Near the Zambian border deep in the southern highlands, the city of Mbeya is the major agricultural capital in the country’s southwest region. The Mbeya Mountain Range lies to the north, and the Poroto Mountain Range lies to the southeast. Coffee, tea, bananas and cocoa, all of which are grown in the region, are sent to Mbeya for packaging and transport. Mbeya’s location also makes it an ideal transit point with goods and people travelling by road, rail and boat between Tanzania and neighbouring Zambia and Malawi. In addition to its agricultural prosperity, Mbeya’s mineral wealth has attracted investment and provides the country with a good source of income.
The town was originally founded in the 1930s, when gold was discovered and a ‘gold rush’ ensued. The Mbeya gold supply turned out to be large giving the city an opportunity to become properly established and saving it from the ghost-town status so often found after the gold runs out. The city continues to supply the country with a regular amount of gold. Its mountain views and pleasant weather make it a good stopover point for over land travellers heading south.