Tag Archive for: Living in Tanzania

Contributions by Joyceline.

Facts you may not have know about Tanzania:

Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania, is a sovereign state in eastern Africa, within the African Great Lakes region. The country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1961, becoming Tanganyika, and has a population of over 55 million people.

Since 1996, its official capital city has been Dodoma, where the President’s office, the National Assembly, and some government ministries are located. Dar es Salaam, the former capital, retains most government offices, and is the country’s largest city, principal port, and leading commercial center.

Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, is in north-eastern Tanzania, and is a popular destination for explorers.


1.  When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

When meeting someone, common greetings are “Mambo!” or “Jambo!” Alternatively, out of respect for younger or elderly people, a greeting of “Shikamoo” is also common.

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

While there are no official languages, Kiswahili is the national language. Swahili is used in parliamentary debate, in the lower courts, and as a medium of instruction in primary school. English is used in foreign trade, in diplomacy, in higher courts, and as a medium of instruction in secondary and higher education.

More than 100 languages are spoken in Tanzania, making it the most linguistically diverse country in East Africa. Among the languages spoken are all four of Africa’s language families: Bantu, Cushitic, Nilotic, and Khoisan.

3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We use a 12-hour clock.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?

We drive on the left side of the road. Roads are generally in poor conditions. Most transport in Tanzania is by road, with road transport constituting over 75 percent of the country’s freight traffic, and 80 percent of its passenger traffic.

5. How important is punctuality?

Punctuality is not of utmost importance in Tanzania, with many people often running late. Despite this, productivity is high.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?

Hip hop and gospel music are both popular. With a fusion of local and foreign music traditions, Tanzanian musicians have grown in prominence within the African Great Lakes region. Popular musicians include Dionys Mbilinyi, Sabinus Komba, John Lisu, Paul Clement, and Christina Shusho.

For a taste of Tanzanian music, listen to Christina Shusho’s Ninanga’ra, and Paul Clement’s Namba Moja.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

In many areas in Tanzania, dance and drums are used as part of celebrations, and is seen by some as a way to preserve important parts of the country’s history and traditions.

For an example of Tanzanian Haya dancing, click here. The Haya area group of people residing in northwestern Tanzania.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?

Bagamoyo Festival of Arts and Culture is a seven-day event that is held in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. It features music, dance, drama, acrobatics and many other arts related activities. It takes place every year at the end of September.

First run in 2003, the legendary East African Safari Classic Rally is a nine-day rally covering up to 5,000 kilometres through Kenya and Tanzania. Safari Classic rekindles the spirit of the original Safari Rally, which put East Africa on the motorsport map and earned an unassailable reputation as the world’s toughest rally.

The Wanyambo Festival is one of the best opportunities to check out the local culture of Tanzania in early January. The event is staged in the northern area of Dar es Salaam known as Makumbusho, with lots of traditional music, dance, costumes, and food.

The Marahaba Swahili Music Festival is a festival which happens annually in the city of Dar es Salaam since 2012. It offers a platform for local unknown and popular musicians/bands and cultural troupes to showcase their musicianship, artistry and the rich cultural music of Tanzania.

9. What are the seasons like?

Climate varies greatly within Tanzania. In the highlands, temperatures range between 10 and 20 °C (50 and 68 °F) during cold and hot seasons respectively. The rest of the country has temperatures rarely falling lower than 20 °C (68 °F).

The north and east of Tanzania experience two distinct wet periods – the short rains (Vuli) in October to December, and the long rains (Masika) from March to May. The southern, western, and central parts of the country experience one wet season that continues October through to April or May.

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

Dr John Joseph Magufuli has been Tanzania’s President since 2015. He is the Chairman of the center-left Chama Cha Mapinduzi party, and previously served as a member of the Tanzanian Cabinet, since 1995. Before politics, he taught chemistry and mathematics at The Sengerema Secondary School, and was subsequently an industrial chemist at The Nyanza Cooperative Union Limited.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

The Tanzanian economy is heavily based on agriculture, which in 2013 accounted for just under a quarter of the country’s GDP.

Industry and construction is a major and growing component of the Tanzanian economy. This component includes mining and quarrying, manufacturing, electricity and natural gas, water supply, and construction.

Tourism, banking, and telecommunications sectors are also strong components of the Tanzanian economy.

12. How do people spend their free time?

Many Tanzanians are social, enjoying spending time with their family and friends, and may come to visit without notice.

13. What do people drink?

Mbenge, Kibuku, and Mulamba are popular among Tanzanians.

14. What is a popular local dish?

Ugali (maize meal) – a type of porridge – is very popular. It can be served with fish, beans, or fruit, as well as plain yogurt.

Tanzanian cuisine is both unique and widely varied. Along the coastal regions (Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, and Pemba), spicy foods are common, and there is also much use of coconut milk. Regions in Tanzania’s mainland also have their own unique foods. Some typical mainland Tanzanian foods include wali (rice), ugali (maize porridge), chapati (a kind of bread), nyama choma (grilled meat), mshikaki (marinated beef), samaki (fish), pilau, biriyani, and ndizi-nyama (plantains with meat).

Vegetables commonly used in Tanzania include bamia (okra), mchicha (a kind of spinach), njegere (green peas), maharage (beans), and kisamvu (cassava leaves). Tanzania grows at least 17 different types of bananas which is used for soup, stew, and chips.

Famous Tanzanian snack foods include maandazi (fried dough), isheti, kashata (coconut bars), kabaab (kebab), sambusa (samosa), mkate wa kumimina (Zanzibari rice bread), vileja, vitumbua (rice patties), bagia, and many others.

15. What do you pay, on average, for the following? (1 USD = approx. TZS 2,284)

Milk (1 liter): TZS 9,000
Coca cola (330 ml): TZS 1,100
Cup of coffee: TZS 4,000
3 Course meal: TZS 34,000
Domestic beer: TZS 2,500
Loaf of bread: TZS 1,300
Apples (1 kg): 6,000

16. Any general safety tips?

Don’t walk around alone late at night, and maintain awareness even during the day.
If possible, use a more concealed, smaller bag, rather than a large backpack.
Keep a means of contact, such as a cell phone, on you at all times.

17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:

Filbert Bayi, a former Tanzanian middle-distance runner of the 1970s who set the world records for 1500 metres in 1974 and the mile in 1975. He is still the 1500 m Commonwealth Games record holder.

Julius Nyerere, a Tanzanian anti-colonial activist, politician, and political theorist. He governed Tanganyika as its Prime Minister from 1961 to 1963 and then as its President from 1963 to 1964, after which he led its successor state, Tanzania, as its President from 1964 until 1985. He was a founding member of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) party and later a member of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party. Ideologically an African nationalist and African socialist, he promoted a political philosophy known as Ujamaa.


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Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15]. Image sources: Antônio Soletti (Unsplash) [1].