945,087 sq km (364,900 sq miles).
51.1 per sq km.
Federal Republic since 1964. Tanganyika gained independence from the UK in 1961. In 1964, Tanganyika joined with Zanzibar, which had been a British protectorate until 1963, and became Tanzania.
The United Republic of Tanzania lies on the east coast of Africa and is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; by Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west; by the Indian Ocean to the east; and by Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The Tanzanian mainland is divided into several clearly defined regions: the coastal plains, which vary in width from 16 to 64km (10 to 39 miles) and have lush, tropical vegetation; the Masai Steppe in the north, 213 to 1,067m (698 to 3,500ft) above sea level, which gives rise to two prominent mountains, Kilimanjaro, 5,895m (19,341ft) above sea level and Africa's highest peak, and Mount Meru, 4,565m (14,973ft); and there's a high plateau known as the Southern Highlands in the southern area towards Zambia and Lake Malawi.
Savannah and bush cover over half the country, and semi-desert accounts for the remaining land area, with the exception of the coastal plains. Over 53,000 sq km (20,463 sq miles) is inland water, mostly lakes formed in the Rift Valley and Tanzania's share of Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika, both on its western border. Lake Victoria covers 69,490 sq km (26,832 sq miles), which is Africa's largest lake and 49% of it lies in Tanzania. With maximum depths of 1,470m (4,821ft), Lake Tanganyika is estimated to be the deepest lake in Africa and is 673km (420 miles) long and averages 50km (31 miles) across; 41% of its area lies in Tanzania. The United Republic of Tanzania includes the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, about 45km (28 miles) off the coast to the northeast of the country.
Kiswahili and English are the official languages. The terms Swahili and Kiswahili are used interchangeably, though the term Swahili normally refers to the people while Kiswahili refers to the language. Originating along the coast, Kiswahili is a Bantu language with many words derived from Arabic. Other African languages such as Bantu and those of Nilo-Hamitic and Khoisan origin are also spoken in more remote regions.
About 40-45% of Tanzania's population is Christian and about 35-40% are Muslim (most of which live along the coast and Zanzibar and the other islands). A small number follow traditional religions and there are some Asian communities including Sikhs and Hindus.
GMT + 3.
When meeting and parting, hands are always shaken; this applies throughout the country in both rural and urban areas. It is the convention to use the right hand, not the left, to shake hands or pass or receive anything. The standard greeting of 'hello' is jambo. People are delighted if visitors can greet them in Kiswahili. Dress is on the whole casual but a smart appearance for formal occasions such as a business meeting or upmarket restaurant is always appreciated.
Because of its Muslim influence, the coast is a little more conservative, and away from the beach it is advised to dress respectably and cover up bare arms and legs. Alcohol is only available in the tourist areas on Zanzibar, where it is also considered highly impolite to eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours when people are fasting during Ramadan (the exception to this is in the tourist hotels and restaurants).
230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are mostly UK-style square three-pin, but round three-pin plugs are also in use. Power cuts are common in the rainy season, though most large hotels and businesses have back-up generators.
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda since 2008.
President Jakaya Kikwete since 2005. Zanzibar is semi-autonomous and has its own parliament and president (President Ali Mohamed Shein since 2010).
Ever since independence in 1964, the Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), formerly known as the Tanzanian African National Union (TANU), has remained entrenched as the dominant force in Tanzanian politics. President Benjamin Mkapa stood down in 2005 and was succeeded by the long-serving foreign minister Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, who was elected president in 2005 with 80.3% of the vote. The Civic United Front (CUF), with a strong power base on Zanzibar (most notably the island of Pemba), managed to secure 19 parliamentary seats out of a total of 319. Elections on these islands were closely contested between CCM and CUF and marred by violence, intimidation and allegations of vote rigging.
While the Zanzibar & Pemba separatist movement has remained relatively subdued in recent years, the island's increasing dislocation from the rest of Tanzania cannot be ignored, and a more powerful drive towards autonomy may yet emerge during the next elections scheduled for 2010.