In an effort to highlight places of interest in countries across the world, their varied culture, economy and history, The Statesman brings to you a Weekly Focus on countries with which India shares diplomatic ties and friendship. This week’s focus is on Tanzania. Know all about the country.

Capital:  Dodoma

Currency: Tanzanian shilling

Ethnic groups: Mainland-African 99% (of which 95% are Bantu consisting of more than 130 tribes), other 1% (comprising Asian, European, and Arab); Zanzibar-Arab, African, mixed Arab and African

Languages: Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguja (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages

Religions: Christian 61.4%, Muslim 35.2%, folk religion 1.8%, other 0.2%, unaffiliated 1.4% note: Zanzibar is almost entirely Muslim (2010 est.)

Food and drink

Food in Tanzania varies greatly depending on where you are in the country. On the mainland and away from the coast, most restaurants serve Tanzanian dishes that usually consist of meat stews or grilled chicken, accompanied by staples including chips, green bananas or ugali (maize meal porridge eaten all over Africa). Many Tanzanian towns, including the Capital, have a signicant population of second-generation immigrants from the Indian sub-continent, and restaurants serving Indian dishes are not uncommon.

On the coast, the Indian Ocean provides a full range of seafood, and the Swahili culinary style is delicately flavoured with spices and coconut milk and features fragrant rice, grilled fish and prawn curries. Tropical fruits are abundant here, as are the delicious fresh juices made from them. Some of the specialities are Nyama choma, Mandazi, Kachumbari, Wali wa nazi, Mchuzi wa Kamba.

Indian presence

Tanzania has about 60,000 people of Indian origin (referred to as Asians), who are concentrated in the major urban centres of Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza, Dodoma, Morogoro, Zanzibar and Mbeya. The vast majority are from Gujarat, mainly from Kutch and Kathiawad regions, whose ancestors came to this region (Zanzibar and Tanganyika) in several phases starting from early 19th century as merchants, sailors and workers.

The Indian origin community is active in the field of trade and industry in Tanzania. There are about 10,000 Indian nationals (expatriates) mostly professionals, who live and work in Tanzania, mainly in industry and services.

Weather and climate

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.

Secular celebrations

The major state holidays are New Year’s Day, Zanzibar Revolution Day (12 January), Union Day (26 April), Labours’ Day, Saba Saba (7 July, commemorating the establishment of TANU); Peasants’ Day (8 August) and Independence Day (9 December).

Commercial relations

India and Tanzania enjoy a vibrant business and commercial relationship. India is a leading trading partner of Tanzania, comprising 15% of Tanzania’s foreign trade. India is also among the top five investment sources in Tanzania and as per Tanzania Investment Centre, Indian investments in Tanzania add up to USD 2.2 billion. Major Indian companies and brands are present or operating in Tanzania include Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Canara Bank, Tata International Limited, Bharti Airtel, NMDC, Insurance companies (LIC, NIC and United India), Kamal Group of Industries, Escorts, Ashok Leyland, Eicher, Bajaj, TVS, Kirloskar, Shapoorji Pallonji, Larsen and Toubro, Godrej.

Tanzania’s major imports from India include petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, two/three-wheelers, wires and cables, electrical machinery/equipment, articles of iron and steel, and sugar.

Tanzania’s major exports to India include gold dore, cashew nuts, pulses, timber, spices (mainly cloves), ores and metal scrap and gemstones. There are periodic visits of business delegations in both directions to pursue commercial and collaboration opportunities


Citizens of India can obtain Tanzania visa either by applying to Tanzania High Commission, New Delhi, or Upon Arrival in Tanzania. Following documents required: Valid Passport with validity of 6 months and above, Printout of duly completed VISA application form, 2 Passport Size photos taken on white background, A photocopy of confirmed Return Ticket and Confirmed Hotel booking, Business Letter from your company or an Invitation Letter from Tanzania Counterpart (if Business Trip), b. official invitation letter from Tanzania (if Visiting, Working or Study reasons) and Safari (must be Confirmed) and if visiting relatives, Invitation letter from Tanzania counterpart is mandatory (for tourism). Visa fee payment is in Rupees by Bankers Draft addressed to Tanzania High Commission,New Delhi. They don’t accept cash.


Mount Kilimanjaro :Mount Kilimanjaro National Park is home to Africa’s highest mountain peak. Unlike other parks in northern Tanzania, this one is not visited for the wildlife but for the chance to stand in awe of this majestic snow-capped mountain and, for many, to climb to the summit. Mount Kilimanjaro can be climbed at any time, although the best period is from late June to October, during the dry season.

Stone Town: Stone Town is the cultural heart of Zanzibar and little has changed in the last 200 years. The grand old Arabian homes lining the narrow streets and winding alleys give the city its own unique charm. The town also has a couple of interesting old churches of historical significance. A walk along Creek Road takes visitors to the original Stone Town area and the location of the Central Darajani Market, Beit el-Amani, City Hall and the Anglican Cathedral. Some of the other key highlights include the Forodhani Gardens, the Old Dispensary with its carved wooden balconies, the former home of the sultans known as Beit el-Sahel, or the People’s Palace, the Hamamni Persian Baths built in 1888, and the oldest structure in Stone Town, the Old Fort.

Zanzibar beaches: The Zanzibar archipelago consists of the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. The island of Zanzibar, also called Unguja, is a major holiday destination known for its beautiful beaches. This island has some of the best beaches in the world with varying surf depending on what side of the island you are on.
Other attractions include Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, Mafia Island, Tarangire National Park, Pemba Island, Selous Game Reserve (largest game reserve in Africa), National Parks (such as Lake Manyara, Arusha, Ruaha, Katavi and Gombe Stream) and Lake Victoria.

Compiled by Kunal Jain ([email protected])