The United Republic of Tanzania is a nation in Centra East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.
The United Republic of Tanzania is a unitary republic composed of 26 mikoa (regions). The current head of state is President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, elected in 2005. Since 1996, the official capital of Tanzania has been Dodoma, where parliament and some government offices are located. Between independence and 1996, the major coastal city of Dar es Salaam had been the country's political capital. Today Dar es Salaam remains the principal commercial city of Tanzania and the de-facto seat of most government institutions. It is the major seaport for the country and its landlocked neighbors.
The name Tanzania is a combination of the previous states Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The two states united in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which later the same year was, renamed the United Republic of Tanzania. Tanzania's population has been estimated to consist of roughly one-third each Muslims, Christians and followers of indigenous religious groups. The national census, however, has not asked for religious affiliation since 1967 as the religious balance is seen as a sensitive topic. Thus all figures on religious statistics for Tanzania are at best educated guesswork and differ widely on the question whether there are more Christians or Muslims. Most assume that the share of traditionalists has dwindled.
The Christian population and cults are mostly composed of Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and J. Witnesses. Among Protestants the strong numbers of Lutherans and Moravians point to the German past of the country, the numbers of Anglicans to the British history of Tanganyika. All of them have had some influence in varying degress from the Walokole movement (East African Revival) which has also been fertile ground for the spread of charismatic and Pentecostal groups.
Zanzibar is believed to be more than 99 percent Muslim. On the mainland, Muslim communities are concentrated in coastal areas, with some large Muslim minorities also in inland urban areas especially and along the former caravan routes. A large majority of the Muslim population is Sunni. There are also active communities of other religious groups, primarily on the mainland, such as Buddhists, Hindus, and Baha'is.
English is no longer the official language in Tanzania, which is one of the few African states in which a local language has gained importance to the disadvantage of the ex-colonial language. Since English is still the language of higher courts, it can however be considered a de facto official language.
According to the official linguistic policy of Tanzania, as announced in 1984, Swahili is the language of the social and political sphere as well as primary and adult education, whereas English is the language of secondary education, universities, technology and higher courts. Though the British government financially supports the use of English in Tanzania, its usage in the Tanzanian society has diminished over the past decades. In the seventies, Tanzanian university students used to speak English with each other, whereas now they almost exclusively use Swahili outside the classroom. Even in secondary school and university classes, where officially only English should be used, it is now quite common to use a mix of Swahili and English.
Other spoken languages are Indian languages, especially Gujarati, and Portuguese (both spoken by Mozambican blacks and Goans) and to a lesser extent French (from neighboring Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo). Historically German was widely spoken during that colonial period, but few remain alive who remember that time.
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