Tanzania - History
Rock paintings found in over 150 rock art sites in the Kondoa District of Tanzania date back some 2,000 years ago and portray the lifestyles of nomadic hunters and gatherers who spoke a language similar to Khosian. These cave paintings signal the beginning of a series of waves of migration to Tanzania.
The majority of modern Tanzanians are descendants of Bantu-speaking people who came eastwards from the Niger Delta around 1,000 BC. They arrived in East Africa in the first century AD. Also around that time, merchant vessels from the Red Sea and southern Arabia discovered Tanzania’s shores. These merchants took advantage of Tanzania’s ivory and loaded their ships with slaves. Islam was introduced to the coast between the 8th and 10th centuries.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to land in Tanzania on their journey to the Orient in 1498. These traders remained on the coast for a further two centuries until they were driven out by Omani Arabs. The Omanis established governors in coastal towns on the mainland after taking control of Kilwa and Zanzibar. European arrival brought strains of small pox and cholera, as well as new technology like guns. As a result, by the late 19th century, much of East Africa was weakened by disease and violence.
The late 19th century witnessed the “Scramble for Africa”. Carl Peters, a German adventurer, set up a colony for Germany in Tanzania without the endorsement of his government, and to the dismay of the British. He made his way through the country, getting chiefs to sign blank treaties. Back in Germany, Chancellor Bismarck approved of Peters’ colony and the Germans were able to establish an informal control through the sultan of Zanzibar. The local population was not consulted in any way during German colonisation and no effort was made to improve the quality of life. After the First World War, Germany was forced to give up territory and Britain was put in charge of Tanzania. Unfortunately, things did not change under British rule.
In 1948, Tanzania’s first political party was established. By 1953, it had been renamed the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) whose objective was national liberation. Independence was granted in 1961, and TANU, led by Julius Nyerere, set out on a project of nation-building. However, after Britain left, the economy was in shambles and the country was very poor. Tanzania was left searching for funds in the first years after independence.
In 1967, TANU officials established the Arusha Declaration, a radical new plan for Tanzania that took a socialist approach to government. There were many positives to this plan including new schools, roads and crops all built by the community. Other parts drew criticism, including the elimination of a multiparty system in 1965. Policies like villagistaion in which people farmed communal lands suffered due to infertile lands, among other issues. Nyerere admitted there were problems with the Arusha Declaration, however, his government had made tremendous steps towards social equality as well as health care and education.
The 1970s and 1980s witnessed a steady decline in the economy and Tanzania was suffering. The government was forced to rely on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who called for economic reform. Nyerere resigned in 1895 but remained an active voice in many moral issues. He was an advocate for South Africa’s liberation from white rule and Tanzania has continued to open its doors to civilians fleeing violence from neighbouring countries. It still hosts more than half a million refugees, more than any other African country.
Despite economic troubles, Tanzania has enjoyed a great deal of peace, especially after returning to a multiparty political system in 1992. It is known for its political stability in a location that is characterised by political turmoil. It remains one of Africa’s premier tourist destinations with many exciting attractions offering amazing insights into Africa’s incredible nature and wildlife.
Tanzania Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to Tanzania.
Learn about the history and culture of Tanzania, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Tanzania's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Tanzania for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Tanzania safaris today!
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