About Tanga

Tanga is both the name of the most northerly seaport city of Tanzania, and the surrounding Tanga Region. It is the Regional Headquarters of the region.

With a population of 243,580 in 2002, Tanga is one of the largest cities in the country. It is a quiet city compared to, for example, Arusha or Moshi with a comparable number of inhabitants.

The city of Tanga sits on the Indian Ocean, near the border with Kenya. Major exports from the port of Tanga include sisal, coffee, tea, and cotton. Tanga is also an important railroad terminus, connecting much of the northern Tanzanian interior with the sea. Via the Tanzania Railways Corporation’s Link Line and Central Line, Tanga is linked to the African Great Lakes region and the Tanzanian economic capital of Dar es Salaam. The city is served by Tanga Airport.

The harbour and surrounding is the centre of life in Tanga. It is stretched out several km² into the country. It has several markets in several neighbourhoods.


Tanga was chosen in 1889 as a military post of German East Africa, and became a district office in 1891. The local economy was based on sisal, which had been brought to the colony several years earlier, and population in the area grew rapidly. The town was also established as the terminus of the Usambara Railway line, which runs inland to Moshi at the foot of Kilimanjaro.

The name Tanga comes from the word for farm or cultivated land in several of the local languages (including Sambaa, Bondei, and Zigua).[citation needed] Tanga gave its name to Tanganyika, literally meaning “Sisal Farm”, the territory which in 1964 joined with the island of Zanzibar to form the modern nation of Tanzania.

As the coastal town closest to Kenya, Tanga was on the front line at the outset of World War I. A British landing was thrown back on 4 November 1914 in the Battle of Tanga, and the town was not taken until 7 July 1916.

Tourist sites

Nearby tourist attractions include Amboni Caves, Galanos hot springs, Saadani national park, Toten Island, URITHI Tanga Museum, Tanga War Graves and Memorials, Tongoni Ruins, Ndumi Village defense works, Mwarongo sand beaches and protected coastal mangroves. For more information visit Tanga cultural heritage tourism

Sports and culture

Tanga is represented in the Tanzanian Premier League by the football club Coastal Union. Tanga is a Persian word with four meanings: straight; a green valley; the road beside a mountain river; and a farm on a rolling hill or mountain.

Much of Tanga’s heritage is being lost to the vestige of time. This loss is further exacerbated by the unfortunate socio-economic situation in the town and the region. Concern for this historically significant loss motivated a small group of Tanga residents to establish Urithi with the mission to conserve and promote the heritage of Tanga. There are many aspects of the heritage of Tanga; the history, the people and their culture, arts and crafts, buildings and architectures, languages and natural environments. The intention of the founders of Urithi is to conserve as much as possible of this heritage and where possible to make use of this heritage in present day activities. To educate and train the new generation in the useful aspects of the heritage and to derive socio-economic benefit for the town and the region from this heritage. However, it would be folly to believe that Urithi, on its own, could achieve the magnanimous task of conserving and promoting all aspects of Tanga’s heritage.