Cultural Diversity of Tanzania

Cultural Diversity of Tanzania

Although the United Republic of Tanzania has more than 120 ethnic groups that speak different dialects, the country has a unique and official language, Swahili. The majority (over 95%) of its citizens speak and write Swahili. Swahili has been a powerful communication tool in the country for over 50 years, as most information is easily understood by its citizen once translated to this language.

English is mainly used as the official language for academic and most research institutions. However, the existence of another national language may facilitate quick and efficient implementation of information and communications technology initiatives. Efforts to translate scientific information from English to Swahili have been initiated by different research institutions to allow public understanding.


The Kenyan Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Around half the population are Christians, 10% Muslim and there are small Hindu and Sikh minorities. The balance of the population follows traditional African, often animist, beliefs. Christians tend to be concentrated in the west and central sections of the country while Muslims cluster in the eastern coastal regions. Most Kenyans interweave native beliefs into a traditional religion. 

Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, Muslim 10%, indigenous beliefs 10%, other 2%. 


Tanzanian cuisine is both unique and widely varied. Along the coastal regions (Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, and Pemba), spicy foods are common, and there is also much use of coconut milk. Regions in Tanzania's mainland also have their own unique foods. Some typical mainland Tanzanian foods include rice (wali), ugali (maize porridge), chapati (a kind of bread), nyama choma (grilled meat), mshikaki (marinated beef), fish, pilau, biryani, and ndizi-nyama (plantains with meat). Commonly used vegetables include bamia (okra), mchicha (a kind of spinach), njegere (green peas), maharage (beans), and kisamvu (cassava leaves).

Famous Snacks: maandazi (fried dough), isheti, kashata, kebab (kabaab), samosa (sambusa), mkate wa kumimina (Zanzibar rice bread), vileja, vitumbua (rice patties), bagia, and many others.

Since a large proportion of Khoja Indians had migrated into Tanzania, a considerable proportion of Tanzanian cuisine has been influenced by Indian cuisine. Famous chefs such as Mohsin Asharia have revolutionized dishes such as kashata korma tabsi and voodo aloo. Many Khoja Indians own restaurants in the heart of Dar es Salaam, and have been welcomed by indigenous Tanzanians.

Beverages - Many people drink tea (chai) in Tanzania. Usually tea is drunk in the morning, during breakfast with chapati and maandazi, and at times at night during supper. Coffee is second, and is usually taken in the evening, when the sun is down, and people are on the front porch, playing cards or bao. Many people drink coffee with kashata (a very sweet tasting snack made from coconut meat or groundnuts).

There are also local beverages depending on the different tribes and regions.

Local Brews: for coastal regions, such as Tanga and Dar es Salaam, mnazi/tembo is widely consumed. Other brews include wanzuki and mbege among the Chagga, and lubisi, nkencha, nkonyagi, and mbandule among the Haya found on the shores of Lake Victoria.


A total of 128 languages are spoken in Tanzania, most of them are from the Bantu family. Swahili and English are the two official languages of Tanzania. However, Swahili is the national language.

Given the conditions of the period, it was not possible to introduce Swahili in the entire educational system, because the scale of the task of writing or translating textbooks for primary schools was already considerable.[citation needed] As a result, English, the colonial language since the end of World War I, is still the language of high schools and universities. Many students leave school after finishing primary education.

Although the many non-official languages in Tanzania are not actively suppressed, they do not enjoy the same linguistic rights as Swahili. They also face language extinction, with one, the Kw'adza language, having no remaining speakers



Tanzania is an east African country with a rich culture. The design of Tanzania clothing evokes the rich tapestry of the ancient ethos and culture of the Tanzanian region. 

Contemporary Tanzania clothing is a judicious mixture of the old and the new. Present day Tanzanians are heavily influenced by current western fashion trends. The clothing in Tanzania is thus a reflection of fashion trends dictated by a European or North American fashion designer located thousands of miles away. However, traditional clothing of Tanzania has not died out. The traditional piece of cloth is locally known as 'khanga'. The khanga is unique to the east African nation of Tanzania. The cloth is rectangular in shape. Khanga is made from pure cotton. The Tanzanian clothing is characterized by a border all around the periphery of the cloth. The khanga is brightly colored and printed in bold designs. 

Khangas are purchased in pairs. They are worn in such a way that the wearer of the garment exhibits an attractive appearance. The Tanzanian women use khangas to cover other clothes and to carry the children on their backs. The traditional cloth is also used as a decorative wall hanging and as tablecloths. The khanga contains educational and informational messages. 

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