History of Tanzania
Discover the heritage and history of Tanzania with our travel tips.
The first humans in Tanzania were hunters and gatherers and agriculture is thought to have begun around 1,000 BC. By the 4th century AD, Bantu people, with their iron tools and weapons, began migrating to Tanzania, followed by the Persians, Romans, and eventually the Arab merchants who brought Islam to the country in the 8th century.
Renowned Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama traveled to Tanzania in 1498 and captured many of the islands. By the early 18th century, the spice island of Zanzibar was held by the Sultan of Oman, before the British took over and abolished the slave trade that was renowned in Zanzibar in the late 19th century. The mainland area of what is known today as Tanzania, is thought to have been named by a British civil servant in 1920, derived from the Swahili words ‘tanga’ (sail) and ‘nyika’ (bright arid plain).
Independence reached Tanzania in 1961 and by the following year the country became a republic with Julius Nyerere as Prime Minister and the father of the nation. A policy of socialism was adopted but failed, causing the country to go into debt until the mid-1980s.
Today, after political and economic reform, the country is recovering and Tanzania tours have prospered. The country is not only strong but also graciously offers refuge to over a half a million civilians fleeing violence from surrounding countries.
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