The United Republic of Tanzania lies on the east coast of Africa
and is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; by Burundi, Rwanda
and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west; by the Indian
Ocean to the east; and by Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south.
The Tanzanian mainland is divided into several clearly defined regions:
the coastal plains, which vary in width from 16 to 64km (10 to 39
miles) and have lush, tropical vegetation; the Maasai Steppe in
the north, 213 to 1,067m (698 to 3,500ft) above sea level, which
gives rise to two prominent mountains, Kilimanjaro, 5,895m (19,341ft)
above sea level and Africa's highest peak, and Mount Meru, 4,565m
(14,973ft); and there's a high plateau known as the Southern Highlands
in the southern area towards Zambia and Lake Malawi.
Savannah and bush cover over half the country, and semi-desert accounts
for the remaining land area, with the exception of the coastal plains.
Over 53,000 sq km (20,463 sq miles) is inland water, mostly lakes
formed in the Rift Valley and Tanzania's share of Lake Victoria
and Lake Tanganyika, both on its western border. Lake Victoria covers
69,490 sq km (26,832 sq miles), which is Africa's largest lake and
49% of it lies in Tanzania. With maximum depths of 1,470m (4,821ft),
Lake Tanganyika is estimated to be the deepest lake in Africa and
is 673km (420 miles) long and averages 50km (31 miles) across; 41%
of its area lies in Tanzania. The United Republic of Tanzania includes
the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, about 45km (28 miles) off the
coast to the northeast of the country.
Tanzania boasts some of the most impressive National Parks and game
reserves in all of Africa. On the northern part you will find Mkomazi
National Park, Kilimanjaro National Park (which accommodates Mount
Kilimanjaro), Arusha National Park (which accommodates Mount Meru),
Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro
crater and Serengeti National Park. On the east is Saadani National
Park where bush and beach meets.
The southern parks include Mikumi National Park, Ruaha National
Park, Udzungwa Mountains National Park and Selous Game Reserve.
To the central/western are Mahale Mountains National
Park, Gombe Stream National Park and Katavi National Park along
with the Rubondo Island National Park at Lake Victoria. All these
parks, crater and game reserves are full of wildlife and birdlife
of which some of them vary on its uniqueness elsewhere in the country.
A peaceful country which is a democratic government
There are over 120 tribes on the mainland, most of which migrated
from other parts of Africa over the millennia, whilst on the coast,
the Swahili people originated from an eclectic mix of traders –
Arabic, Persian and Chinese among others – who arrived from
as early as the 8th century.
When meeting and parting, hands are always shaken;
this applies throughout the country in both rural and urban areas.
It is the convention to use the right hand, not the left, to shake
hands or pass or receive anything. The standard greeting of 'hello'
is jambo. People are delighted if visitors can greet them in Kiswahili.
About 40-45% of Tanzania’s population is Christian and about
35-40% are Muslim (most of which live along the coast and Zanzibar
and the other islands). A small number follow traditional religions
and there are some Asian communities including Sikhs and Hindus.
Kiswahili and English are the official languages. The terms Swahili
and Kiswahili are used interchangeably, though the term Swahili
normally refers to the people while Kiswahili refers to the language.
Originating along the coast, Kiswahili is a Bantu language with
many words derived from Arabic. Other African languages such as
Bantu and those of Nilo-Hamitic and Khoisan origin are also spoken
in more remote regions.
Weather & climate
Best time to visit:
The climate is tropical and coastal areas are hot and humid, while
the northwestern highlands are cool and temperate. There are two
rainy seasons; the short rains are generally from October to December,
while the long rains last from March to June. The central plateau
tends to be dry and arid throughout the year.
Tanzania can be visited year-round, although the best time for travelling
is outside of the rainy season between June and October, when temperatures
stay well below their summer peaks. Beach side locations like Zanzibar
can be fine to visit during the hotter months of December to January,
when ocean breezes make the high temperatures bearable (though humidity
can still be high). However, this is also the time popular for typical
beach holidays, especially for those travelling from Europe wanting
some winter sunshine, and hotels can book up early especially for
the Christmas and New Year period.
Tropical clothing is worn throughout the year, but in the cooler
season, from June to September, jackets and sweaters may be needed,
especially in the evenings. Clothing appropriate to temperatures
below zero is required on the higher slopes of Kilimanjaro and Meru.
Also note that it can get very cold at night on the rim of the Ngorongoro
Crater and early morning game drives may be chilly before the sun
Airports in Tanzania
Dar es Salaam Julius Nyerere International
Airport Code: DAR. Location: Dar Es Salaam Julius
Nyerere International Airport is situated 12 km (8 miles) southwest
of Dar Es Salaam.
Kilimanjaro International Airport
Airport Code: JRO. Location: The airport is 50 km (31 miles)
between Moshi and Arusha.
Airport Code: MWZ. Location: The airport is 10 km (6.2
miles) from Mwanza.
Airport Code: ZNZ. Location: The airport is 4 km (2.5 miles)
from Stone Town.
Tanzania: visa and passport requirements
Passport required Return ticket required
A passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry
to Tanzania is required by all nationals referred to in the chart
Visas for Tanzania are required by all nationals referred to in
the chart above. Single-entry and transit visas can be obtained
on arrival at the port of entry into Tanzania. Passport photos are
not required; all other requirements must be in place. However,
multiple-entry visas cannot be issued at the point of entry and
must be obtained in advance through Tanzania’s embassies.
For more information about visas, visit the website for the Ministry
of Home Affairs, (www.moha.go.tz).
Tanzania health care and vaccinations
* A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travelers
over one year of age.
Before leaving home, visit the doctor or a travel clinic for advice
on vaccinations, malaria prophylactics and general advice. Basic
traveler vaccinations recommended include yellow fever, tetanus,
typhoid and hepatitis A. It is vital to take out comprehensive travel
medical insurance, and it is essential that is should include repatriation
to your home country in the event of an emergency. There are a wide
variety of policies to choose from, so shop around. If you are going
to be active in Tanzania (mountain climbing or scuba-diving for
example), ensure the policy has adequate provision.
There are some good private hospitals in Dar es Salaam, Arusha and
Stone Town on Zanzibar. However, for cases of extreme emergencies
or surgery, visitors with adequate health insurance will be transferred
to a private hospital in Nairobi, Kenya which has the best medical
facilities in East Africa.
The risk of contracting malaria is prevalent throughout Tanzania
and prophylactics should be taken (take expert advice before you
leave home). Symptoms can start as something resembling a severe
attack of flu. If you develop any symptoms even after several weeks
after your return home, seek medical advice. Travelers should take
precautions against mosquito bites – cover-up at dusk and
use insect repellent. Almost all hotels in Tanzania have air-conditioning
and/or fans which help ward off mosquitoes and most tourist-class
hotels have mosquito nets over the beds.
This can strike from about 3,000m (9,800ft) and is caused by lack
of oxygen and should be a consideration for anyone climbing Mt Kilimanjaro.
Symptoms include heart pounding, shortness of breath and dizziness.
The best way of preventing it is a relatively slow ascent - some
time spent walking at medium altitude, getting fit and acclimatizing
is helpful. To decrease the symptoms, an immediate descent is necessary.
Food and drink
Travelers should use bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth,
washing vegetables and reconstituting powdered milk.
Other food hygiene precautions should be strictly
observed if eating in a local restaurant, but visitors should encounter
few problems if eating in up market restaurants and hotels. Eating
snacks from street stalls (common in Tanzania) is not advised, but
if items are fresh and cooked well (and the same could be said about
buffets in tourist hotels) then you shouldn’t encounter any
problems. If you get traveller’s diarrhoea, which doesn’t
usually last more than 48 hours, the key treatment is rehydration.
If it is more persistent, then seek medical advice.
Money & duty free for Tanzania
Tanzanian Shilling (TZS; symbol TSh). Notes are in denominations
of TSh10,000, 5000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500. Coins are in denominations
of TSh200, 100, 50, 20 and 10 but these are worth very little and
are rarely used. In Kiswahili, it is shilingi and written prices
are often denoted with the symbol /=; i.e. 100/= is the same as
Most top-end hotels, safari lodges, airlines and tour operators
accept Visa and MasterCard (American Express and Diners Club less
so), though a commission of 2-5% is usually charged. Budget hotels
and most restaurants and shops do not accept credit cards, and they
are rarely accepted for payment outside the main tourist areas.
Cash easily can be withdrawn from ATMs using Visa or MasterCard.
Any sizeable town has at least one bank with an ATM, and there are
ATMs at the larger airports. ATMs generally only dispense notes
in increments of TSh 10,000 and these larger notes are often hard
for people to change – hoard smaller change whenever possible
to pay for taxi fares, snacks, souvenirs and the like.
May be cashed in some banks (try Barclays) or bureaux de change
in Tanzania's major cities and Zanzibar, but they are less common
as they once used to be, attract a hefty commission and the process
is time consuming. Additionally, some places may ask to see original
purchase receipts for traveller's cheques. If you are nervous about
travelling with lots of hard cash, bring enough to get you started
then use ATMs to withdraw local currency off a credit card.
Mon-Fri 0830-1530 some of the backs do to 1600; Sat 0830-1300. Bureaux
de change have longer hours and in the cities and in Stone Town
on Zanzibar are open on Sundays.
The import and export of local currency is prohibited. The import
of foreign currency is unlimited, subject to declaration. The export
of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared on arrival.
US dollars, Pound sterling and Euros may be changed at banks and
bureaux de change. However, US dollars are the best currency to
take to Tanzania as it is widely accepted alongside TSh to pay for
hotel bills, souvenirs and flights, and is needed to purchase visas
on arrival and pay for park entry fees. Bring newer notes –
because of the prevalence of forgery, many places (including banks
and bureaux de change) do not accept US dollar bills printed before
2005. Large dollar bills (such as US$50 and US$100) command a better
exchange rate than smaller ones. Ensure bills are not torn or damaged.
Tanzania duty free
The following items may be imported into Tanzania by travelers over
18 without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
• 1L of spirits and 2L of wine.
• 50mL of perfume or 250mL of eau de toilette.
There is no duty on any equipment for your own use such as a laptops
The import of fruit, plants, seeds, live animals, ammunition and
firearms is prohibited.
The export of gold, diamonds and tanzanite unless bought from a
licensed jeweler is prohibited. Exporting souvenirs made from wildlife
skins (this includes reptiles), shells and coral is forbidden.