Map of Tanzania

Tanzania flag

Flag description: divided diagonally by a yellow-edged black band from the lower hoist-side corner; the upper triangle (hoist side) is green and the lower triangle is blue.

Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Kenya and Mozambique.
Geographic coordinates: 6 00 S, 35 00 E.

Climate: varies from tropical along coast to temperate in highlands.

Independence: 26 April 1964; Tanganyika became independent 9 December 1961 (from UK-administered UN trusteeship); Zanzibar became independent 19 December 1963 (from UK); Tanganyika united with Zanzibar 26 April 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar; renamed United Republic of Tanzania 29 October 1964.

Nationality: Tanzanian(s).

Capital City: Dar es Salaam.

Population: 35,306,126.

Head of State: President Benjamin William MKAPA.
Area: 945,087 sq km.

Type of Government: republic.

Currency: 1 Tanzanian shilling (TSh) = 100 cents.

Major peoples: mainland - native African 99% (of which 95% are Bantu consisting of more than 130 tribes), other 1% (consisting of Asian, European, and Arab); Zanzibar - Arab, native African, mixed Arab and native African.

Religion: mainland - Christian 45%, Muslim 35%, indigenous beliefs 20%; Zanzibar - more than 99% Muslim.

Official Language: Kiswahili or Swahili, English.

Principal Languages: Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguju (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages.

Major Exports: coffee, manufactured goods, cotton, cashew nuts, minerals, tobacco, sisal (1996).

History: By the Late Stone Age, people lived (c.500 BC) at various places along the Tanzanian coast. Accounts of the coastal area in the 1st century AD describe a number of settlements where commerce took place. For the next millennium Arab traders plied the coast, trading with Zanzibar and settlements on the Tanzanian mainland.

The principal settlement of Tanzania occurred by migrating waves of Bantu peoples. Probably originating about 2,000 years ago in eastern Nigeria, the proto-Bantu seem to have moved along the Congo River system into the southern portion of present-day Zaire. By the 10th century the areas around Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika had been settled. Bantu peoples continued to spread east and south in the 12th to the 15th centuries.

In 1498, Vasco da GAMA became the first European to visit the coast of Tanzania, and the Portuguese conducted trade along the coast until 1698 when they were expelled by Arabs from Oman. European missionaries and explorers such as David LIVINGSTONE entered the area in the 1850s. The Anglo-German Agreements (1886, 1900) divided spheres of influence along the present Kenya-Tanzania border, giving Germany control of the southern portion (today's Tanzania).

GERMAN EAST AFRICA was administered by the German East Africa Company. In 1891 the German government assumed control and the region became a protectorate. Opposition to foreign rule mounted and the quasi-religious Maji Maji rebellion lasted from 1905 to 1907. In 1920, as a result of the German defeat in World War I, the British took over German East Africa. In 1954, Julius Nyerere was one of the founders of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), which led the nationalist movement. The well-organized movement won independence for Tanganyika in 1961, and Nyerere became head of state. Zanzibar, which gained independence in 1963, joined Tanganyika in 1964; in 1965 the nation was renamed Tanzania.

Nyerere, who became one of Africa's most respected leaders, unified the country and expanded education and health care. He supported black liberation movements in Mozambique, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and South Africa and sent troops to Uganda in 1979 to help depose dictator Idi AMIN DADA. The last Tanzanian forces withdrew from Uganda in 1981.

Ideological differences led to the closing of the border between Tanzania and Kenya from 1977 to 1983. Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who had been president of Zanzibar since 1984, became president when Nyerere retired from that post in 1985 and won election in his own right in 1990.

Nyerere remained party chairman until August 1990, when he stepped down to make way for political and economic reform. In 1992, with Nyerere's support, multiple political parties were legalized. Multiparty elections were scheduled for 1995.

Tanzania: How Two States Became One:
All African nations have a long, rich and deep history that dates back long before people were taking a holiday cruise to Africa. These histories are of course being continually added to each and every day. Although not particularly young in comparison to African states, Tanzania is relatively young compared to countries world wide. It has only been in existence since 1964 and previous to that the two countries that made it up, Tanganyika and Zanzibar, had only gained their independence in 1961 and 1963 respectively.

These two countries have their own histories, but the creation of Tanzania marked an interesting start to this fledgling nation. Both successful, and quashed rebellions, political reform, outside intervention and even massacres all came together to create the nation Tanzania is today.

One man who was instrumental in the formation and development of Tanzania was Julius Kambarage Nyerere, also known as Mwalimu (Swahili for teacher). He was born on 13 April 1922 in Tanganyika's Mara Region. He was the son of the Chief of the Zanaki. He went into education and eventually became one of only two people in Tanganyika to be educated to a university level after graduating from Makerere University in Uganda. He eventually returned to Tanganyika to work as a teacher. He also studied at the University of Edinburgh where he was introduced to Fabian thinking, which was to have a profound effect on his future political choices.

In 1953 he was elected president of the Tanganyika African Association, a civic organization dominated by civil servants. He took the group through a major transformation and in 1954 it emerged as the politically orientated Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). Its main platform was to gain sovereignty for Tanganyika and within a year it was the leading political organization in the country. Nyerere toured his country to help gain support and even gave speeches at the UN. Eventually, with the support of British governor Sir Richard Turnbull, independence was achieved in 1961 without war or bloodshed. Nyerere was elected as the country's first Prime Minister and then, when it became a republic a year later, its first President.

Zanzibar's route to independence was not too dissimilar. Again it was given by Britain without any violence. Unfortunately, trouble lay ahead. The country had been led (with the exception of British governors) by Arab Sultans since 1698 when it fell under the control of the Sultanate of Oman.

Once the country was given independence in 1963 a constitutional monarchy was put into place. Despite elections wherein the mainly African Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) got 54% of the vote, the Arab minority still held all of the power. This led to the ASP allying with the Umma Party. In January 1964, member of the ASP John Okello formed a group of around 800 revolutionaries set on overthrowing the Arabs. It wasn't long before the Sultan was overthrown and in the wake of the revolution, there was mass reprisals against South Asians and Arabs. The death toll is massively disputed with numbers ranging from several hundred to 20,000.

At this same time Tanganyika also saw a revolt. The Army rose up against Nyerere and tried to take power through a military coup. He requested help from Britain who sent 40 commandos. They proceeded to disarm the military outposts of the rebels. Fears of hard-line communists gaining influence in Zanzibar were high there and in Tanganyika. This is one of the reasons for the merging of the two nations. On April 26th 1964 the two countries became the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. This was later changed to the United Republic of Tanzania on October 29th. Although now one state, Zanzibar still held on to a fair chunk of its autonomy.

Nyerere continued to lead the country and started to introduce the idea of African socialism. This led to mass nationalization of industry and also close ties with the People's Republic of China. Nyerere kept a tight grip on the country with the introduction of the Preventive Detention Act that allowed him to control trade unions and jail opponents. He and his party worked to keep a one party system all the way up until 1995 when multi party elections were introduced.

Tanzania still retains this system and continues to carry on into the future as a stable country, even if it still has a few problems left to work out.