The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa. In the north it is bordered by Kenya and Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi in the northwest, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique in the south. On the east is the Indian Ocean with many islands forming archipelagos.
Dodoma is the capital of Tanzania and can be found in the geographical centre of the country.
Short history of Tanzania
Tanzania is known as the ‘Cradle of Mankind’ due to the fact that many species of early man and prehistoric sites have been discovered in various locations across the country. From approximately ten thousand years ago, Tanzanian communities were hunter-gatherers until around six to three thousand years ago, when agriculture and livestock farming were introduced.
When the Bantu tribes arrived from Western Africa they brought with them ironworking skills and social and political organisation. Traders and merchants also sailed back and forth to Tanzania from the Persian Gulf and Western India, setting up important markets places and bustling settlements along the coast. Portuguese explorers, including Vasco de Gama, arrived in 1498 and took over Zanzibar until the Arabs from Oman seized control in the early 18th Century. This began the era of slave trade, with caravan routes being established across Tanzania through to Lake Tanganyika and Central Africa.
During the 19th century, European explorers ‘discovered’ various parts of Tanzania, most famously during the search for the source of the River Nile involving Burton, Speke, and Dr. Livingstone. In the later part of the century, the Germans began to take control. In 1886 East Africa was partitioned between Germany and the British, with the land east of Lake Tanganyika falling under German rule. However, the German regime destroyed local traditions and beliefs and resulted in a bloody uprising where over 120,000 locals died.
Following WWI the Germans handed over their overseas territories and German East Africa became Tanganyika, under British rule. After WW2, Julius Nyerere demonstrated that self-governance was due and on the 9th of December 1961 independence was granted.
Nyerere became the President in 1962 and in April 1964 Tanganyika united with Zanzibar to become the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, later renamed United Republic of Tanzania (a blend of Tan from Tanganyika and Zan from Zanzibar). Nyerere introduced socialism and unified the population by making Swahili the national language.
Since independence, Tanzania has experienced relative political stability, with the current ruling party CCM having been in power since independence. The majority of the population currently survive as subsistence farmers. With the assistance of foreign aid and the investment from abroad, Tanzania is now developing fast. And although infrastructure is poor, Tanzania’s mineral wealth and tourist industry are supporting a growth spurt.