Profile of a Developing Nation

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Manual Labour at the QuarryTo us, this photo summarises what life in Tanzania is like for so many. This is a quarry producing gravel for construction. The people who work here bring boulders down from the hillside and break them up into gravel - all by hand. They only get paid when they sell their pile of gravel. The fact that there are no machines is actually a benefit. It must be a dreadful life, but the alternative of being replaced by a machine and having no job would be even worse.

Traditional Farm Contemporary FarmMost of the people in Tanzania are subsistence farmers - that is they grow enough for their needs and have little or no surplus to feed others. This alone accounts for their low Gross National Product: they simply are not producing high value goods. In contrast, a farmer in Canada grows enough for about 100 people. Plus we have a large industrial complex producing high value goods.

To those of us who live in a developed nation, Tanzania is poor. By every economic measure, Tanzania is poor. Unlike us, very few Tanzanians have disposable income. Most people living in Tanzania are literally right on the edge of survival - one weather disaster or one personal injury can completely ruin the lives of a whole family. We are not familiar with life like that. However, what the Tanzanian people lack in material wealth, they make up for in spirit and community. In Tanzania a whole village really does raise a child. They look out for and look after one another. Our impression was that they are much more willing to put the good of the village ahead of personal gain. We could relearn a great deal about community and being good neighbours from them. These are ideals we seem to have given up long ago when we began to put personal material wealth ahead of community.

Africa Tanzania MapLocation:  Tanzania is about the size of Ontario. It lies just south of the Equator on Africa's east coast. Kenya is to the north, Mozambique to the south.

Climate:  Tanzania is definitely tropical, although the difference between the coast and Arusha is significant. While the coast is hot and very humid, Arusha is much more temperate: it is dry with day time highs of 25 to 30°C and night time lows of 15 to 20°C. Check out today's weather!

Here is a quick comparison of Tanzania and Canada...





Kiswahili (official)
also English, Arabic
and local languages
English and French
(both official)

  Major Religions

Christian (45%) Muslim (35%)
indigenous (20%)
Roman Catholic (45%)
United Church (12%)
Anglican (8%) Other (35%)

  Area in km2

~1 million
~10 million


30 million
30 million

  Population Growth Rate


  Fertility Rate

5.5 children per woman
1.7 children per woman

  Life Expectancy (F / M)

48 / 44
82 / 75

  Infant Mortality

97 per 1000 live births
5.6 per 1000 live births

  Inflation Rate


  Gross Domestic Product
  (total value of goods and
  services produced)

$21 billion
$658 billion

  GDP per capita

$21 933

  Main Exports

coffee, manufactured goods, cotton, cashew nuts, minerals
motor vehicles and parts, machinery, newsprint, wood pulp, timber, crude petroleum, natural gas, aluminium, telecommunications equipment


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