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Dodoma Travel Guide

Dodoma the Capital City of Tanzania

Dodoma, city, designated national capital of Tanzania since 1974 (pending complete transfer of official functions from Dar es Salaam), eastern Africa, about 300 miles (480 km) inland (west) from the Indian Ocean. Situated at an elevation of 3,720 feet (1,135 metres) in a sparsely populated agricultural region, it is a market centre for peanuts (groundnuts), castor beans, sunflower seeds, gum, corn (maize), rice, wheat, coffee, tea, tobacco, and sorghum. 

Coffee and sisal are cultivated in the northern part of the region, and cattle raising is important throughout the region. Dodoma is connected by air, road, and rail with Arusha, Dar es Salaam, and Tanga. The relocation of the national capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma began in the early 1980s and was scheduled to be completed in 2005; at that point, however, only the legislature regularly convened there. 

The population is primarily agricultural and is engaged in small-scale farming carried on in immediate proximity to residential quarters. Most of Dodoma’s inhabitants are of the Gogo, Sanawe, Rangi, and Burungi peoples. Industries produce wood and furniture, beverages, processed food, milled rice and flour, soap, and oil. Pop. (2002) 149,180.

How to get to Dodoma?

There are many daily buses from Dar es Salaam. Driving time is seven to eight hours with a stop in Morogoro. There are plenty options for luxury buses through out the day.  There are buses to and from Arusha via Kondoa to the north. The road is  paved and very comfortable, there are buses all the way to 1:00pm. The highway is known as the Great Northern Highway. Travel time is often in excess of 5 hours, and breakdowns are not common.

There are also buses to and from Iringa. Travel time is about six hours on a winding gravel road of varying quality. The road passes right over the Mtera Dam which is worth a look. Dodoma is situated on the Central Railway Line which goes from Dar Es Salaam to Mwanza or Kigoma.

If you are in a hurry the better choice is by bus. If the train service is running again and you are heading west, train is better, especially in the rainy season. Air Tanzania/ Precision air flies daily with the  between Dodoma and Dar es Salam for 250.000 TSH on Monday and Thursday, also to Mbeya. 

What is the capital of Tanzania – Dodoma or Dar’Salaam?

Modern Tanzania as we know it since its  was initially ruled from Dar es Salaam for over three decades (this multi-million coastal city was the capital for 32 years). Since 1996, Dodoma is considered the official capital of the republic. Although in many ways this is only a nominal function – most government offices, the offices of banks and major national companies, and all embassies still remain in Dar es Salaam.

Perhaps the most famous example in the world of a capital that was assigned this role “artificially” is Canberra in Australia. And many people are still convinced that Sydney is the capital of that country. Visitors to Tanzania are also often surprised to learn that Dar es Salaam is not the capital of Tanzania and it is in fact Dodoma. These two capitals, Tanzanian and Australian, have comparable populations, although the latter has had half a century more to establish itself.

If we compare Tanzania’s Dodoma with the capitals of nearby African countries, examples of similar development are the capital of neighboring Malawi – Lilongwe, the capital of Nigeria – Abuja, the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott, and Gaborone – the capital of Botswana. 

All these countries also gained independence in the 1960s, and the transfer of the capital marked the beginning of a new period in the life of their people. In Tanzania, the process dragged on for decades, and continues to this day, although the idea was exactly the same as that of its neighbors. What went wrong and why? We will touch on it a little later, but now let’s learn a few things about the city itself.

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