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Mbeya is a city located in southwest Tanzania, Africa. Mbeya's urban population was 280,000 in 2005. Mbeya is the capital of the surrounding rural Mbeya region (population, with Mbeya, totals approx. 2 million).Mbeya is the first large urban settlement encountered when travelling overland from the neighbouring nation of Zambia. Mbeya is situated at an altitude of 1,700 meters (5,500 ft), and sprawls through a narrow highland valley surrounded by a bowl of high mountains. The main language is colloquial Swahili, and the English language is extensively taught in schools.HistoryFollowing the 1905 gold rush, Mbeya was founded as a gold mining town in the 1920s. The TAZARA railway later attracting farming migrants and small entrepreneurs to the area. Mbeya and its district was administered by the British until 1961. Mbeya Region was created in 1961. Mbeya City is now a growing metropolis and business centre for the southern regions and the neighbouring countries of Malawi, Zambia and Congo. The City is well connected with an all-weather road that forms part of the "Great North Road" running from Cape Town to Alexandria. The City has several tribes including the Safwa, Nyakyusa and Nyiha, all being agricultural peoples. Mbeya also boasts as one of the regions that form the bread basket of Tanzania.Economy and infrastructureLocal government is administered via the Mbeya Urban District authority and a Regional Commissioner.Mbeya has weather with enough rainfall and fertile soil which enable it to be thelargest producer of maize, rice, bananas, beans, potatoes (Irish & sweet), soya nuts and wheat in the entire country. Tanzania has a free market in agricultural produce, and Mbeya transports vast amounts of its maize to other areas of Tanzania. There is also extensive animal husbandry, with dairy cattle predominating. Mbeya is also the biggest producer of high-value export and cash crops in Tanzania; those crops are coffee (arabica), tea, cocoa, pyrethirum and spices. There is some smallholder cultivation of tobacco. Firewood is collected by women and girls, from the wooded valleys and mountainsides. Bamboo is naturally abundant in the forests, and there are plans to teach local people about this versatile plant and its many uses. Some gold is still mined in the rural Chunya District, by artisan miners.Mbeya is in Mbeya Region. Use our world travel planner: Mbeya and all its delights await.
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