Culture and Economy of Tanzania

In studying a nation, different factors and aspects have to be well examined: history, geography, people, government, culture, economy, education, and environment of that country. In our case, restrictions of time and effort imply confining to some issues, namely culture and economy.
Tanzania is a nation where religion, culture, history and traditions vary differently when compared to others especially in its culture. Tanzania has originated from two countries, Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which were two independent nations that were granted independence by Britain.However, in the 1900’s they decided to unite again. Tanzania’s diverse culture is the result of the different influences that have taken over the country all the way from the Portuguese, British, Germans, and the Arabs. Since Tanzania is a government republic it is known as The United Republic of Tanzania. Tanzania’s official language is Swahili; their second language is English, and Arabic is also widely spoken in Zanzibar. In Tanzania there are 30% Christians and 35% Muslims and the other 35% are of different beliefs.
However, in Zanzibar it is the opposite where 99% of the people are entirely Muslims. (Landers and Grossman) Religion freedom is a good feature in Tanzania since many of the world’s religion has played an important role in shaping the nation’s history. (Advameg) It is estimated that Tanzania has a total of 120 ethnic groups speaking the four major African languages which include “Khoisan” the click speaking group, Maasai, Cushitic and the Bantu. “The largest ethnic groups include the Sukuma (over three million), and the Chagga ,Haya and Nyamwezi (over one million each). (Advameg) Ethnic groups vary the same way religion does where 99% are African and the other 1% consists of Asians, Arabs and Europeans. (Landers & Grossman) The Maasai are popular for their dressing style. Men cover their bodies by putting a toga drape and carry weapons such as spears and large knives, while women heavily accessorize themselves with jewelry all the way from their necks to their ears, arms and legs.

The people of the Makonde tribe are known for tattooing their faces and bodies in such a way that their tattoos resemble human struggles, love, passion, and conflict, yet all of which are attractive to the eyes.Those who reside next to the coast and islands are known to paint their feet, lips, hands and nails with henna on certain occasions. (The Tanzania National Website) Tanzania’s music and theater was greatly influenced, or one can say originated by the indigenous tribes such as the Arab influence from Zanzibar, and Indian influence from Asia. Dancing is an important practice in the lives of Tanzanians. It is not only an expressed emotion of happiness that is shown during celebrations and traditional ceremonies, but also a part of their daily lives! Nonetheless, the traditional dancing styles vary from one tribe to another.For instance, the “Makindo” vibrate the lower part of their bodies while dancing to their “Sindimba” dance and the “Massai” leap while dancing and singing in their deep voices. The “Sukuama” involve the embracing of pythons while dancing to their “Bugobogobo” dance.
The “Zaramo” tribe bounces while dancing to their “Muduniko” dance. (The Tanzania National Website) The simplest things done by the Tanzania’s show that they are truly people who happen to live their lives differently when it comes to their ways of greetings, communication style, eye contact, personal space, taboos, law and order, etc.The way Tanzanian people greet is quite different from t how we are accustomed to see as part of our societies. When men greet each other, a handshake would be the proper way to do so. When continuing their conversation by a leisurely walk in public, it is acceptable to hold each other’s hand as that will not be understood or interpreted in a wrong way by the surrounding others. (Landers and Grossman) In contrast to the West, men who walk together holding hands in public are thought to be homosexuals.However, greeting between women only include a handshake and/or a bow.
As a way of respect to the person that is being greeted, some place their left hand over their right elbow when bowing or handshaking. With respect to greeting between women and men, especially if their religion is Islam, a handshake is not the appropriate thing to do, so instead they bow. Conversely, in other religions, a handshake or a bow is not an issue. To the Tanzanians, greeting is an important part of their culture, and they are often very lengthy that they last more than five minutes.When greeting people, it should always be done by the right hand; the use of the left hand is not favored among the Tanzanians especially during eating, handing something to someone or touching someone: this all should be done with the use of the right hand. Not everyone follows such a guiding principle but most of them do. (Landers and Grossman) The rural areas slightly differ than the urban areas in Tanzania, especially when it comes to following strict rules of what is acceptable and what is not, and the importance of norms.
In rural areas, it is unacceptable for a woman to walk around with shorts or even pants, since it is expected from them to dress in a proper manner such as skirts that are below the knees and shirts that are with sleeves. Men, similarly, are not allowed to wear short pants or even braid their hair because it means they are homosexuals, and homosexuality is something not acceptable or tolerable in their society. (Landers and Grossman) The Tanzanian culture is wide and interesting and in order to discuss and explain its different aspects, more than just a few paragraphs are needed to sum it all up.Like all other cultures, the Tanzanian culture is indeed a unique one where people don’t only practice certain traditions and norms among each other, but they are also able to hold on to these traditions and practice them throughout the years. The Tanzanians have a great sense of attachment to their culture that is why after all these years they are still famous for their astonishing dancing traditions, dressing styles, diverse nation, numerous tribes and languages and lastly their strength to be a single unit.To widen our understanding of life in Tanzania, let’s have a look at the economy and economic policies in that country. After a few years of hesitant, unclear economic policy, independent Tanzania adopted a social path to development.
This was clearly defined in the Arusha Declaration made by the then president Julius Nyerere. “The broad vision is that of a society composed of peasant farmers living together and cooperating in the pursuit of their daily economic and other activities” (Mohiddin 92) in ujamaa villages.Immediately after the declaration, a series of nationalization measures were issued. By 1977 all other necessary measures had been taken. “More than nine-tenth of the rural population lived in ujamaa villages and the commercial and industrial sectors of the economy were under effective government direction, if not control and ownership. ” (Mohiddin 166) More than a decade involving several unsuccessful economic plans were sufficient to convince the government of the inefficiency of the adopted policy in achieving development.Some of the discrepancies of these plans were: “[perpetuating] the inequality in urban and rural incomes- urban incomes were between five and six times rural ones- which helped further to diminish agricultural incentive” (Yeager 81), “[failing] to develop an industrial strategy compatible with the larger objectives of socialism and self reliance” (Yeager 81), “the national food supply could not be maintained for two straight years of poor weather without recourse to foreign purchases or aid” (Yeager 82), “aid dependency increased as agricultural productivity sagged and the trade and balance-of-payments situations worsened.
(Yeager 82) Other defaults of the plan included that “rate of inflation had increased… per capita food production dropped… industrial production rose by less than 1 percent… less than one month’s supply of foreign exchange remained on hand at any given time to cover necessary imports. ” (Yeager 84) In addition to uncontrolled negative factors as drought or rise in price of imports and war with Uganda, a significant part of failure was attributed to workers’ neglect, the dissatisfaction of peasants at the villagization project, and the reluctance of capitalists (both local foreign) to invest in Tanzania.It was then necessary to adopt a new strategy and implement appropriate measures to deal with the situation and reverse the course. The new “strategy included such inducements as more consumer goods higher farm prices, some lower taxes, and increased private investment opportunities… A kind of ideologically disciplined pragmatism has found its way into the Tanzanian policy process. ”(Yeager 86) Gradually, the economy of Tanzania has been shifting towards capitalism.Since 1986, “significant measures have been taken to liberalize the Tanzanian economy along the market line… [those measures] included a comprehensive package of policies which reduced the budget deficit and improved monetary control, substantially depreciated the overvalued exchange rate, liberalized the trade regime, removed most price controls, eased restrictions on the marketing of food crops, freed interest rate, and initialed a restructuring of the financial sector. ” (Bureau of African Affairs) Overall, real GDP growth has averaged about 6% a year over the past seven years, higher than the annual average growth of less than 5% in the late 1990s, but not enough to significantly improve the lives of average Tanzanians.
The economy remains overwhelmingly donor-dependent. ” (Bureau of African Affairs) At the present, the main sector in Tanzanian economy is agriculture which provides about “27 percent of GDP, 85 percent of export, and employs 80 percent of work force.Topography and climatic conditions, however, limit cultivated crops to about 4% of the land area. ” (CIA) The main agricultural products include: “coffee, cotton, tea, tobacco, cloves, sisal, cashew nuts, maize, live stock, sugar cane, paddy and wheat. ” (Bureau of African Affairs) Industry in Tanzania, one of the smallest in Africa (Bureau of African Affairs), contributed to about “22. 6 percent of GDP and amounted to 22. 4 billion dollars in 2009.
(CIA) The main industrial activities include “textiles, agro processing, light manufacturing, construction, steel, aluminum, paint, cement, cooking oil, mineral water, and soft drinks… Tanzania’s manufacturing sector targets primarily the domestic market, with limited exports of manufactured goods. Most of the industry is concentrated in Dar Es-Salam. ” (Bureau of African Affairs) The industry suffered a lot from persistent power shortages caused by low rainfall.The sector of services provides 50% of GDP (CIA) and includes “tourism services, communication, construction, insurance, financial, computer, information, government royalties, personal and other businesses. ” (Bureau of African Affairs) Tourism, in particular, is a promising sector in Tanzanian economy, because there are dozens of beautiful national parks including the world famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservative Area. To this, Tanzania has the great lakes of Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika. Also in Tanzania, the highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, is situated.
So are the Kalambo Falls. Tanzanian exports, which amounted to $2. 74 billion in 2009 included “coffee, cotton, tea, sisal, cashew nuts, tobacco, cut flowers, seaweed, cloves, fish and fish products, minerals (diamonds, gold, and gemstones), manufactured goods, horticultural products” (Bureau of African Affairs) and services of different categories. The major importers of Tanzanian exports are “U. K. , Germany, India, Japan, Italy, China, Bahrain, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, [and] Indonesia. ” (Bureau of African Affairs)The imports of Tanzania are mainly “petroleum, consumer goods, machinery and transport equipment, used clothing, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.
” (Bureau of African Affairs) Those are imported from “U. K. , Germany, Japan, India, Italy, U. S. , United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, [and] Kenya. ” (Bureau of African Affairs) The natural resources in Tanzania are varied and include “hydroelectric potential, coal, iron, gemstones, gold, nickel, diamonds, crude oil potential, forest products, wildlife, [and] fisheries. (Bureau of African Affairs) The following data may further expand our understanding of the state of the Tanzanian economy.
The labor force is distributed as follows: “80% in agriculture, 20% in industry and services. ” (CIA) People below poverty line were estimated at 36% in 2002. (CIA) Finally, it must be noted that in spite of the progress attained, still much has to be done to utilize the potential capabilities of Tanzanian economy and consequently enhance the Tanzanian’s well being and luxury.A country with a profound economy and culture is worthy of respect and appreciation both on material and moral levels.Bibliography: Advameg Inc. “Culture of Tanzania. ” Advameg Inc website.
27 11 2010 . Michael Landers & Lisa Grossman. “Tanzania. ” Culture Crossing. 27 11 2010 . The Tanzania National Website. “Culture and Traditions.
” The Tanzania National Website. 27 11 2010 . Yeager, Rodger. Tanzania: An African Experiment. Gower, UK: Westview, 1982. Print.

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