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       Chapter I: The Capital in its Regional and National Setting

The Land


In Tanzania, as in few other countries, the history of the people is the history of their land. It is a vast and ageless land; perhaps nowhere else is one more aware of the aeons of life and death and of the inexorable progress of history and of man's existence.

The United Republic of Tanzania, covering 937,580 square kilometres on the East African Coast, is a country of superlatives. The coast is a region of endless azure seas and silver sands, protected by the exotic islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, and has become a tourist area which attracts visitors from abroad who come to combine game viewing with sun bathing. The hot and humid coastal plain, with a width of up to 70 kilometres, has extremely fertile, alluvial soils and supports a large population. The western edge of the plain is formed by ranges of rolling, fertile and heavily wooded hills, which rise to the continent's great central plateau, at an elevation of over 1,200 metres. This plateau is a vast country of sunshine and endless seas of savannah grass and scrub, significantly drier and cooler than the coastal areas. It is split from north to south by the East African Rift Valley, which extends from Ethiopia almost to South Africa and contains the soda lakes of Natron and Eyasi. And the vast cones of volcanoes punctuate the plateau's plains — Hanang, L'eagai, Oldonyo, Mount Meru and, towering above all, less than 300 kilometres from the Equator, the permanent snows and glaciers of Kilimanjaro, which at 6,000 metres is Africa's highest mountain.

To the west, the Rift Valley plains give way to the massive crater of Ngorongoro and the famed plains of the Serengeti, where today the teeming herds of elephant, wildebeest, zebra and antelope roam free. Further to the west another branch of the Rift Valley contains some of the world's greatest fresh water lakes — Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa — while Lake Victoria lies on Tanzania's northerly boundary.

High on the plateau, in the geographical centre of the land, lies the Dodoma region, with transport corridors to all corners of the country. Near here is the watershed from which the great rivers of Africa flow to each of the oceans surrounding the continent — to the east the Great Ruaha to the Indian Ocean; to the west the Congo to the Atlantic; and to the north, via Lake Victoria, the historic Nile to the Mediterranean.

Despite the magnificence of the country, however, its ability to support life and settlement varies greatly from region to region. Some areas have good soils, some poor. Some are verdant and have a high rainfall, others are dusty and dry. Some regions already produce substantial crops and other products, while in others the potentials of the land have not yet been fully utilized. But with careful planning, wise investment and, above all, with hard work the country can and will provide all its people with an ever improving life.

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Copyright: Project Planning Associates Limited, Toronto, Canada, directed by Mr. Macklin Hancock and recipient "The Government of Tanzania, Capital Development Authority under the auspices of Mr. George Kahama.".