Tanzania Brief History

Tanzania Brief History


When I saw this trip with one of the more well-known Swedish ecotourist organizers, I immediately decided to buy this travel arrangement.

The trip contained all the adventurous elements that should be included in a trip in East Africa; two safaris, a walk with Maasai, a climb of Africa’s highest mountain Mount Kilimanjaro, a visit to the historic city of Bagamoyo, a night sailing with a dhow to Zanzibar, the opportunity to experience Zanzibar for a few days and a visit to the city of Dar es Salaam.

In addition, I completed this group trip by hiking on my own for a few days in the beautiful Usambara mountains in northern Tanzania.

The trip was just as exciting and fascinating as I expected, but it also contained less positive elements such as several attempts at pickpocketing and countless attempts to deceive a tourist. Climbing Kilimanjaro is not an easy task, something you should be aware of before making an attempt!

What will remain strongest within me remain the encounters with people who often greet a mzungu, a white person, with a happy jambo, the wild animals I saw during my safaris and on Zanzibar and, of course, the ascent of Kilimanjaro.

According to Cheeroutdoor, Tanzania has an enormous amount to offer a traveler and the country is, after all, one of the safest to visit in East Africa.

Tanzania history in brief

History of Tanzania, older before Christ

Tanzania’s human history probably goes back further than any other country.

In the Great Rift Valley, remnants of prehuman humans, australopithecus afarensis, have been found, believed to have lived 3-4 million years ago. Finds of hunters and gatherers, who are believed to have lived about two million years ago, have also been made in the area. In prehistoric times, there were probably settlements along the coasts of present-day Tanzania and the northern plains.

About 1 million years ago, these prehuman beings evolved into the more modern man, homo erectus, which spread from East Africa to Europe and Asia.

About 100,000 years ago, modern man, homo sapiens, evolved.

About 10,000 years ago, there were sporadic nomadic clans of hunters and gatherers in the area south of the Olduvai Gorge. They spoke a language similar to Khoisan, which is spoken in southern Africa. These clans are considered to be related to the Sandawe ethnic group living in present-day Tanzania. The clans’ impressive rock paintings can be viewed at Kondoa in central Tanzania.

On the Tanzanian mainland, many different ethnic groups met early and mixed with each other, which is the background to the few ethnic conflicts in the country.

Between 3,000 and 5,000 years ago, Khoisan-speaking people were joined by farmers and herdsmen who spoke Cushitic and came from present-day Ethiopia. They lived mostly in small family groups and brought with them traditions that are still applied by their descendants.

Most of Tanzania’s current inhabitants, however, are descended from the Bantu-speaking people who came to the country in the 1000s BC. These people originally came from the Niger Delta in West Africa. They were skilled farmers and blacksmiths and lived as permanent settlers in small villages.

Somewhat later, Nilotic peoples, the ancestors of the Maasai, came to Tanzania. This immigration continued into the 17th century but reached its peak in the 14th and 16th centuries.

The population of the coastal areas followed a completely different pattern than what happened inland.

The coastal population has had contact with other parts of the world for thousands of years.

The Egyptians believed that their ancestors came from a land south of Egypt which they called Punt. About 2,500 BC, an expedition from Egypt sailed south along the coast to find this mysterious land. It returned full of ivory, ebony and myrrh. A cargo that revealed that the expedition had landed somewhere in East Africa.

There is no evidence that the Egyptians did any regular trade on this coast after this, but it is known that they returned.

In the 6th century BCE, Phoenician traders explored the east coast of Africa.

About 2,000 years ago, Bantu-speaking people arrived on the coast, who are known to have trade relations with the Roman Empire. The Romans also knew Kilimanjaro and the great lakes inland Tanzania.

History of Tanzania, older after Christ

During the first millennium AD, settlements founded by traders who came first from the Mediterranean and later from Arabia and Persia flourished. They became mixed with the original Bantu-speaking people, which gradually became the basis of the Swahili language and a completely new culture. The Arab merchants also brought with them Islam, which had already taken root in the 11th century.

In the following centuries, Arab merchants established trading posts along the entire east coast of Tanzania and on Zanzibar, which flourished for a long time. Gold and ivory were important commodities that were shipped to India and China.

The trading posts along the east coast reached their peak between the 13th and 15th centuries.

The first European to reach East Africa was Portugal’s fearless explorer Vasco da Gama, who came here in 1498. Within three decades, the Portuguese had conquered the coast and taken control of the old trading posts. Their power lasted until the beginning of the 18th century when they were defeated by Arabs from Oman.

After the Omanis strengthened their positions along the east coast, they began to look west, inland, in search of ivory and slaves, which began to be in demand by European plantation owners on the Réunion and Mauritius archipelagos. To begin with, Europeans were also involved in the slave trade, but in the early 19th century they switched to trade in agricultural products. In the 1830s, the Sultan of Oman moved his capital to Zanzibar.

In the middle of the 19th century, the first Christian missionaries came to the area. Several of the great expeditions made by Europeans in the 19th century to find the source streams of the Nile originated in Zanzibar or the then coast of Tanganyika.

Scottish medical missionary David Livingstone had his communication channels cut off by Arab slave traders and several expeditions were sent out to look for him. In 1871, the American journalist Henry Morton Stanley found him in Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika. That’s when he uttered the famous words: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”.

At the meeting of the European powers in 1884 in Berlin, when Africa was to be divided between them, the then Tanganyika became German. In 1890, Zanzibar and Pemba became a British protectorate.

The Germans ruled German East Africa with great difficulty and brutally crushed several bloody uprisings. The Maji-Maji uprising of 1905 and 1906 claimed between 75,000 and 125,000 lives.

When the Sultanate of Zanzibar became a British protectorate, the British would only handle the islands’ foreign policy. But they gradually took over more and more functions and in 1913 Zanzibar became a British colony.

After the First World War, Germany lost its East African colony. Tanganyika was made a mandate under the League of Nations with Britain as its administrator. British rule continued after World War II, when the territory was transformed into an area of ​​stewardship under UN auspices.

Tanzania history, modern


The struggle for the country’s independence began in the 1920s when a group of well-educated Africans formed the resistance group TAA, which fought for white immigrants to be allocated agricultural land and for Africans to have the right to participate in the country’s political and economic development, and for blacks to have the right to vote. . After World War II, the opposition gained momentum. In 1954, Julius K Nyerere, TAA’s leader, transformed the organization into a political party, the TANU, which soon won widespread popular support. TANU’s goal was an independent and democratic Tanganyika and this year Tanganyika gained its independence within the British Commonwealth

1962 Julius K Nyerere was elected the country’s first president


Zanzibar was liberated from British rule and became an independent sultanate. Pretty soon after independence, the African people on the island revolted against the formed coalition government, which led to the sultan fleeing the country. At the same time, an army revolt was taking place in Tanganyika and President Nyerere requested military assistance from Britain, which put down the uprising.


An agreement was signed on a union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which was named Tanzania after the Arab population revolted
. The United States feared that Zanzibar would become “Africa’s Cuba” after the Zanzibar revolution


The new constitution introduced during the year formally made Tanzania a one-party state
In the election, Nyerere was re-elected president


The so-called Arusha Declaration on Socialism and Self-Government was adopted. Nyerere aimed to create socialism on African terms. In Africa, where the family and relatives are at the center, Nyereere’s vision was that the whole society would function as a family, where everyone would work for the best of the country.

1970 In the election, Nyerere is re-elected president


During this decade, Tanzania’s economy deteriorated, partly due to drought, the country’s military intervention in Uganda and the fall in world coffee market prices. But also the fact that societal changes had gone too fast contributed to the economic crisis when old structures had been broken and the new system did not work

1975 In the election, Nyerere is re-elected president


TANU and Afro-Shirazi merged to form the Revolutionary Party (CCM). The new party soon controlled all political activity in the country through an effective organization that stretched all the way down to the neighborhood level


In the elections to the National Assembly, the Tanzanians expressed their dissatisfaction with the development and voted out more than half of the members, including several ministers. Julius was re-elected president


Julius Nyerere was succeeded by his Vice President Ali Hassan Mwinyi from Zanzibar, who had a more positive attitude towards market economy. At the same time criticism of the CCM’s total control over the state apparatus and the demands for political change were made
in 1990 started the CCM campaign against corruption in the state and the government was reorganized
in London, was formed Organization of Tanzania Democratic Forum, which called for multi-party system
in the presidential election was Ali Hassan Mwinyi the only candidate and received 95 percent of the vote
In Zanzibar, Salmin Amour was the only candidate and received 98% of the vote

1991 Multi-party system was proposed by a special commission


The National Assembly approved an amendment to the constitution on multi-party systems. To prevent division, it was decided that each new political organization must have support both on the mainland and on Zanzibar and be free from ethnic and religious ties.


Tensions between Zanzibar and the mainland intensified after the island’s government independently prepared for membership in an international Islamic organization. According to the constitution, foreign policy is a matter at Union level. In addition, state and religion must be separate


The first real multi-party elections took place when presidential and parliamentary elections were held at the same time. CCM won by a large majority in the National Assembly. In the presidential election, CCM candidate Benjamin Mkapa won. One of his most important election promises was to fight widespread corruption in the public sector.
During the election campaign in Zanzibar, many CUF supporters had been subjected to violence by CCM sympathizers, and the ruling party was suspected of winning the election through cheating. The CUF boycotted the protest in parliament

Along with the rivalry between the mainland and Zanzibar, tensions between the country’s Christians and Muslims also increased.


Three people were killed during violent clashes at a mosque in Dar es Salaam. Some ministers blamed unidentified Islamic states for provoking the riots. Later, a powerful bomb exploded at the US embassy in Dar es Salaam. Eleven people were killed and about seventy were injured. The United States blamed Muslim terrorists for the attack on Saudi Osama bin Laden

1999 Julius Nyerere died at the age of 77.

Tanzania Brief History