bordered on the south by Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia;
on the west by Zaire, Burundi, and Rwanda; on the north
by Uganda and Kenya; and on the east by the Indian Ocean.
Tanzania is the largest of the East African nations, and
it possesses a geography as mythic
as it is spectacular.
In the northeast of Tanzania is a mountainous
region that includes Mt. Meru (14,979 ft/4,566 m) and
Mount Kilimanjaro (19,340 ft./5,895 m), the latter of
which is the highest point in Africa and possibly the
most breathtaking mountain imaginable. To the west of
these peaks is Serengeti National Park, which has the
greatest concentration of migratory game animals in the
world (200,000 zebra, for example). Within the Serengeti
is Olduvai Gorge, the site of the famous discoveries by
the Leakeys of fossil fragments of the very earliest ancestors
of Homo sapiens. The Serengeti also contains the marvelous
Eden of Ngorongoro, a 20-mile-wide volcanic crater that
is home to an extraordinary concentration and diversity
Moving west from the Serengeti, one reaches
the shores of Lake Victoria, the largest lake on the continent
and one of the primary headwater reservoirs of the Nile.
Southwest of Lake Victoria, and forming Tanzania's border
with Zaire, is Lake Tanganyika, the longest and (after
Lake Baikal) deepest freshwater lake in the world. It
was at Ujiji, a village on the Tanzanian shore of Lake
Tanganyika, that H.M. Stanley presumably encountered David
Livingstone in 1871. Livingstone had fallen ill while
searching for the source of the Nile, and despite his
illness he refused to leave. Instead, he persuaded Stanley
to accompany him on a journey to the north end of Lake
Tanganyika. The region that they passed through has since
become famous as Gombe National Park, the site of Jane
Goodall's chimpanzee research station.
Southeast of Lake Tanganyika is a mountainous
region that includes Lake Malawi (previously Lake Nyala),
the third largest lake on the continent. East of Lake
Malawi is the enormous expanse of the Selous Game Reserve,
the largest in Africa with over 21,000 sq. mi. (55,000
sq. km.) and perhaps more than 50,000 elephants.
Moving northeast from Selous brings one
to Tanzania's low, lush coastal strip, the location of
its largest city, Dar es Salaam. Dar Es Salaam is the
embarkation point for Zanzibar, the fabled emerald isle
that lies off the Tanzanian coast.
The climate of Tanzania varies quite
a bit, considering that its environment includes both
the highest and the lowest points on the continent. While
the narrow lowland coastal region is consistently hot
and humid, the central regions of Tanzania are sufficiently
elevated so as to offer much cooler temperatures. The
rainy seasons extend from November to early January and
from March to May.