The Flag Of Tanzania: History, Meaning, And Symbolism

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Updated: May 31, 2023
© Julinzy/
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Tanzania is a beautiful East African country with lots to see, do, and learn. Its flag is also vibrant, colorful, and full of meaning. Although its current flag stands out, Tanzania has used over a dozen different flags to represent its region, long before the country gained independence. Are you ready to discover the flag of Tanzania’s history, meaning, and symbolism?

Where is Tanzania?

Tanzania has 885 miles of coastline and includes a few islands in the Indian Ocean like Pemba, Mafia, and Unguja.


Tanzania is the 13th largest country in its continent. Its surface area is 365,756 square miles. This eastern African country is very mountainous with multiple large and deep lakes, including Lake Tanganyika. Because of its large size, Tanzania borders multiple countries. For example, it borders Uganda and Kenya to the North and Zambia, Mozambique, and Malawi to the south. To the west, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi border the country. Tanzania also has 885 miles of coastline and includes a few islands in the Indian Ocean like Pemba, Mafia, and Unguja.

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Where to Find Tanzania on a Map

Tanzania is a country situated in East Africa. It shares borders with Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, Zambia and Malawi to the southwest, and Mozambique to the south. To locate Tanzania on a map, one can look for its coordinates which are 6°18′25″S latitude and 34°51′14″E longitude. Alternatively, it can be found by searching for it within the African continent, where it occupies an area of about 945 thousand square kilometers.

A Brief History Of Tanzania

Tanzania’s history is long and starts before the country had its current name and before it gained independence. This country is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited areas.


The earliest human fossil remains date back to the Quaternary era. The Olduvai Gorge, in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, contains multiple old remnants of tools. Experts believe the indigenous people of eastern Africa were linguistically isolated Hadza and Sandawe hunters and gatherers. The first migration period was between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago. Southern Cushitic speakers moved from Ethiopia and Somalia. Southern Nilotes also moved to Tanzania from the South Sudan / Ethiopia border about 2,400 to 2,900 years ago. Since early in the first millennium AD, travelers and merchants have interacted with the eastern African coast.


During the colonial period, Omani Sultan Said bin Sultan claimed the coastal strip of Tanzania. Also during this time, Zanzibar was the center of the East African slave trade. In the 1800s, missionaries went inland. In 1885, Germany conquered and ruled over parts of modern-day Tanzania, not including Zanzibar. These parts were incorporated into German East Africa (GEA). However, German rule didn’t last long. In 1919, Britain got full control over GEA due to the decision of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The British indirectly ruled Tanzania, which they renamed Tanganyika. About 100,000 people from Tanganyika joined the allied forces and fought in the King’s African Rifles. In 1954, Julius Nyerere pushed for sovereignty by transforming the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU).


British rule over Tanganyika ended on December 9, 1961. However, Elizabeth II continued to rule during the country’s first year of independence as Queen of Tanganyika. A year later, on December 9, 1962, the country became a democratic republic under an executive president. Additionally, Zanzibar overthrew its Arab dynasty in the Zanzibar Revolution. It became independent and merged with mainland Tanganyika on April 26, 1964. The new country was officially named the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. However, it was later renamed the United Republic of Tanzania.

Tanzania’s Current Flag

Tanzania’s current flag is vibrant and unique. The country officially adopted it on June 30, 1964, replacing the individual flags of Tanganyika and Zanzibar when they united. The flag includes a yellow-edged black diagonal band across the flag. It starts from the top right corner and ends in the bottom left corner. The upper triangle is a bright green and the lower triangle is light blue. The colors carry a lot of meaning. For example, green symbolizes the bountiful vegetation of the country and its rich agricultural resources. Black represents the Swahili people. Blue represents the important bodies of water in the country, including the Indian Ocean and Tanzania’s many rivers and lakes. The thin yellow stripes surrounding the black diagonal stripe represent Tanzania’s mineral wealth.

The Coat of Arms of Tanzania

Tanzania’s coat of arms was inspired by the Republic of Tanganyika. No one is certain who created the design. However, the three well-known claimants are Francis Maige Kanyasu, Jeremiah Wisdom Kabati, and Abdallah Farahani. It was officially adopted as Tanzania’s coat of arms on May 6, 1971. In the center of the coat of arms is a large warrior’s shield. The top of the shield is gold. Underneath the golden top is the country’s flag. A red background represents Africa’s rich and fertile soils. The wavy blue bands at the bottom of the shield symbolize the land, sea, lakes, and coastal lines of the country.

There are also important symbols on the coat of arms, including a burning torch. This is seen on the golden part of the shield and signifies freedom, enlightenment, and knowledge. The spear in the center of the warrior shield is for the protection of freedom and the crossed axe and hoe are tools the people of the country use to develop it.

Lastly, on both sides of the shield are two people. On the left is a man with a clove bush on his feet. On the right is a woman with a cotton bush at her feet. The woman wears a golden yellow scarf, which symbolizes cooperation. The two are standing on Mount Kilimanjaro and are supported by elephant tusks. Underneath the design is the country’s motto “Uhuru na Umoja”, which means freedom and unity.

Tanzania is located in East Africa, on the southern half of the continent just under the equator, on the Indian Ocean. Best known for Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.

The Featured Image

Tanzania flag
The flag of Tanzania has a diagonal black stripe running across the center bordered by narrower golden stripes above and below.
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About the Author

I have been a professional content writer for 6 years now, with a large focus on nature, gardening, food, and animals. I graduated from college with an A.A, but I am still pursuing a Bachelors of Marketing degree. When I am not writing, you can find me in front of my TV with a blanket, snacks, and my fur babies.

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