United Republic of Tanzania
Formerly known as Tanganyika, Tanzania gained independence from Britain on 26 April 1964. It was also on this day that the country united with Zanzibar which was also a former British colony to form the United Republic of Tanzania. Until 1995, Tanzania was a one-party state. An agricultural economy which comprises about 85% of GDP, Tanzania is classified as one of the poorest countries in the world.
The current capital city is Dar es Salam, which will eventually move to the city of Dodoma. Their legal system is based on English common law. Mainland religious composition is 30% Christian, 35% Muslim and 35% indigenous beliefs, while Zanzibar is almost 100% Muslim of Arabic decent. The mainland ethnic composition is 99% African, consisting of more than 130 Bantu tribes. Swahili is the official language, although English is the primary language of commerce, administration and higher education.
The famous paleoanthropologist Leakey family have done much of their work in Tanzania on prehistoric man, notably homo habilis dating back about 2 million years.
The currency is the Tanzanian shilling.
Tanzania borders the Indian Ocean to the east, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya to the north, the DRC and Zambia to the west, and Mozambique and Malawi to the south. Arable land is small at 4,2% of the total land surface, deforestation and soil degradation being major problems. Tanzania is roughly twice the size of California.
The country is geographically fascinating, with Kilimanjaro being the highest point in Africa at 19,340 feet (5,895 meters). Three of Africa's largest lakes border the country, namely, Lake Victoria (the second largest fresh water lake in the world), Lake Tanganyika (the second deepest lake) and Lake Nyasa (also known as Lake Malawi). Tanzania is also home to the world famous Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.
Natural resources include gemstones (most noticeably tanzanite), diamonds, gold, tin, nickel, phosphates and iron ore.
The total population is 37,4 million people commonly known as Tanzanians. The fertility rate is just under 5 children per woman, and in 2003 it was estimated that 1,6 million were living with HIV/AIDS, the prevalence rate being 8,8%.