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Tanzania History


Tribal Habitation
Tanzania has a long history of human habitation – some of the earliest hominoid fossils in the world were discovered in Olduvai Gorge and show records of hominoid habitation in the region going back at least 3 million years. It is thought that early hunter-gatherer communities inhabited the northern highlands as far back as 10,000 years ago and remained largely isolated until the arrival of Cushitic-speaking tribes from the north, who brought basic agricultural technologies to the area between 3,000 and 5,000 years ago.

More recent migrations of Bantu-speaking tribes from western Africa began around 1000 BC, and with their assimilation came advances in iron and steel production. Ancestors of the Masaai arrived more recently, beginning their migration around the 15th century and continuing to arrive from the area around southern Sudan for another three hundred years. Battles over grazing and agricultural land began as ethnic groups consolidated and appropriated loose borders and tribal regions.

Swahili Coast
Trade routes that led from the heart of the continent to the East African coast gradually gave rise to Swahili culture – a blend of Arab, Indian and Bantu influences that created one of the most developed trade networks in the Indian Ocean.

Although archaeological evidence shows the area was used as a trading port for Greek and Persian ships as early as 400 BC, permanent coastal settlements only developed around 800 AD, when civilizations around the Indian Ocean were wealthy enough to support annual voyages and a high volume of trade.

With large caravans laden with gold, spices, ivory, and slaves departing from Zanzibar, Kilwa, and other less prominent East African ports, Swahili civilization grew and flourished until the 15th century, when trade became more confined to Mombasa and Zanzibar.

The Arrival of Colonialism
Portuguese traders dominated the East African coast from 1525 until the early 18th century, when Omani Arabs once again regained control of the slave trade. The first missionaries journeyed to the mainland in the early 19th century and settlements, mission stations, and trading posts were built as far inland as Lake Tanganyika.

In the late 19th century, the German East African Company gained control of large portions of the Tanzanian mainland, although the British held a sphere of influence over the Omani sultans ruling the Zanzibar Archipelago. By 1891, most of mainland Tanzania was under the colonial administration of German East Africa.

The Advent of Independence
At the end of World War I, the Germans relinquished control over the area and handed it over to British administration that governed by a system of indirect rule.

A fledgling national movement in opposition to colonial economic policies was founded in the 1930’s and by the early 1950’s, the movement came into its own. In 1954, an internal constitution was drawn up and resistance unified under the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) with Julius Nyerere elected as its president.

After further elections in 1959, Britain established an internal self-government within the country and by 1962 the independent Republic of Tanganyika was formed with Nyerere as president.

Meanwhile, a popular revolution on the island of Zanzibar ousted the Omani sultan and in 1963, the archipelago gained its independence from British influence and Arab rule. One year later, leaders Nyerere and Karume, the first president of Zanzibar, signed an act of union to create the United Republic of Tanzania, which includes the Republic of Tanganyika and the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar.

Tanzania Today
Shortly after achieving independence from Britain in the early 1960s, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964. Lying just south of the equator, Tanzania is East Africa's largest country, and an immensely rewarding place to visit. Tanzania has the world-famous attractions; the plains of the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, snow­capped Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa's highest mountain) and Zanzibar, with its idyllic palm-fringed beaches and historic Stone Town. Yet there's a whole lot more to Tanzania than these obvious highlights.
Almost everywhere you go you'll find interesting wildlife and inspiring landscapes (over forty percent of the country is protected in some form or other) ranging from forest-covered volcanic peaks to dusty savanna populated by elephants, antelopes, lions, leopards and cheetahs. Tanzania is one of the four most naturally diverse nations on earth: it contains Africa's second-largest number of bird species (around 1500), the continent's biggest mammal population and three-quarters of East Africa's plant species (over ten thousand). Add to this the country's rich ethnic diversity, some superb hiking and other activities like snorkelling and diving, and you have the makings of a holiday of a lifetime.
For all its natural diversity, Tanza­nia's best asset is its people: friend­ly, welcoming, unassumingly proud and yet reserved - you'll be treated with uncommon warmth and courtesy wherever you go, and genuine friendships are easily made. The best known tribe air the Maasai, a pastoralist cattle heading, people who inhabit the region around the safari parks in the north, yet there  are   at  least  127 other tribes in Tanzania, perhaps not as   visually   colourful   as   the   red-robed, spear-carrying Maasai  war­riors, but with  equally rich tradi­tions, histories, customs, beliefs and music,   much    of  which   survive despite the ravages of colonialism, modernity   arid   Christianity.



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