Mwanza is a mid-sized port city on the southern shores of Lake Victoria in northwestern Tanzania. With an urban population of 1.2 million and a metropolitan population of 2 million it is Tanzania's second largest city following Dar es Salaam and ahead of other major Tanzanian cities of Arusha Mbeya and Tanga. Mwanza is the capital of the surrounding Mwanza Region.
Before the colonial era Mwanza Region was under the Sukuma Kerewe Kara and Zinza empires. When the Germans colonized Tanganyika Mwanza became one of the districts in their territory. After the First World War East Africa came under the supervision of a British mandate.
The British established provincial leadership in Tanganyika and the Mwanza Region became one of the districts of the Lake Province while Biharamulo Bukoba Maswa Shinyanga Musoma and Kwimba were the other districts of the province. Later on the Lake Province was divided into the Lake Province and the Western Zone. After independence all the provinces were turned into official regions. Mwanza Region remained a part of the Lake Region until 1963 when it was officially given the status of a region.
Mwanza is arguably the fastest growing settlement in Tanzania with substantial growth in financial industrial and local investment sectors. However the economy of the city and the region as a whole is dominated by smallholder agriculture employing about 85 per cent of the regions population and complemented by an expanding fisheries sector.
The region has traditionally been one of Tanzanias main producing area for cotton. For the past two decades cotton production has declined basically due to low profitability and inefficient marketing arrangements. It is believed that fisheries activities in the region lead in terms of foreign exchange earning contribution to the regions economy. Commercial fishing is carried out by big fishing companies using modern fishing gear and vessels. Agriculture takes second position followed by mining in recent days. The region holds a large proportion of the countrys livestock about 13 percent District Integrated Agricultural Survey 1998/99 - National Report February 2000. The regions rural population is relatively poor and conditions are worsening due to high population density and consequent land shortage exacerbated by erratic rainfall patterns in many parts of the region. Major food crops in the region are maize cassava sorghum millet sweet potatoes and legumes beans/peas. Maize cassava and sweet potatoes constitute about 71 per cent of all food crops grown in the region. The region in most times is unable to feed itself food has to be imported from other regions. Surplus production realized in Geita and some parts of Sengerema fail to bridge the food gap. Paddy and maize play a dual role in being food crops which can also be sold if a surplus is generated or if cash is needed urgently. Cotton and paddy have both been major cash crops in the region over the past 5060 years.
Lake Victoria also referred to as Victoria Nyanza is the main reservoir of the Nile River and is also the largest lake in Africa. It is located in Tanzania and Uganda with a small part extending into Kenya. Lake Victoria occupies an area of approximately 26.800 square miles 69.480 sq. km and is the second-largest freshwater lake in the world the only larger one being Lake Superior in North America. From north to south Lake Victoria is 210 miles 337 km long and from east to west it is 150 miles 240 km wide with over 2.000 miles 3.220 km of coastline. The lake is situated between the Western and Eastern Rift Valleys along the great plateau. It is 3.720 feet above sea level 1.134 m and reaches a depth of 270 feet 82 m. Within the lake one can find many archipelagos as well as numerous reefs just below the surface. Lake Victoria is known for its abundance of fish which are exported by local fisherman. There are over 200 species of fish which all make a major contribution to the economy. The lake lies within the Victoria basin which covers an area of 92.240 square miles 238.900 sq. km.
Lake Victoria is bordered to the south by 300-ft 90 m high precipices that are backed by the papyrus and ambatch swamps that form the delta of the Kagera River. The lake drains water into the Kavirondo Gulf through a narrow channel. The gulf is roughly 16 miles 25 km wide and extends for at least 40 miles to Kisumu Kenya. One of the largest and most important contributors to Lake Victoria is the Kagera River which runs into the western side of the lake. One other source is the Katonga River which is situated north of the Kagera. There are several other inlets but the lake's only outlet is the Victoria Nile to the north.
The majority of the people inhabiting this area are Bantu-speaking. Several million people live within 50 miles 80 km of the Lake Victoria region which is one of the most densely populated areas in Africa. There are several cities that are built right on or very close to the northern coast of Victoria. Kampala and Entebbe benefit highly from the easy access to the water for fishing. In the northwestern corner of the lake there is the Sese archipelago which is a chain of 62 islands contained within Lake Victoria. One of the largest islands Ukerewe rises over 650 feet 200 m above the surface of the lake and is densely populated.