Tanzania - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

Tanzania - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

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Don't pack anxiety in your suitcase! By reading Culture Smart! Tanzania before you go, will ease your travel, help you to make friends and avoid confusion. Culture Smart! Tanzania will help you to understand local manners, customs and laws. Culture Smart! Tanzania goes the extra mile to help you brush up on your cultural small talk and will make you confident in leaving your comfort zone far behind. Walk hand in hand with a Culture Smart! guide and avoid misunderstandings that could cost you valuable time, money and enjoyment...With Culture Smart! Tanzania you will learn about daily living, historical perspectives, taboos, business etiquette, eating and drinking and much more, allowing you to experience the country like a native.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781520030982
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Publication date: 06/28/2016
Series: Culture Smart! Series
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 6.04(w) x 5.04(h) x 1.13(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Quintin Winks is a Canadian who's long indulged his passion for travel and adventure. He's easiest to find skiing steep Rocky Mountain powder, dropping down the faces of tropical waves on his surfboard or exploring remote parts of the world on a mountain bike. He is an avid photographer and is the author of Culture Smart! Tanzania. He graduated in 2002 from Langara College with a diploma in journalism.

Anna Bentinck is a hugely experienced audiobook narrator having recorded a wide variety of audiobooks including genres from classics to teenage sci-fi, children's titles and animation.

Read an Excerpt


By Quintin Winks

Bravo Ltd

Copyright © 2009 Kuperard
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-85733-625-2



Tanzania is a land of wonder. It is sandwiched between the scorching equator, the Great Rift Valley — considered to be the "cradle of mankind" — and the absurdly blue Indian Ocean. It is home to Africa's highest mountain, deepest and largest lakes, and the Ngorongoro Crater, the biggest intact volcanic caldera on the planet. The Serengeti alone, one of the world's most famous national parks, hosts more amazing wild animals than all existing zoos combined. Meanwhile, Tanzania's rivers hide prehistoric reptiles and its plains support truck-sized pachyderms.


Tanzania is at the heart of East Africa. It borders Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda and Burundi to the northwest, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Zambia to the southwest, and Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The Zanzibar archipelago forms the country's eastern boundary in the Indian Ocean, lying a little more than 18 miles (30 km) off the mainland, surrounded by white sand and electric blue water.

At 364,900 sq. miles (945,087 sq. km), Tanzania is almost four times the size of the United Kingdom and about one-tenth that of the United States. Its main geographical feature is the Maasai Steppe, a large, semiarid plateau that rises more than 3,300 ft (1,000 m) above sea level. There are also three main mountain ranges — Pare and Usambara in the northeast and Livingstone in the southwest. Mount Kilimanjaro, near the northern border with Kenya, is Africa's highest mountain at 19,337 ft (5,894 m).

Kilimanjaro, along with Mount Meru, is a product of the East African rift system. The Great Rift Valley was born following a collision between two enormous tectonic plates about 30 million years ago. As the plates diverged following the collision, the earth's crust dropped back down between them, forming deep lakes and volcanic calderas. The valley runs north–south for some 4,039 miles (6,500 km) and is regarded by many archaeologists as humanity's birthplace.

To the northwest are Tanzania's great lakes. Lake Victoria is Africa's most extensive and Lake Tanganyika has the greatest depth, a maximum of 4,823 ft (1,470 m). Flowing into Lake Tanganyika is the Kalambo River, which tumbles over Kalambo Falls, the second-highest waterfall in Africa with a single drop of well over 650 ft (200 m).

While the huge lakes and waterfalls are undoubtedly spectacular, it is Tanzania's national parks and game reserves that attract widespread international interest. The Serengeti is one of the world's most globally renowned parks. Its sprawling plains can be found in the country's northeast, along with nearby Ngorongoro Crater. Mikumi National Park and the Selous Game Reserve — the largest in Africa — are located in the central south of Tanzania and numerous smaller, lesser-known parks also dot the landscape. Gombe National Park, lying to the west, was made famous by Dr. Jane Goodall and her studies of chimpanzee behavior.


Tanzania's climate is as varied as its geography, challenging travelers to come prepared for anything: the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro is covered year-round by ice and snow, while the coast is hot and humid. The sun-baked, dry plains of the Maasai Steppe are in stark contrast to the cooler and greener mountain ranges.

Its location near the equator means that seasonal temperature changes in Tanzania are not extreme; winter and summer are both warm. Those unaccustomed to the tropics might find Tanzania hot, especially during the summer months from late December until February, while visitors to the coast might find the heat particularly wilting under a thick blanket of humidity. The winter months from late June to October are Tanzania's coolest. The short rains, so named because they tend to fall for little more than an hour or two each day, occur between October and December. The long rains, which can last days, are experienced March to May.

The coast and offshore islands are always warm, with an average year-round temperature of 80–84°F (27–29°C), though the Kasikazi and Kusi trade winds typically moderate this heat. In the central, northern, and western regions, the temperature, regulated by the highland plateau, ranges between 68 and 80°F (20–27°C) through June and August and there is low humidity, though it can reach the 86°F (30°C) level, higher between the months of December and March. In Tanzania's mountainous northeast and southwest the temperature occasionally drops below 59°F (15°C) at night during June and July. In the area around the Rungwe Mountains it can dip as low as 42°F (6°C).

Rainfall in the country's central region is sparse, usually less than 20 in (500 mm) annually; on the coast that jumps to between 39 and 74 in (1,000 and 1,900 mm). The mountains in the northeast and southwest also receive substantial rainfall, over 78.75 in (2,000 mm) falling annually.


Tanzania is one of Africa's premier wildlife watching destinations, with few other countries on earth offering such a diverse collection of big animals in such varied topography and climate. Though, in Africa as a whole, poaching and hunting have greatly reduced the numbers of animals, the Tanzanian government's progressive stance on preservation and sustainability means that creatures from elephants to honey badgers and leopards to flamingos remain easily accessible through world-class national parks and reserves. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of animal species within Tanzania and a similar range of birds. The mountains, jungles, plains, rivers, and lakes all offer abundant viewing of everything from insects to members of the big five: lions, rhinoceroses, elephants, leopards, and buffalo. On the coast, rich mangrove swamps shelter fish and other ocean dwellers, while marine parks provide some of the best snorkeling anywhere. Palm trees nourish the rare coconut crab and colossal baobab trees ensure honeybees can produce their exotic nectar. Meanwhile, colobus monkeys continue their mischief and butterflies of all shapes and sizes help to pollinate the forests.


Tanzanians are typically native Africans, live in the countryside, and work in agriculture. They can trace their lineage from one of the 130 or so Bantu tribes in Tanzania and have an average life expectancy of 51 years (50 for men, 52 for women). Of the total population, 44 percent are aged under fourteen and 53 percent from fifteen to sixty-four, so there is only a tiny number of elderly. Statistically, Tanzanians are either Muslim or Christian and speak Swahili, a Bantu language with strong Arabic — and more recently English — infusions. Typically they are literate, though they are unlikely to have completed postsecondary education. While most Tanzanians fit all or part of this description, it is still a broad generalization. Additional numbers provide a more detailed picture of the population.

There are 40.2 million Tanzanian residents and all but some 400,000 are of African descent, the rest Asian, European, and Arab. Recent population estimates of the Asian community (including Hindus, Sikhs, Shia and Sunni Muslims, and Parsis) are 50,000 on the mainland and 4,000 on Zanzibar. An estimated 70,000 Arabs and 10,000 Europeans (most of whom were born in Africa) also reside in Tanzania.

Most native Africans indigenous to Zanzibar belong to one of three groups named after their island of origin: the Hadimu, found mostly in the south of Zanzibar; the Tumbatu, from Umbatu Island; and the Wapemba from Pemba Island.

The Zanzibar archipelago is a Muslim enclave; people of this faith account for 99 percent of the population.

Language and Identity

The majority of Tanzanians — roughly 95 percent — are speakers of Bantu languages. Each ethnic group, like the Hehe (Iringa region), Sukuma (Mwanza and southern Lake Victoria), and the Nyamwezi (Tabora region), has its own language and for most it is the members' first. But the national language is Swahili, which almost everyone speaks. English is considered an official language and is the primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education.

Also spoken are Indian languages, Portuguese (both by Mozambican blacks and Goans), and Arabic, which is still widely used on Zanzibar. Those who historically migrated south from the Nile River, known as Nilotic people, include the nomadic Maasai and, to a lesser extent, the Luo, though both are found in greater numbers in neighboring Kenya. Languages of the Khoisan family are specific to two small groups, the Bushman and Khoikhoi peoples. Migrants from the Ethiopian Highlands, such as the Iraqw and the tiny Gorowa and Burungi tribes, speak Cushitic. Other Bantu-speaking groups were refugees from Mozambique.


3.6 Million Years Ago

The history of Tanzania dates from long before the establishment of political boundaries, before written or oral records, even before modern man.

Between 1962 and 1964, archaeologists discovered some of the world's oldest evidence of humans: bones dating from nearly two million years ago unearthed in and around Olduvai Gorge in northeast Tanzania. This area is often described as the "cradle of mankind." The Laetoli footprints, the earliest known of the immediate ancestors of humans, were also discovered in Tanzania and are estimated to be about 3.6 million years old.

8000–1000 BCE

Human settlement in what would eventually become Tanzania has progressed gradually since earliest times. Archaeologists believe that about 10,000 years ago the land was sparsely populated by hunter-gatherer societies, most likely Khoisan-speaking people. Five thousand years later, Cushitic speakers began to drift in from the Ethiopian Highlands and North Africa. These tribes introduced basic techniques of agriculture, food production, and cattle farming. As time went by, they absorbed the hunter-gatherer communities of the region. Then, from about 1000 BCE, a cycle of migrations began that would alter the scope of human settlement on the landscape.

Of interest, the Hadzabe people form one of the oldest hunter-gatherer tribes in the world. They still live off the land in central and northern Tanzania.

1000 BCE–1800 CE

Bantu speakers from West Africa's Niger Delta began drifting east, arriving in Tanzania's Lake Victoria region as early as 1000 BCE. For the next nine centuries, they would continue to migrate, spreading over much of present-day Tanzania. They brought with them advanced agricultural techniques, ironworking skills, and new ideas of social and political organization. This large group slowly absorbed the Cushitic and the remaining pockets of Khoisan speakers. Eventually, smaller groups of Nilotic people started to arrive from southern Sudan, first fighting and then mixing with the area's Bantu speakers. This migration continued until about 350 years ago, with the most significant influxes taking place in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Most Nilotic people, like the Maasai, were pastoralists and many settled in the less fertile areas of north-central Tanzania where their herds could graze.

Through this migration and evolution, an informal system of ntemi chiefdoms emerged. Ntemi is the Bantu word for chief. It comes from the verb kutema, which literally means to cut down trees or to clear bush. The chiefs were so named because of their early roles in blessing the land at the beginning of each cultivation season, when it was cleared. The name could also refer to the cutting short of arguments by village elders following an important discussion. Each chief had a council of advisers in a system that was structured, flexible, and benevolent. By the nineteenth century there were an estimated 200 or more chiefs in western and central Tanzania, presiding over a population of about 200,000 people.

The Coast

While migrant groups were trickling into Tanzania and the East African interior, recorded history was unfolding on the coast. It was here, on the shores of the Indian Ocean, that the outside world first collided with that of East Africa. This coastal area became known to Arab traders as Azania and later as the Land of Zinj, or the "Land of Blacks."

Permanent settlements sprang up along the Tanzanian coast as early as 1000 BCE. Traders from the Roman Empire and later from Persia and Arabia came ashore and began assimilating with the indigenous Bantu speakers. From this mix came both the Swahili language and its culture. Swahili is derived from the Arabic word sahil, both meaning "of the coast." The Arabian traders also introduced Islam, which by the eleventh century had attracted a huge following. The heyday for these traders was between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, when trade in ivory, gold, and other goods spanned the Indian Ocean and beyond, reaching as far away as China.

When the Portuguese arrived at the end of the fifteenth century, they found East Africa's most powerful trade center at Kilwa Kisiwani. The Portuguese promptly plundered the wealthy city-state, originally established by Arab traders. This marked the beginning of Portugal's brutal reign over the region. It was not until 1698 that the Portuguese were driven out, after Kilwa sought help from the Omani Arabs. The Omani Al Bu Said dynasty replaced the region's Yarubi leaders in 1741, and proceeded to develop trade further. It was during this time that Zanzibar gained its legendary status as a focus for the slave and ivory trades, becoming in 1841 the capital city of the sultan of Oman.

The European Explorers

While slaves — some 600,000 were sold through Zanzibar during the height of trading between 1830 and 1873 — and ivory poured into the coast, European explorers set off in the opposite direction. From the 1850s, pioneers such as John Speke, Richard Burton, Henry Morton Stanley, and Dr. David Livingstone pushed into the heart of Africa. But with the age of European exploration of the continent came colonial domination.

In 1822 the British imposed the Moresby Treaty on Sultan Seyyid Said in order to limit the slave trade in his African and Omani dominions, but it continued unabated until finally outlawed in 1873. The legal status of slavery was not abolished in Zanzibar until 1897. The USA, Britain, and France meanwhile established diplomatic relations with Zanzibar, which was the first territory in tropical Africa to enjoy such a connection. In 1861, following a dispute over the succession after the death of Seyyid, Zanzibar and Oman separated.

Zanzibari control of the East African coast was increasingly challenged by German colonial activity. In 1890 Britain obtained a protectorate over Zanzibar and recognized Germany's claims to the mainland. The colony of German East Africa was formally established in 1897. Following Germany's defeat in the First World War, the League of Nations gave most of German East Africa to Britain to govern as the mandated territory of Tanganyika, and it remained under Britain's purview for almost a half century.


British colonial rule in Tanganyika was relatively uneventful, though during the period a steady groundswell of nationalism began to emerge among Tanganyikans. Some of this derived from past injustices and resentment of partiality toward white settlers and Asians in the agricultural and business sectors. But it was the Second World War that sectors. But it was the Second World War that really provided the impetus for independence. Some 100,000 native Tanganyikans fought for the Allies overseas and their exposure to other countries and cultures increased their awareness of their status as second-class citizens at home. They had fought hard for democracy and against racism in Europe, yet came home to a country mired in racist and undemocratic policies.


Excerpted from Tanzania by Quintin Winks. Copyright © 2009 Kuperard. Excerpted by permission of Bravo Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
About the Author,
Map of Tanzania,
Key Facts,
Chapter 6: TIME OUT,
Further Reading,

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Tanzania - Culture Smart!: the essential guide to customs & culture 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
_Zoe_ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a small book that serves well as a basic introduction to Tanzania in general and Tanzanian culture in particular. I certainly discovered some useful information by reading it, but at the same time, I would have liked something that went a bit deeper. While I'm glad I read it, I haven't yet decided whether it's worth the suitcase space required to bring it along for reference.