Celebrating Independence! A Brief History of Tanzania
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.
- ~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.
- 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.
- 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!