LOCATION: Africa & The Middle East
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguja (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages also spoken.
MAJOR RELIGION(S): Mainland - Christian 30%, Muslim 35%, indigenous beliefs 35%; Zanzibar - more than 99% Muslim.
MAJOR ETHNICGROUPS: Mainland - African 99% (of which 95% are Bantu consisting of more than 130 tribes), other 1% (consisting of Asian, European, and Arab); Zanzibar - Arab, African, mixed Arab and African.
Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordering the Indian Ocean. Neighboring countries include Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia. The geography of Tanzania is varied with Lake Victoria in the west, mountains in the northeast and coastal plains. The government system is a republic. The chief of state and head of government is the President. Tanzania has a mixed economy in which there is a variety of private freedom, combined with centralized economic planning and government regulation. Tanzania is a member of the African Union (AU) and African Economic Community (AEC).
Consensus scientific opinion places human origins in the Great Rift Valley, which dominates the landscape of much of East Africa. Northern Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge has provided rich evidence of the area's prehistory, including fossil remains of some of humanity's earliest ancestors.
Interior Tanzania’s great cultural and linguistic diversity is due to the various histories of migrations from elsewhere in the region. In some instances, groups of migrants separated, leading to different cultural developments. In other cases, various groups merged, creating new cultural identities and languages. Most Tanzanians are aware of their cultural origins and the traditional histories of the ethnic community with which they identify. The peoples of the interior traded with coastal communities, which in turn traded with all the countries bordering the Indian Ocean. Long standing patterns of political organization, economic production, and trade were disrupted by the violent escalation of the Arab-led slave and ivory trades in the 18th and 19th centuries. Bagamoyo on the coast and Zanzibar town were major slave ports serving markets for slave labor mostly in the Arab world. These societies, already severely stressed by the violence of the slave trade, came under further pressure once European explorers (mostly military, some missionary) opened the way to European conquest (first by semi-private European companies, later by European states) from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century.
Coastal and island Tanzania organized into city-states around 1,500 years ago. The Swahili city-states traded with the peoples of the interior and the peoples of the Indian Ocean and beyond (including China). Many merchants from these trading partner nations (principally from inland Africa, the Arab world, Persia and India) established themselves in these coastal and island communities, which became cosmopolitan in flavor.
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 settle the area (except for a few forts) or explore the interior. Instead, they violently enforced a monopoly on Indian Ocean trade, denying the Swahili city-states their main means of livelihood. The Portuguese also demanded tribute, bombarding and looting communities that refused to pay protection money. The coastal peoples rose up against the Portuguese in the late 1700s. Their resistance was assisted by one of their main trading partners, the Omani Arabs. By the early 19th century the Portuguese were forced out of coastal East Africa north of the Ruvuma River and the Omanis moved in.
Based in Zanzibar, the Omani Sultanate maintained close trade and diplomatic relations with the major trading powers, including the United States as of 1837. They also maintained close relations with some states in the interior with whom they were partners in the ivory and slave trades. European exploration of the interior began soon after the Omanis had consolidated their control of the coast and Zanzibar. Two German missionaries reached Mt. Kilimanjaro in the 1840s. British explorers Richard Burton and John Speke crossed the interior to Lake Tanganyika in 1857, with Speke going on to Lake Victoria. 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 locate him.
The Omani Sultanate, which had been heavily engaged in selling African slaves principally to the Arab world, outlawed the slave trade in 1876. British influence over the Sultanate steadily increased in the 1880s until Zanzibar formally became a British Protectorate in 1890.
German colonial interests were first advanced in 1884. Karl Peters, who formed the Society for German Colonization, concluded a series of agreements of dubious validity with "leaders" of questionable standing purporting to accept German "protection" for their inland African states. Prince Otto von Bismarck's government backed Peters in the subsequent establishment of the German East Africa Company. 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 Salaam.
German rule, which featured "hut taxes" and conscript labor to fund administration and infrastructure that benefitted German settlers at the great disadvantage of African communities, provoked African resistance. The Maji Maji rebellion of 1905-07 united the peoples of the Southern Highlands in a struggle to expel the German administration. The German military killed 120,000 Africans in suppressing the rebellion.
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 and independence.
In 1954, Julius K. Nyerere, a school teacher who was then one of only two Tanganyikans educated abroad at the university level (University of Edinburgh, Scotland), organized a political party--the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). TANU 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 1961, Tanganyika became autonomous, and Nyerere became Prime Minister under a new constitution. Full independence was achieved on December 9, 1961. Julius Nyerere, then age 39, was elected President when Tanganyika became a republic within the Commonwealth a year after independence. Tanganyika was the first East African state to gain independence.
Zanzibar: Sultanate/British Protectorate to Independence, Revolution, and Union
Under the Sultanate, the Arab population comprised the ruling class and landed aristocracy. Arabs, primarily from Oman, seized large tracts of land on Unguja (except in the less fertile far north of the island) to set up highly profitable spice plantations. Dispossessed indigenous Zanzibaris (known as Shirazis) became agricultural workers, sharecroppers, or semi-serfs. The plantations were also worked by slaves or former slaves, originating from the mainland. There was also significant mainland migration to the islands, especially Unguja, to work menial jobs during the boom years of the spice trade. The Afro-Shirazi population of Unguja mostly resented their Omani and British rulers.
Shirazis from the northern tip of Unguja, the nearby island of Tumbatu, and Pemba enjoyed symbiotic commercial relations with the Arab new arrivals and their Sultanate. They were not dispossessed of their lands. They mostly prospered under the Omanis. Pemban and far northern Ungujan Shirazis tended to identify their interests with the Sultanate.
The British ruled Zanzibar on behalf of the Sultan, not on behalf of his subjects. Their policies explicitly favored Arabs and Asians over Shirazis and mainland Africans (in that order). A series of pre-independence elections revealed two camps: the anti-Sultanate, Africa-oriented, and secular Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) with a stronghold in the densely populated areas of Unguja; and the pro-Sultanate, Arab World-oriented, and explicitly Islamic Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP) and its Pemban ally (the Zanzibar and Pemban People's Party - ZPPP), which was supported by most Arabs, Asians, far northern Ungujans, Pembans, and those who worked for the state. The ASP consistently received a larger share of the popular vote (though not by much), but the ZNP and its ally received more seats because they predominated in more constituencies. At independence, the British handed power to the two parties friendliest to the Sultanate and the status quo: the ZNP and ZPPP.
In January, 1964, 1 month after independence from Britain, Zanzibar (specifically Unguja) experienced a bloody uprising against the institutions of the Sultanate, the ZNP/ZPPP government, the Arab and Asian communities, and any Shirazis considered friendly to the state (such as ZNP members and Pembans). Although specific figures vary, several thousand Arabs were killed. Rape and other atrocities were widespread. Arabs were expelled or fled in large numbers. Asian shops were looted. Property was expropriated and re-distributed to ASP supporters. After a period of confusion, the ASP leadership and its allies assumed control under a "Supreme Revolutionary Council" and extended their control to Pemba (which had not participated in the uprising). Pemba was ruled by "Commissars" who used floggings, forced labor, and public humiliation to enforce their will over a hostile population. After a few months, the ASP leadership opted to accept an offer of union with Tanganyika (forming the nation of Tanzania), both to prevent a counter-revolution and to buttress the political position of the ASP leaders among other members of the Supreme Revolutionary Council. The Union Agreement (signed April 26, 1964) granted wide-ranging autonomy for Zanzibar. This date is observed in Tanzania as Union Day. It is Tanzania's official national day.
United Republic of Tanzania
The Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar adopted the name "United Republic of Tanzania" on April 26, 1964. In order to create a single ruling party in both parts of the union, Nyerere merged TANU (mainland) with the ASP (Zanzibar) to form the CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi-CCM, Revolutionary Party) in 1977. As the sole legal political party for all of Tanzania, CCM had the role of directing the population in all significant political and economic activities. In practice, Party and State were one. On February 5, 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.
Nyerere instituted social policies that proved successful in forging a strong Tanzanian national identity, which to this day takes priority in the hearts of the great majority of Tanzanians over ethnic, regional or linguistic identities. Observers are nearly unanimous in attributing Tanzania's unbroken record of political stability to Nyerere's social policies. Nyerere's economic policies were ruinous. They were gradually reversed after he left power, but many in the state bureaucracy remain opposed to modern, market economics.
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 CCM party for 5 more years. He remained influential in Tanzanian politics until his death in October 1999. The current President, Jakaya Kikwete, was elected in December 2005 and re-elected on October 31, 2010. Tanzania's constitution limits presidents to two terms in office.
In Zanzibar, where past elections were marked by violence and widespread irregularities, the 2010 elections proceeded peacefully. After years of intense debates between Civic United Front (CUF) and CCM, the two political parties finally reached a power-sharing agreement. On January 29, 2010, the unicameral Zanzibar House of Representatives adopted as law a bill that outlined the parameters of a government of national unity and called for a popular referendum on the plan. On July 31, 2010, Zanzibari voters gave their approval in the first-ever referendum to amend the constitution to allow for a unity government in Zanzibar. Ali Mohamed Shein, the immediate past Union Vice President, was elected President of Zanzibar on October 31, 2010.
There are many outstanding adventure travel destinations in Africa, but there is only one Tanzania. Here stretch the plains of the Serengeti; here shine the snows of Kilimanjaro; here, too, lies the mythic isle of Zanzibar. For anyone who has ever dreamt of Africa, those names are poetic invocations, calling up in the mind's eye all of the fabled attractions of the continent itself.
Location, Geography & Climate
Tanzania is bordered on the south by Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia; on the west by Zaire, Burundi, and Rwanda; on the north by Uganda and Kenya; and on the east by the Indian Ocean. Tanzania is the largest of the East African nations, and it possesses a geography as mythic as it is spectacular.
In the northeast of Tanzania is a mountainous region that includes Mt. Meru (14,979 ft/4,566 m) and Mount Kilimanjaro (19,340 ft./5,895 m), the latter of which is the highest point in Africa and possibly the most breathtaking mountain imaginable. To the west of these peaks is Serengeti National Park, which has the greatest concentration of migratory game animals in the world (200,000 zebra, for example). Within the Serengeti is Olduvai Gorge, the site of the famous discoveries by the Leakeys of fossil fragments of the very earliest ancestors of Homo sapiens. The Serengeti also contains the marvelous Eden of Ngorongoro, a 20-mile-wide volcanic crater that is home to an extraordinary concentration and diversity of wildlife.
Moving west from the Serengeti, one reaches the shores of Lake Victoria, the largest lake on the continent and one of the primary headwater reservoirs of the Nile. Southwest of Lake Victoria, and forming Tanzania's border with Zaire, is Lake Tanganyika, the longest and (after Lake Baikal) deepest freshwater lake in the world. It was at Ujiji, a village on the Tanzanian shore of Lake Tanganyika, that H.M. Stanley presumably encountered David Livingstone in 1871. Livingstone had fallen ill while searching for the source of the Nile, and despite his illness he refused to leave. Instead, he persuaded Stanley to accompany him on a journey to the north end of Lake Tanganyika. The region that they passed through has since become famous as Gombe National Park, the site of Jane Goodall's chimpanzee research station.
Southeast of Lake Tanganyika is a mountainous region that includes Lake Malawi (previously Lake Nyala), the third largest lake on the continent. East of Lake Malawi is the enormous expanse of the Selous Game Reserve, the largest in Africa with over 21,000 sq. mi. (55,000 sq. km.) and perhaps more than 50,000 elephants.
Moving northeast from Selous brings one to Tanzania's low, lush coastal strip, the location of its largest city, Dar es Salaam. Dar Es Salaam is the embarkation point for Zanzibar, the fabled emerald isle that lies off the Tanzanian coast.
The climate of Tanzania varies quite a bit, considering that its environment includes both the highest and the lowest points on the continent. While the narrow lowland coastal region is consistently hot and humid, the central regions of Tanzania are sufficiently elevated so as to offer much cooler temperatures. The rainy seasons extend from November to early January and from March to May.
History & People
The history of human habitation in Tanzania goes back almost two million years, and the fossils found at Olduvai Gorge by Louis and Mary Leakey now stand among the most important artifacts of the origins of our species. Artifacts of later Paleolithic cultures have also been found in Tanzania. There is evidence that communities along the Tanzanian coast were engaging in overseas trade by the beginning of the first millennium AD. By 900 AD those communities had attracted immigrants from India as well as from southwest Asia, and direct trade extended as far as China. When the Portuguese arrived at the end of the 15th century, they found a major trade center at Kilwa Kisiwani, which they promptly subjugated and then sacked. The Portuguese were expelled from the region in 1698, after Kilwa enlisted the help of Omani Arabs. The Omani dynasty of the Bu Said replaced the region's Yarubi leaders in 1741, and they proceeded to further develop trade. It was during this time that Zanzibar gained its legendary status as a center for the ivory and slave trade, becoming in 1841 the capital city of the sultan of Oman.
In Tanzania's interior, at about the same time, the cattle-grazing Maasai migrated south from Kenya into central Tanzania. Soon afterward the great age of European exploration of the African continent began, and with it came colonial domination. Tanzania fell under German control in 1886, but was handed over to Britain after WWI. Present day Tanzania is the result of a merger between the mainland (previously Tanganyika) and Zanzibar in 1964, after both had gained independence. Tanzania has like many African nations experienced considerable strife since independence, and its economy is extremely weak. However, political stability does appear to have been established in recent years.
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