According to archaeological finds, the area of today’s Tanzania is one of the oldest settlement areas of mankind. For example, skull bones of the so-called prehistoric man (Australopithecus boisei and Homo habilis) have been found in the Olduvai Gorge near the Ngorongorocrat, which are estimated to be 1.8 million years old.
After the beginning of the Christian era, Bantu-speaking peoples, who predominantly cultivated fields, immigrated to the area of today’s Tanzania from the south. At about the same time, Nilotic tribes came to the region from the north. Until then, the area was populated by smaller groups of pygmies who lived as hunters and gatherers.
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Cross-border trade and colonization
In the first millennium AD began a lively trade in the offshore islands with Arab seafarers and the Mediterranean region. Merchandise was predominantly ivory and gold. The islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia as well as several branches on the coast (such as Kilwa Kisiwani) came to great prosperity through trade relations. Islam and Islamic architecture spread through the Arab seafarers. The mingling of the peoples created an independent Arab-African culture (Swahili) in the coastal area of the mainland.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the coast of today’s Tanzania and the offshore islands of Zanzibar and Pemba were occupied by Portuguese troops. At the end of the 17th century, these were distributed by the Arab Sultan of Muscat (Oman). From here, the main trades were slaves, ivory and valuable spices (cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, cardamom). In 1840 the Sultan Sayyid Said moved the center of his empire from Muscat to the island of Zanzibar, but became increasingly dependent on Great Britain. In 1872, the Sultan signed a protectorate treaty over the islands with the great European power.
The first European expeditions to the previously unexplored interior of the mainland began from Zanzibar. Representatives of the German-East African Society (DOAG) acquired the first areas from the Sultan in 1884, and soon the entire coastal strip of what is now Tanzania was in the hands of the society, which was provided with a letter of protection from the German emperor. In 1891 the area was declared a German protectorate and the German Empire took over the rule in German East Africa (together with today’s Burundi and Rwanda). The administrative center of the colony was the port city of Dar es Salaam, founded in 1862. Zanzibar had been given to Great Britain in exchange with Helgoland (Helgoland-Zanzibar Treaty, 1890).
After the defeat of the German Empire in the First World War, much of what is now Tanzania became a mandate of the League of Nations under British administration (Zanzibar was officially a British colony). After World War II, Tanganjika became a United Nations (UN) trust area under British supervision.
The indigenous tribes had already revolted against the colonialists at the end of the previous century, but without success. Several independence movements emerged in the first half of the 20th century. In 1929 the “Tanganjika African Association” (TAA) was founded to represent the interests of the black population, in 1954 Julius Kambarage Nyerere founded the “Tanganjika African National Union” (TANU), which was open to all ethnic groups.
The path to sovereignty
In 1959, Great Britain granted Tanganjika internal self-government. According to AbbreviationFinder, TANU won the elections held by a large majority. Tanganjika gained its independence in 1961 with a constitution modeled on the British model, which provided for the constitutional monarchy as a form of government. Accordingly, the British monarch Elizabeth II remained the head of state of Tanganyika. The official capital became Dodoma inland, the seat of government became the port city of Dar es Salaam.
Just a year later, in 1962, Tanganyika was declared a republic with Julius Kambarage Nyerere as president. The island of Zanzibar became independent of Great Britain two years later, in April 1964 Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the “United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar” (from October 1964 “United Republic of Tanzania”), the head of state of Zanzibar officially became Vice President of the Republic. Both parts of the country remained largely autonomous, particularly in terms of domestic policy, but there were repeated conflicts of interest between the two sides.
In 1967, President Nyerere proclaimed a so-called “Arusha Declaration”, a socialist-oriented development plan for the Tanzanian economy with the aim of making the country economically independent of foreign donors. The measures included the nationalization of banks and industrial companies and the reorganization of the rural population according to the cooperative model. This should improve living conditions and increase production in agriculture.
In terms of foreign policy, Tanzania came into conflict with Uganda in the early 1970s when the Ugandan head of state Apollo Obote, who had been overthrown by Idi Amin Dada, was granted exile in Tanzania. After several armed conflicts, the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) liberation movement, founded in Moshi, Tanzania by exiled Ugandan Yusuf Lule, and the Tanzanian army succeeded in overthrowing Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada in 1979. Tanzanian troops remained in Uganda until 1981.
In 1977 the TANU (which had already been declared a mainland unity party in 1965) and the “Afro-Shirazi Party” (ASP) of Zanzibar became the “Chama Cha Mapinduzi” party (CCM / Party of the Revolution) as the only legal party in Tanzania, which, according to the constitution, was superior to parliament and the government. President Julius Kambarage Nyerere became the leader of the unitary party.
In 1980 Tanzania was one of the founding members of the “Southern African Development Community (SADC), whose goals were the close economic cooperation of the member states (eg by reducing or abolishing customs duties) and maintaining peace in southern Africa.
In 1985 Ali Hassan Mwinyi was elected new president after Nyerere ceased to vote due to age, but remained chairman of the CCM Unity Party until 1990. Due to the poor economic situation in Tanzania, the political leadership began to turn away from the socialist course. Market economy reforms have been decided in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. However, Tanzania was unable to prevent a further increase in its external debt. The economic situation was further burdened by the influx of refugees from Rwanda (1994).
In 1992, incumbent President Ali Hassan Mwinyi had to reintroduce the multi-party system under pressure from the political opposition. The constitution allowed political parties to be established as long as they do not only represent the individual interests of an ethnic group or religion. Until the 1995 elections, the “Civic United Front” (CUF / United Civil Front), the “Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo” (CHADEMA / Party for Democracy and Development) and the “National Convention for Construction and Reform” (NCCR / National Convention for Building and Reform) as relevant parties. Tanzania’s new head of state was Benjamin William Mkapa (CCM). The opposition party candidate (Augustine Lyatonga Mrema, NCCR) had been withdrawn.The CCM also won an absolute majority of seats in the parliamentary elections. Mkapa was confirmed as President in the October 2000 elections. Jakaya Kilwete (CCM) has been in office since 2005. He pursues a market economy reform policy.