Tanzania Economy


Tanzania is an east African nation with a long coastline along the Indian Ocean. The country shares borders with Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi. It ranks 31st in the world in terms of total area available. The terrain in this region consists of coastal plains along the east to highlands towards the north and south. Tanzania’s economy is one of the poorest in the world, based on the UN statistics for 2009. Almost 36% of the total population (in excess of 43.7 million) lives below the international poverty line.

Tanzania Economy: Introduction

Tanzania’s economy is highly dependent on agricultural productivity. The agro sector contributes more than two-thirds of the GDP. It accounts for almost 85% of the total exports and employs nearly 80% of the population. However, agriculture is restricted to the coastal plains, since nearly 90% of the land is not arable. The small industrial sector basically comprises food processing plants. Light consumer goods are also manufactured in the country. After 2000, the country has also invested in the mining sector. Tanzania has large deposits of gold and natural gas.


According to the 2009 estimates, Tanzania has an annual GDP of US$57.5 billion, which ranks the nation 85th in the world. However, the GDP per capita is one of the lowest in the world at US $1,400. Owing to continuing fiscal reforms, the country is able to achieve sustainable economic growth.  

Tanzania Economy: Statistical Snapshot

Here is the major statistical data on the Tanzanian economy:


Labor force

21.23 million (2009 est.)

Labor in agriculture


Budget revenues

$3.78 billion

Budget expenditures

$4.693 billion (2009 est.)

Industrial production growth rate

5.8% (2009 est.)

Current account balance

-$1.995 billion (2009 est.)


$2.744 billion (2009 est.)


$5.545 billion (2009 est.)

External debt

$7.07 billion (December 2009 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange

$2.897 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

                                                                                    (Source: CIA World Factbook)


Traditional economic infrastructure and over dependency on agriculture are the biggest challenges for the Tanzanian economic profile. The country has developed PRGF (Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility) programs in association with IMF. The country also receives grants through the HIPC (heavily-indebted poor countries) initiative. The World Bank identifies mining and tourism as the key sectors for growth in Tanzania.