Geography of Tanzania

Geologically, Tanzania is mainly made up of Precambrian volcanoes, granites and gneisses that form large plateau masses 800–1500 meters above sea level. The highest areas consist of younger volcanic material.

The highland plateau is bounded on the east by the coastal plain, on the west and north by the large East African search group ( Rift Valley ). Along the edges of the search pit system, the land mass is raised to form marked ridges. In the lowering zone are several high volcanoes, including Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro.

In the search pit system one finds the Great Lakes, including Lake Tanganyika and Malawi, which form parts of the border to the west. The bottom of Lake Tanganyika is 358 meters below sea level and is Africa’s lowest point. To the north, towards the border with Uganda and Kenya, is Lake Victoria, 1134 meters above sea level.

Lake Victoria from Mwanza, Tanzania

Southeast and east of Lake Victoria lies the large savannah area of Serengeti with Serengeti National Park with a rich wildlife. Southeast of Serengeti lies the large Ngorongoro crater, a caldera with a diameter of 22.5 kilometers. The open grassy plain within the caldera is a pasture for large herds of animals, both wild and animals and Masai the cattle herds. The central plateau landscape gradually descends towards the low coastal plain of the Indian Ocean.

Coastal plains on the Indian Ocean were raised during tertiary and quaternary, sank later; the ports of Dar-es-Salaam and Kilwa are located in “drowned” estuaries. The coastal plain is partly covered by younger, marine sediments, and partly by coral reefs. The plain extends into a triangular lowland behind Dar-es-Salaam and along the Rufijielven’s lower course.

Off the coast are a number of islands, separated from the mainland by the 35-kilometer-wide Zanzibar Canal. The main islands are Unguja, also called Zanzibar (1637 square kilometers) and Pemba (974 square kilometers), both of which rise about 90 meters above sea level. The islands consist of raised coral reefs, covered with clay and sand.

Tanzania is drained by a number of rivers, the furthest being Rufiji, which is 282 kilometers long.

Delete Landscape

Highland plateau

The highland plateau makes up most of the area in Tanzania. The mountain plateau belongs to the African Shield and is a southern analogue to the East African Highlands.


The 30,000-square-mile Serengeti lake with several national parks ( Serengeti National Park ) and wildlife sanctuaries.

Rift Valley

The Rift Valley extends through western Tanzania and encompasses the large lakes including Lake Tanganyika. Along the edge of the search pit are several of Africa’s highest mountains.


Along the edge of the Rift Valley to the west are several of Africa’s highest mountains, while in Eastern Tanzania there are Eastern Arc Mountains with peaks over 2000 meters above sea level.


Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain and among the world’s largest stratovolcano. The volcano is dormant and composed of three main cones, Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira, and many smaller volcanic cones.



Meru is Africa’s fourth highest mountain and Tanzania’s second highest. The mountain is a semi-active stratovolcano.

Volcano Crater

The highest peaks are volcanic. Most of the mountain peaks are extinct volcanoes that form the caldera, including Ngorongoro. Some of the mountain peaks are semi-active volcanoes, such as Kibo, and some are active, such as Ol Doinyo Lengai. Many of the craters have a crater lake, such as Ngozi.

There are several volcanic peaks in the country


Many of the highest peaks covered by snow and glaciers occur in the high mountains, such as Furtwängler and Rebmann at the top of Kilimanjaro.


Kagera is the longest river in Lake Victoria and is considered the Nile’s source river. Ruvuma is a border river between Mozambique and Tanzania. Rufiji is the country’s longest river. Kalambo is a river and waterfall on the border between Zambia and Tanzania with high altitude.


Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria belong to the Great Lakes. Among the lakes of East Africa are Lake Natron, Eyasi, Makati and Manyara in Tanzania.

Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika is Africa’s second largest lake, and the world’s second deepest lake.

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake, source of the Nile and the world’s second largest freshwater lake.


In Tanzania there are islands both along the coast and in the lakes.


Together with the island of Pemba and some smaller islands, Zanzibar forms an autonomous part of Tanzania.

Islands in the Great Lakes

Lake Victoria includes the islands of Ukara, Ukerewe and Ubondo.


The bedrock consists essentially of Precambrian volcanoes, granites and gneisses. The highest areas consist of younger volcanic material. The soil consists of laterite and bauxite.


Most of the bedrock consists of Precambrian granites and gneisses that belong to the African shield.

Intrusive rocks

In the Rift Valley there are deep rocks formed by rifting, including rhombic porphyry.

Ultrabasic ash and lava

The shield volcanoes have left volcanic ash and lava during explosive eruptions from the hotspot.

National Parks

National parks in Tanzania include Arusha, Gombe Stream, Katavi, Kilimanjaro, Kitulo, Lake Manyara, Mikumi, Ngorongoro, Ruaha, Selous, Serengeti and Tarangire.

Dar es Salaam

Plant life

Large parts of Tanzania are covered by grass savanna with scattered tree vegetation, including acacias and other tree species in the pea flower family (Brachystegia, Isoberlinia). Different types of forests grow in larger and smaller populations spread across most of the country. Above the tree line there are grassy beds, in low rainfall areas there is alpine desert. In rain – shaded areas, semi-desert and steppe vegetation dominates, while thick grass and reed belts grow along lakes and swamps. Along the coast there is a good deal of mangrove forest.

Climate in Tanzania

Most of Tanzania has tropical savannah climate with low rainfall season from June to October. The annual rainfall increases to 1000–1500 mm on the coast and along precipitous mountain slopes. The central part has a steep climate with pronounced drying time and annual rainfall approx. 500 mm, partly lower.

The annual mean temperature on the coast is approx. 26 ° C, with little variation throughout the year. The warmest months are February and March, when the humidity is also high. At 1000 to 1200 meters above sea level. the average temperatures for July are from approx. 15 ° C to over 20 ° C. It is warmest at the beginning of the rainy season, the average temperature for October and November is approx. 25 ° C.


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