Northern Tanganyika's famed Olduvai Gorge has provided rich evidence of the area's
prehistory, including fossil remains of some of humanity's earliest ancestors.
Discoveries suggest that East Africa may have been the site of human origin.
Little is known of the history of Tanganyika's interior during the early centuries
of the Christian era. The area is believed to have been inhabited originally by
ethnic groups using a click-tongue language similar to that of Southern Africa's
Bushmen and Hottentots. Although remnants of these early tribes still exist, most
were gradually displaced by Bantu farmers migrating from the west and south and
by Nilotes and related northern peoples. Some of these groups had well-organized
societies and controlled extensive areas by the time the Arab slavers, European
explorers, and missionaries penetrated the interior in the first half of the 19th
The coastal area first felt the impact of foreign influence as early as the
8th century, when Arab traders arrived. By the 12th century, traders and immigrants
came from as far away as Persia (now Iran) and India. They built a series of highly
developed city and trading states along the coast, the principal one being Kibaha,
a settlement of Persian origin that held ascendancy until the Portuguese destroyed
it in the early 1500s.
The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama explored the East African coast in 1498
on his voyage to India. By 1506, the Portuguese claimed control over the entire
coast. This control was nominal, however, because the Portuguese did not colonize
the area or explore the interior. Assisted by Omani Arabs, the indigenous coastal
dwellers succeeded in driving the Portuguese from the area north of the Ruvuma
River by the early 18th century. Claiming the coastal strip, Omani Sultan Seyyid
Said (l804-56) moved his capital to Zanzibar in 1841.
European exploration of the interior began in the mid-19th century. Two German
missionaries reached Mt. Kilimanjaro in the 1840s. British explorers Richard Burton
and John Speke crossed the interior to Lake Tanganyika in 1857. David Livingstone,
the Scottish missionary-explorer who crusaded against the slave trade, established
his last mission at Ujiji, where he was "found" by Henry Morton Stanley, an American
journalist-explorer, who had been commissioned by the New York Herald to
German colonial interests were first advanced in 1884. Karl Peters, who formed
the Society for German Colonization, concluded a series of treaties by which tribal
chiefs in the interior accepted German "protection." Prince Otto is von Bismarck's
government backed Peters in the subsequent establishment of the German East Africa
In 1886 and 1890, Anglo-German agreements were negotiated that delineated the
British and German spheres of influence in the interior of East Africa and along
the coastal strip previously claimed by the Omani sultan of Zanzibar. In 1891,
the German Government took over direct administration of the territory from the
German East Africa Company and appointed a governor with headquarters at Dar es
Although the German colonial administration brought cash crops, railroads,
and roads to Tanganyika, European rule provoked African's resistance, culminating
in the Maji Maji rebellion of 1905-07. The rebellion, which temporarily united
a number of southern tribes and ended only after an estimated 120,000 Africans
had died from fighting or starvation, is considered by most Tanzanians to have
been one of the first stirrings of nationalism.
German colonial domination of Tanganyika ended after World War I when control
of most of the territory passed to the United Kingdom under a League of Nations
mandate. After World War II, Tanganyika became a UN trust territory under British
control. Subsequent years witnessed Tanganyika moving gradually toward self-government
In 1954, Julius K. Nyerere, a school teacher who was then one of only two Tanganyikans
educated abroad at the university level, organized a political party--the Tanganyika
African National Union (TANU). TANU-supported candidates were victorious in the
Legislative Council elections of September 1958 and February 1959. In December
1959, the United Kingdom agreed to the establishment of internal self-government
following general elections to be held in August 1960. Nyerere was named chief
minister of the subsequent government.
In May l961, Tanganyika became autonomous, and Nyerere became Prime Minister
under a new constitution. Full independence was achieved on December 9, 1961.
Mr. Nyerere was elected President when Tanganyika became a republic within the
Commonwealth a year after independence.
An early Arab/Persian trading center, Zanzibar fell under Portuguese domination
in the 16th and early 17th centuries but was retaken by Omani Arabs in the early
18th century. The height of Arab rule came during the reign of Sultan Seyyid Said,
who encouraged the development of clove plantations, using the island's slave
The Arabs established their own garrisons at Zanzibar, Pemba, and Kilwa and
carried on a lucrative trade in slaves and ivory. By 1840, Said had transferred
his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar and established a ruling Arab elite. The island's
commerce fell increasingly into the hands of traders from the Indian subcontinent,
whom Said encouraged to settle on the island.
Zanzibar's spices attracted ships from as far away as the United States. A
U.S. consulate was established on the island in 1837. The United Kingdom's early
interest in Zanzibar was motivated by both commerce and the determination to end
the slave trade. In 1822, the British signed the first of a series of treaties
with Sultan Said to curb this trade, but not until 1876 was the sale of slaves
The Anglo-German agreement of 1890 made Zanzibar and Pemba a British protectorate.
British rule through a Sultan remained largely unchanged from the late 19th century
until after World War II.
Zanzibar's political development began in earnest after 1956, when provision
was first made for the election of six nongovernment members to the Legislative
Council. Two parties were formed: the Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP), representing
the dominant Arab and "Arabized" minority and the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP), led
by Abeid Karume and representing the Shirazis and the African majority.
The first elections were held in July 1957. The ASP won three of the six elected
seats, with the remainder going to independents. Following the election, the ASP
split; some of its Shirazi supporters left to form the Zanzibar and Pemba People's
Party (ZPPP). The January 1961 election resulted in a deadlock between the ASP
and a ZNP-ZPPP coalition.
On April 26,1964, the Tanganyika union with Zanzibar to form the United Republic
of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, this was to be renamed the United Republic of Tanzania
on October 29.
United Republic of Tanzania
TANU and the Afro-Shirazi Party of Zanzibar were merged into a single party (Chama
cha Mapinduzi-CCM Revolutionary Party) on February 5, 1977. On April 26, 1977,
the union of the two parties was ratified in a new constitution. The merger was
reinforced by principles enunciated in the 1982 union constitution and reaffirmed
in the constitution of 1984.
The elections that followed the granting of self-government in June 1963 produced
similar results. Zanzibar received its independence from the United Kingdom on
December 19, 1963, as a constitutional monarchy under the sultan. On January 12,
1964, the African majority revolted against the sultan and a new government was
formed with the ASP leader, Abeid Karume, as President of Zanzibar and Chairman
of the Revolutionary Council. Under the terms of its political union with Tanganyika
in April 1964, the Zanzibar Government retained considerable local autonomy.
In 1977, Nyerere merged TANU with the Zanzibar ruling party, the ASP, to form
the CCM as the sole ruling party in both parts of the union. The CCM was to be
the sole instrument for mobilizing and controlling the population in all significant
political or economic activities. He envisioned the party as a "two-way street"
for the flow of ideas and policy directives between the village level and the
President Nyerere stepped down from office and was succeeded as President by
Ali Hassan Mwinyi in 1985. Nyerere retained his position as Chairman of the ruling
party for 5 more years and was influential in Tanzanian politics until his death
in October 1999. The current President, Benjamin Mkapa, was elected in 1995 and
will stand for re-election in nationwide balloting scheduled for October 2000.
Zanzibar President Salmin Amour was elected in single-party elections in 1990.
In 1995, he was named the winner of Zanzibar's first multi-party elections, a
victory widely deemed to have been tainted by fraud. He is not eligible to run
for a third term.
Tanzanian music and dance dominates much of East Africa. Strong
in rhythm and renowned for hard-hitting lyrics, the country's Swahili-based
sounds are kept very much alive by a thriving dance-band scene.
Remmy Ongala is the country's best known exponent. Zanzibar is at
the heart of the distinctive taraab, or sung poetry, tradition.