Country Study: Tanzania

The ancient land of Zanzibar and Tanganika, located in modern Tanzania, was a center of the Arab slave trade.  Arabs would raid cities along the coasts and further inland, capturing and killing as many villagers as possible in their raids. The territory was taken over first by Germany and then by the British.  In 1961 Tanganyika won its independence. In 1964 Tanganyika and Zanzibar united to become the country, Tanzania.

This is Lake Manyara in Tanzania. The lake and the land surrounding it are in a national park. Wildebeests, baboons, hippos, elephants, lions, leopards, impalas and thousands of other species of animals live in this nature preserve. Photo by Fanny Schertzer, CC license, Wikimedia.

After poor experiences with western European governments, the new nation accepted the overtures of the Soviet Union and China and adopted communism.  Corruption, forced relocation, and communal farms became the rule.  The country was no longer just poor, they were now destitute and starving.  From the mid 1980’s on Tanzania has undergone some peaceful political and social reforms, moving away from the communist model and toward more freedom.  They are now in recovery and their economy is growing.

This is a marketplace where people buy and sell produce. Photo by Fanny Schertzer, CC license, Wikimedia.

Tanzania’s economy is primarily agricultural, but is rich in natural resources including gold and precious stones, and oil and gas. Industry is growing and various resources are in the process of being developed. They also have a tourism industry based around their national parks, Serengeti, being the most famous.

This is a view of Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Photo by Joachim Huber, CC license, Wikimeda.

Tanzania is the site of the great rift valley, Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park, Gombe National Park, where Jane Goodall did her chimp research, Lake Victoria, and Lake Tanganyika. It is the home of wildebeest, gorillas, lions, giraffes, elephants and thousands of other species, including many which are being discovered still.

This picture was taken in Serengeti National Park. You can see wildebeests and zebras. Photo by Ryskas. CC license, Wikimedia.


  • Color and label a Tanzania Map, including cities and natural features. This map shows the national parks enclosed in dotted lines.

Tanzania web

  • The flag of Tanzania is five oblique stripes in green, yellow, black, and blue. The green represents the land, the gold is for mineral wealth, the black is for the people, and the blue is for the sea. The flags of nations represent their countries in some way, through colors and symbols. Make a Tanzania flag with construction paper, then make your own flag using colors and shapes that represent you or your family.

  • Read more about the political struggles of Tanzania then discuss how the type of government we live under affects our lives. Communism, democracy, socialism, and republican forms of government have been tried all over the world. Which works best to make the people prosperous and happy?
  • Try some Tanzanian food, like ugali. Ugali is the main food for most Tanzanians. It’s a plain corn porridge to which is added whatever vegetables or meats are available.

Mix 2 cups corn flour (found as Mexican Masa de Harina in America) and 2 cups water in a bowl. Bring 6 additional cups of water to a boil in a sauce pan. Add 2 T. butter and a pinch of salt to the water. Stir the corn paste into the boiling water, stirring constantly. Add another 2 cups of flour slowly to the water as you stir. Keep stirring until it has turned into a stiff dough. Serve it with chicken, beef, or any vegetables you like.

This is ugali with fish and vegetables. Photo by Amakobe, CC license, Wikimedia.

Have bananas for dessert, they are cooked in a huge variety of Tanzanian dishes and are important to the diet. Make a fresh fruit pie with bananas, papaya, guava, pineapple, melon and/or oranges in a cooked pie crust. Pour a fruit syrup thickened with cornstarch over the whole and top with whipped cream.

Look up more recipes online, such as Zanzibar chicken.

  • Tsetse flies are one of the most unpleasant features of Tanzania. they are a biting fly that passes on sleeping sickness. They are such a problem that large areas of Tanzania are not populated because of the tsetse fly. They have been completely eradicated on the island of Zanzibar with vigorous programs. Other little critters cause great suffering in Tanzania, such as mosquitoes, which pass around malaria, and the little virus called HIV, which infects more Africans than any other people of the world. Research more about the tsetse fly. Draw a picture of the fly and write facts about it around the picture on a large paper or poster board. Present what you’ve found to a group. Be ready to answer questions.
This is a waterfront street in Zanzibar, an island of Tanzania. Photo by Olivier Lejade, CC license, Wikimedia.
  • Make a shadow box of the Serengeti plain. Use a shoe box as the frame. Draw or paint a background of grassy plains and lots of blue sky. In the distance paint in Mount Kilimanjaro. Make paper stand-up animals to place in your box, like elephants, wildebeests, lions, gazelles, crocodiles and hippos. Place a couple of baobab trees in your scenery too. Learn a little bit about each animal and show off and explain your creation.
  • Kids in Tanzania don’t have store bought toys. But they still like to play. Make your own toys out of stuff you find around the house, like kids from poor countries. Try making a doll, a car, or animal figures. Kids all over the world play hide and seek too. Play it the Tanzanian way by shouting “Oh! Oo! Ay!” when you are ready for “it” to come find you. Then when you’re caught wait by the “monkey tree”, a designated home, until everyone is found.
These are some school children from Tanzania. Photo by I, Inisheer, CC license, Wikimedia.
  • Tanzanians have won national acclaim in running events, like the Olympics and marathon competitions in major cities. Try running a long distance race like a 5k. Train first like an African by running every day for a month or six weeks before the race.

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