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Geography of Bagamoyo, Tanzania Report

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Updated: Nov 22nd, 2019


Bagamoyo is a township in Tanzania that was started toward the end of the eighteenth century. It was the novel headquarters of German East Africa and was among the mainly important business ports by the side of the East African coast during the colonial period. It is renowned as the major way out for slaves who were shipped to Zanzibar and Arab nations (Mshigeni, 1992, p. 131).

Other agricultural commodities and ivory from the interior were also majorly exported through Bagamoyo. Commodities from outside also found their way into Tanzania through this town and went as far as Congo and Zambia. Presently the town holds up to thirty thousand dwellers and is the headquarters of Bagamoyo District.


Bagamoyo is situated at coordinates 6026’S 38054’E/ 6.4330S 38.90E. It stretches out seventy five kilometers to the north of Dar-Es-Salaam, near Zanzibar Island.

Population & Economy

Mosques, other places of worship, a small number of dwellings and a marketplace dominated the most important central region of Bagamoyo, which stayed a rural community until in recent times in the beginning of the 1990s. The region’s populace has shown a slow growth with time.

For instance, in the year 1978, it stood at one hundred and thirty six thousand and fifty nine people. In the year 2002, the population had increased to two hundred and fifty thousand, one hundred and sixty four people. About forty five percent of this consisted of men. The standard family unit size was 4.4 and the inhabitants’ concentration was twenty seven people per square kilometer. By the year 2008, an educated guess of Bagamoyo’s population stood at above two hundred and eighty five thousand, four hundred.

Also in the recent past, the population configuration and make-up have gone through considerable alterations. The populace is now vastly diverse as a consequence of movement and settlement of various cultural groups.

The most important money-making activities for Bagamoyo consist of farming, fishing, sea weed growing, prawn rearing, business and tourism (Subramaniam, 1980, p. 171). These doings have been progressing at an unhurried pace but are still majorly small-scale and subsistence.

The most notable development in the precedent decade is the region turning into a main cultural, seaside and convention tourist centre along the Tanzanian coast. This make over to a tourism hub has generated economic growth and expansion prospects while on the other hand, it has ended up in fresh intricacies to the major economic and societal tests that the region is facing.

Salt is the main mineral extracted from sea in Bagamoyo and the extraction hits peak between August and March of every year when the rains are gone or minimal (Subramaniam, 1980, p. 171). The produce is much until it lacks demand at times. During the rainy season, the salt ponds are used for fishing.

Key challenges and obstacles that Bagamoyo is facing

The foremost challenge relates to land use. Tourism growth has seen the setting up of hotels and resorts to accommodate visitors. A good number of these facilities lie lower than the sixty meters mark, the maximum value from high water point is. Concerns such as admittance to seashore, liquid and solid throw away management and visual effects are a major unease to both the locals and tourists.

Farming is a matter that falls under land use and efforts are being made to improve general agriculture. There is no key cash crop that is grown in the region. A good portion of agricultural activity is subsistence. Proposals have however been put forward for a large sugarcane bio-energy entity.

Land in the delta areas of Bagamoyo has seen conflicts between large and small fishermen. There is also a contest between prawn and sea weed farming (Linden & Lundin, 1996, p. 166).

Other than land, another challenge facing Bagamoyo is deforestation of mangrove forests. This is done in a bid to make salt. Charcoal burners are also at it to sell their product mainly to Zanzibar and Arab nations. There is also the demand for land for hotel construction and thus marine life has been negatively affected.

Cultural changes that do not augur well with the local community(s) are another challenge. Many young people are getting involved n drug and substance abuse and trafficking. This is enhanced by the town’s port and influx of money as a result of booming tourism.

Tourism has enabled the rich to invest and grow even richer while the poor continue wallowing in abject poverty. The consequence of this is decline in societal cohesion.

Pressure has been put on resources such as learning institutions, healthcare centers, among others, as a result of population growth and the focus on tourism development without attention to these facilities.

Water availability and use has been a thorny issue with Bagamoyo’s Ruvu River supplying Dar es Salaam while Bagamoyo is not water sufficient.

Unplanned metropolitan settlement has seen an increase in the number of informal dwellings and poor urban services.

The issue of ditching and deserting old historical buildings and monuments is a key challenge. The general trend appears to be that of ditching the central region which was the most vivacious in times gone by. Ignoring such monuments will eventually diminish them.

A good number of facilities in Bagamoyo have not had any environmental impact assessment done on them. Such assessments need to be done especially along beaches to keep at bay any negative impacts.

Many quarters have argued that the region has not fully utilized its potential. Could it have done so then it could be above where it is at present in terms of development. The town is close to Dar es Salaam, the capital city, has good quality all weather roads, adequate water is available from Ruvu and Wami Rivers, and the various tourist attractions in the area.

Salt mining in Bagamoyo faces the obstacle of cheap imported salt (Linden & Lundin, 1996, p. 166). This has led to some enterprises completely closing their businesses after stocking up salt which cannot be bought. Several enterprises have at most times lacked storage space for their product.

Physical geography of Bagamoyo

Bagamoyo falls in the East African coastal climate zone. This area lies close to the equator and thus experiences no weather extremities like temperate regions of the globe. The temperatures are majorly balanced out throughout the year and they range between twenty five to thirty two degrees Celsius. The region’s proximity to a large water body means that the high temperatures are accompanied with equally elevated humidity levels.

The area experiences two seasons of rainfall annually, the long rains that come about from late March to mid May and the short rains towards the end of the year between October and December (Mshigeni, 1992, p. 173). These rains are mainly convectional and come about in the afternoons.

Winds that sweep the area are always warm and are mainly sea and land breezes. Sea breezes occur during the day while land breezes take place at night. This means that those out to enjoy these breezes are able to do so at whatever time of the day.

The configuration of Bagamoyo’s landscape and surface and the relations among its man-made and natural features is like that of the rest of the East African coast also. The land is almost flat with sand and one only gets to notice that he or she is rising above the sea level the further he or she gets from the coastline. Some regions at sea are covered with mangrove vegetation.

Two major rivers go through the region and these are Ruvu and Wami Rivers. They drain out at sea forming deltas which are fertile fishing grounds for the local communities. These two rivers form the source of fresh water since the adjacent ocean waters are saline.

Other than vegetation, there exists a wide range of marine organisms and some of them have turned out to be economically valuable as mentioned earlier. These organisms include prawns, crabs, and catfish, among others (Mshigeni, 1992, p. 174). These creatures mainly concentrate in areas under mangrove cover where they have shelter and can easily feed and reproduce. For that reason, messing up with such vegetation will greatly reduce their numbers or eliminate them altogether.


Much of the fishing in Bagamoyo takes place with minimal knowledge concerning the position of a majority of commercially exploited species like prawns. The progress of fisheries devoid of this understanding is treacherous if the ecological unit is to be maintained (Subramaniam, 1980, p. 172). A study needs to be conducted to establish the biology, ecology and populace dynamics of the variety of species and the socioeconomic facets that affect their harvest.

Reference List

Linden, Onesmus. & Lundin, Charles. 1996. Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Tanzania. Proceedings of the National Workshop, 8–12 May 1995, Zanzibar: The World Bank and Sida-SAREC, Stockholm. 166pp.

Mshigeni, Kennedy. 1992. Seaweed resources in Tanzania: A survey of potential sources for industrial phycocolloids and for other uses, pp. 131–174. In: Hoppe, H.A. and Levring T. (eds). Marine Algae in Pharmaceutical Science (Vol. 2). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter and Co.

Subramaniam, Stanley. 1980. Studies on penaeid prawns with special reference to the nursery environment: PhD thesis, University of Dar es Salaam. 171pp.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Geography of Bagamoyo, Tanzania." November 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/bagamoyo-tanzania/.


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