Brief History

Tanzania, officially recognized as the “United Republic of Tanzania (Swahili: Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania),” is a large country in Eastern Africa, comprised of 54.9 million (2016) people from over 120 ethnic groups, and various linguistic and religious backgrounds. Bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west; Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south; and the Indian Ocean to the East, Tanzania is renowned for its beautiful island of Zanzibar; over 16 wildlife-rich national parks; and for housing Africa’s highest mountain: Mt. Kilimanjaro.

While known as Tanzania today, the country originally stood as the sovereign state of Tanganyika. Portuguese explorer, Vasco de Gama was Tanganyika’s first European arrival in the late-15th century. Upon the explorer’s departure, most of the littoral region, and Zanzibar – then, a separate colonial jurisdiction – were left under Portuguese control, leading up to 1699 when the Omani Arabs settled. It wasn’t until the late-19th century that mainland Tanganyika‘s colonization began. Along with Rwanda and Burundi, the state was absorbed into the colony of German East Africa, who’s reign ended at the close of WWI. Tanganyika fought off their German colonizers, giving way to British rule under successive League of Nations and United Nations mandates.

Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere [1922 – 1999] “Baba wa Taifa” (Father of the Nation)

In 1961, Tanganyika gained its independence under Mwalimu (Swahili for: Teacher) Julius Kambarage Nyerere who served as the first prime minister of independent Tanganyika, and later the first president of the new United Republic of Tanzania; after Tanganyika and Zanzibar’s political unification, leaving behind a renewed sense of socialism (Swahili: Ujamaa), emphasizing justice and equality.

Today, led by President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, Tanzania stands as a peaceful nation having proved itself an active ally and player in regional politics, with its record of: support for anti-apartheid movements in South Africa, its military intervention in Uganda in 1979 to overthrow the Amin regime, as well as the peaceful coexistence of its various religious and and ethnic backgrounds. While Dar-es-Salaam is the country’s largest city, Dodoma is Tanzania’s capital. Kiswahili – a Bantu language colored with Arabic, Indian and European influence – and English are the country’s official languages.

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