• Full name: United Republic of Tanzania
  • Population: 38.4 million
  • Capital: Dodoma
  • Area: 945,087 sq km (364,900 sq miles), approx. twice the size of California
  • Major languages: English, Swahili
  • Major religions: Mainland: Christian 30%, Muslim 35%, indigenous beliefs 35%; Zanzibar: 99% Muslim
  • Monetary unit: 1 Tanzanian shilling = 100 cents
  • Independence: 1964
  • People: With more than 120 indigenous groups, the majority of Tanzanians are of Bantu descent; the Sukuma constitute the largest group, others being the Nyamwezi, Hehe, Nyakyusa, Makonde, Yao, Haya, Chaga, Gogo, and Ha.

Reading Suggestions for Tanzania:

Reading good books about the areas you’re visiting tends to make your trip much fuller and more rewarding. As weight on light aircraft is limited, you might consider reading the thickest books before you leave for your trip!

The major country-specific guidebooks (i.e., Lonely Planet, Rough Guide) tend to offer a good overview of the country’s history. One of the best resources for travel books is Longitude Books. They organize books by country/region, which makes it easy to see what is available.

Many books will give you insight into Tanzania. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Longitudes Site
  • Various books by Dale Read provide enjoyable tales about life in the bush: Barefoot over the Serengeti; Beating About the Bush; Another Load of Bull
  • An Ice Cream War by William Boyd
  • Born Wild by Tony Fitzjohn
  • Darwin’s Dreampond: Drama on Lake Victoria by Tijs Goldschmidt
  • Life in the Footsteps of the Great Explorers by Kingsley Holgate; a blend of travelogue and history as he follows the paths of early African explorers. His “Cape to Cairo” chronicles take him through E. Africa and along the coast.
  • Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah. The story is set in colonial East Africa during the First World War and was short-listed for the Booker Prize for Fiction.


  • The Serengeti Shall Not Die by Bernhard Grzimek; German nature documentary made in 1959; winner of the Academy Award for documentary feature
  • A Panther in Africa by Peter O’Neil; the story of one of the original Black Panthers who fled from the US to Tanzania and still lives there today