Dar Es Salaam

Cradled in a natural harbor on the Indian Ocean, Tropical Dar es Salaam is now one of the world’s fastest growing cities. This former fishing town is Tanzania’s largest city and is its economic hub; a key trading port, manufacturing center and the nerve center of Tanzania’s policy machine.

The former capital has a burgeoning population; its four million residents will likely double in number over the next twenty years. This has prompted local planners to instigate a master plan for the city, and Tanzania’s visionaries have hopes to model the city on Singapore.

Sadly, this edgy city’s high ambitions are hobbled by an over-burdened and out-of-date infrastructure. Electricity blackouts are commonplace, while water and natural resource scarcity tends to leave construction projects in limbo for months, sometimes years.

For now, the UN estimates that 70% of Dar es Salaam’s residents live in shanty settlements. Only a fraction of the population can afford the up-market Northern suburbs and the multi-million dollar mansions fronting onto white sand beaches.

Tanzania is home to more than 120 different tribes and millions of foreigners. An influx of business into Dar coupled with a brisk tourist trade has given rise to a vibrant, multicultural community in which the country’s two main religions, Muslim and Christianity, peacefully coexist.

For newcomers Dar es Salaam may at first seem bewildering, but in this transient city friendships are easily made, particularly within the tightknit expat network.