Outline :
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    5 facts you didn’t know about the history of Tanzania

    12 minutes read
    Tanzania- 5 Facts You Didn’t Know About The History Of Tanzania
    5 Facts You Didn’t Know About The History Of Tanzania

    Tanzania has a long history and perhaps the most fascinating history in East Africa.

    From Arab traders to German missionaries, this East African country has undergone intense colonial rule and became independent not too long ago. Tanzania also contains remnants of early human ancestors and hosts some of the most beautiful cultures in the world.

    In this blog, we will look at five facts you still need to learn about the history of Tanzania. If you’d like to learn more about the country with its beautiful people and animal life, contact one of our professional Tanzania safari guides.

    The history of Tanzania: 5 facts you probably don't Know

    History of tanzania

    There is much more to Tanzania’s history than most people know, from its formation to its current state. History is diverse and complex, with many factors contributing to its formation and development.

    Here are five facts about the history of Tanzania that you probably don’t know:

    History of Tanzania Fact 1: Tanzania was a British military outpost during World War II

    Tanzania - fact 1 tanzania was a british military outpost during world war ii - 5 facts you didn’t know about the history of tanzania

    During the 20th century, British forces were supplied with ammunition, soldiers, and other supplies. During World War II, Tanzania provided an estimated 100,000 troops to the Allied forces.

    History teachers will tell you that only two days after the German forces invaded Poland, heads of state and Government in Britain feared that German civilians would flee Tanzania. This led to the British troops arresting all fleeing Germans. What to know something crazy? Roald Dahl, one of the greatest British authors of our time, interned the fleeing German civilians.

    History of Tanzania Fact 2: Tanzania became independent of British rule in 1961

    Tanzania - fact 2 tanzania became independent of british rule in 1961 - 5 facts you didn’t know about the history of tanzania

    The colonial history in Africa is full of sorrow and human rights violations. Before Tanzania saw independence in 1961, it had already been exploited by German Rule in the nineteenth century and had seen the slave trade for hundreds of years.

    Tanzania’s African resistance to independence grew strong by 1954, and the country was led to freedom in 1961 by Julius Nyerere, a political activist who played a necessary role in shaping the Tanzanian government and later became its prime minister.

    After independence, the country saw economic growth from foreign trade and tourists who visited from all around the world.

    History of Tanzania Fact 3: Tanzania's name was once Tanganyika

    Tanzania - fact 3 tanzanias name was once tanganyika - 5 facts you didn’t know about the history of tanzania

    Before Tanzania gained independence in 1961, it was known as ‘Tanganyika’ under British rule, deriving its name from Lake Tanganyika, the second deepest lake globally. This name holds significance in Tanzania’s history, symbolising the merger of Zanzibar Island with the mainland.

    It marks a pivotal moment, representing the unity and cohesion of the Tanzanian nation. The transition from ‘Tanganyika’ to ‘Tanzania’ reflects the country’s journey towards independence and self-determination. Today, Tanzania is a testament to its rich history, embracing its past and promising future.

    History of Tanzania Fact 4: Zanzibar was a trade hub for enslaved people and spices.

    Tanzania - fact 4 zanzibar was a trade hub for slaves and spices - 5 facts you didn’t know about the history of tanzania

    In the early 18th century, Zanzibar and Pemba Island were under Arab Elite rule. Local slaves were used to grow and harvest spices, mainly cloves.

    By the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, the two islands were known worldwide as the Spice Islands, as they supplied nearly 90% of all cloves. The Arab Elite greatly impacted the development of culture and architecture, which you can see when walking through Stone Town’s streets.

    History of Tanzania Fact 5: Tanzania's history dates back to the early Stone Age

    In 1959, Mary Leakey unearthed an astonishing find: a hominid skull dating back over 1.8 million years. This discovery significantly advanced our knowledge of human evolution and history.

    The skull was found in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, home to diverse wildlife populations that thrive especially during the wet season. Leakey’s discovery underscores the area’s importance not only for its natural beauty but also for its archaeological significance.

    Religions are there in Tanzania

    Tanzania - what religions are there in tanzania - 5 facts you didn’t know about the history of tanzania

    Tanzania’s religious landscape is primarily Christian, with approximately 60% of the population identifying with the faith. Islam is the country’s second-largest religion, embraced by around 38% of Tanzanian residents. This religious diversity adds to the nation’s cultural richness, with mosques and churches dotting the landscape.

    Despite religious differences, Tanzania maintains a reputation for religious tolerance and harmony. Visitors can immerse themselves in the diverse spiritual practices, from attending vibrant church services to witnessing traditional Muslim ceremonies.

    Understanding and respecting these religious traditions can enhance one’s cultural experience while exploring Tanzania. You can read more about religion in Tanzania here.

    1. Spoken language in Zanzibar

    Tanzania - is arabic spoken in zanzibar - 5 facts you didn’t know about the history of tanzania

    Arabic culture imprinted on Tanzania’s history and heritage, influencing various aspects of society. However, the Arabic language has gradually receded in usage, yielding ground to Swahili and English as the dominant languages. Swahili, a Bantu language enriched with Arabic loanwords, emerged as the lingua franca across Tanzania.

    English, introduced during colonial rule, remains a prominent language in education, business, and government affairs. This linguistic evolution reflects Tanzania’s diverse cultural heritage and integration into the global community. Despite changes, remnants of Arabic influence persist in Tanzanian cuisine, architecture, and cultural practices, underscoring the enduring legacy of Arab civilisation in the region.

    Fact 5: Tanzania history dates back to the early stone age

    Tanzania - fact 5 tanzania history dates back to the early stone age - 5 facts you didn’t know about the history of tanzania

    In 1959, Mary Leakey unearthed an astonishing find: a hominid skull dating back over 1.8 million years. This discovery significantly advanced our knowledge of human evolution and history.

    The skull was found in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, home to diverse wildlife populations that thrive especially during the wet season. Leakey’s discovery underscores the area’s importance not only for its natural beauty but also for its archaeological significance.

    Original name of Tanzania

    Tanzania - what was the original name of tanzania - 5 facts you didn’t know about the history of tanzania

    Before Tanzania gained independence from British colonial rule, it comprised two distinct regions: Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Tanganyika was a mainland territory, while Zanzibar consisted of several islands off the east coast of Africa.

    These regions had separate colonial administrations and histories before their eventual unification. On April 26, 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar united to form the United Republic of Tanzania. This historic merger marked a significant step towards African independence and unity.

    National language of Tanzania

    Tanzania - what is the national language of tanzania - 5 facts you didn’t know about the history of tanzania

    Tanzania officially recognises Swahili and English as national languages, fostering linguistic diversity nationwide. Tanzania exemplifies cultural richness and linguistic variety, with an estimated 126 languages spoken by its populace. The embrace of this diversity underscores the country’s inclusive ethos and heritage of tolerance.

    Consequently, it’s challenging to determine which language holds the highest prevalence nationwide. This linguistic tapestry reflects Tanzania’s vibrant tapestry of ethnic groups, each contributing to the nation’s cultural mosaic.

    Does Tanzania have a monarch?

    Tanzania - does tanzania have a monarch - 5 facts you didn’t know about the history of tanzania

    Tanzania acknowledges tribal leaders as monarchs, with 13 tribes officially sanctioned by the government. Despite this, the nation operates under a parliamentary system with a prime minister, Kassim Majaliwa.

    Additionally, Tanzania made history by appointing its first female president, Samia Suluhu Hassan. This diverse leadership landscape reflects Tanzania’s commitment to inclusivity and representation across its political spectrum.

    Conclusion: The history of Tanzania is incredible

    Tanzania’s history is diverse, impactful, and full of lessons we can learn from today. Leadership and hope made its liberation possible. To support this growing, beautiful country, visit the land to learn more about its history, people, and landscapes.

    The people are friendly and welcoming, and the wildlife is abundant and varied. This is a fantastic place that should be on your travel list!

    Looking to get into the heart of it and explore Tanzania? Contact Easy Travel today to begin planning your experience of a lifetime.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What was the original name of Tanzania?

    Before Tanzania gained independence from British colonial rule, it comprised two distinct regions: Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Tanganyika was a mainland territory, while Zanzibar consisted of several islands off the east coast of Africa.

    These regions had separate colonial administrations and histories before their eventual unification. On April 26, 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar united to form the United Republic of Tanzania. This historic merger marked a significant step towards African independence and unity.

    2. What religions are there in Tanzania?

    Tanzania’s religious landscape is primarily Christian, with approximately 60% of the population identifying with the faith. Islam is the country’s second-largest religion, embraced by around 38% of Tanzanian residents. This religious diversity adds to the nation’s cultural richness, with mosques and churches dotting the landscape.

    Despite religious differences, Tanzania maintains a reputation for religious tolerance and harmony. Visitors can immerse themselves in the diverse spiritual practices, from attending vibrant church services to witnessing traditional Muslim ceremonies.

    Understanding and respecting these religious traditions can enhance one’s cultural experience while exploring Tanzania. You can read more about religion in Tanzania here.

    3. Is Arabic spoken in Zanzibar?

    Arabic culture imprinted on Tanzania’s history and heritage, influencing various aspects of society. However, the Arabic language has gradually receded in usage, yielding ground to Swahili and English as the dominant languages. Swahili, a Bantu language enriched with Arabic loanwords, emerged as the lingua franca across Tanzania.

    English, introduced during colonial rule, remains a prominent language in education, business, and government affairs. This linguistic evolution reflects Tanzania’s diverse cultural heritage and integration into the global community. Despite changes, remnants of Arabic influence persist in Tanzanian cuisine, architecture, and cultural practices, underscoring the enduring legacy of Arab civilisation in the region.

    4. What is the national language of Tanzania?

    Tanzania officially recognises Swahili and English as national languages, fostering linguistic diversity nationwide. Tanzania exemplifies cultural richness and linguistic variety, with an estimated 126 languages spoken by its populace. The embrace of this diversity underscores the country’s inclusive ethos and heritage of tolerance.

    Consequently, it’s challenging to determine which language holds the highest prevalence nationwide. This linguistic tapestry reflects Tanzania’s vibrant tapestry of ethnic groups, each contributing to the nation’s cultural mosaic.

    5. Does Tanzania have a monarch?

    Tanzania acknowledges tribal leaders as monarchs, with 13 tribes officially sanctioned by the government. Despite this, the nation operates under a parliamentary system with a prime minister, Kassim Majaliwa.

    Additionally, Tanzania made history by appointing its first female president, Samia Suluhu Hassan. This diverse leadership landscape reflects Tanzania’s commitment to inclusivity and representation across its political spectrum.

    6. What are some interesting facts about Tanzania's history?

    Tanzania has a rich history shaped by diverse cultures, ancient civilisations, and colonial influences. Hunter-gatherer communities inhabited the region for thousands of years before the arrival of Arab and Indian traders around the 8th century. In the 19th century, European missionaries and explorers began to traverse the area, leading to German colonisation in the late 1800s.

    After World War I, Tanzania became a British mandate territory, merging Tanganyika and Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania in 1964. Today, Tanzania boasts a unique blend of traditions, languages, and ethnicities, with a landscape that includes iconic landmarks like Mount Kilimanjaro and world-renowned national parks such as Serengeti and Gombe Stream.

    7. What is the significance of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzanian history?

    Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, holds immense cultural and historical significance in Tanzanian lore. Known as the “Roof of Africa,” Kilimanjaro has long been revered by indigenous tribes as a sacred site and a symbol of strength and endurance.

    Its majestic presence has inspired countless explorers, adventurers, and climbers throughout history. In addition to its cultural importance, Kilimanjaro’s diverse ecosystems and breathtaking scenery attract thousands of tourists yearly, contributing significantly to Tanzania’s economy and global reputation as a premier travel destination.

    8. How did Tanzania's national parks contribute to its history?

    Tanzania’s national parks preserve the country’s natural heritage and promote tourism. Establishing iconic parks like Serengeti and Lake Manyara dates back to the colonial era when conservation efforts began to protect wildlife and habitats.

    These parks have since become global symbols of conservation success, attracting millions of visitors annually and generating revenue for the nation’s economy. Furthermore, Tanzania’s commitment to sustainable tourism and wildlife conservation has solidified its reputation as a leader in eco-tourism and environmental stewardship on the African continent.

    9. What is the historical significance of Gombe Stream National Park?

    Gombe Stream National Park is unique in Tanzanian history as the site of groundbreaking research by primatologist Jane Goodall. In the 1960s, Goodall’s pioneering studies on wild chimpanzees revolutionised our understanding of primate behaviour and human evolution.

    Her discoveries, documented in Gombe, provided invaluable insights into chimpanzees’ complex social dynamics and cognitive abilities. Today, Gombe Stream is a centre for research and conservation efforts to protect these endangered animals and their fragile habitat.

    10. How has Tanzania's history shaped its national parks?

    Tanzania’s history has deeply influenced the development and management of its national parks. The country’s colonial past, coupled with a growing awareness of the importance of conservation, spurred the creation of protected areas to safeguard its rich biodiversity.

    Serengeti National Park, for example, was established in 1951 to preserve the iconic savannah ecosystem and support wildlife populations. Over the years, Tanzania has expanded its network of national parks, recognising their economic, ecological, and cultural value to the nation.

    11. What role did northern Tanzania play in the country's history?

    For centuries, Northern Tanzania has been a focal point of historical events and cultural exchanges. The region’s strategic location along ancient trade routes attracted Arab and Indian traders, who brought goods and ideas to the area.

    This interaction laid the foundation for vibrant Swahili coastal cities like Zanzibar, known for their cosmopolitan culture and maritime trade. Moreover, northern Tanzania is home to iconic landmarks such as Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, which have shaped the country’s identity and fueled its tourism industry.

    12. How did Tanzania transition from a colonial territory to a democratic republic?

    Tanzania’s journey from colonial rule to a democratic republic was marked by significant social and political upheaval. Following World War II, Tanganyika emerged as a British mandate territory under the United Nations, paving the way for self-governance and independence.

    In 1961, Tanganyika gained independence from British colonial rule, establishing a democratic government led by Julius Nyerere. The country later merged with Zanzibar in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania, solidifying its status as a sovereign nation.

    13. What are some interesting facts about Tanzania's national parks?

    Tanzania’s national parks are celebrated for their stunning scenery, abundant biodiversity, and cultural importance. Serengeti National Park, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for hosting the spectacular Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra. Visitors can encounter unique sights within Lake Manyara National Park, such as tree-climbing lions and expansive alkaline lakes teeming with flamingos.

    Gombe Stream National Park gained fame through Jane Goodall’s pioneering chimpanzee research. These parks offer unparalleled opportunities for wildlife safaris, adventure, and eco-tourism in Tanzania’s natural beauty.

    14. What historical events led to Tanzania becoming a united republic?

    Historical events and political negotiations shaped Tanzania’s path to unity and independence. Following Tanganyika’s independence from British colonial rule in 1961, the newly established nation sought to forge alliances with neighbouring territories.

    In 1964, Tanganyika merged with Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania, uniting mainland and island territories under one government. This historic union was driven by a shared vision of national identity, solidarity, and economic cooperation, laying the foundation for modern Tanzania.

    15. How has Tanzania's history influenced its status as a popular tourist destination?

    Tanzania’s rich history, diverse cultures, and stunning natural landscapes have positioned it as one of Africa’s premier tourist destinations. The country’s abundant national parks, including Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, attract millions of visitors yearly, eager to witness the Great Migration and experience unparalleled wildlife safaris.

    Additionally, Tanzania’s cultural heritage, exemplified by Zanzibar’s Stone Town and the ancient ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani, offers travellers immersive historical experiences. Overall, Tanzania’s historical legacy continues to shape its tourism industry, drawing travellers from around the globe to explore its wonders.

    16. What makes Tanzania's national parks unique world heritage sites?

    Tanzania’s national parks, such as Serengeti and Kilimanjaro National Park, have been recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their outstanding universal value. Serengeti National Park, known for its Great Migration and diverse ecosystems, is considered a natural world wonder.

    Kilimanjaro National Park encompasses Africa’s tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, and boasts unique montane forests and alpine meadows. These parks symbolise Tanzania’s natural beauty and ecological importance globally.

    17. What are some of the volunteer opportunities available in Tanzania's national parks?

    Tanzania’s national parks offer various opportunities for volunteers who are enthusiastic about wildlife preservation and environmental guardianship. Numerous parks partner with local communities and global organisations to aid efforts such as wildlife surveillance, habitat rejuvenation, and community advancement.

    Volunteers can participate in research programs, assist park rangers with anti-poaching efforts, or engage in educational outreach activities. These opportunities provide meaningful experiences for volunteers to contribute to protecting and preserving Tanzania’s natural heritage while gaining valuable skills and insights into conservation work.

    18. How can solo travellers explore Tanzania's national parks safely?

    Solo travellers can safely explore Tanzania’s national parks by following the recommended guidelines and precautions. It’s advisable to book guided tours or safaris with reputable tour companies that offer experienced guides and reliable transportation. Additionally, solo travellers should stay vigilant and aware of their surroundings, especially in remote areas or during wildlife encounters.

    It’s essential to carry essential supplies such as water, sunscreen, and insect repellent and to inform friends or family of travel plans for added safety. By taking these precautions and embracing the adventure, solo travellers can enjoy a memorable and rewarding experience exploring Tanzania’s national parks.

    19. What day tours are available in Tanzania's national parks?

    Tanzania’s national parks offer a variety of day tours and excursions for travellers seeking immersive wildlife experiences and cultural encounters. Visitors can embark on guided safaris to observe the Great Migration in Serengeti National Park or explore the diverse ecosystems of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

    Day tours to Lake Manyara National Park also provide opportunities to spot tree-climbing lions and vibrant birdlife. Cultural day tours to Maasai villages offer insights into traditional lifestyles and customs. With options ranging from wildlife safaris to cultural immersions, Tanzania’s national parks cater to diverse interests and preferences for day tours.

    Musaddiq Gulamhussein - Owner - Easy Travel Tanzania

    About the author: Musaddiq

    Meet Musaddiq Gulamhussein, owner of Easy Travel Tanzania, a tour company creating life-changing safari experiences for over 35 years. Musaddiq has explored Tanzania, developing a deep understanding of the local cultures and traditions. Follow his journey and gain insights into the African Safari experience through Easy Travel's social media and blog.

    Get In Touch

    Read more blogs like this:

    Got questions? We're here to help!