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BBC Country Profile, 6 March 2001

[map of Tanzania]

Tanzania has been spared the internal strife that has blighted many African states. However, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world, heavily reliant on foreign aid, with many of its people living below the World Bank poverty line.


Tanzania assumed its present form in 1964 after a merger between the mainland Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar, which had become independent the previous year.

Unlike many African countries, whose potential wealth contrasted with their actual impoverishment, Tanzania had few exportable minerals and a primitive agricultural system. To counter this, in 1967 its first president, Julius Nyerere, issued the Arusha Declaration, which called for self-reliance through the creation of cooperative farm villages and the nationalisation of factories, plantations, banks and private companies.

But a decade later, despite financial and technical aid from the World Bank and sympathetic countries, this programme had completely failed due to inefficiency, corruption, resistance from peasants and the rise in the price of imported petroleum.

Tanzania's economic woes were compounded in 1979 and 1981 by a costly military intervention to overthrow President Idi Amin of Uganda.

After Nyerere's resignation in 1985, his successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, attempted to raise productivity and attract foreign investment and loans by dismantling government control of the economy. This policy was continued by Benjamin Mkapa, who was elected president in 1995.


Population: 35 million
Capital: Dodoma
Major languages: English, Swahili
Major religions: Christianity, Islam
Form of government: Multiparty republic
Monetary unit: 1 Tanzanian shilling = 100 cents
Main exports: Sisal, cloves, coffee, cotton, cashew nuts, minerals, tobacco
Internet domain:.tz
Time zone: GMT+3
International dialing code: +255


President: Benjamin Mkapa

[President Mkapa]

President Mkapa
Born in 1938, Benjamin Mkapa held a number of state and party posts before winning the presidency with 62% of the vote in Tanzania's first multiparty elections in 1995. Elected as an anti-corruption crusader, his reputation has been kept largely intact despite allegations against some of his colleagues. He has also been credited with being the driving force behind Tanzania's extensive economic liberalisation, which has been well received by the IMF and World Bank.


Before the multiparty era began in the mid 1990s, Tanzania's media was small and largely state-controlled. However, with the onset of multiparty democracy the media rapidly grew, with dozens of newspapers appearing.

The growth of the broadcast media has not been as rapid, largely because of the capital investment required to set up television and radio stations. To date, mainland Tanzania still does not have a national television station. Those that exist have a limited reach and are privately owned.

The press



News agency