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The climate of mainland Tanzania is warm and tropical on the coastal strip along the Indian Ocean, with temperatures averaging 27°C (81°F) and rainfall varying from 1,016 to 1,930 millimetres (40 to 76 inches).
The inland plateau is hot and dry, with rainfall averaging 508 to 762 millimetres (20 to 30 inches). The semi-temperate highlands in the southwest are better watered.
Tanzania, a large country with diverse habitats, has built a successful tourist industry around its plentiful wildlife.
There are many environmental threats, however, spurred by the country’s rapidly growing population.
The need for fuel and farmland
has caused extensive deforestation, and the expansion of agricultural land into arid and semi-arid regions threatens many areas with soil loss and desertification. The use of dynamite in the fishing industry has destroyed a large proportion of the country’s extensive offshore reefs. In addition, vast regions are infested with the tsetse fly, which transmits sleeping sickness. Tsetse control programmes are controversial because they use pesticides that harm wildlife. Finally, poaching remains a serious problem, especially for elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn.
Open, relatively dry forests and woodlands cover about a third of Tanzania. Wetlands, including coastal mangrove swamps as well as inland systems such as lake shores, floodplains, and swamps, make up about 6 per cent of the land. Tanzania’s relatively well-organized protected land system has received substantial foreign logistical support and aid. The main elements are forest reserves, game reserves, and national parks, including Serengeti National Park. Two biosphere reserves have been declared under the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Program.
Tanzania has ratified international environmental agreements pertaining to Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer, and Whaling. Regionally, the country participates in the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and has cooperative wildlife protection agreements with Kenya.