Whether you are looking for a destination where you can relax after a few busy weeks, or where you can discover the impressive nature that our country lacks, a holiday to Tanzania offers it all. Make sure you are not faced with any surprises by reading this page with useful tips and facts about the country, and apply for your Tanzania visa in time.
Facts and numbers
|Language||Swahili is the official national language|
|Religion||Christianity (60%), Islam (35%), traditional natural religions (5%)|
|Time difference||Time zone UTC +4 (summer time: 2 hours later than in the UK, winter time: 3 hours later than in the UK)|
|Flight time||11.5 hours from London to Dar es Salaam|
|Plugs||Travel plugs required for outlets type D and G|
|Tap water||Not safe to drink|
|Visa||A visa is mandatory|
Tanzania is located in East Africa and shares land borders with Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. The country is surrounded by large bodies of water. Apart from the Indian Ocean, Lake Victoria, Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika are located on the country’s outskirts. The bestknown and largest city is Dar es Salaam, although it is not the capital. The more centrally located Dodoma has been chosen as the country’s capital. By far the largest part of the population lives in the cities on the coast or on the islands of Zanzibar or Pemba. The island of Zanzibar attracts many tourists who come to the country to relax. The large national parks, including the Serengeti, are located in the north of the country.
The name ‘Tanzania’ comes from a contraction of Tanganyika and Zanzibar as a result of the union of these countries in 1964. Prior to this, these were separate countries, both of which had gained their independence only shortly before. For economic reasons, the global superpowers were very interested in these countries.
Together with present-day Burundi and Rwanda, the former Tanganyika formed a colony of Germany under the name German East Africa until the First World War. With a surface area of almost 995,000 km², the total German territory was about three times as large as Germany is today. By the Treaty of Versailles, Germany lost its colonies, including German East Africa. The area was split up and Tanganyika fell under British control from then on.
Under the Portuguese rule in 1503, Zanzibar quickly lost the good trading position it had enjoyed before. From 1698, Zanzibar was part of Oman and in the 19th century, the area fell into British hands. Zanzibar became independent in 1963.
When Zanzibar still belonged to England, the shortest war ever took place between Zanzibar and the United Kingdom in 1896. Zanzibar reportedly surrendered within 38 to 45 minutes, resulting in the appointment of a new sultan (Sultan Hamoud bin Mohammed). Under the leadership of this sultan, the slave trade came to an end.
Best travel period Tanzania
Warm temperatures are typical of Tanzania, as it lies close to the equator. This means that there is never a bad time to travel to Tanzania! During the day the average temperature is between 25 and 30 degrees and at night, the country has pleasant temperatures that allow for a good night’s rest. The months of May to October see the least precipitation.
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To enjoy unique landscapes, the most beautiful nature reserves and the most varied fauna, Tanzania is the place to be. The country has no fewer than 14 national parks and 30 reserves. Most parks are located in the north of the country and together form a paradise for nature lovers. All members of the Big Five can be admired during your safari in Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, even though these are depleted populations that can only be spotted in five places in the whole of Africa.
In addition to its many game reserves, the country is also known for the Kilimanjaro - a mountain massif made up of three stratovolcanoes - and for Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. Not surprisingly, it is a thriving tourist destination on the continent.
Swahili - called ‘Kiswahili’ in Tanzania - is a special language. Although it is the official language of Tanzania and Kenya and is spoken by approximately 50 million people in five countries in East Africa, it is the mother tongue of only five to ten million people. The mother tongue of the remaining 45 million people is another Bantu language. The language has long served as a lingua franca - a language that enables communication between people who have mastered different mother tongues. In Swahili, every letter is pronounced, including consonants or letters that appear twice. Swahili is increasingly giving way to English in secondary and higher education, in parliament and on official occasions. This makes English the second official language in Tanzania. Although Tanzanians pronounce English words differently, the majority of the population has mastered the language.
Africans form the largest population group in Tanzania. They make up 99% of the population. The Bantu people, who form 95% of the African population, count more than 130 nations that treat each other with respect. The largest ethnic group are the Sukuma (12%), followed by the Nyamwezi (9%), the Hehe/Bena (8%), the Haya (7%), the Swahili (6%), the Chagga (6%) and the Makonde. The inhabitants are characterised by respect for the elderly, the traditional division of labour between men and women and close ties to family. The people are very polite. You are expected to greet them, and wearing covering clothes is appreciated. This is partly because 35% of the population is Muslim. The majority of Muslims live on Zanzibar. No less than 95% of the inhabitants there are followers of Islam. Because of this, the traditional holidays, as well as the religious holidays of both Christianity and Islam, are celebrated extensively.
Money and currency
In Tanzania, people pay with the Tanzanian shilling. On 26 February of the year 2021, £1,00 equalled 3.214,85 Tanzanian shillings. Notes are available in denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 TZS. All these notes are accepted everywhere without any problem. The change, however, sometimes causes complications, so make sure you also have lower denominations at hand.
Credit cards are not widely accepted, and the use of bank cards outside Europe has been banned for security reasons. Before you leave, make sure that your bank card can also be used to make payments outside Europe.
Travel to Tanzania is only allowed with a valid visa. Since 2018, it is possible to apply for an e-visa. This is an electronic document in pdf format. Because the e-visa Tanzania can be applied for easily and cheaply online, it is the most popular visa type for Tanzania. Make sure you meet all visa requirements before applying. If you still have questions about the visa, read the frequently asked questions about the visa here.Apply for a Tanzania visa now