President: John Magufuli
Nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for his energetic road-building drive and reputation for honesty as minister, President John Magufuli stood on promises to boost economic performance and, like the opposition, fight corruption.
But he was expected to face stiff resistance on the last count from civil servants from within his own Chama Cha Mapinduzi party, which has run Tanzania since independence.
His other major election pledges – to tackle youth unemployment and establish free primary and secondary education – will to a large degree depend on cautious management of resources.
Mr Magufuli also faces rising political discontent on the island of Zanzibar, where local elections had to be scrapped over vote-rigging allegations shortly before he took office.
Laws encourage self-censorship while threats and attacks against journalists hinder critical reporting, according to US-based Freedom House.
That has not stopped the country’s media scene from developing: once small and largely state-controlled, the media industry has grown rapidly following the advent of the multi-party era in the mid-1990s.
Television was a latecomer, with state TV launched only in 2001.
Some key dates in Tanzania’s history:
1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama visits Tanzanian coast. Portugal succeeds in controlling most of the East African coast, until it is ousted from Zanzibar in 1699 by Omani Arabs.
1884 – German Colonisation Society begins to acquire territory, ushering in an era of German control over mainland Tanzania, while Britain enjoys a protectorate over Zanzibar.
1916 – British, Belgian and South African troops occupy German East Africa. Three years later, the League of Nations gives Britain a mandate over Tanganyika – today’s mainland Tanzania.
1961 – Tanganyika becomes independent with Julius Nyerere as prime minister; Zanzibar gains independence in 1963.
1978 – Ugandans temporarily occupy a piece of Tanzanian territory and, in 1979, Tanzanian forces invade Uganda, occupying the capital, Kampala, and help to oust President Idi Amin.
1992 – Constitution amended to allow multi-party politics.
1998 – Al-Qaeda Islamist terror group bombs US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
2001 – At least 31 people are killed and another 100 arrested in Zanzibar in protests against the government’s banning of opposition rallies calling for fresh elections. Later the same year, tens of thousands of opposition supporters march through the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, in the first major joint demonstration by opposition parties in decades.
2012 – The Statoil and Exxon Mobil oil exploration companies make major discovery of gas reserves off the coast of Tanzania.