Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Monday met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, holding talks on social development in Tanzania and peace promotion in Africa.
Both Samia and the Pope also agreed on strengthening diplomatic relations between Tanzania and the Vatican.
President Samia said that she was satisfied with the contribution of the Catholic Church in promoting social welfare in Tanzania, mostly in education and health provision.
She landed in the Vatican City after a direct invitation from the Pope and was accompanied by leaders from Tanzania's Catholic Church associations made up of youth, men and women congregation groups.
Statement released from the Vatican said that the discussions were most cordial and focused mostly on the current relations between Tanzania and the Holy See.
Samia also held discussions with the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin in the company of the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States and International Organisations Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.
Diplomatic relations between Tanzania and the Vatican were established on April 19, 1968, when Archbishop Pierluigi Sartorelli was appointed as the first representative of the Vatican (The Holy See) to Tanzania.
Tanzania has about 12 million Catholic believers, almost a quarter of its total population of 61 million people.
The Catholic Church in Tanzania is among the leading social services providers, mostly education and health through its 240 nursery schools, 147 primary schools, 245 secondary schools, 110 vocational training centres and five (5) universities all established in Tanzania.
The universities are registered with more than 31,000 students pursuing higher studies in key fields of education.
Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) is among the leading higher learning institutions in Tanzania with campuses in Mwanza, Dar es Salaam and other key urban areas in Tanzania.
Former president Jakaya Kikwete was the last Tanzanian head of State to visit the Vatican in October 2007 where he met the late Pope Benedict XVI.
The late Pope John Paul II visited Tanzania from September 1 to 5 in 1990 then met former presidents Julius Nyerere and Hassan Mwinyi.
Pope Benedict XVI met with the former Tanzanian president the late Benjamin William Mkapa at the Vatican on October 1, 2005.