The United Republic of Tanzania is located in East Africa bounded by the Indian Ocean on the east and bordering with Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya. It is the largest country in East Africa and used to be the commercial center in East Africa with its large natural port.
Tanzania is home to the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, and also features the Ngorongoro crater. The island of Zanzibar is only 20 minutes to the east of Dar-es-Salaam. Despite being a hotbed of political activity campaigning for independence, Zanzibar does have numerous sights to see such as ancient Islamic ruins and remnants of earlier civilizations.
Tanzania has some of the world's more spectacular game reserves like Serengeti National Park and the Selous Game Reserve that is larger than Switzerland. The tourism industry in Tanzania is well structured to meet the traveler's needs.
With its varying elevations, Tanzania's temperature varies from tropical along the coastline to hot and dry in the lowlands and onto the more pleasant temperate climate of the highlands. Tanzania has two rainy seasons with almost daily rain from April to May.
The international airport in Dar-es-Salaam is the gateway to foreigners with service by various European and African airlines. The country can also be entered by road via the various border crossings or by water across lakes Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyassa. Two train lines link Dar-es-Salaam with various destinations. The roads are fair but a 4WD vehicle will be necessary on most roads outside major towns. Buses and mini-buses are used for mass transportation. Unfortunately road accidents are probably a traveler's biggest safety risk.
The communication infrastructure in Tanzania is fairly efficient in Dar-es-Salaam but reliability decreases going into the countryside. Cellular phone, fax, postal and Internet services are provided in Dar-es-Salaam and on a more limited basis in the countryside. Travelers to Tanzania will face various health risks but there are private clinics that provide adequate medical services.
The official currency is the Tanzanian shilling. Credit cards are widely accepted and traveler's checks can be easily exchanged. The cost of living linked with the exchange rate favors the tourist. Hotels can range from very inexpensive to grandiose. Tanzanians are generally polite, helpful and warm-hearted. The official languages spoken are Swahili and English.
Incidents of assault and theft, sometimes accompanied by violence, do occur throughout Tanzania, especially on public transportation and on beaches. Political rallies, especially those held on Zanzibar, should be avoided since they can quickly and unexpectedly turn violent.