Situated in East Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania boasts a long coastline on the Indian Ocean and borders eight other African nations: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. The country achieved its official independence from colonial rule in 1961, and now includes the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. Its vast natural resources include minerals, wildlife, many lakes, arable land and forests.
Unlike many of its neighbors, Tanzania has enjoyed a long period of relative political stability despite extremely high levels of poverty. According to the most recent data, 89% of Tanzanians live on less than US$1.25 per day. Above all, The 2009 Human Development Report, which measures achievement on three basic dimensions—life expectancy, education and per capita gross domestic product—ranked Tanzania 151st of 182 countries.
Much of the country’s population has been affected by the persistent epidemics of malaria and HIV, which are the leading causes of death for children and adults, respectively.