The History of Tanzania

Tanzania's History
a mosque minaret on the skyline of zanzibar

Tanzania’s history stretches back to when man took his first known steps on this great planet over 3 million years ago leaving his footprints in the volcanic ash. These are the earliest records of our ancestors making Tanzania the home of the first homosapian.

Ancient artifacts and clues have led famous archeologists into a frenzy and tools have been found scattered across East Africa and Tanzania in the mountains and the ancient lakes. These exciting discoveries were made by Mary Leakey back in 1978 and since then Tanzania has become the home of historical discovery.

Modern Tanzania is a melting pot of culture as centuries of migration have caught up to create a hive of activity. From wandering nomads to hunters, distant tribes and cattle herders they all roamed the vast plains until they came to settle in Tanzania.

In the first century AD Arabic merchant ships banked on the shores of Tanzania and set sail again loaded with slaves and ivory. Word spread and by the 10th century the Islamic religion had erected dazzling mosques, opulent palaces and thriving slave markets along the coast of Tanzania.

Soon the Europeans followed suit as Portuguese sailors arrived seeking trading opportunities in the Far East. They settled for two centuries before being driven out by the ruling Arabs. The caravan routes through the Great Lakes became alive with traders flying the banner of the sultan of Zanzibar. They came with cloth and weapons and left with slaves and ivory. The traders also brought violence and disease with them, the fallout of which ravaged the East African Coast in the 19th century. Around this time Europe began to look upon East Africa with a growing interest.

Shortly after East Africa fell into the hands of Europe and territory cut up like a cake and handed around with both Britain and Germany taking a large slice. The country was effectively handed over by ransom as the European invaders bullied and fired their way into power. Little was done to help improve conditions for the local inhabitants and their crops and grains were taken by force to be used as export.

In 1948 with revolution in the air a group of Africans created the Tanganyika African Association and on the 9th December 1961 Zanzibar finally detangled itself from Britain’s grip and became an independent country.

Since then Tanzania has enjoyed years of harmony ruptured only by poverty and turbulent neighbors. Tanzania maintains an open door policy and a helping hand to provide sanctuary for refugees fleeing the violence of their home countries. To this day there are over half a million refugees housed in Tanzania contributing to the cultural melting pot of this vibrant country.