|A land of plains, lakes and mountains with a narrow, low-lying coastal belt, Tanzania is East Africa's largest country.The United Republic of Tanzania lies on the Indian Ocean bordered by Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. The capital city and also a major port, Dar es Salaam is the natural starting point for trips in Tanzania. It is near Mount Kilimanjaro, Dodoma and the nearby island of Zanzibar. Many beautiful beaches are within easy reach of Dar es Salaam, such as those at Kunduchi, Mjimwena and Mbwa Maji. Kunduchi, 24km (15 miles) north of the city, is a fishing village with nearby ruins of Persian tombs and mosques. The beautiful island of Zanzibar is only 20 minutes flight from Dar es Salaam. Mount Kilimanjaro, at 5895m, Africas highest mountain is a major attraction for mountaineers. |
The country of Tanzania was formed by the political union between mainland Tanganyika and the offshore islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. The two parts of the union attained independence from Britain separately, the mainland in 1961 and Zanzibar in 1963. The coastal area was the subject of great maritime rivalry first between the Portuguese and Arab traders and later between various European powers. But, it wasn't until the middle of the 17th century when Arab traders and slavers first entered the country. Zanzibar had become so important for slave and spice exporting by the first half of the century that the Oman Sultan, Seyyid Said moved the capital there from Muscatel in 1840.
Tanganyika before 1964 concerns the coastal area,although the interior has a number of important prehistoric sites, including the Olduvai Gorge. Trading contacts between Arabia and the East African coast existed by the 1st century AD, and there are indications of connections with India.The coastal trading centres were mainly Arab settlements, and relations between the Arabs and their African neighbours appear to have been fairly friendly. After the arrival of the Portuguese in the late 15th century, the position of the Arabs was gradually undermined, but the Portuguese made little attempt to penetrate into the interior. They lost their foothold north of the Ruvuma River early in the 18th century as a result of an alliance between the coastal Arabs and the ruler of Muscat on the Arabian Peninsula. This link remained extremely tenuous,however, until French interest in the slave trade from the ancient town of Kilwa, on the Tanganyikan coast, revived the trade in 1776. Attention by the French also aroused the sultan of Muscat's interest in the economic possibilities of the East African coast, and a new Omani governor was appointed at Kilwa. For some time most of the slaves came from the Kilwa hinterland, and until the 19th century such contacts as existed between the coast and the interior were due mainly to African caravans from the interior. In their constant search for slaves, Arab traders began to penetrate farther into the interior, more particularly in the southeast toward Lake Nyasa. Farther north two merchants from India followed the tribal trade routes to reach the country of the Nyamwezi about 1825. Along this route ivory appears to have been as great an attraction as slaves, and Sa'id bin Sultan himself, after the transfer of his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar, gave every encouragement to the Arabs to pursue these trading possibilities. From the Nyamwezi country the Arabs pressed on to Lake Tanganyika in the early 1840s. Tabora (or Kaz, as it was then called) and Ujiji, on Lake Tanganyika, became important trading centres, and a number of Arabs made their homes there. They did not annex these territories but occasionally ejected hostile chieftains. Mirambo, an African chief who built for himself a temporary empire to the west of Tabora in the 1860s and '70s, effectively blocked the Arab trade routes when they refused to pay him tribute. His empire was purely a personal one, however, and collapsed on his death in 1884.
The present country came into being with the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 1964. There are over 120 tribes on the mainland, most of which migrated from other parts of Africa. The first European arrival was the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, who visited the coast in the late-15th century, after which most of the littoral region came under Portuguese control. The Portuguese also controlled Zanzibar until 1699, when they were ousted from the island by Omani Arabs. In the late-19th century, along with Rwanda and Burundi, Tanganyika was absorbed into the colony of German East Africa, as a consequence of a deal between the British and Germans one process in the European colonial carve-up of Africa.
Other than an anti-colonial rebellion in 1905 known as the Maji Maji revolt, which was suppressed by German troops Tanganyika was a fairly quiet part of the German empire, until the end of World War I. Then, following the German defeat, it was administered by the British under successive League of Nations and United Nations mandates. Tanganyika became independent within the Commonwealth in 1961, after a period of self-government during which the principal nationalist party, the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), emerged as the dominant political force. Its charismatic leader, Julius Nyerere, held the post of President from independence to 1985; he occupied the position of Chairman until 1990. In 1964, Tanganyika joined with Zanzibar and became Tanzania. Prior to that, Zanzibar had been a British protectorate (established in 1890) and an independent sultanate in 1963.
The sultan of Zanzibar lasted less than 12 months as the islands independent ruler, before being deposed in a coup by radicals from the Afro-Shirazi Party, which quickly amalgamated with TANU on the mainland to form the countrys sole political party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, Revolutionary Party of Tanzania). Nyereres main objective was the successful application of socialist principles to an African agricultural society and economy. Nyereres ideas, particularly the introduction of ujamaa (his theory of socialist development, applied in a developing and largely agricultural economy), were articulated in the famous Arusha Declaration. Unfortunately, mismanagement and external events conspired to wreck Nyereres plans, with dire consequences for the economy.
In foreign policy, Tanzania initially leant towards China (PR) rather than the USSR but has always maintained fairly good relations with the West, which have since flourished. Moreover, Tanzania has proved itself an active player in regional politics, having given consistent support to anti-colonial guerrilla movements in Southern Africa. It intervened militarily in Uganda in 1979, to overthrow the Amin regime. Relations with the post-apartheid government in South Africa have been good. Tanzania was a founder member of the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference and has been a prominent participant in the Organization of African Unity.
In 1985, Nyerere retired as president of Tanzania and was replaced by Ali Hassan Mwinyi, former Vice-President and President of Zanzibar. Mwinyi favored introducing market forces into the economy and plurality into the political system. Economic reform proceeded slowly in the face of a large and fairly corrupt state bureaucracy. On the political front, amendments to the constitution allowing for the introduction of a multiparty system were endorsed by the National Assembly, early in 1992. Restrictions on opposition parties were not fully removed until the presidential election of October 1995, at which three candidates took on the CCM candidate, Benjamin Mkapa, who nonetheless won comfortably. However, there was major discontent in Zanzibar, where relations with the mainland were already strained over the conduct of the election.
In 1993, the islands provincial government had applied to join and was accepted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (the island has a large population descended from Arab traders). Zanzibar has also experienced strong economic growth in recent years, in contrast with the stagnation of the mainland economy. Both factors are symptomatic of the growing distance between the two parts of Tanzania, although there is no immediate prospect of a separation. The Rwandan genocide had a major impact on the country, not least in the form of thousands of refugees who crossed into Tanzania. Tanzania is also hosting the trials of some of the major perpetrators, who have been extradited from elsewhere in Africa (Kenya and Gabon, for example), in parallel with those in Rwanda itself.
In August 1998, Tanzania was the scene of a major terrorist incident when the US embassy in Dar es Salaam was bombed (a simultaneous explosion occurred in Nairobi). October 1999 was marked by the death of ex-president Julius Nyerere, whose funeral drew senior representatives from almost every government in the world.
The incumbent President Mkapa won a further term of office at the end of 2000 in an election marked by widespread violence and the ruling CCM party took all but 25 of the national assembly seats. With widespread vote rigging and intimidation, the contest was, according to international observers, a shambles. While the result is likely to stand, it will certainly increase pressure in Zanzibar for greater autonomy.As one of Africas poorest countries, Tanzania has benefited greatly from a recently-inaugurated program of debt relief. As a result, an estimated 2 billion owed by Tanzania was written off at the end of 2001.
Tanzania's 100 or more different tribal groups are mostly of Bantu origin. The Arab influence on Zanzibar and Pemba islands is evident in the people, who are a mix of Shirazia (from Persia), Arabs, Comorians (from the Comoros Islands) and Bantu from the mainland. The major non-Bantu people in the Iringa area are the Maasai who inhabit the north-eastern section of the country.
Tanzania, as the home of four major African language families, boasts the greatest linguistic diversity in the whole of the African continent. In the northern central area of the country, one can find the Bantu, the Khoisan or "click" language, the Cushitic and the Nilotic languages.Swahili and English are the official languages in Tanzania, with English the principal language of commerce. There are also many local African tongues, reflecting the tribal diversity of the country. Outside the cities and towns, far fewer adults speak English. However, in Global Volunteers' host communities, English is widely spoken, but proper pronunciation is often difficult for students who can rarely practice English with native speakers.
In Tanzania, there is a variety of good seafood such as prawns and lobsters and an abundance of tropical fruit such as coconuts, pawpaws, mangoes, pineapples and bananas. Table service is normal in restaurants. Coffee and tea are of high quality.Most hotels serve local Tanzanian food while the major hotels offer Western and other international food. Tanzania is a secular state and alcohol is not prohibited. A good lager, Safari, is produced locally, as is a popular gin called Konyagi, a chocolate and coconut liqueur called Afrikoko and a wine called Dodoma, which comes in red or ros. Bars generally have counter service.
Country name: United Republic of Tanzania