Like 21 other countries in Africa, Tanzania will hold elections this year. Everyone is predicting a pretty smooth, non-violent election, unlike past elections here, given the recent peaceful relations with/in Zanzibar.

A number of you have asked me to give a political breakdown of Tanzania, and I thought I would do my best here to give a very brief history and some facts that will give you a clearer picture of what politics are like here. Please bear in mind: I am not an expert and I am currently learning about politics here too. Do not take this as an accurate and comprehensive picture of what is happening here but more of a summary to begin to understand it.

First things first,  in this post I am going to just cover the basics of  Tanzania, just so we can all start on the same page. Note those islands on the coast, which are known as Zanzibar (we’ll get to them later).

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Who stole it from the BBC, I think)

Photo credit:

Some figures at a glance (HT CIA Fact Book):

President (and Chief of State): Jakaya Kikwete (since 21 December 2005)
Vice President: Dr. Ali Mohammed SHEIN (since 5 July 2001)
NOTE:Zanzibar elects a president who is head of government for matters internal to Zanzibar; Amani Abeid KARUME reelected to that office on 30 October 2005″ (CIA Factbook)
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly
Last Election Results: Jakaya KIKWETE elected president; percent of vote – Jakaya KIKWETE 80.3%, Ibrahim LIPUMBA 11.7%, Freeman MBOWE 5.9%
Ruling Party: Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) – (206 seats of 232 elected seats*)
Voter turnout: 72%

*Bunge (Parliament or National Assembly): “274 seats; 232 members elected by popular vote, 37 allocated to women nominated by the president, 5 to members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives; members serve five-year terms. NOTE: In addition to enacting laws that apply to the entire United Republic of Tanzania, the Assembly enacts laws that apply only to the mainland. Zanzibar has its own House of Representatives to make laws especially for Zanzibar (the Zanzibar House of Representatives has 50 seats. Members elected by universal suffrage to serve five-year terms.” (CIA Factbook)

Official Languages: Swahili, English
Population: 41,048,532
Economy: “Tanzania is in the bottom 10% of the world’s economies in terms of per capita income. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for more than one-fourth of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the work force.”
HIV/AIDS: 6.2% (Low for this region)
Median Age: 18.2 (Very young population)
Religious affiliations: Mainland – Christian 30%, Muslim 35%, indigenous beliefs 35%; Zanzibar – more than 99% Muslim

Photo Credit: World Religion Database

This is not a very good map to show you religious affiliation because it only includes two religions, however, it does show you the differences around the country. Note the difference between the coast of Tanzania, and the mainland.

From my experience, I have seen that many people mix indigenious beliefs with Christianity or Islam. So, even amoung the different kinds of christians/muslims you would find in the west, it still varies because of these more traditional beliefs that are mixed in. And of course, some people believe in just one indigenious belief system.