Positive economic developments make Tanzania an upcoming trading hub for East Africa
Tanzania is a glaring example of the effect of the change from state socialism to unfettered competition under the open market economy system. Many attribute the changes to post-Nyerere governments embracing liberalisation policies. The dawn of an open economic system has brought trade tariffs tumbling down, paved ways for multinational corporations and attracted international money lenders.
The liberalisation process began in Tanzania in 1985 when President Nyerere resigned, admitting that his economic policies were spinning the country into monetary crisis. His successors, first Ali Hassan Mwinyi and now Benjamin Mkapa, have opened the borders to foreign companies and foreign donors. According to recent statistics tourism grew at six per cent per annum in 2000 and the country earned about $350 from international tourism. Nearly 25 per cent of the country’s total export earnings come from tourism, making tourism the top foreign exchange earner, after coffee. Diamonds are by far the most important of the minerals currently being exploited in Tanzania. Large deposits of coal and iron ore are known to exist in the region. Forest land constitutes one of the most substantial natural resources of the country. Among the many hardwoods found are mahogany and camphorwood. The country abounds in wildlife, including the following: antelope, zebra, elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah, and monkey.
More than 80% of the economically active population is engaged in farming, and agricultural products account for about 75% of the annual exports. The country is the largest producer in the world of sisal and cloves. A series of development plans has stressed growth of the agricultural cash economy and a reduction in dependence on imports for manufactured goods. The currency unit is the Tanzanian shilling, which replaced the East African shilling in 1966. In 1967, Tanzania nationalised most banks, amalgamating them into the National Bank of Commerce. In the late 1980s the imports were valued at $1.2 billion annually, and exports totaled about $372 million. Coffee, cotton, diamonds, tobacco, tea, and sisal made up the bulk of exports. Main imports were petroleum, machinery, transportation equipment, iron and steel and other metals, and food and live animals. Britain, Germany, Japan, Italy, Iran, Denmark, and the Netherlands are the leading trade partners. Considerable foreign exchange is also derived from tourists, about 65,000 of whom visited Tanzania annually in the mid-1980s, mostly to see Mount Kilimanjaro and Serengeti National Park. Tanzania is a member of the East African Community, an economic alliance with Uganda and Kenya.
THE ZANZIBAR CONNECTION
As early as the 8th century AD, Zanzibar and other islands off the coast of East Africa became bases for Arab merchants trading with the mainland, which they called the Land of Zenj (Arabic, « blacks »), or Azania. In the course of time some of these – including Zanzibar and Kilwa – became independent Muslim sultanates with mixed Arab and African populations. In the 16th and 17th centuries they were dominated by the Portuguese, and in the 18th century, Zanzibar and Pemba were subject to the sultans of Masqat and Oman.
In 1832, the Omani Sultan Sayyid Said established his residence on Zanzibar, where he promoted the production of cloves and palm oil and carried on an active slave trade with the interior. His domain, which included parts of the mainland, was a commercial rather than a territorial empire. His successors did not have a legal claim to the lands they controlled commercially, and did not have the power to keep the Germans and British from annexing them when the European nations began dividing up Africa later in the century. Zanzibar was declared a British protectorate in 1890; the sultan was retained for ceremonial purposes, but most major decisions were made by the British resident.
Sultan Khalifa ibn Harub used his influence to support British rule. At the time of his death, Britain was divesting itself of its African colonies, and Zanzibar, troubled by political factionalism, was granted independence in December 1963. Think of Zanzibar and images of romantic dhows with curved white sails, veiled women, ancient ruins and exotic spices float before your eyes. Zanzibar is known throughout the world as the jewel of the Indian Ocean and has a romantic, colourful history of seafarers and explorers, of riches and tragedy, and the dark stain of slavery. Once the trading centre of East Africa, Zanzibar attracted Sumerians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Arabs, Chinese and Malays. The great explorers, Burton, Speke, Livingstone and Krapf continued their journeys from these shores.
EMIRATES AIRLINE STARTS DIRECT FLIGHTS
From the snows of Mount Kilimanjaro, the vast plains of the Serengeti and the unique Ngorongoro Crater, to the barefoot luxury of its Indian Ocean islands, Tanzania offers some of the most wonderful locations in Africa. Tanzania is home to one of Africa s most magnificent game reserves; the seemingly endless plains of the Serengeti, where one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles, the annual migration of some two million wildebeest followed by their predators can be observed. The Serengeti holds some of the largest concentrations of lion, cheetah and leopard in Africa, and is probably the best game reserve on the continent to see these predators. Take a balloon trip across the Serengeti to get a birds eye view of the plains.
Close to the Serengeti is the Ngorongoro Crater a microcosm of East African game and landscapes and, therefore, a photographer’s paradise. It is the largest unbroken caldera in the world and, together with its 25,000 large mammals and 100 species of birds, many have described it as one of the wonders of the world. The nearby Tarangire and Manyara National Parks hold a diverse range of flora and fauna. Manyara is famous for its tree climbing lions, its vast array of bird life (an estimated 350 species) and its widely contrasting landscapes. Tarangire is renowned for its dense wildlife population which is at its most spectacular between June and October, the dry period, when animals congregate at the river.
In the south of Tanzania lies an untouched and relatively unknown game reserve, Selous, roughly the size of Switzerland and is an excellent park in which to see elephantS. The Rufiji River flows through the reserve and during the rainy season it floods the park. This, and its remote location explain its isolation from human contact and the vast concentrations of game. The most popular way of viewing game is on guided walks and by boat. Both Zanzibar and the Tanzanian coast boast magnificent tropical palm fringed beaches. South of Dar es Salaam is one such location – Ras Kutani – a secluded paradise on its own private beach overlooking a peaceful lagoon.
Zanzibar is a short flight from Dar es Salaam and is the perfect island on which to relax after a safari. Lapped by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar offers superb diving and snorkelling and the chance to swim with dolphins. The unspoilt beaches and rustic chalets are the perfect cure to the stress of modern life. Zanzibar’s stone town, with its maze of alleys and tucked away craftsmen is a fascinating place to explore. The history and cultures of this unique island have left their mark for all to experience. Of course no visit to Zanzibar would be complete without a spice tour of the island and a trip to the forests of the interior. Tanzania and Zanzibar make an ideal 2 week destination, spend a week on safari, and then wind down on one of the most relaxing places on earth.