The economy of Tanzania is overwhelmingly agricultural; plantations grow cash crops, including coffee, sisal, tea, cotton, pyrethrum, cashews, tobacco, sugarcane, and cloves (cultivated in Zanzibar and Pemba). Most of the population, however, is engaged in subsistence farming, growing corn, wheat, cassava, bananas, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, large numbers of cattle, sheep, and goats are raised. Timber is important and includes mahogany, teak, ebony, camphor wood, and mangrove. Manufactures include processed agricultural goods, beverages, wood products, and basic consumer items. Refined petroleum, fertilizer, aluminum goods, and construction materials are also produced. Diamonds, tanzanite, and other gemstones are mined; other minerals extracted in significant quantities include gold, salt, gypsum, phosphates, and kaolin. There are also tin mines in NW Tanzania and coal and iron ore deposits near Lake Nyasa. Natural gas from deposits around Songo Songo Island, off the S central coast, are used to produce electricity.
Tanzania has limited road and rail networks. The main rail lines run from Dar-es-Salaam to Kigoma (on Lake Tanganyika) and to Tanga, Moshi, and Arusha in the NE. The Tazara Railway (also known as the Great Uhuru or Tanzam Railway), built in the 1970s by the Chinese, connects Dar-es-Salaam with central Zambia, affording landlocked Zambia an alternative route to the sea. The principal exports are gold, coffee, cashews, diamonds and other gemstones, manufactures, and cotton. The principal imports are consumer goods, machinery, transportation equipment, industrial raw materials, crude oil, and foodstuffs. The leading trade partners are China, India, South Africa, and Canada.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.