Tanzania

Tanzania is mountainous and densely forested in the northeast, where Mount Kilimanjaro is located. Three of Africa’s Great Lakes are partly within Tanzania. To the north and west lie Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, and Lake Tanganyika, the continent’s deepest lake, known for its unique species of fish. The eastern shore is hot and humid, with the Zanzibar Archipelago just offshore. The Kalambo water falls in the southwestern region of Rukwa are the second highest uninterrupted fall in Africa and are located near the southeastern shore of Lake Tanganyika on the border with Zambia. The Menai Bay Conservation Area is Zanzibar’s largest marine protected area.

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Over 100 different languages are spoken in Tanzania, making it the most linguistically diverse country in East Africa. Among the languages spoken in Tanzania are all four of Africa’s language families: Bantu, Cushitic, Nilotic, and Khoisan. Swahili and English are Tanzania’s official languages. A highly multilingual country, Swahili is used in parliamentary debate, in the lower courts, and as a medium of instruction in primary school; and English is used in foreign trade, in diplomacy, in higher courts, and as a medium of instruction in secondary and higher education, although the Tanzanian government plans to discontinue English as a language of instruction altogether. In connection with his Ujamaa social policies, President Nyerere encouraged the use of Swahili; as a means of unifying the country’s many ethnic groups. Approximately 10% of Tanzanians speak Swahili as a first language, and up to 90% speak it as a second language. Most Tanzanians thus speak both Swahili and a local language; many educated Tanzanians are trilingual; also speaking English. The widespread use and promotion of Swahili is contributing to the decline of smaller languages in the country. Young children increasingly speak Swahili as a first language, mostly in urban areas.

Tanzania-Malawi relations have been tense because of a dispute over the countries’ Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) border. An unsuccessful mediation regarding this issue happened in March 2014. The two countries agreed in 2013 to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to resolve the dispute should mediation be unsuccessful. Malawi, but not Tanzania, has accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ.

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