Tanzania is located south of the Equator within the tropics of Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Kenya in the northeast and Mozambique in the south. In the interior it shares borders with Uganda in the north, Rwanda and Burundi in the northwest, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the west and Zambia and Malawi in the southwest. It covers a total area of 947,300km2 including the nearby islands of Mafia, Pemba, and Zanzibar, of which 61,500km2 (6.5%) is water. Tanzania's geography is one of the most varied and unique in the world. It comprises a large central plateau with mountain ranges in the north of the country including the active volcanic peaks of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro (5895 metres). Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa. There are highlands in the south and plains along the coast which is fringed by a coral reef. Two branches of Great Rift Valley run through the country. The Eastern Rift in the north-central part of the country contains shallow strongly alkaline internal lakes (e.g. Lake Natron). The Western Rift, which defines much of the country’s western border, contains Lakes Tanganyika, Rukwa and Malawi (not in Tanzania). Lake Tanganyika, which is shared with DRC and Burundi, is the second deepest lake in the world. Lake Victoria, the southern half of which lies in Tanzania between the two branches of the rift system, is the largest lake in Africa and the largest tropical freshwater lake in the world (by area).

Even with donor assistance and solid macroeconomic policies to support GDP growth, Tanzania remained in the bottom 14% of the world's economies in terms of per capita income. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for more than 40% of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the work force. The mining sector contributes around 2.3% to annual GDP and is projected to account for 10% by 2025. All mining exports amounted to US$1 billion in 2008. 


Tanzania’s geology is dominated by an Archean Craton. Progressively younger crystalline rocks rim this granitic nucleus with sediments and volcanics of Paleozoic to Recent age occupying the rifted grabens, coastal plains and inland basins; Karoo sequences are present in structural basins. Rocks of Archean, Proterozoic, Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic age are all well represented. Much of Northern and Central Tanzania is underlain by Archean crust; the central part is dominated by high grade paragneiss and granitic migmatites of the Dodoman Supergroup while the northern part corresponds to the Greenstone Belt comprising the Nyanzian Supergroup and in the extreme north the Kavirondian Supergroup. The Nyanzian Supergroup comprises sequences of dominantly mafic volcanics and immature sediments, including chert/banded iron formation units, that host the majority of Tanzania’s gold deposits. The Craton also hosts major diamondiferous kimberlites including the world class Mwadui pipe; it is surrounded to the SE and SW by the Paleo-Proterozoic Usagaran and Ubendian mobile belts respectively comprising high grade crystalline metamorphics with a number of post-orogenic intrusives hosting base metals, shear hosted gold and various types of gemstones. The Palaeozoic-Mesozoic Karoo Supergroup reaches its northern limit in Tanzania consisting of mainly of continental sediments with high-quality coal resources.