The country of Tanzania encompasses the mainland area of Tanganyika and the islands of Zanzibar. This large country is home to herds of animals that roam safely in the many national parks and reserves all over the country. But there is more to Tanzania than the animals that call it home. This country is home to a diverse group of people.
Tanzania is home to almost 40 million people that hail from 120 unique ethnic groups. The vast majority of people are of Bantu descent, one can find members of Nilotic, Khoisan and Cushitic peoples amongst the population. There are also peoples of various global ethnic groups; especially people of Portuguese and Arabic descent. They make up about 1% of the total population.
Many different languages are spoken in Tanzania – not surprising when one considers the different groups that call the country home – yet there are only two 'official' languages that are used throughout the country. Kwiswahili or Swahili is the primary official language. It is used in many parts of the country and is also considered the de facto language in social and political spheres as well as in primary education. Englis is the second official language and is used in science, technology, universities and in the courts of law.
This is changing, however. While English is still widely used in many spheres of Tanzanian life, Swahili is quickly taking over from English in many areas.
Tanzania is the home of two unique styles of art: tingatingo and makonde. Tingatingo, named for the artist responsible for the movement, is a unique painting style that uses enamel pain on canvas to create images of animals or flowers in a repetitive, but striking design. Makonde, named for the tribe where it originated, is a method of sculpting the dark wood of the ebony tree into wondrous forms.
The country is a diverse ecosystem and is home to many different animals. In its 945 203 km² the country ranges from mountainous regions in the north where the unmistakable Mount Kilimanjaro rises into the air, to the humid, tropical beaches of the Indian Ocean and the islands of Zanzibar. Most of the country is large plateau of arable plain land where much of the country's agricultural industry is focused.
Tanzania is bordered by three large lakes. The largest lake in Africa, Lake Victoria lies to the north. Lake Tanganyika, the deepest lake in Africa with a wide range of fish species living in its waters, can be found to the west, and to the south west Lake Malawi stretches out into the country of the same name.
The country has a tropical climate with hot summers and temperate winters. Rainfall in the north of the country is greatest during the summer months from December to April. In the south, the rainy seasons are bimodal. The first rains, or short rains, fall from October to December and the long rains fall from March to May.
This lush landscape is home to a many animal species and the area is known for the herds of animals that migrate across the plains during the dry season in search of water. To protect these natural treasures, Tanzania has a number of national parks and reserves. The Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park are perhaps the most well-known to the north of the country. Others include the Selous Game Reserve, the Mikumi National Park in the south. To the west lies the Gombe National Park that is famous for the research of chimpanzees done there by Dr Jane Goodall.
From the tropical beaches of the Indian Ocean to the ice-bound peaks of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is a sight to behold. The diverse people, the myriad of animal species and the beautiful scenery all combine to create a country that is unlike any other.