Celebrating Independence! A Brief History of Tanzania

November 22, 2014 at 11:20 am 1 comment

December 9, 2014 marks the 53rd year of Tanzanian independence—an event celebrated across the country. In preparation for this celebration, let’s take a brief look back at Tanzania’s rich, deep rooted history and the events that transpired to help solidify it as a half-century long, independent African country.

Ancient Tanzania

  • ~1,000 BC: The first human beings in Tanzania lived by hunting animals, gathering plants and eventually utilizing agriculture.
  • 8th century AD: Arab merchants sailed to the area, many of which begin settling along the coast. Eventually traders came from as far away as India.
  • 1498: The first European to reach Tanzania, a Portuguese explorer named Vasco Da Gama, arrives.
  • 1505 & 1506: The Portuguese capture Mombassa and Pemba Island.
  • 1510: The people of Unguja Island and Pemba Island rebel, but do not succeed.
  • 16th century: Portugal takes control of the coast and founds Zanzibar town in 1560. They also introduce two plants from Brazil: cassava and cashew nuts.
  • 17th century: Control of Tanzania by the Portuguese is short-lived as Arabs drive them out from Oman 1698, ensuring the country does not become a Portuguese colony like Mozambique.
  • End of 17th century: Arabs are the dominant power in the region.
  • 1812: A man named Saleh bin Haramil introduces cloves to Zanzibar, which soon become a major export.

Colonial Tanzania:

  • 19th century: Europeans begin to explore inland Tanzania.
  • 1885: The Germans, led by Karl Peters, begin taking over the region, while the British take control of the island of Zanzibar.
  • 1886: Britain and Germany sign an agreement allowing Germany to set up a sphere of influence over mainland Tanzania, except for a narrow piece of territory along the coast, which stays under the authority of the sultan of Zanzibar, while Britain enjoys a protectorate over Zanzibar.
  • 1905-1906: Indigenous Maji Maji revolt suppressed by German troops.
  • 1916: British, Belgian and South African troops occupy most of German East Africa.
  • 1919: League of Nations gives Britain a mandate over Tanganyika—today’s mainland Tanzania.
  • 1925: Sir Donald Cameron becomes the first governor.
  • 1929: Tanganyika African Association founded.
  • 1946: United Nations converts British mandate over Tanganyika into a trusteeship.
  • 1954: Julius Nyerere and Oscar Kambona transform the Tanganyika African Association into the Tanganyika African National Union.
  • 1958 & 1959: The National Union participates in elections for the legislative council; however two-thirds of the seats are reserved for non-Africans.
  • 1960: This restriction is removed and in an election, TANU wins almost all the seats. The move to independence is now unstoppable.
  • December 9, 1961: Tanzania becomes independent with Nyerere as prime minister.
  • December 9, 1962: Tanzania becomes a republic and Nyerere becomes president.

Modern Tanzania

  • 1967: Nyerere adopts a policy of socialism. However in Tanzania, as in other countries, socialism proves to be a complete failure.
  • 1975: Tanzania becomes a one-party state.
  • 1980: Nyerere is re-elected president.
  • 1985: Nyerere retires and is replaced by the president of Zanzibar, Ali Mwinyi.
  • 1992: Constitution amended to allow multi-party politics.
  • 1995: Benjamin Mkapa chosen as president in Tanzania’s first multi-party election.
  • 2001: School fees are abolished and as a result, attendance at school is greatly increased.
  • 2005: Jakaya Kikwete is elected president.
  • Today: The economy of Tanzania is growing rapidly, and the country continues to develop quickly.

 Happy Tanzania Day!

Entry filed under: Tanzania Travel News, ZARA News. Tags: , , , .


1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Sandra Whitney  |  December 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    There were human beings in Tanzania long before 1000 BC ! ! ! The top layer of Oldupai Gorge has 40,000 year old skeletons of modern humans.


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