What you need to know
MAP OF MWANZA
Mwanza is the fastest growing city in East Africa, and is the second largest in Tanzania. When Carolyn first visited, in the early 90s, there were few cars, but now it is almost impossible to cross the road! There is only one traffic light that caused quite a commotion when it was installed in 2009 – The residents had never seen anything like it! Mwanza has moved on from being a small community to being a bustling city. Mwanza is known as ‘Rock City’ due to the many rock formations in the area – even Living Waters is comprised of numerous beautiful rock faces. One of the outstanding features of the city is the ‘Bismark Rock’ which can be seen below. It is a great mystery as to how the rock came to be so perfectly balanced.
Mwanza Region is one of Tanzania’s 30 administrative regions. The regional capital is Mwanza.
The neighbouring regions are Geita to the west, Shinyanga to the south, and Simiyu to the east. Furthermore, Lake Victoria borders the region’s north frontier.
The regional commissioner of the Mwanza Region is John Mongella.
Mwanza is known as Sukumaland because most of the population comes from the Sukuma tribe, which mainly covers the regions of Mwanza, Shinyanga and Tabora. Apart from speaking their native language, residents speak Swahili, which is the national language.
CURRENCY: Shilling (TZS)
POPULATION AND AREA
According to the 2012 national census, the Mwanza Region had a population of 2,772,509, which was lower than the pre-census projection of 3,771,067, the region’s 3.0 percent average annual population growth rate was the eighth highest in the country. It was also the sixth most densely populated region with 293 people per square kilometer.
As of 2007, the region covered an area of 20,095 square kilometres (7,759 sq mi) of dry land; however, parts of the region went to establish the Geita Region in 2012.
The Mwanza Region is occupied by various tribal groups, included the Wasukuma, the Wakerewe, Wakara and Wazinza. Mwanza city’s Makongoro Road is named after a prominent Sukuma chief who controlled the area in the late 1800s. Under British rule, the region was one district in the Lake Province, which became the Lake Region after independence. In 1963, the Mwanza Region was created.
Wasukuma tribe is the major tribe occupying the Mwanza Region, the other region that is occupied by Wasukuma is Shinyanga Region.
ECONOMY AND TOURISM
Mwanza, TANZANIA – Mwanza is memorable for all the right reasons. The firm handshake extended to all visitors, good food (finger-licking) stimulated by great conversation and a nice atmosphere are common traits in Mwanza.
Mwanza, the second largest city after Dar es Salaam, has always been a popular destination, but recently it has grown into an economic and tourism hub.
Tourists have begun to visit Mwanza in ever increasing numbers. The money from fishing and mining has seen an expansion in tourist accommodation facilities ranging from luxury five star hotels to those only offering bed and breakfast.
The first striking thing as you enter the Central Business District is the new imposing skyline. Shiny shopping malls, hotels and in the near distance along the lake shore are the Bismarck Rocks, a famous city landmark.
The last time I was here the hospitality industry was still in its infancy. There was not that much to choose from. Today, it is very different.
This time around, I was irrepressibly excited about the blend of modern and contemporary architecture with a number of hotels and all within the sprawling CBD and beyond.
The second thing you realize is the city is slowly but surely reclaiming its glory as the capital of the Lake zone.
According to Gloria Munhambo from the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) Lake zone office in Mwanza, there are many manufacturing companies setting up operations.
In Mwanza, I noticed, life thrives around the beachfront hotels and lodges. There are many opportunities for both tourists and residents to share the vibrant culture, beautiful climate, and stunning landscapes.
Admittedly, I noticed Mwanza is struggling hard to tap the benefits of conventional tourism and beat its isolation from being one of the best safari destinations in Tanzania.
However, Mwanza is full of unparalleled diversity of scenery, fauna, flora, wildlife (with the Serengeti, located a mere two hour drive away), minerals, thousands of years of great history, plentiful natural wealth and assets.
The city is built on and between hills, in some areas, that thank their striking appearance to the enormous pebbles perched on hills are stone houses with some of its buildings crisscrossing between the hills.
Mwanza, the largest city and the economic heart of the Lake Zone, overlooking Africa’s largest lake, Victoria, got the nickname Rock City because of the gigantic rocks jutting out of the lake waters and strewn inland, giving the city a unique topography.
The wonders include enormous rock formations precariously balanced on top of each other, one of the rare sightings found throughout the countryside and around Lake Victoria in Mwanza.
Whether one finds it relaxing, exciting, or inspiring, there is no doubt Mwanza can find its place in anyone’s heart. Contemporary art and new ideas flourish here and at the beaches there is free expression and everyone is welcomed with open arms.
Music is celebrated extensively in Mwanza in the supercharged creative atmosphere with Igoma and Kirumba (Villa Park) offering the best to celebrate the town’s beauty. Residents and newcomers mingle in the drinking joints and eatery in which the town lights up with laughter that keep the streets lit late into the evenings.
The MV Bukoba Tower is built on the outskirts of the city at Bwiru reminding visitors that despite the warmth of the people and the beauty of this city, Mwanza was the scene of a maritime accident of MV Victoria in 1996 killing nearly a thousand people.
Mwanza region is well connected by road, rail, water and air transport.
Paved trunk road T4 from Musoma to Bukoba passes through the district from east to west. While paved trunk road T8 from Mwanza to Shinyanga passes through the region from north to south.
The Mwanza branch of the Central Line railway passes through the region on its way from Mwanza to Tabora and there are several stations within the region’s borders.
Ferries connect Ukerewe Island with Mwanza city. Other ferries operate between Mwanza and Sengerema District.
Mwanza International Airport is located within the region’s boundaries, in the city of Mwanza.