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Living in Tanga as Expat

Living in Tanga as Expat

Tanga is both the name of the most northerly port city of Tanzania on the west of the Indian Ocean, and the surrounding Tanga Region. It is the regional headquarters of the region. With a population of 273,332 in 2012, 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 name Tanga reportedly means “sail.

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 has several markets in several neighbourhoods.


The earliest documentation about Tanga comes from the Portuguese. A trading post was established by the Portuguese as part of their East African coastal territory and controlled the region for over 200 years between 1500 and 1700.

The Sultanate of Oman battled the Portuguese and gained control of the settlement by mid-1700 along with Mombasa, Pemba Island and Kilwa Kisiwani. The town continued to act as a trading port for ivory and slaves under the sultan’s rule.

Tanga continued to be a prosperous trading hub for slaves with the Arab world up until 1873 when the European powers abolished the slave trade.

Tanga ethnic Groups

If one wants household help—particularly to combat the issues with House hold — it is not difficult to find.  Unfortunately, the unemployment rate in Tanzania is high and many people come to the capital in search of jobs.  Although there may be a constant parade of people ringing your bell asking for work, given that somehow everyone will know you are new in town, it is best to use word of mouth to find someone. 

You can start by asking your contacts whether or not the household help they have know of anyone, friends or relatives, who need work.  Most people look for housekeepers and gardeners, although some may hire cooks or guards, as well.  My experience is that everyone knows someone who needs work. 


The official language in Tanzania is Swahili but there are hundreds of other local dialects. English is the second official language and the country’s commercial language. It is also the main teaching language used for all higher education institution. You will find that the majority of the people that you come in contact with are fluent in English and have a surprisingly good command of the language. 

Some useful and fun Swahili words and phrases are as follow: English / Swahili Hello / Jambo Response to Jambo / Jambo or SiJambo How are you? / Habari? Good / Nzuri How’s Things? (fun slang) / Mambo? Good (fun reply to Mambo) / Poa Have a good trip (safe journey) / Safari Njema Thank You / Asante Sana You’re Welcome / Karibu Sana Yes / Ndiyo No / Hapana OK / Sawa No Problem / Hakuna Noma Good Night / La La Salama.

An expat's guide to Tanzania
Groceries, markets, and shopping

In terms of grocery shopping and product availability, there are a number of malls in Tanga City Although many items are available all the time, like bread, eggs, beef, and biscuits, one cannot always expect certain things to be stocked consistently. 

If you are organizing a braii (barbeque, we say at home), things are usually available, meat, salad makings, rice or potatoes. But when my children requested lasagne, it took several shopping trips to various places over time to assemble the ingredients, particularly the ricotta cheese.  This isn’t a problem, however… just a minor inconvenience.  I compensate for such moments by stocking up on items that I always want to have available.

Heal and Healthcare

In terms of medical and dental services, there are a number of choices of physicians and paediatricians and dentists from which to choose. Additionally, there are several different local hospitals with many services, but you would want to get a referral to a specific doctor from one of your friends or coworkers.  One can also go to Dar-es-salaam, Arusha, Mwanza or Kilimanjaro for medical treatment fairly easily.  

Arusha Hotels airport transfers to Tanga
Meeting people, clubs, gyms

While the local market offers some opportunities for expatriate spouses to work, jobs are not always easy to find.  Yet, one can stay busy with many other activities, including sports, art classes, and social clubs.

Athletic activities are easy to access, including golf, tennis, swimming or the local Hash, as well as working out at the local gyms, like GymActive in the Village, Energym in Broadhurst, and the G’West gym. Some have personal trainers (if you need someone to get you or keep you on your programme).  There is an indoor heated pool where one can either do swimming lessons or join just to swim laps.   

Several local galleries offer art classes, including decoupage and pottery.  Additionally, one can find individuals who offer various classes in their homes, like cake decorating and quilting.  Book groups offer another way to spend time productively and new ones seem to spring up from time to time, although there are several that have been going for years.  


While Tanga is not seen as a shopping mecca, there are standard options, like department stores, and unique opportunities, including craft fairs, to exercise the shopping muscles.  Additionally, one might find it interesting to seek out shops recreationally, for the thrill of finding something you didn’t know existed (like the time in 1980 when a friend came across wilted celery in a grocery store in Kanye and made a complete ruckus…but maybe you had to be there). 

More about Tanga Travel Guide:


Planning your trip? Whether you’re looking for things to do in Tanga such as events and attractions, key traveller information to make your Tanga visit run smoothly or are planning where to stay in Tanga, you’ll find everything you need for your Tanga holiday on Our Website. Tanga Travel guide has the information about latest events not to miss while you visit Tanga – there’s always something going on, so don’t miss out on the latest exhibitions, shows and more on your trip Tanga

Discover the best day trips from Tanga  or other Tanzania’s Cities. If you’re here as a family, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Dar-Es-Salaam  with kids and find suitable accommodation such as Tanga holiday apartments. Whether you’re looking for the best weekend breaks in Tanzania or planning a longer holiday in, you can be sure you’ll find all the information you need. 

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