Friday, March 13, 2009

People and Places: TANZANIA

When I was a little girl, there used to be a school field trip called "People and Places". The teachers would travel with a select group of students (a few students per school) to some magical place that had been re-created with the sights, sounds, and foods of a foreign country. If you were lucky, you were chosen for the field trip 3 times between kindergarten and the 5th grade. I was chosen twice. And although I don't remember the first Place that I "experienced", I do remember the nasty bite of the food and that it wasn't a land that I was at all curious about.

The second place will be the feature of my new line of Posts.... People and Places!

I am so ready to travel the world and see everybody from the Amish to the wild ones in Amsterdam. I've traveled, but I haven't been eeeverywhere. My soul craves (don't laugh) Sweden, Ireland, Switzerland, Africa, The Netherlands, Russia, France, Italy, China, Japan...the list goes on and on.


Tanzania is one one of the few places in Africa that's not consumed with war. It's a peaceful land that remains remarkably untouched by the tribal rivalries and political upheavals that plague many of its neighbours. It’s large enough to travel for hours without seeing another traveller, it’s ideal for exploring in combination with other African countries, and yet it has more than enough attractions to be a journey on its own.

Background: Shortly after achieving independence from Britain in the early 1960s, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964.

Lying just south of the equator, Tanzania is East Africa's largest country, and an immensely rewarding place to visit. Tanzania has the world-famous attractions; the plains of the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, snow­capped Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa's highest mountain) and Zanzibar, with its idyllic palm-fringed beaches and historic Stone Town. Yet there's a whole lot more to Tanzania than these obvious highlights.


For all its natural diversity, Tanza­nia's best asset is its people: friend­ly, welcoming, unassumingly proud and yet reserved - you'll be treated with uncommon warmth and courtesy wherever you go, and genuine friendships are easily made.

Home to approximately 120 tribal groups, most of these comprise small communities that are gradually being assimilated into the larger population due to changes in land use and the economic draw of city life. Tribal diversity is prized and far from being a source of division, Tanzanians place a high value on their country’s multicultural heritage. Over the past few years, cultural tourism has become an increasing attraction for visitors from around the world and visits to tribal villages are often a highlight of safari itineraries.

The ‘Spice Islands’ of the Zanzibar Archipelago, Pemba, Mafia, and the entire Tanzanian coast is home to the Swahili people, a vibrant mix of Arab, Indian and Bantu origins who historically based their livelihoods around Indian Ocean trade.

The Swahili Coast, as the region is called, is a predominantly Islamic region with old mosques and coral palaces found throughout the area. Swahili culture centres around the dhow, a wooden sailing boat powered by the seasonal wind. Historically, the boats connected the Swahili Coast with Arabia and India and allowed trade between the regions to flourish. Fishing remains a mainstay of coastal income in small villages throughout the area, and coconut and spice plantations continue to form an important source of export.

These days, life on the Swahili coast is tranquil and even-paced. Women cloaked in long robes called bui bui walk through meandering streets to the local market, stopping to chat outside tall houses hewn from coral and limestone rock. In the villages, the call to prayer rings out clearly over the palm trees and once they have finished their religious duties, the men gather in the square to drink spiced coffee from brass braziers. From the warrior moran of the fierce Masaai to the tranquil rhythms of Swahili town, Tanzania offers a unique glimpse into African life as it has remained for centuries.

Food in Tanzania

Throughout the country people wash their hands before eating. Tanzanians eat grains, fruits, and vegetables. Meat is served less often. The most common being chicken, goat, and lamb. Kitumba is a popular snack of food for energy. Sugar cane is also another good food for energy.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Tanzanian(s); Zanzibari(s).
Population: Mainland--39.3 million. Zanzibar--1 million (est.).
Religions: Muslim 35%, Christian 63%, other (traditional, Sikh, Hindu, Baha'i) 2%.
Language: Kiswahili (official), English.
Education: Attendance--73.2% Mainland (primary); 71.4% Zanzibar.
Literacy: Females 67% Mainland; 76.8% Zanzibar.
Literacy: Males 79.9% Mainland; 86% Zanzibar.
Health: Infant mortality rate--68/1,000. Life expectancy--50 years.
Work force: Agriculture--80%; industry, commerce, government--20%.


  1. I wrote a short story set in Tanzania when I was in the eighth grade. It always seemed like a country in Africa that I truly wanted to visit. Great post!

  2. Wonderful early morning read, and a great post choice.

  3. My soul craves (don't laugh) Sweden, Ireland, Switzerland, Africa, The Netherlands, Russia, France, Italy, China, Japan...the list goes on and on.

    Why'd you say 'don't laugh'? I want to go to those places too... I wasn't really interested in any African countries, but your post definitely piqued my interest! I'm adding Tanzania to my must-see list :-)

  4. Beautiful post. I can't wait to read your next installment. Will it be weekly?


Just say what you feel!