U.S. Department of State information for the United Republic of Tanzania.


Details of Background Notes: Tanzania, Tanzania Official Info
Details for Background Notes: Tanzania

Tanzania Official Info

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Population distribution in Tanzania is extremely uneven. Density varies from 1 person per square kilometer (3 per sq. mi.) in arid regions to 51 per square kilometer (133 per sq. mi.) in the mainland's well-watered highlands and 134 per square kilometer (347 per sq. mi.) on Zanzibar. More than 80% of the population is rural. Dar es Salaam is the capital and largest city; Dodoma, located in the center of Tanzania, has been designated the new capital, although action to move the capital has stalled.

The African population consists of more than 120 ethnic groups, of which the Sukuma, Haya, Nyakyusa, Nyamwezi, and Chaga have more than 1 million members The majority of Tanzanians, including such large tribes as the Sukuma and the Nyamwezi are of Bantu stock. Groups of Nilotic or related origin include the nomadic Masai and the Luo, both of which are found in greater numbers in neighboring Kenya. Two small groups speak languages of the Khoisan family peculiar to the Bushman and Hottentot peoples. Cushitic-speaking peoples, originally from the Ethiopian highlands, reside in a few areas of Tanzania.

Although much of Zanzibar's African population came from the mainland, one group known as Shirazis traces its origins to the island's early Persian settlers. Non-Africans residing on the mainland and Zanzibar account for 1% of the total population. The Asian community, including Hindus, Sikhs, Shi'a and Sunni Muslims, and Goans, has declined by 50% in the past decade to 50,000 on the mainland and 4,000 on Zanzibar. An estimated 70,000 Arabs and 10,000 Europeans reside in Tanzania.

Each ethnic group has its own language, but the national language is Kiswahili, a Bantu-based tongue with strong Arabic borrowings.



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Tanganyika/ Tanzania

Northern Tanganyika's famed Olduvai Gorge has provided rich evidence of the area's prehistory, including fossil remains of some of humanity's earliest ancestors. Discoveries suggest that East Africa may have been the site of human origin.

Little is known of the history of Tanganyika's interior during the early centuries of the Christian era. The area is believed to have been inhabited originally by ethnic groups using a click-tongue language similar to that of Southern Africa's Bushmen and Hottentots. Although remnants of these early tribes still exist, most were gradually displaced by Bantu farmers migrating from the west and south and by Nilotes and related northern peoples. Some of these groups had well-organized societies and controlled extensive areas by the time the Arab slavers, European explorers, and missionaries penetrated the interior in the first half of the 19th century.

The coastal area first felt the impact of foreign influence as early as the 8th century, when Arab traders arrived. By the 12th century, traders and immigrants came from as far away as Persia (now Iran) and India. They built a series of highly developed city and trading states along the coast, the principal one being Kibaha, a settlement of Persian origin that held ascendancy until the Portuguese destroyed it in the early 1500s.

The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama explored the East African coast in 1498 on his voyage to India. By 1506, the Portuguese claimed control over the entire coast. This control was nominal, however, because the Portuguese did not colonize the area or explore the interior. Assisted by Omani Arabs, the indigenous coastal dwellers succeeded in driving the Portuguese from the area north of the Ruvuma River by the early 18th century. Claiming the coastal strip, Omani Sultan Seyyid Said (l804-56) moved his capital to Zanzibar in 1841.

European exploration of the interior began in the mid-19th century. Two German missionaries reached Mt. Kilimanjaro in the 1840s. British explorers Richard Burton and John Speke crossed the interior to Lake Tanganyika in 1857. David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary-explorer who crusaded against the slave trade, established his last mission at Ujiji, where he was "found" by Henry Morton Stanley, an American journalist-explorer, who had been commissioned by the New York Herald to locate him.

German colonial interests were first advanced in 1884. Karl Peters, who formed the Society for German Colonization, concluded a series of treaties by which tribal chiefs in the interior accepted German "protection." Prince Otto is von Bismarck's government backed Peters in the subsequent establishment of the German East Africa Company.

In 1886 and 1890, Anglo-German agreements were negotiated that delineated the British and German spheres of influence in the interior of East Africa and along the coastal strip previously claimed by the Omani sultan of Zanzibar. In 1891, the German Government took over direct administration of the territory from the German East Africa Company and appointed a governor with headquarters at Dar es Salaam.

Although the German colonial administration brought cash crops, railroads, and roads to Tanganyika, European rule provoked African's resistance, culminating in the Maji Maji rebellion of 1905-07. The rebellion, which temporarily united a number of southern tribes and ended only after an estimated 120,000 Africans had died from fighting or starvation, is considered by most Tanzanians to have been one of the first stirrings of nationalism.

German colonial domination of Tanganyika ended after World War I when control of most of the territory passed to the United Kingdom under a League of Nations mandate. After World War II, Tanganyika became a UN trust territory under British control. Subsequent years witnessed Tanganyika moving gradually toward self-government and independence.

In 1954, Julius K. Nyerere, a school teacher who was then one of only two Tanganyikans educated abroad at the university level, organized a political party--the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). TANU-supported candidates were victorious in the Legislative Council elections of September 1958 and February 1959. In December 1959, the United Kingdom agreed to the establishment of internal self-government following general elections to be held in August 1960. Nyerere was named chief minister of the subsequent government.

In May l961, Tanganyika became autonomous, and Nyerere became Prime Minister under a new constitution. Full independence was achieved on December 9, 1961. Mr. Nyerere was elected President when Tanganyika became a republic within the Commonwealth a year after independence.

Zanzibar

An early Arab/Persian trading center, Zanzibar fell under Portuguese domination in the 16th and early 17th centuries but was retaken by Omani Arabs in the early 18th century. The height of Arab rule came during the reign of Sultan Seyyid Said, who encouraged the development of clove plantations, using the island's slave labor.

The Arabs established their own garrisons at Zanzibar, Pemba, and Kilwa and carried on a lucrative trade in slaves and ivory. By 1840, Said had transferred his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar and established a ruling Arab elite. The island's commerce fell increasingly into the hands of traders from the Indian subcontinent, whom Said encouraged to settle on the island.

Zanzibar's spices attracted ships from as far away as the United States. A U.S. consulate was established on the island in 1837. The United Kingdom's early interest in Zanzibar was motivated by both commerce and the determination to end the slave trade. In 1822, the British signed the first of a series of treaties with Sultan Said to curb this trade, but not until 1876 was the sale of slaves finally prohibited.

The Anglo-German agreement of 1890 made Zanzibar and Pemba a British protectorate. British rule through a Sultan remained largely unchanged from the late 19th century until after World War II.

Zanzibar's political development began in earnest after 1956, when provision was first made for the election of six nongovernment members to the Legislative Council. Two parties were formed: the Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP), presenting the dominant Arab and "Arabized" minority and the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP), led by Abaid Karume and representing the Shirazis and the African majority.

The first elections were held in July 1957. The ASP won three of the six elected seats, with the remainder going to independents. Following the election, the ASP split; some of its Shirazi supporters left to form the Zanzibar and Pemba People's Party (ZPPP). The January 1961 election resulted in a deadlock between the ASP and a ZNP-ZPPP coalition.

On April 26,1964, Tanganyika union with Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, renamed the United Republic of Tanzania on October 29.

United Republic of Tanzania

TANU and the Afro-Shirazi Party of Zanzibar were merged into a single party (Chama cha Mapinduzi-CCM Revolutionary Party) on February 5, 1977. On April 26, 1977, the union of the two parties was ratified in a new constitution. The merger was reinforced by principles enunciated in the 1982 union constitution and reaffirmed in the constitution of 1984.

The elections that followed the granting of self-government in June 1963 produced similar results. Zanzibar received its independence from the United Kingdom on December 19, 1963, as a constitutional monarchy under the sultan. On January 12, 1964, the African majority revolted against the sultan and a new government was formed with the ASP leader, Abeid Karume, as President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. Under the terms of its political union with Tanganyika in April 1964, the Zanzibar Government retained considerable local autonomy.

In 1977, Nyerere merged TANU with the Zanzibar ruling party, the ASP, to form the CCM as the sole ruling party in both parts of the union. The CCM was to be the sole instrument for mobilizing and controlling the population in all significant political or economic activities. He envisioned the party as a "two-way street" for the flow of ideas and policy directives between the village level and the government.

President Nyerere stepped down from office and was succeeded as President by Ali Hassan Mwinyi in 1985. Nyerere retained his position as Chairman of the ruling party for 5 more years and was influential in Tanzanian politics until his death in October 1999. The current President, Benjamin Mkapa, was elected in 1995 and will stand for re-election in nationwide balloting scheduled for October 2000. Zanzibar President Salmin Amour was elected in single-party elections in 1990. In 1995, he was named the winner of Zanzibar's first multi-party elections, a victory widely deemed to have been tainted by fraud. He is not eligible to run for a third term.

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Tanzania's president and National Assembly members are elected concurrently by direct popular vote for 5-year terms. The president appoints a prime minister who serves as the government's leader in the National Assembly. The president also selects his cabinet from among National Assembly members. Elections for president and all National Assembly seats will be held in October 2000.

The unicameral National Assembly elected in 1995 has 275 members, 232 of whom are from the mainland and Zanzibar. There are 37 appointed seats for women, and each political party receives a proportion of appointed seats commensurate with the number of constituency seats won. Also, five members are elected by the Zanzibar House of Representatives to participate in the National Assembly. At present, the ruling CCM holds about 80% of the seats in the Assembly. Laws passed by the National Assembly are valid for Zanzibar only in specifically designated union matters.

Zanzibar's House of Representatives has jurisdiction over all nonunion matters. There are currently 76 members in the House of Representatives in Zanzibar, including 50 elected by the people, 10 appointed by the president of Zanzibar, 5 exofficio members, 10 women appointed by political parties commensurate with constituency seats won, and an attorney general appointed by the president. Zanzibar's House of Representatives can make laws for Zanzibar without the approval of the union government. The terms of office for Zanzibar's president and House of Representatives also are 5 years. The semiautonomous relationship between Zanzibar and the union is a relatively unique system of government.

Tanzania has a five-level judiciary combining the jurisdictions of tribal, Islamic, and British common law. Appeal is from the primary courts through the district courts, resident magistrate courts, to the high courts, and Court of Appeals. Judges are appointed by the Chief Justice, except those for the Court of Appeals and the High Court who are appointed by the president The Zanzibari court system parallels the legal system of the union, and all cases tried in Zanzibari courts, except for those involving constitutional issues and Islamic law, can be appealed to the Court of Appeals of the union. A commercial court was established in September 1999 as a division of the High Court.

For administrative purposes, Tanzania is divided into 25 regions--20 on the mainland, 3 on Zanzibar, and 2 on Pemba. Ninety-nine district councils have been to further increase local authority. Of the 99 councils operating in 86 districts,19 are urban and 80 are rural. The 19 urban units are classified further as city (Dar es Salaam), municipal (Arusha, Dodoma, Tanga), and town councils (the remaining 15 communities).

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President--Benjamin W. Mkapa
Vice President--Dr. Omar Ali Juma
Prime Minister--Frederick T. Sumaye
President of Zanzibar--Dr. Salmin Amour
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Jakaya Kikwete
Ambassador to the United States--Mustafa Nyang'anyi

Tanzania maintains an embassy in the United States at 2139 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-939-6125.)

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From independence in 1961 until the mid-1980s, Tanzania was a one-party state, with a socialist model of economic development. Beginning in the mid-1980s, under the administration of President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Tanzania undertook a number of political and economic reforms. In January and February 1992, the government decided to adopt multiparty democracy. Legal and constitutional changes led to the registration of 11 political parties. Two parliamentary by-elections (won by CCM) in early 1994 were the first-ever multiparty elections in Tanzanian history. In October and November 1995, Tanzania held its first multi-party general elections. The ruling CCM party's candidate, Benjamin W. Mkapa, defeated his three main rivals, winning the presidential election with 62% of the vote. In the parliamentary elections, CCM won 186 of the elected seats, while the two main opposition parties--CUF and NCCR--won 24 seats and 16 seats, respectively. In the Zanzibar presidential election, incumbent CCM candidate Salmin Amour was declared the winner over rival CUF contender, Seif Sharif Hamad, in a controversial decision by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission that underpins current tensions on the island.

President Mkapa, Vice President Omar Ali Juma, Prime Minister Fredrick Sumaye, and National Assembly members will serve until the next general elections in 2000. Similarly, Zanzibar President Salmin Amour and members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives also will complete their terms of office in 2000.

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Significant measures have been taken to liberalize the Tanzanian economy along market lines and encourage both foreign and domestic private investment. Beginning in 1986, the Government of Tanzania embarked on an adjustment program to dismantle state economic controls and encourage more active participation of the private sector in the economy. The program included a comprehensive package of policies which reduced the budget deficit and improved monetary control, substantially depreciated the overvalued exchange rate, liberalized the trade regime, removed most price controls, eased restrictions on the marketing of food crops, freed interest rates, and initiated a restructuring of the financial sector.

The Tanzanian Government agreed to a new 3-year Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) arrangement with the International Monetary Fund in November 1996. Tanzania also embarked on a major restructuring of state-owned enterprises. The program has so far divested 275 out off some 425 parastatal entities. Overall, real economic growth has averaged about 4% a year, much better than the previous 20 years, but not enough to improve the lives of average Tanzanians. Also, the economy remains overwhelmingly donor-dependent. Moreover, Tanzania has an external debt of over $8 billion. The servicing of this debt absorbs about 40% of total government expenditures. Tanzania has qualified for debt relief under the enhanced Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.

Agriculture dominates the economy, providing more than 60% of GDP and 80% of employment. Cash crops, including coffee, tea, cotton, cashews, sisal, cloves, and pyrethrum account for the vast majority of export earnings. The volume of all major crops--both cash and goods, which have been marketed through official channels--have increased over the past few years, but large amounts of produce never reach the market. Poor pricing and unreliable cash flow to farmers continue to frustrate the agricultural sector.

Accounting for only about 10% of GDP, Tanzania's industrial sector is one of the smallest in Africa. It has been hit hard recently by persistent power shortages caused by low rainfall in the hydroelectric dam catchment area, a condition compounded by years of neglect and bad management at the state-controlled electric company.

The main industrial activities include producing raw materials, import substitutes, and processed agricultural products. Foreign exchange shortages and mismanagement continue to deprive factories of much-needed spare parts and have reduced factory capacity to less than 30%.

Despite Tanzania's past record of political stability, an unattractive investment climate has discouraged foreign investment. Government steps to improve that climate include redrawing tax codes, floating the exchange rate, licensing foreign banks, and creating an investment promotion center to cut red tape. In terms of mineral resources and the largely untapped tourism sector, Tanzania could become a viable and attractive market for U.S. goods and services.

Zanzibar's economy is based primarily on the production of cloves (90% grown on the island of Pemba), the principal foreign exchange earner. Exports have suffered with the downturn in the clove market. Tourism is an increasingly promising sector, and a number of new hotels and resorts have been built in recent years.

The Government of Zanzibar has been more aggressive than its mainland counterpart in instituting economic reforms and has legalized foreign exchange bureaus on the islands. This has loosened up the economy and dramatically increased the availability of consumer commodities. Furthermore, with external funding, the government plans to make the port of Zanzibar a free port. Rehabilitation of current port facilities and plans to extend these facilities will be the precursor to the free port. The island's manufacturing sector is limited mainly to import substitution industries, such as cigarettes, shoes, and process agricultural products. In 1992, the government designated two export-producing zones and encouraged the development of offshore financial services. Zanzibar still imports much of its staple requirements, petroleum products, and manufactured articles.

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Tanzania's first president, Julius Nyerere also was one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement and, during the Cold War era, Tanzania played an important role in regional and international organizations, such as the Non-Aligned Movement, the front-line states, the G-77, and the Organization of African Unity (OAU). One of Africa's best-known elder statesmen, Nyerere was personally active in many of these organizations, and served chairman of the OAU (1984-85) and chairman of six front-line states concerned with eliminating apartheid in Southern Africa.

Tanzania enjoys good relations with its neighbors in the region and in recent years has been an active participant in efforts to promote the peaceful resolution of disputes. Tanzania is helping to broker peace talks to end conflict in Burundi and supports the Lusaka agreement concerning the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In March 1996 Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya revived discussion of economic and regional cooperation. These talks culminated with the signing of an East African Cooperation Treaty in September 1999, which should in time lead to economic integration. Tanzania is the only country in East Africa which also is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

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The United States has historically enjoyed cordial relations with the United Republic of Tanzania. A new chapter in that relationship was launched on August 7, 1998, when terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam. This act horrified Tanzanians and Americans alike and also drew condemnation from around the world. In the aftermath of the bombing, relations between the U.S. and Tanzania became even closer, and cooperation broadened to include areas such as anti-terrorism and law enforcement. President Benjamin Mkapa visited the U.S. in September 1999 with a delegation of business executives, reflecting the increased level of cooperation on trade and investment issues, and Tanzania's commitment to economic liberalization. The U.S. Government provides assistance to Tanzania to support programs in the areas of health, environment, democracy, and development of the private sector. The U.S. Agency for International Development's program in Tanzania averages about $20 million per year.

The Peace Corps program, revitalized in 1979, provides assistance in education through the provision of teachers. Peace Corps also is assisting in health and environment sectors. Currently, about 95 volunteers are serving in Tanzania.

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Ambassador--Rev. Charles R. Stith
Deputy Chief of Mission--Wanda L. Nesbitt
Director, USAID--Lucretia Taylor
Public Affairs Officer (USIS--Dudley O. Sims
Directors, Peace Corps--Gale Metcalf and Joel Wallach

The U.S. embassy in Tanzania is located on Kinondoni Road, Dar es Salaam. The consulate on Zanzibar was closed on June 15, 1979.

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U.S. Department of State information for the United Republic of Tanzania.

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