Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, yet there is a limited amount of fertile land to meet the needs. Ageing infrastructure and difficult terrain mean travel conditions can be dangerous and the rainy season cuts off many villages for weeks at a time.

MAF started operating in Tanzania in 1963, stopping in 1966 due to resource and staffing difficulties. There were many unmet needs for missionaries serving Tanzania, so we established permanent operations in 1977 and construction of an aircraft hangar began in 1978. From the beginning we have been involved with national churches, assisting them to reach and encourage Christians in isolated places.

Much of the flying centres on medical and evangelistic ‘safaris’ where national and missionary staff are taken out to remote villages for several days at a time. These regular medical and evangelistic trips to remote communities around Haydom, Malambo, Mbeya, Mbesa, and Kilimatinde enable people who are cut off for most of the year to receive medical help and to hear the Gospel. This has necessitated a network of bush airstrips, with more being sited to enable other areas to be reached.



Tanzania has the 19th lowest Human Development Index rating in the world

  • Population: 40,213,162 (UK: 61 million)
  • Birth rate: 36 births/1,000 population (UK: 11 births/1,000)
  • Population under 15 years: 44% (UK: 17%)
  • Population below the poverty line: 36%
  • HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 8.8% of population (UK: 0.2%)



Ageing infrastructure and difficult terrain make challenging travel conditions

  • Area of the country: 364,900 sq miles (UK: 94,525 sq miles)
  • 49,642 miles of roads, but only 4,230 miles of paved roads (UK: 241,104 miles – all paved)
  • 124 airstrips of which only 10 are paved



Tanzania’s weak economy depends heavily on agriculture, despite a limited amount of fertile land

  • 80% of the population employed in agriculture, fishing and forestry
  • Main exports include gold, coffee, cashew nuts and cotton



Man’s influence has created a number of environmental issues

  • Soil degradation through over cultivation
  • Desertification is a growing threat as a result of deforestation
  • Destruction of coral reefs threatens marine habitats
  • Recent droughts affecting marginal agricultural land
  • Wildlife threatened by illegal hunting and trade, especially for ivory



The climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate in the interior highlands. This brings potential for natural hazards

  • Flooding on the central plateau during the rainy season
  • Drought

Tanzania Country Profile

Mission Aviation Fellowship

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