The great wildebeest migration may be one of the major highlights of Tanzania, but there is so much more Tanzania has to offer. Its people, their culture and history make Tanzania all the more fascinating and many visitors travel to Tanzania to immerse themselves into the culture and learn more about the local communities and their traditions.
In addition, visitors can also see anthropological sites, museums and ruins – remnants of old times – and of course Tanzania has a diverse ecosystem providing a home for hundreds of species. We have listed some unique facts about, not just Tanzania’s safari and geography, but also about Tanzania in general.
Tanzania General Facts
- Tanzania gets its name from the two states that were merged to create the country in 1964. The ‘Tan’ is from Tanganyika, ‘Zan’ is from Zanzibar and ‘ia’ is a suffix. The names of the former states were derived from Swahili words.
- The Tanzanian national flag has four colours – green, yellow, black and blue. The green stands for Tanzania’s natural resources, yellow represents the mineral deposits found in the country, black stands for the native black African people of Tanzania, and blue represents the vast water bodies.
- The national anthem of Tanzania, Mungu Ibariki Afrika, was composed by late South African composer Enoch Mankayi Sontonga.
- Before the creation of the capital Dodoma in 1974, Dar-es-Salaam was the capital of Tanzania. Dodoma used to be a small market known as Idodomya, before being developed by German colonists who were building the Tanzania central railway in 1907. Due to social and historical issues, any plans to control and retain Dar-es-Salaam as the capital failed. Dodoma, on the other hand, provided a chance to create social and economic improvements as well as the fact that it is in a much more central location so it became the national capital.
- In 1896, the Anglo-Zanzibar War between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar lasted for 45 minutes. The war is known as the shortest war in history.
- The most diverse country linguistically in East Africa, Tanzania has a total of 119 languages. Swahili is the national language of Tanzania while English and Swahili are the official languages as well as Arabic in Zanzibar. Tanzania is the only African country with tribes representing the continent’s major ethnolinguistic groups: Bantu, Cushitic, Nilotic, Khoisan.
Tanzania Geographical Features
- Tanzania, with its 365,756 square kilometre area, is the largest country in East Africa.
- The renowned palaeoanthropological site Oldupai (Olduvai) Gorge is located in Tanzania. The gorge is known for the discovery of early human fossils.
- At Laetolithe, a footprint trail of early hominids who evolved and first stood upright over 3.7millions years ago was first discovered.
- There is demand for the expensive timber obtained from Tanzania’s mpingo trees.
- Gregory Rift in Arusha, Tanzania, is presently home to the only active carbonatite volcano in the world, Ol Doinyo Lengai. The carbonatite lava is rich in sodium, potassium carbonates, gregoryite and nyerereite. The lava composition causes eruptions at low temperatures. Unlike the silicate lava, carbonatite lava doesn’t have a red glow, often characterized as volcano lava, instead the lava appears black in sunlight.
- Even after one million years, the Serengeti ecosystem has retained its diversity of rich flora and fauna, with the majority endemic to the plains.
There are seven official World Heritage Sites in Tanzania:
- Kondoa RockArt Sites
- Kilimanjaro National Park
- Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara
- Serengeti National Park
- Selous Game Reserve
- Stone Town of Zanzibar
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Apart from these seven, the Tanzania government has a tentative list of five sites to be nominated for World Heritage Site status:
- Eastern Arc Mountains Forests of Tanzania
- Gombe National Park
- Oldonyo Murwak
- Jozani-Chwaka Bay Conservation Area
- The central slave and ivory trade route
Interesting Facts About Tanzania Safaris
- Around 30% of Tanzania is reserved for wildlife conservation areas, including national parks, game reserves, forest reserves and marine parks. Tanzania has around 40 national parks and game reserves.
- Tanzania is home to 430 different wildlife species which includes 310 mammal species. It also has around 20% of Africa’s large mammal concentration.
- Tanzania ranks fourth on Africa’s list of the largest number of animal species (countrywise).
- A remarkable birding destination, Tanzania has around 960-1000 bird species, ranking third on Africa’s list of the largest number of bird species (countrywise).
- There are around 25 species of reptiles, 100 species of snakes and 60,000 insect species in Tanzania.
- In addition to the fauna, Tanzania also has 11,000 plant species, a large number of which are endemic to Tanzania.
- Mount Kilimanjaro – the world-renowned dormant volcano – is in Tanzania. At 5,895 meters it is the highest mountain in Africa. It has a diverse ecosystem that includes rainforest, moorland, alpine desert, cultivated land, heath and the Arctic summit. These ecosystems are rarely found together at such close proximity.
- Tanzania is home to part of the Great Lake Tanganyika, the deepest lake in the world.
- With the largest African wild dog population in Africa, Tanzania is an exceptional safari destination for African wild dog viewing. The African wild dog is also known as the painted dog or Cape hunting dog.
- In 2003, a new monkey species, Kipunji, was discovered in Tanzania. This newly discovered species has been classified as endangered due to their low numbers found only in Tanzania’s Rungwe-Livingstone forests and Ndundulu forest.
- Zanzibar leopards are endemic to Zanzibar, Tanzania. It is an evolved African leopard species, thought to have evolved when the island split from Tanzania mainland due to rising sea levels, probably during the last ice age. As they evolved, the rosettes diminished into spots and the leopard’s size altered, becoming smaller.
- Tanzania is home to 126 tribes, each with their own rich cultural history and distinct cultural traditions. Some of the tribes you might come across on safari include Maasai, Sukuma, Chagga, Hadzabe and Iraqw.
- Some of the baobab trees found in Tarangire National Park are centuries old. Baobab trees can live for thousands of years; the oldest one in South Africa is rumoured to be 6,000 years old.
- Another attraction in Tarangire National Park is the unusual tree-climbing lions, a behaviour they’ve been doing for years. No one really knows why the lions exhibit this behaviour, but some suggest that it’s a way of the lions avoiding irritating insect bites when lying on the ground or to escape the sweltering heat at ground level.
- The Zanzibar archipelago, with its stunning beaches, is home to the coconut crab, also known as the robber crab. It’s the largest land-living crab in the world with a carapace diameter of up to 45 cm. The name coconut crab comes from the crab’s favourite food, coconuts, which it opens with powerful claws once it’s climbed the coconut tree.
Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *