History of Tanzania | Tanzania Travel Guide

Cruise the East African coast and explore the area.

History of Tanzania

The history of Tanzania is the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters, stories of adventure, exploration and deceit. From the settlement by Nilotic migrations through Arab trade and the Slave Trade to colonialism and finally independence Tanzania is one of the most historically-rich countries on the African continent. Ancient towns and ruins bear testimony to this rich historical heritage.

A brief chronology of events in Tanzania's history:

Pre-history: One of mankinds earliest ancestors Australopithecus afarensis is discovered to have inhabited the Laetoli area about 3.7 million years ago. Homo habilis, who lived 1.8 million years ago, is discovered in deposits in the Olduvai Gorge.

c.1000 B.C.: Farmers and herdsmen move south from Ethiopia via the Great Rift Valley and settle in present-day Kenya and Tanzania.

c. 500 - 100 B.C.: Iron-working knowledge arrives in Tanzania with the Bantu-speaking migrants from the Congo Basin.

c.700 - 900: the East African coast is settled by Arab Traders who set up trading centers and organize the slave trade.

c. 1000: African and Arab cultures blend marking the development of the Swahili culture. Islam becomes the dominant religion of Africa's east coast.

c. 1100: Kilwa Island in the southern part of Tanzania becomes a powerful city under the auspices of Arab and Persian merchants.1498:the East African coast is reached for the first time by European sailors - by the Portuguese under Vasco Da Gama.

1505: Kilwa is sacked and burned by a Portuguese fleet under the command of Francisco de Almeida and brought under Portuguese control.

1652: The Omanis send ships to help the inhabitants of the East African coastal areas against the Portuguese.

1840: The Sultan of Oman Sayid Said, ruler of most the East Africa coast, transfers his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar - and the slave trade intensifies

1841: In a vain bid to stem the slave trade the British establish a diplomatic mission on Zanzibar.

Time of the Explorers and the scramble for Africa

From the middle of the 19th century explorers and missionaries began to traverse East Africa and world powers begin to look toward Africa to expand their empires in what will be known as the Scramble for Africa.

1858: Burton and Speke discover the continents deepest lake, Tanganyika, before Speke discovers and names Lake Victoria after the queen of England.

1866: The Sultan of Zanzibar establishes the deep water port and trading center known today as Dar es Salaam. Dar is the largest city in Tanzania today.

1884: Vast tracts of land in Tanzania are brought under German control by the Society for German Colonization through treaties with local chiefs. This is thought by some to be the instigator of the Scramble for Africa.

Rebellion and War in Tanzania

Under the rule of German East Africa many local inhabitants found life unbearable and uprisings against the German authorities were staged - the most famous of which was the Maji-Maji rebellion where almost 75 000 African lives were lost in a vain attempt at fighting the German rule.

1905 - 1907: The Maji-Maji rebellion in southern Tanzania against German rule unites tribal groups but claims the lives of countless local people.

1914: The First World War greets East Africa with the bombing of Dar es Salaam by a British warship.

1922: With the surrender of Germany the colonies are mandated to other powers by the League of Nations. German East Africa becomes Tanganyika.

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