Tanzania covers 937,062 square kilometers making it the largest country in Eastern Africa. Tanzania borders Kenya on the southern part of the equator, and then Uganda on the north, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo on the far western side and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique in the southern side. Therefore, Tanzania is a splendid center exploring eastern, central and southern Africa.
Through the interior runs the Great Rift Valley, that vast fault-line down the spine of Africa that in Tanzania has created many fascinating topographical features such as the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Tanganyika. The central plateau (1,200 meters above sea level) is a huge expanse of savannah and sparse woodland.
To the north, the 5890-meter Mount Kilimanjaro rises making it the highest mountain in Africa. While the interior is largely arid, the 800-kilometer coastline is lush and palm-fringed, as are the Islands of Zanzibar, Pemba, and Mafia.
The official languages of Tanzania are English and the indigenous Kiswahili. Kiswahili evolved along the coastal region of the country. The language comes from the Bantu group and has several words in common to Arabic. Besides Kiswahili, people also speak other languages like Bantu and some that have Khoisan or Nilo – Hamitic origin.
You probably know Kiswahili as Swahili – they’re both used to describe the same language of the people of Tanzania. If you would like to be accurate though, Swahili is actually the name for the people of the region while Kiswahili is the language that they speak.
Jambo – Good day
Jambo – Hello
Ulale salama – Goodnight
Hujambo? – How do you do?
Sijambo – It is well with me
Hali ngani? – How are you?
Njema – I am well
Habari ngani? – What is your news?
Habari njema – Good news
Kwa heri – Goodbye
Jina lako nani? – What is your name?
Jina langu ni (name) – My name is (name)
Handshakes – It is convention across the country, in both towns and villages, to greet people as well as part ways with a friendly handshake. Do take care to use only your right hand. The use of the left hand is to be avoided for any social interaction – whether it’s a handshake or passing someone something at the table or in an interaction or even to receive something from someone.
Say jambo! – Tanzanians greet each other with a ‘Jambo,’ an all-purpose greeting for an individual and it’s also the reply you give if someone says ‘Jambo’ to you. If you want to greet a group of people then say ‘Hamjambo’. Speaking a little Kiswahili can open up the doors of communication and you’ll soon have the locals warming up to you if you use their favourite greeting.
Other norms – As far as hospitality goes, be yourself and follow universal norms of politeness and manners; there aren’t any special local ones. You would do well to dress smartly though, as appearances do matter here. A well tailored suit worn with a tie, or a safari suit will do well for men while women can wear a smart dress.
Smoking – If you see an ashtray it means smoking is allowed; if you don’t see one, don’t ask for one. Smoking is strictly banned on public transport and in cinema houses.
Most visitors entering Tanzania will require a visa. Visitors can obtain a visa on arrival at either Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dar-es-Salaam and Zanzibar airports for US$50, which is payable in cash. All visitors also require some proof of sufficient funds, as well as evidence of their return or onward journey. Passports must have validity of at least six months from the date of entry. Those arriving from an infected country must hold a yellow fever vaccination certificate and then with the new Pandemic Covid-19 you will need to come with the negative test certificate from your home recognized laboratories.
The local currency is the Tanzanian Shilling. 1 shilling is 100 cents and the local currency comes in units of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10000. Coins valued at 5 cents, 10 cents, 50 cents and coins of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 shillings are also widely used. Current exchange rates can be found in various banks of Tanzania in the cities.
You can change your foreign currency at authorized money changers, the bureaus de change as well as banks. Retain a copy of the receipt after you change your money and keep this until you leave Tanzania.
Bigger hotels accept all major credit cards, with some ATM offering a cash withdrawal facility on cards issued by Master card or Visa.
You can cash your traveler’s cheques at bureau de change or authorized money changers. Try and bring your cash as USD or Pounds Sterling so that you don’t have to fork out extra on the exchange rate charge.
Tanzanian currency cannot be exported or imported by law. You can, however, bring in as much foreign currency as you like, but remember to declare it on entry. Failure to correctly declare the foreign currency you are bringing in may get you in trouble when you leave – you will only be allowed to take out an amount less or equal to as much as you declared when you entered the country. Therefore, in summary bring few cash and then with your Visa credit cards.
Bank Operating Hours
Tanzania banks opens from 8.30am and close at 4pm from Monday to Friday. Banks close at 1pm on Saturday and stay closed all of Sunday.
Climate & Weather
Tanzania has a tropical climate that is influenced by the Indian Ocean. Nevertheless, there are still differences per region, it is tropical on the coast and can freeze on Mount Kilimanjaro. The coolest months occur when it’s summer in the northern hemisphere. However generally all-year round the weather remains pleasant and comfortable.
Between June to October, temperatures range from around 10 degrees Celsius (50° Fahrenheit) in the northern highlands to about 23 degrees Celsius (73° Fahrenheit) on the coast.
The main rainy season, or the ‘long rains’ falls from March – May. The long dry season lasts throughout June, July, August, September and October when rainfall is unusual, even on the islands. During November and December there’s another rainy season: the ‘short rains’. These are much lighter than the main rains and less constant.
There are more than 100 distinct ethnic groups and tribes in Tanzania, not including ethnic groups that reside in Tanzania as refugees from conflicts in nearby countries. These ethnic groups are primarily of Bantu origin, with small Nilotic – speaking, indigenous, and non-African minorities. The country lacks a clear dominant ethnic majority: the largest ethnic group in Tanzania, the Sukuma, comprises only about 16 percent of the country’s total population, followed by the Nyamwezi and the Chagga. Unlike its neighbouring countries, Tanzania has not experienced large-scale ethnic conflicts, a fact attributed to the unifying influence of the Swahili language.
The ethnic groups mentioned here are mostly differentiated based on ethhnolinguistic lines. They may sometimes be referred to together with noun class prefixes appropriate for ethnonyms: this can be either a prefix from the ethnic group’s native language (if Bantu), or the Swahili prefix wa.
Alagwa, Akiek, Akie Northern Tanzania, Arusha, Assa, Barabaig, Balouch Coastal Tanzania, Bembe, Bena, Bende, Bondei, Bungu, Burunge, Chaga, Datooga, Dhaiso, Digo, Doe, Fipa, Gogo, Goa Coastal Tanzania, Goma people, Gorowa, Gujarati Coastal Tanzania, Gweno, Ha
Hutu Western Tanzania Kagera, Hadza, Hangaza, Haya, Hehe, Holoholo people, Ikizu, Ikoma, Iraqw, Isanzu, issenye -serengeti, Jiji, Jita, Kabwa, Kagura, Kaguru, Kahe, Kami, Kamba, Northern Tanzania, Kara (also called Regi), Kerewe, Kikuyu, Kimbu, Kinga, Kisankasa, Kisi, Konongo among others.
Tanzania’s country code is +255. If you need to make an international phone call you can use a public phone booth in a post office and other locations around the cities and towns. In smaller towns and villages, making an international call requires an operator to connect you.
International mobile phones do work here under collaborative agreements to offer roaming services. However, you will find coverage rather limited, with access restricted to bigger towns and cities.
Most cities and larger towns in Tanzania have internet cafes where you can check your mail and access the internet.
Post takes about a week to get to mainland Europe by air. If you are in a hurry, you’d be better off using a courier service; it may cost you more but will have your package or letter delivered in under a day.
Electricity in Tanzania is 230 Volts, 50 Hertz. The country uses two types of pins, with either two parallel flat pins and a ground pin, or else three round pins in a triangle.
Tanzania has a list of embassies of different countries and if you have any help from your Embassy always internet to find the location of your home Embassy in Tanzania.
The major religions in Tanzania are Christianity and Islam. Roughly 40-45% of the population are Christian, with another 35-40% Muslim. The remainder practice traditional beliefs, centered on animism and ancestor worship.
For travelers who believe that it is the people who make a place, Tanzania is a goldmine. With 120 ethnic tribal groups, diversity is synonymous with the country. The people of Tanzania have embraced their differences. The chance to experience life in this multicultural society and to visit traditional tribal settlements has become a wonderful detour for tourists here on safari getaways.
Of all the tribes, the group that remains enduringly popular with overseas visitors is the Masaai tribe. Living to the north of the country, Masaai village life focuses around cattle rearing in the fertile grassy lands where they live.
The Swahili people are an eclectic mix of Bantu, Arab and Indian and have developed their occupations around the trade along the spice route of the Indian Ocean. A primarily Islamic area, the coastal belt and the Spice Islands (Mafia, Zanzibar and Pemba) have some intriguing palaces made of coral and mosques dating back centuries. The Dhow or old fashioned sailing boat was the lifeline of this region. Fishing villages get their income from the fresh catch from the sea, as well from the spice trade and coconut exports.