Overview of Tanzania
Tanzania is one of the 31 poorest countries in the world. It has a population of 23.2 million people scattered unevenly throughout the country’s 23 regions. The country covers 943,000 sq. kilometres along the East African coast.
There are about 120 tribes, each with a different ethnic language. The national language is Swahili and is spoken by over 90 percent of the population. Tanzania is a predominantly agricultural economy. Eighty-three percent of agricultural production is small-scale and carried out on privately-owned plots averaging less than 2.2 hectares.
The farmers rely mainly on manual labor and hand implements. Tanzania’s economy is heavily dependent on the foreign exchange earnings it generates from the sale of major cash crops, namely cotton, tobacco, tea, cashew nuts, pyrethrum, coffee, sisal. Together, these crops account for more than 73 percent of total foreign exchange earnings, while minerals, mainly diamonds, accounting for seven percent of the earnings. Before the First World War, Tanzania (then Tanganyika) was a German colony.
After the war, it was placed under British control as a Mandated Territory by the League of Nations. The successor to the League of Nations – the United Nations- made Tanganyika a Trusteeship territory under British rule after the Second World War. Zanzibar, which was ruled by the Sultan of Oman, became a British protectorate in the early 19th century. Tanganyika attained independence on December 9th, 1961 and Zanzibar followed on December 11th, 1963. On April 26, 1964, the two sovereign states united to form the United Republic of Tanzania.
The mainland (Tanganyika) surrendered all sovereignty while the islands (Zanzibar and Pemba) retained autonomy on non-union affairs such as health, water, housing, and urban development, manpower administration, fisheries, and primary education. Union matters include sectors such as defense, police, energy, citizenship and immigration, external affairs, currency, legal tender, and higher education.
Tanzania has an executive president who is elected by universal suffrage every five years. Zanzibar’s President serves also like the Republic’s Second Vice President Constitutionally, the Parliament is the highest decision-making body. The union of the two governments facilitated the merging of the political parties, the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) of Zanzibar and the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) of the mainland, to form Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in February 1977. In Tanzania’s single-party system, CCM is supreme. The party makes decisions and formulates policies for the government to implement.