Tanzania – Land of Natural Wonders
Tanzania shares borders with Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. Its area is 945,087 square kilometers. The official name is the United Republic of Tanzania.
Tanzania is known for its stunning natural features. It has the tallest African peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the world’s largest volcano crater, Ngorongoro Crater. Along Tanzania’s borders are three large lakes: Lake Nyasa, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest freshwater lake, after Lake Superior in North America.
There are several national parks to protect the country’s animals. The Serengeti National Park is the most famous. The name Serengeti comes from a Masai word that means “endless plains”.
Several islands in the Indian Ocean are also part of the country. The islands of Tanzania are basically composed of coral. Zanzibar, separated from the mainland by a channel that is 35 kilometers wide. Pemba, north of Zanzibar, is smaller. Mafia is a low island situated about halfway down the coast of Tanzania near the mouth of the Rufiji River. Much of Tanzania’s coastline consists of palm-fringed sandy beaches.
Dodoma is the capital of the country.
Tanzania has more than 120 different ethnic groups. The Sukuma are the country’s largest group. People speak several languages including Swahili and English. The country’s main religions are Christianity and Islam.
Tanzania’s economy depends on agriculture. The main food crops are cassava, corn, sorghum, bananas, rice, and sweet potatoes. Mines provide gold, diamonds, and gems.
Remains of the earliest known human ancestors have been found in Tanzania. Some are about 2 million years old. Groups of hunter-gatherers lived in the area as early as 5000 BC. In the late 1400s the Portuguese arrived. Great Britain took over Zanzibar in 1890. Germany took over the mainland in 1885. In 1919, after World War I, Britain took control of the Tanzania portion and named the land Tanganyika. It gained independence in 1961.