Culture The Beauty of Africa

Top Ten Richest Tribes in Tanzania

top ten richest tribes in tanzania
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Written by Teresa Mwangi

Isn’t it interesting that with at least 120 different tribes, there exist the top ten richest tribes in Tanzania? This East African country has intriguing traditions occasioned by the many tribes in existence. These tribes are distinctively unique in many facets of life and this has a mark on the economic standing of each of them.

This article looks deep into the 10 communities running the show in Tanzania as far as the good life is concerned.

What is the Most Dominant Tribe in Tanzania?

Sukuma tribe is the largest ethnic group in Tanzania with roots in every corner of the country, hence it appears among the top ten richest tribes in Tanzania. However, its huge population doesn’t guarantee absolute dominance due to other factors in play such as socio-political and economic factors. But, it suffices to say that as far as they are the majority in the population, the Sukuma tribe takes it home as a dominant tribe in Tanzania.

What is the Most Educated Eribe in Tanzania?

The Chagga tribe is widely regarded as Tanzania’s most educated tribe.  Their emphasis on education, coupled with historical exposure to Western education systems, has resulted in a high literacy rate. This translates to their strong presence in professional fields like business, teaching and administration. They warmed up to British education during pre-colonial times and zealously carried on with it in the post colonial era. Moreover, Chagga’s economic exploits in agriculture enable its people to take their children to the best schools in and out of Tanzania.

chagga tribe

The Chagga tribe in Tanzania. Photo/Imagining Futures

Top Ten Richest Tribes in Tanzania

Education, agriculture, pastoralism, and craftsmanship form the core of the wealth status in the ten tribes listed below.

1. Chagga

The Chagga rank among the top 10 richest tribes in Tanzania. Renowned for their agricultural prowess and business acumen, the Chagga people have cultivated a reputation as Tanzania’s wealthiest tribe.  Their traditional irrigation systems and terracing techniques have enabled them to flourish on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.  Beyond agriculture, the Chagga exhibit a strong entrepreneurial spirit, contributing significantly to Tanzania’s commercial landscape.

2. Sukuma

Sukuma tribe makes up Tanzania’s most populous tribe by. They have traditionally thrived on agriculture and herding. Their strong sense of community fosters collaboration and resource sharing, contributing to their economic well-being.

top ten richest tribes in tanzania

Sukuma Tribe. Photo/Safari World Tours

3. Maasai

The Maasai, instantly recognizable by their vibrant red shukas and elaborate beadwork, are famed for their pastoral lifestyle.  Their mastery of herding techniques and deep connection to their land ensure the sustainability of their livestock-based economy.

top ten richest tribes in tanzania

Maasai in Tanzania. Photo/FOcus East Africa Tours

4. Haya

Residing near Lake Victoria, the Haya people excel at both fishing and farming.  Their success stems from a combination of traditional practices and a vibrant cultural heritage, as evidenced by their renowned and elaborate traditional dances.

5. Nyamwezi

The Nyamwezi tribe has a rich history as traders and caravanners.  Their central Tanzanian location positioned them strategically along trade routes, allowing them to accumulate wealth through commerce.  The Nyamwezi played a pivotal role in shaping East Africa’s economic landscape and it is no surprise they are among the top ten richest tribes in Tanzania

6. Datoga

Dwelling in northern Tanzania, the Datoga people are adept herders and blacksmiths.  Their economic strength lies in their livestock management skills and the production of coveted metal goods.  The Datoga’s distinctive body scarification practices further add to their cultural richness.

7. Makonde

Spanning southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique, the Makonde people are celebrated for their exquisite wood carvings.  The artistic talent and meticulous craftsmanship displayed in their creations have earned them recognition throughout Africa, contributing significantly to their economic status.

8. Ha (or Iraqw)

The Ha tribe, also known as the Iraqw, inhabits northern Tanzania.  They traditionally practice both farming and herding, and their unique hairstyles serve as a marker of their cultural identity.

9. Pare

top ten richest tribes in tanzania

Pare Tribe in Tanzania. Photo/Top 5 Resources

The Pare, a Cushitic tribe residing on the eastern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, are known for their impressive terraced fields.  Their agricultural expertise allows them to cultivate crops efficiently in the mountainous terrain, ensuring their economic stability.

10. Sambaa

Nestled within the Usambara Mountains of eastern Tanzania, the Sambaa people have honed their agricultural skills through the shamba system. This is a unique practice utilizing small plots for intensive cultivation.  This technique fosters their economic status and contributes to Tanzania’s overall agricultural output.

What is the Oldest Tribe in Tanzania?

Archaeological evidence suggests that the Hadzabe people, a hunter-gatherer tribe, have inhabited the region for millennia.  Therefore, they take the place of the oldest tribe in Tanzania. However, it is a close historical contest with the Datoga tribe which equally has a long history in Tanzania.


Tanzania’s real riches in Tanzania are in the diversity of its ethnic groupings, not in one dominant tribe. Every tribe adds to the wealth of the country with its distinct cultural legacy, customs, and traditional wisdom.

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About the author

Avatar of Teresa Mwangi

Teresa Mwangi

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, loves travelling and telling stories about tour and travel in Africa by every angle.

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