Tanzania is an East African country well known for its exotic wildlife and fascinating geographical landscapes. The country’s national language is Swahili and English, though there are over 100 languages being spoken in Tanzania. There are also more than 120 indigenous tribal groups, of which the Sukuma is the largest ethnic group consisting of approximately 5.5 million members that make up around 16% of the country’s total population. It is the oldest known continuously inhabited areas on earth and fossils of humans and hominids dating back to 2 million years ago have been uncovered in the country. Indeed, this is a country steeped in historical and geographical significance, as it boasts ownership of the tallest free standing mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro (with a height of 5895 metres), the world’s largest volcanic crater, Ngorongoro, (with a diameter of 19kms and and depth of 600 metres) and even the earliest discovery of the human skull in the world, in Olduvai Gorge.
Besides the above mentioned popular tourist destinations, Tanzania is also known for its many National parks. In fact, they occupy 30% of the country’s land area. One such park is the Ruaha National Park, the largest in Tanzania with the largest population of wild elephants in all of East Africa. This place is ideal for a safari vacation and includes plenty of game-viewing trails along the Ruaha River, offering glimpses of lion prides, cheetahs, hyenas, and wild African dogs, just to name a few. Another Park you may be interested in visiting is Lake Manyara National Park. Though it is smaller than Ruaha National Park, it is home to the famous tree-climbing lion population. If you are interested in visiting a place of historical significance, Gombe Stream National Park is worth the visit, as it was where Jane Goodall carried out her famous research on Chimpanzees in their natural habitat. Amazingly, with more than 4 million wild animals within the periphery, Tanzania has the biggest concentration of animals per square kilometre, in the world. Although, many wildlife species are endangered and facing threats of extinction due to illegal poaching.
If there was any dish that could be regarded as the national dish of Tanzania, it would have to be Ugali. This dish, which is typically eaten with your hands, is usually composed of corn flour and has a consistency similar to that of porridge, and is served with stew and cooked meat. Other local cuisines include Mtori, cooked beef and bananas, and Chai Maziwa, (chai with milk) which is worth trying if you do not mind the relatively large amounts of sugar added to the drink. In general, Tanzanian meals usually include a preferred staple such as rice or plantains. Food also plays an important part in celebratory occasions, demanding large platters of food to be served.
Interestingly, performing arts play an important part and are integral to each individual tribe in Tanzania. The tribes are characterized by their distinctive dances, music and theatrical performances, for example- the Snake dance performed by the Sukuma tribe. Some of the tribes are even invited to Dar es Salaam (a major city on Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast) to perform for the president or ministers. Dar es Salaam is also home to many traditional festivals celebrated in Tanzania, and is the perfect opportunity to gain further exposure to the local culture of the country. Examples of festivals include but are not limited to, the Wanyambo Festival, and the Mzalendo Halisi Music Festival, where cultural exhibitions are held and performers give the audience a taste of Tanzanian music, all in a proud display of local cuture.