilotic (Luo, Maasai), Arabs, Asians (mainly Indians and Pakistanis live in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar) and Europeans have their home in Tanzania. The original population of Zanzibar consists of Hadimu, Tumbatu and Pemba. There are no contradictions between the various dominant strains. This is most likely because none of the tribes have a majority of more than 10% of the total population.
Kiswahili is mainly spoken in East Africa by about 50 million people (in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Congo and Rwanda). In Tanzania and Kenya it is one of the official national languages. For most people who speak Kiswahili it is not their native language. The Swahili language, called by the Tanzanian Kiswahili (the preposition 'ki' indicates, language) is used among others in primary education. English is also widely used, including in the secondary and higher education, in parliament and at official occasions. The Swahili language is a mix of original Bantu languages, strongly influenced by Arabic, Portuguese and Hindi. The Swahili was formerly a lingua franca or common business language. The Swahili word comes from the Arabic "Sawa hili ', that means 'the coast".
Ca. 25% of the population is still into indigenous nature religions, which are often mixed with other religions. A number of tribes are not (almost not) influenced by other religions, particularly the Maasai. Their god is called Engai and the main holy place is on the still active volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai, "the Mountain of God". The percentage of Muslims in Tanzania is about 35% and on the island of Zanzibar even 95% of the population is Muslim. The first mosque was built in 1107 and currently the island has about fifty mosques. On the mainland, most Muslims live in coastal areas. Hindus are more to be found in Dar es Salaam among the Asian population. The number of Christians, mainly can be found within the central part of the country, is estimated at 46%, of which 33% Roman Catholic and 13% Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Orthodox.