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Facts and figures as Tanzania heads to the polls

AFRICA
By AFP | October 23rd 2015

East Africa's most populous country Tanzania holds elections on Sunday, with what is expected to be tightest electoral race in the country's history.

As well as a presidential race, voters will also be casting ballots in parliamentary and local polls on October 25, including on the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar.

Geography

Tanzania covers 945,000 square kilometres (364,900 square miles), slightly bigger than Venezuela or Pakistan. While Dodoma is the official capital, the largest city and economic heart is the port of Dar es Salaam.

People

Tanzania had a population of 52 million in 2014, according to the World Bank, the biggest in East Africa. Swahili and English are the official languages.

Between 30 to 45 percent of people are Christian, while about 35 percent are Muslim. On the archipelago of Zanzibar however, at least 95 percent of the people are Muslim.

History

The British established a protectorate on Zanzibar in 1890, while Germany took control of the mainland in 1891.

German East Africa became British territory in 1920 and took the name Tanganyika. It became independent in 1961 and the country's founding father Julius Nyerere was elected president one year later.

Mainland Tanganyika merged with the Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar and Pemba to form Tanzania in 1964, but the islands have kept a semi-autonomous status with a separate president.

Tanzania adopted a multi-party system in 1992 and Benjamin Mkapa was elected president in 1995 as candidate of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party. On Zanzibar, CCM candidate Salmin Amour won by a narrow margin.

In 2000 Mkapa was re-elected, and the CCM won an absolute majority in parliament - a majority that has continued, although opposition candidates refused to take part in some votes, citing fraud.

Jakaya Kikwete won two mandates, in 2005, and in 2010 when the CCM's Ali Mohamed Shein also won in Zanzibar.

The CCM now holds two-thirds of the seats in parliament, but opposition parties have gained ground, and Kikwete cannot seek a third term.

Economy

Agriculture is the biggest sector, representing three quarters of all jobs, and a quarter of gross domestic product.

Coffee, cotton, tobacco, sisal and tea are the main exports. Zanzibar also depends on trade in spices, particularly cloves, and tourism.

Mining is growing in importance owing to investment in the country's ports and railway system, and to a liberalisation of the economy.

It is Africa's fourth-largest gold producer - after South Africa, Ghana and Mali.

Tanzanian GDP in 2014 was estimated at $49.2 billion, while per capita GDP was $930 according to the World Bank.

Business activity has been expanding by around seven percent annually, but Tanzania nonetheless remains a "low income" country based on Bank criteria.

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