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State structure

The United Republic of Tanzania consists of the mainland and the islands of Zanzibar, comprising the main island of Unguja, as well as Pemba and many other small islands.

The head of state of the federation is the president, who can be elected for a maximum of two five-year terms. He wields considerable power, appointing the prime minister, being commander-in-chief of the armed forces, having the right to veto legislation, appointing a proportion of members of parliament and having the right to dissolve parliament.

The 296 members of Parliament or National Assembly (Bunge) are partly elected for five years by Tanzanians aged 18 and above. 231 members are elected by the people, 49 seats are reserved for women nominated by the president. Five seats are reserved for members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives, there is one attorney general and up to 10 other members are nominated by the president. Although Dar es Salaam (Swahili: 'House of Peace') is Tanzania's undisputed economic, social and administrative centre, Dodoma is formally the country's capital.

Since 1979, Zanzibar and Pemba have also had their own Executive Council and elected Parliament, which are responsible for the internal affairs of the island. The House of Representatives consists of 50 directly elected members, to which nine women have been added.

Since 1985, the two islands have also had their own regional constitutions. The President of Zanzibar was also Vice-President of Tanzania until 1996 and is also elected for a five-year term. In reality, Zanzibar has been governed by decree since 1964. For the current political situation see History section.

Administrative division

Tanzania is administratively divided into 26 regions (21 mainland; 5 Zanzibar), which are subdivided into 130 districts and headed by a regional commissioner.

Zanzibar and Pemba are divided into three and two regions respectively. At the head of a district is a district commissioner appointed by the central government.

The capital of Zanzibar Island or Unguja is Zanzibar City; the capital of Pemba is Chake Chake.


Since 1970, compulsory education has existed and Tanzania was one of the countries in Africa with the lowest illiteracy rate. Since 1986, the illiteracy rate has been growing again, from 9.6% in 1986 to 27.2% in 1997. Currently, less than 50% of children finish primary school and one in ten subsequently completes secondary school. In particular, many girls from rural areas drop out of school. Families there have little money and prefer to educate their sons.

The Tanzanian government realises that good education is one of the pillars for the development of the country. Education is therefore one of its spearheads and one of its (overly optimistic?) goals is primary education for all by 2015. Under the impetus of the Basic Education Master Plan (BEMP), a start was made in 1997 on the reform of primary education.

The structure of the Formal Education and Training System consists of two years of pre-school education, seven years of primary education, four years of junior secondary and two years of senior secondary. After that one can have three or more years of higher education.

Many Catholic and Protestant organisations have founded schools and there are also private schools founded by parents. Tanzania has two universities: the University of Dar es Salaam, founded in 1961, and the Sokoine Agricultural University, founded in 1984.


Else, D. / Zanzibar

Finke, J. / Tanzania
Rough Guides

Fitzpatrick, M. / Tanzania
Lonely Planet

Heale, J. / Tanzania
Marshall Cavendish

Skinner, A. / Tanzania & Zanzibar

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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