Tanzania

Driving Directions Tanzania

TANZANIA, a republic on the east coast of central southern Africa, comprises a large mainland area and Pemba and Zanzibar’s islands. Tanzania lies east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, south of Kenya, and north of Mozambique, with the Indian Ocean in the east.

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The mainland consists mostly of coastal plains, a central plateau rising to high grasslands and mountain ranges, and the Great Rift Valley’s eastern branch. The coastal strip is rich in tropical vegetation, while the other areas consist of savannah, semidesert, and bush cover.

The cli­mate is very varied and mainly controlled by altitude and distance from the sea. The coast is hot and humid, the central plateau drier, and the mountains semi temperate.

Some 80 percent of Tanzanians live from the land, producing corn, cassava, millet, rice, plantains, and sorghum for home consumption. Cash crops include cotton, tobacco, tea, sisal, cashews, and coffee. Fishing is an important activity, particularly in inland waters.

Pemba and Zanzibar produce the bulk of the world’s cloves. Diamond mining is an important industry, and there are also sizeable deposits of iron ore, coal, and tin.

Although Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest countries, it has a wealth of natural wonders, such as the Serengeti Plain and its wildlife. The Ngorongoro Crater, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Olduvai Gorge, where fossil fragments of early humans were found, all of which attract large numbers of tourists, making a significant contribution to the country’s economy.

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Tanzania lies between one and twelve degrees south of the equator. Most of the country consists of extensive rolling plains demarcated by the Great Rift Valley, a series of immense faults creating both depressions and mountains. Much of the country is above 900 meters (3,000 feet). However, a small portion, including the islands and the coastal plains, lies below about 200 meters (600 feet). The landscape is extremely varied, changing from coastal mangrove swamps to tropical rain forests and rolling savannahs and high arid plateaus to mountain ranges. Four major ecological regions can be distinguished: high plateaus, mountain lands, the lakeshore region, and the coastal belt and islands. The mountain ranges and the area around Lake Victoria (Victoria Nyanza) receive generous amounts of rain. Still, the vast plateau areas in the center of the country are so dry that they cannot support significant cultivation activity. About 5 percent of the land is arable, 1 percent dedicated to permanent crops, 40 percent is utilized as meadows and pastures, and 47 percent is covered in forest and woodland.

Tanzania faces the Indian Ocean on its eastern border. The continental shelf off the coast is relatively narrow; in most places, it is only 8 to 10 kilometers (5 to 6 miles) wide, but it extends about 40 kilometers (25 miles) off the shore of the islands of Zanzibar and Mafia. Of the many fringing reef systems offshore, those farther out are better developed and more diversified. The most fully developed are the reefs off the Tanga coast and those near the offshore islands.

The islands of Tanzania are basically composed of coral. Zanzibar, separated from the mainland by a channel that is 35 kilometers (22 miles) wide at its narrowest point, is the largest coralline island on the African coast. It is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) long and 40 kilometers (25 miles) wide, with a total area of 1,657 square kilometers (640 square miles). Pemba, north of Zanzibar, is smaller. It is 67 kilometers (42 miles) long and 22 kilometers (14 miles) wide, with a total area of 984 square kilometers (380 square miles). Its topography varies, with small steep hills and valleys. At 43 kilometers (27 miles) long and about 14 kilometers (9 miles) wide, Mafia is a low island situated about halfway down the coast of Tanzania near the mouth of the Rufiji River.

Didi you know about Tanzania?

Tanzania contains both the highest and lowest points on the African continent: Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Tanganyika’s floor.

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