Mandatory pregnancy testing in high school!?.. and more interesting Tanzania facts

Posted on February 16th, 2014 by BreAnn

Our journey through Tanzania was wonderful… we spent the majority of our time in and around the Serengeti National Park and on Zanzibar Island. But there are MANY other fascinating places around the country to visit, and interesting facts and information to learn about it as well… I will cover them here!

Tanzania is a country in 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 border is formed by the Indian Ocean. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, is in northeastern Tanzania.

Tanzania contains many large and ecologically significant wildlife parks and reserves, including the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, and the Serengeti National Park in the north and the Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park, and Mikumi National Park in the south.

We had an AWESOME time in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro areas, and saw many animals!! (Click here to read about our experience!)

Here is more information and statistics about Tanzania:


Capital: Dar es Salaam

Currency: Tanzanian Shilling

Language: Swahili, English

Population: 45 million (2012). The under 15 age group represents 44.1 percent of the population. More than 80 percent of the population is rural. The population consists of more than 120 ethnic groups, of which the Sukuma, Nyamwezi, Chagga, Nyakyusa, Haya, Hehe, Bena, Gogo, and the Makonde have more than 1 million members.

Government: The parliament of Tanzania consists of two parts: the president and the National Assembly. The president and the members of the National Assembly are elected concurrently by direct popular vote for five-year terms.

Economy: GDP: 74 billion, GDP Per capita: $1,566 (2012)

The Muslim population is fairly large in Tanzania, especially in Zanzibar

Religion: 35% of the population is Muslim, 30% is Christian and 35% practice the Traditional African religion

Literacy Rate: 73%

Climate/Seasons: Tanzania has a tropical climate. In the highlands, temperatures range between 50 and 68 °F during cold and hot seasons respectively. The rest of the country has temperatures rarely falling lower than 68 °F. The hottest period extends between November and February (77–88 °F) while the coldest period occurs between May and August (59–68 °F). Annual temperature is 68.0 °F. The climate is cool in high mountainous regions.

Foods: One of Tanzania’s most common cultural dishes, as other parts of eastern Africa’s, is Ugali. It is usually composed of corn and is similar in consistency to a soft cake or stiff porridge. Rice and cooked green bananas are also important staples. Beef, goat meat, beans, and a wide range of fish and green leafy vegetables all add nutrients to the dishes.

Work environment: The economy is heavily based on agriculture, which accounts for more than 25 percent of gross domestic product, provides 85 percent of exports, and employs 80 percent of the workforce. Tanzania has vast amounts of minerals including gold, diamonds, coal, iron, uranium, nickel, chromium, tin, platinum, coltan, niobium, natural gas, and others. In 2011, Tanzania was the fifteenth-largest producer of gold in the world and the third-largest in Africa after South Africa and Ghana and just ahead of Mali. The value of the gold produced in Tanzania in 2011 was over US$2.5 billion, representing 10.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Unemployment Rate: 11% (2011)

Education: Education in Tanzania is provided both by the public sector and the private sector. The general structure is as follows:
–2 years of pre-primary education for ages 5–6 (year 1 and 2) . Not compulsory.
–7 years of primary education for ages 7–13. It is compulsory for every child who has reached the age of seven years to be enrolled in primary education. Student tuition in public schools is covered by the government, but families still must pay for uniforms, testing fees, and school supplies. The curriculum is composed of twelve subjects: Kiswahili, mathematics, science, geography, civics, history, English language, vocational subjects, French, religion, information and communication technology, and school sports.
–4 years of secondary ordinary level education for ages 14–17 (only 36% of children attend)
–2 years of secondary advanced level education for ages 18–19  (only 24% of children attend)
Government secondary schools charge tuition of about $12 USD per year. Several fees are charged in addition to tuition, including testing fees, caution fees, watchman contribution, academic contribution, furniture contribution, identity fee, emblem fee, and fee for lunches. The government tries to keep public education affordable while maintaining quality as high as possible. A typical private secondary school’s annual tuition is around $525 USD.
–3 or more years of university education

Life expectancy: 61 years old.

Drinking/Smoking age: The legal drinking and purchase age in Tanzania is 18. It is the same age for drinking and purchasing alcohol in Tanzania, and it’s not a complicated system like some countries that have different purchase and drinking ages.

Driving: The minimum driving age is 18. Driving is on the LEFT hand side of the road (opposite of the U.S.)


Interesting Tanzania facts:

  • According to 2010 official Tanzania statistics, total fertility rate in Tanzania was 5.4 children born per woman with 3.7 in urban areas and 6.1 in rural areas!
  • In Tanzania, there is mandatory pregnancy testing in schools. Girls found to be pregnant are sent home to domestic work rather than finishing their education, which often prevents them from finding formal employment in the future. The practice dates back to before Tanzania’s 1961 independence, and derives from the cultural notion that unmarried girls should not have sex (though there seems to be little stigma against boys who do). Although there is no law that mandates pregnancy testing, many school administrators mistakenly believe there is, and Tanzania’s government has done little to correct them.
  • Tanzania is just a little bit more than twice the size of California.
  • Over 120 languages are spoken in Tanzania. Most of these are Bantu languages, a category of over 535 languages and dialects that are spoken throughout Africa.
  • An astonishing 45 percent of Tanzania’s population is under 15, largely the result of high fertility rates and a decrease in child mortality, according to an April report by the World Bank
  • The world’s earliest human skull was found in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.
  • Tanzania has the largest concentration of wildlife animals per square kilometer, with more than 4 million wild animals and representatives of 430 species and subspecies.
  • The world’s largest complete crater, the now-extinct Ngorongoro Crater is in Tanzania. (We visited here!! It was quite impressive and beautiful!)
  • Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania. At 19,341 feet above sea level, it is the largest mountain in Africa, and it is the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
  • According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest man to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is Richard Byerley, who reached the summit on October 6, 2011), aged 84 years and 71 days.
  • An average of 25,000 people attempt Mount Kilimanjaro each year, the success rates vary, but most reports indicate that 65-75% make it to Uhuru Peak.
  • Muslim girls in Zanzibar walk to school

    Zanzibar is a 100km island located just East of Tanzania.  It is no longer considered its own country.
    Arabs settled at what became Zanzibar City (Stone Town) as a convenient point from which to trade with East African coastal towns. The population is more than 99% Muslim! The Island is highly known for its history with trading spices, ivory, and slaves.

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