As of 2014, Tanzania’s gross domestic product (GDP) was an estimated $43.8 billion, or $86.4 billion on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis. Tanzania is a middle-power country, with a per capita GDP of $1,813 (PPP), which was 32% below the average of $2,673 for the 45 sub-Saharan African countries and ranked 23rd among those countries.
From 2009 through 2013, Tanzania’s per capita GDP (based on constant local currency) grew an average of 3.5% per year, higher than any other member of the East African Community (EAC) and exceeded by only nine countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Tanzania’s largest trading partners in 2012 for its US $5.5 billion in exports were South Africa, Switzerland, and China. Its imports totaled US $11.7 billion, with Switzerland, China, and the United Arab Emirates being the biggest partners.
Tanzania weathered the Great Recession, which began in late 2008 or early 2009, relatively well. Strong gold prices, bolstering the country’s mining industry, and Tanzania’s poor integration into global markets helped to insulate the country from the downturn. Since the recession ended, the Tanzanian economy has expanded rapidly thanks to strong tourism, telecommunications, and banking sectors.
According to the United Nations Development Program, however, recent growth in the national economy has benefited only the “very few”, leaving out the majority of the population. Tanzania’s 2013 Global Hunger Index was worse than any other country in the EAC except Burundi.The proportion of persons who were undernourished in 2010–12 was also worse than any other EAC country except Burundi.
The level of poverty in Tanzania is very high. Tanzania has made little progress towards reducing extreme hunger and malnutrition. The 2010 Global Hunger Index ranks the situation as “alarming”. Children in rural areas suffer substantially higher rates of malnutrition and chronic hunger, although urban-rural disparities have narrowed as regards both stunting and underweight. Low rural sector productivity arises mainly from inadequate infrastructure investment; limited access to farm inputs, extension services and credit; limited technology as well as trade and marketing support; and heavy dependence on rain-fed agriculture and natural resources.
Approximately 68 percent of Tanzania’s 44.9 million citizens live below the poverty line of $1.25 a day and 16 percent of children under 5 are malnourished. The most prominent challenges Tanzania faces in poverty reduction are unsustainable harvesting of its natural resources, unchecked cultivation, climate change and water- source encroachment, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
There are very few resources for Tanzanians in terms of credit services, infrastructure or availability to improved agricultural technologies, which further exacerbates hunger and poverty in the country according to the UNDP. Tanzania ranks 159 out of 187 countries in poverty according to the United Nation’s Human Development Index (2014).