Tanzania is found in East Africa, and the country shares its borders with Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, DRC, Burundi, Comoro islands, and Rwanda. The country also has a coastline along the Indian Ocean. The name Tanzania is a compound word which was created after the two states of Tanganyika and Zanzibar were combined to create one country, and the name was also changed to Tanzania. The name Tanganyika is derived from Swahili words Tanga which mean "sail" and Nyika which means "wilderness" or "plains." The name translates loosely to "sail in the wilderness." On the other hand, Zanzibar comes from two words; Zenji which means "black" in the local dialect and Barr which means "coast" or "shore" in the Arabic language. Here are 10 more interesting facts about Tanzania:
1. Tanzania contains the deepest lake in Africa.
Lake Tanganyika, one of the African Great Lakes, lies partially in Tanzania and is Africa’s deepest and second largest lake. About 40% of the lake lies in Tanzania while 40% is in DRC, and the remaining portion of the lake lies in Burundi and Zambia. The waters of Lake Tanganyika flow to Congo River and finally empty into the Atlantic Ocean.
2. The highest mountain in Africa is in Tanzania.
The continent’s tallest mountain is Kilimanjaro, which is found in Tanzania. The mountain rises to 19,341 feet above sea level and 16,100 feet from its base to the summit. The mountain is being studied by scientists due to its shrinking and disappearing glaciers and icefields. Mount Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano made up of three different volcanic cones of Kibo which is the highest, Shira, and Mawenzi.
3. The oldest hominid fossils were found in Tanzania.
Tanzania has played a vital role in helping us understand the evolution of the earliest humans. Olduvai Gorge is an essential paleoanthropological site in Tanzania where the famous archaeologist, Dr. Leakey, found a 2-million-year-old skull of Homo habilis which is believed to have occupied the region. Other fossils of hominids have been found in Tanzania like the 6 million-year-old Pliocene hominid. The Australopithecus roamed Africa about 2 to 4 million years ago.
4. More than 100 languages are spoken in Tanzania.
Tanzania is among the most diverse linguistically countries because, within its borders, more than 100 languages are spoken. Swahili is the national language, while English is the official language. About 10% of the country's population speaks Swahili as their first language, and about 90% speaks Swahili as a second language.
5. The largest crab in the world is found in Tanzania.
Tanzania hosts one of the largest crabs in the world. The coconut crab can measure up to 1 meter from one leg to the other, and it can weigh as much as 4.1 kilograms. They spend most of their time on land and are adept at climbing trees.
6. The world's shortest war took place in Tanzania.
In 1896, the world’s shortest war was fought in Tanzania between Britain and Zanzibar that lasted only 38 minutes. The Anglo-Zanzibar War began at 9:02 am on August 27, 1896, and by 9:40 am the British had declared victory.
7. Tanzania has one of the world's oldest ecosystems.
Serengeti National Park is believed to be the world’s oldest ecosystem and has not changed in more than 1 million years of its existence. The park's flora and fauna are believed to have experienced little change over the past million years.
8. Tanzania is known for its tree-climbing lions.
Lake Manyara National Park and Serengeti National Park have become famous for their tree-climbing lions. Thought to be a unique phenomenon, other tree-climbing lions have been discovered in Uganda, Botswana, and South Africa. The sight is not to be missed, however. It is thought that the lions climb trees to get a better view or to catch a cool breeze.
9. Tanzania is home to the world's only carbonatite volcano.
Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only volcano which emits natrocarbonatite lava rich in minerals that fertilize the surrounding plains. The active volcano is part of the East African Rift. The molten lava appears black upon eruption due to the low temperature (510 °C or 950 °F) in comparison to most lava which glows red.
10. Tanzania is home to hundreds of species of animals.
Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa and also has the world’s largest concentration of wild animals per square mile. The country has more than 430 species and subspecies of wild animals including over 300 species of mammals, of which 14 species are endemic. Tanzania contains several endangered mammal species. The greatest challenge has been poaching of animals, particularly the elephants.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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