The time in Tanzania

Tanzanian time is three hours ahead of GMT and thus two hours ahead of Western Europe. Furthermore, it is eight hours ahead of New York, then eleven ahead of San Francisco, and one ahead of Johannesburg. It also means it’s seven hours behind Sydney and nine behind Wellington.

Remember if you live somewhere which has daylight saving, the time difference may be less or more than indicated above. For example, while the UK is usually three hours behind Tanzania, it’s different in the summer months. At that time (from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October), the UK is at GMT + 1. In other words, it’s only two hours behind Tanzania.

(For the record, Tanzania does not operate any daylight saving system. Being so close to the equator, the time of sunrise and sunset vary little throughout the year.)

Tanzanian time and Swahili time

A point of endless confusion for travellers, and with the potential to cause major problems for the uninitiated, is the concept known as Swahili time. This is used mainly on the coast and other regions where Swahili is the lingua franca.

Swahili time begins at dawn, or more precisely at 6am. In other words, 6am in Tanzanian time is hour zero for Swahili time (and thus equivalent to our midnight). So 7am Tanzanian time is actually one o’clock in Swahili Time, 8am Tanzanian time is 2 o’clock, and so on.

To add yet more confusion, Swahili time is not prevalent throughout the whole of Tanzania. Most offices, shops and timetables etc use the standard style for telling the time. So whenever you’re quoted a time, it should be obvious which clock the person using. But if in doubt, always double check.

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