Tanzania was formed from the 1964 merging of the mainland Tanganyika and the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar and is on the East African coast between Kenya and Mozambique. Although it is one of the poorest countries in the world, it has managed to stay relatively clear of internal conflicts in comparison to many other African nations.
In 1962 Tanzania’s first president, Julius Nyerere, questioned the value of Western democracy in Africa and published Ujamaa (Familyhood): The Basis of African Socialism, an essay which highlighted the need for African growth to be based on mutual assistance and economic and political equality. A few years later he issued the ‘Arusha Declaration’ which nationalised factories, plantations, banks and private companies and created cooperative farm villages - instigating self-reliance throughout the country. Due to inefficiency, corruption and resistance, however, Nyerere’s programme did not work and he resigned in 1985. His successors dismantled government control of the economy.
Relying heavily on tourism, visitors are attracted to the country to experience Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, the Serengeti and the many national parks. Known for archaeologist Mary Leakey’s discovery of Australopithecines, it is also one of the oldest inhabited areas on Earth. While 95% of the population is Bantu, consisting of more than 130 tribes; there is also a small mix of Asian, European and Arab settlers. Most Tanzanians learn the language of their tribe first, then Swahili and English.
Tanzania’s culture hosts a variety of unique art, music and literature. The music here ranges from traditional African music, taarb (a string-based instrument), hip-hop, rumba and jazz. The art here is most commonly found in two styles, Tingatinga (popular enamel paintings with animal motifs) and Makonde (modern sculpture). Some popular books related to Tanzania are Paradise by Zanzibari-born Abdulrazak Gurnah’s, An Ice Cream War by William Boyd, Aldan Hartley’s The Zanzibar Chest, Sara Wheeler’s Too Close to the Sun and some well-known writers for the country are Godfrey Mwakikagile, Mohamed Said, George Monblot and Giles Foden.