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SafetyTravel Safety: Africa: Tanzania

Tanzania: United Republic of Tanzania
Capital: Dar es Salaam
Population: 37,187,939
Currency: Tanzanian shilling (TZS)
Languages: Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguju (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages
Religions: mainland - Christian 30%, Muslim 35%, indigenous beliefs 35%; Zanzibar - more than 99% Muslim
Borders: Burundi 451 km, Kenya 769 km, Malawi 475 km, Mozambique 756 km, Rwanda 217 km, Uganda 396 km, Zambia 338 km

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
Tanzania is a developing East African nation. Tourist facilities are available in major cities and selected game parks, but limited in other areas. The legislative capital is Dodoma and the U.S. Embassy is located in Dar es Salaam.

SECURITY AND SAFETY ^
On November 28, 2002, there was a car-bomb attack on a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, approximately 50 miles north of the Kenya-Tanzania border, in which 15 people were killed, and an unsuccessful attempt to shoot down an Israeli charter plane departing Mombasa. These incidents highlight the continuing threat posed by terrorism in East Africa and the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out attacks. U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, including tourist sites and other places where Westerners are known to congregate.

Political tension on Zanzibar and Pemba can be extremely high. In the past, riot police have clashed violently with demonstrators on several occasions, and a number of small explosions have occurred on Zanzibar and Pemba islands, as well as on the mainland. U.S. citizens are reminded that violent demonstrations and bombings could recur with little warning. To avoid potential violence, travelers should maintain a high level of security vigilance at all times and avoid political rallies and related public gatherings.

Some of the more recent bombings on Zanzibar have targeted establishments that may be perceived by certain fundamentalist elements to be �decadent.' Although to date the targets have been bars not generally frequented by Westerners, American travelers should be aware that such attacks have occurred and the possibility exists that future attacks may not be limited to establishments patronized exclusively by locals. In the past, there have also been published threats in some Zanzibar newspapers warning that women who dress immodestly may be subject to harassment. American citizens are advised to dress modestly and to refrain from intemperate public behavior.

The area near Tanzania's borders with Rwanda and Burundi has been the site of minor military clashes, and refugee flows across the borders into Tanzania continue. There have been a number of incidents of criminal and violent activity in the region. Travelers to this area should exercise caution.

On August 7, 1998, terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam. The United States has had excellent cooperation with Tanzanian police and security forces since the bombing. However, Tanzania's borders remain porous, and Americans should remain aware of their surroundings.

GAME PARKS ^
Tanzania offers opportunities for observation of wildlife in its natural habitat. Many tour operators offer structured, safe excursions into parks and other wildlife viewing areas for close observation of flora and fauna. However, travelers should bear in mind that they, too, must play a responsible role in maintaining safety. Tourists are mauled or killed each year as a result of having relaxed their vigilance. Tourists are reminded to maintain a safe distance from animals and to remain in vehicles or other protected enclosures when venturing into game parks.

CRIME ^
Crime is a serious problem in Tanzania, and visitors should be alert and cautious. Street crime in Dar es Salaam is common and includes mugging, vehicle theft, "smash and grab" attacks on vehicles, armed robbery, and burglary. Crime involving firearms is becoming more common. Thieves and pickpockets on buses and trains steal from inattentive passengers.

Pedestrians on beaches and footpaths, whether in isolated areas or in popular tourist venues, are often targeted for robbery or assault. This is especially true on Zanzibar and in Dar es Salaam and its environs. Visitors should limit the amount of cash they carry and leave valuables, such as passports, jewelry and airline tickets, in a hotel safe or other secure place. Cameras are highly coveted by thieves; guard yours carefully. Because of the potential for fraud, credit cards should only be used in reputable tourist hotels.

Carjackings have occurred in both rural and urban areas. Visitors are advised to drive with doors locked and windows rolled up. Travelers are urged not to stop between populated areas and to travel in convoys if possible.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Tanzanian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Tanzania are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical facilities are limited and medicines are often unavailable, even in Dar es Salaam. There are hospitals on Zanzibar that can treat minor ailments. For any major medical problems, including dental work, travelers should consider obtaining medical treatment in Nairobi or South Africa where more advanced medical care is available.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Tanzania is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of public transportation: Poor 
Rural road conditions/maintenance: Variable 
Urban road conditions/maintenance: Variable 
Availability of roadside assistance: Poor/Limited

Road and traffic conditions in Tanzania differ markedly from those found in the United States and present hazards that require drivers to exercise continual alertness and caution.

Traffic in Tanzania moves on the left. Drivers and pedestrians alike must maintain vigilance, looking both ways before turning or crossing a road.

Drivers are advised against nighttime travel. Roadways are often not marked and many lack both streetlights and shoulders. Pedestrians, cyclists, and animals are often encountered on unlit roads after dark, as are slow-moving trucks and cars traveling without lights. Car-jacking and other related crimes are more common during the nighttime hours. Traveling in rural areas after dark is strongly discouraged.

Although a number of inter-city highways are periodically repaved and maintained, maintenance schedules are erratic and even good roads may deteriorate precipitously in periods of inclement weather. During the rainy season (late March to mid-June), many roads in Tanzania, both urban and rural, are passable only with four-wheel-drive vehicles.

In urban areas, it is common to find main arterial roads paved and maintained, while secondary streets are severely rutted and passable only with high-clearance vehicles. Traffic lights are often out of order, and care should be exercised at any traffic intersection, whether controlled or not, as many drivers disregard signals.

Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles pose serious traffic hazards.

Tanzanian law requires all motor vehicle operators to be in possession of a valid driver's license. Persons staying in Tanzania for six months or less may use a valid U.S. driver's license after validation by local traffic authorities, or an international driver's license. Persons intending to remain in Tanzania for more than six months are required to obtain a Tanzanian driver's license. All vehicles are required to carry third-party liability insurance.

Tanzania's traffic regulations are governed by the Road Traffic Act of 1973. Some subsequent legislation has amended the 1973 act by requiring, for example, the use of seat belts. However, other aspects of modern driving, such as the use of child seats, are not addressed or required by Tanzanian law.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. 

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ^
Inter-city transportation routes between major destinations such as Arusha and Dar es Salaam are serviced by a variety of carriers that offer differing levels of safety and comfort. U.S. citizens who travel by bus are urged to select carriers who use modern equipment and to avoid utilizing vehicles that are in obvious disrepair.

In-town transportation is best accomplished using taxis or hired drivers from a reputable source. Travelers should be wary of using the ubiquitous microbuses (dala-dalas), which are frequently overcrowded, poorly maintained, a common site of petty theft, and whose operation is generally unsafe.

AVIATION SAFETY ^
As there is no direct commercial air service at present, nor an economic authority to operate such service between the U.S. and Tanzania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Tanzanian civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.intl.faa.gov. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at (618) 229-4801.

PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS ^
Photography of military installations is forbidden. Individuals have been detained and/or had their cameras and film confiscated for taking pictures of hospitals, schools, bridges, industrial sites, and airports. Installations that are prohibited from being photographed are not always marked.

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Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

February 17, 2004

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