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Tanzania - The Most Natural Place on Earth

Last Updated: 6/20/2008 5:45:50 PM

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ClickAfrique takes a look at Tanzania which has been ranked as having the best natural environment in the 2008 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum.....

Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak hugs the skyline in north east Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak hugs the skyline in north east Tanzania

The second annual Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2008 was released recently by the World Economic Forum and this year’s Report, under the theme Balancing Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability, places a particular focus on this issue, both through a reinforced environmental component of the Index used to measure travel & tourism (T&T) competitiveness and through topics covered by the analytical chapters.

In the latest report, 130 countries were profiled and one of the key indices looked at was the country’s natural environment.

Natural environment is a terminology that encompasses all living and non-living things that occur naturally in a region. This includes a few key components such as complete ecological units that function as natural systems without massive human intervention, including all vegetation, animals, microorganisms, rocks, atmosphere and natural phenomena that occur within their boundaries.

It also includes universal natural resources and physical phenomena that lack clear-cut boundaries, such as air, water, and climate, as well as energy, radiation, electric charge, and magnetism, not originating from human activity.

When the natural environment of all the 130 for the Report were examined, the east African country of Tanzania was ranked #1 in the world. The country is bordered by Kenya and Uganda on the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the west, and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique on the south by the Indian Ocean to the east.

Tanzania’s natural beauty is best exemplified by the mountainous region in the north-east of the country, where Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, is situated. Standing at 5,895 meters (19,340 ft), Mount Kilimanjaro provides a dramatic view from the surrounding plains. The highest point on Kilimanjaro is Uhuru Peak, which is one of the Seven Summits (the highest mountains of each of the seven continents). Due to Kilimanjaro's equatorial location and high elevation, almost every climate type on earth is represented, including a year-round snow-topped summit.

Central Tanzania comprises a large plateau, with highland areas, plains and arable land. The Great Rift Valley runs through the middle of the country.

The eastern shore is hot and humid, with the island of Zanzibar lying just offshore. Zanzibar is actually an archipelago of several small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, informally referred to as "Zanzibar"), and Pemba.

To the north and west are Lake Malawi (Nyasa) and the Great Lakes of Lake Victoria (Africa's largest lake), and Lake Tanganyika (Africa's deepest lake, known for its unique species of fish) which are shared with Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya and Uganda respectively.

In the south west of the country are the spectacular Kalambo Falls, which are the second largest in Africa and are located near the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika.

Tanzania’s main river is the Rufiji which lies entirely within the country. The river is formed by the convergence of the Kilombero and Luwegu rivers. It is approximately 600 km (375 mi) long, with its source in southwestern part of the country and its mouth on the Indian Ocean. The river's delta contains the largest mangrove forest in the world.

Much of Tanzania's environment is protected by a system of National Parks. The rolling plains of the Serengeti National Park are home to millions of animals and birds including herds of antelope, zebra and wildebeest. These bovids participate in a large scale annual migration. Up to 250,000 wildebeest perish each year in the long and arduous movement to find forage in the dry season. Tanzania is also home to 130 amphibian and over 275 reptile species, many of them strictly endemic and included in the IUCN Red lists of different countries.

Other conservation areas include Arusha National Park, Gombe Streams National Park, Mahale Mountains National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Ruaha National Park and Tarangire National Park.

The coral island of Chumbe, which forms part of the archipelago of Zanzibar is one of the most well known nature reserves in East Africa and aims to promote awareness of coral reef ecology.

Tanzania has put in a lot of effort to protect its environment as it sees it as a vital tool in bringing in tourists that would help to boost it economy.

A list of African countries and how their natural environments were ranked is shown below.

African Ranking World Ranking Country
421South Africa
1467Burkina Faso


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