Developments in Tanzania

Updated: 15 January 2015

Tanzania lies in the heart of Africa, home to Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti National Park. Despite the beauty of its natural richness, a majority of the population is living in poverty. Poverty reduction is a key political objective in the country's development strategy.

It is believed that people have been living in the area of today’s Tanzania, longer than anywhere else on the planet. Archaeologists have found the remains of so called pre-historic people (australopithecus afarensis) who lived there three or four million years ago.

Today, Tanzania is a union between the mainland and the self-governing island state of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean. It holds Africa's highest and lowest points: Mount Kilimanjaro, whose peak rises nearly 6,000 meters above sea level, and Lake Tanganyika, whose bottom lies 385 meters below sea level. Tanzania's population has a great ethnic diversity. Most people on the mainland belong to different Bantu people, while the population on the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba are mainly descendants from the mainland but also of Arab origin.

Tensions between Christians and Muslims have increased over the past 20 years. However, none of the approximately 120 ethnic groups has been large enough to dominate over others and the country has practically been spared the internal strife that has plagued many of its neighbours. This makes Tanzania one of the most stable and secure countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

During the rule of independence hero Julius Nyerere from the early 1960s to mid 1980s, the country was considered by many as a model for development, with its African style socialism. Economic crises, inefficient management and high aid dependence has faded that image. Today’s situation is different after the transition to multi-party system and market economy. The revolutionary party (CCM) has dominated politics for many years, but the opposition has begun to offer greater resistance.

Improved economy

The last ten years, Tanzania has reached a positive development in several areas. The country's economy has improved, with one of the highest growth in Africa, but with a slightly uneven distribution or resources. A more stable political situation has also led to an increasing extent of foreign investment in the country. In addition, poverty reduction has become a key policy objective. Tanzania also made significant progress in the health and education sector.

A majority of Tanzania's population is living in poverty, most of them in rural areas. In 2010, Tanzania adopted a new poverty reduction strategy that focuses on three main areas:

  • Economic growth to reduce income poverty
  • Improved quality of life and social welfare
  • Democratic governance and accountability

Sweden supports Tanzania's development agenda, including through budget support to facilitate reforms of the state administration and to the development of social services to the most vulnerable.

Sweden's current focus areas in Tanzania:

  • Energy
  • Education and vocational training
  • Growth, jobs and market development
  • Land security
  • Democratic accountability and transparency
  • Research

Learn more about Sida's work in Tanzania.

Page owner: Department for Africa

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