Northern Tanganyika's famed Olduvai Gorge has provided rich evidence
of the area's prehistory, including fossil remains of some of humanity's
earliest ancestors. Discoveries suggest that East Africa may have been
the site of human origin.
Little is known of the history of Tanganyika's interior during the early
centuries of the Christian era. The area is believed to have been inhabited
originally by ethnic groups using a click-tongue language similar to that
of Southern Africa's Bushmen and Hottentots. Although remnants of these
early tribes still exist, most were gradually displaced by Bantu farmers
migrating from the west and south and by Nilotes and related northern peoples.
Some of these groups had well-organized societies and controlled extensive
areas by the time the Arab slavers, European explorers, and missionaries
penetrated the interior in the first half of the 19th century.
The coastal area first felt the impact of foreign influence as early
as the 8th century, when Arab traders arrived. By the 12th century, traders
and immigrants came from as far away as Persia (now Iran) and India. They
built a series of highly developed city and trading states along the coast,
the principal one being Kibaha, a settlement of Persian origin that held
ascendancy until the Portuguese destroyed it in the early 1500s.
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 colonize the area or explore the interior. Assisted by Omani Arabs,
the indigenous coastal dwellers succeeded in driving the Portuguese from
the area north of the Ruvuma River by the early 18th century. Claiming
the coastal strip, Omani Sultan Seyyid Said (l804-56) moved his capital
to Zanzibar in 1841.
European exploration of the interior began in the mid-19th century.
Two German missionaries reached Mt. Kilimanjaro in the 1840s. British explorers
Richard Burton and John Speke crossed the interior to Lake Tanganyika in
1857. 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.
German colonial interests were first advanced in 1884. Karl Peters,
who formed the Society for German Colonization, concluded a series of treaties
by which tribal chiefs in the interior accepted German "protection." 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.
Although the German colonial administration brought cash crops, railroads,
and roads to Tanganyika, European rule provoked African's resistance, culminating
in the Maji Maji rebellion of 1905-07. The rebellion, which temporarily
united a number of southern tribes and ended only after an estimated 120,000
Africans had died from fighting or starvation, is considered by most Tanzanians
to have been one of the first stirrings of nationalism.
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, organized a political
party--the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). TANU-supported 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 l961, Tanganyika became autonomous, and Nyerere became Prime
Minister under a new constitution. Full independence was achieved on December
9, 1961. Mr. Nyerere was elected President when Tanganyika became a republic
within the Commonwealth a year after independence.
An early Arab/Persian trading center, Zanzibar fell under Portuguese
domination in the 16th and early 17th centuries but was retaken by Omani
Arabs in the early 18th century. The height of Arab rule came during the
reign of Sultan Seyyid Said, who encouraged the development of clove plantations,
using the island's slave labor.
The Arabs established their own garrisons at Zanzibar, Pemba, and Kilwa
and carried on a lucrative trade in slaves and ivory. By 1840, Said had
transferred his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar and established a ruling
Arab elite. The island's commerce fell increasingly into the hands of traders
from the Indian subcontinent, whom Said encouraged to settle on the island.
Zanzibar's spices attracted ships from as far away as the U.S. A U.S.
consulate was established on the island in 1837. The United Kingdom's early
interest in Zanzibar was motivated by both commerce and the determination
to end the slave trade. In 1822, the British signed the first of a series
of treaties with Sultan Said to curb this trade, but not until 1876 was
the sale of slaves finally prohibited.
The Anglo-German agreement of 1890 made Zanzibar and Pemba a British
protectorate. British rule through a Sultan remained largely unchanged
from the late 19th century until after World War II.
Zanzibar's political development began in earnest after 1956, when provision
was first made for the election of six nongovernmental members to the Legislative
Council. Two parties were formed: the Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP),
representing the dominant Arab and "Arabized" minority, and the Afro-Shirazi
Party (ASP), led by Abeid Karume and representing the Shirazis and the
The first elections were held in July 1957. The ASP won three of the
six elected seats, with the remainder going to independents. Following
the election, the ASP split; some of its Shirazi supporters left to form
the Zanzibar and Pemba People's Party (ZPPP). The January 1961 election
resulted in a deadlock between the ASP and a ZNP-ZPPP coalition.
On April 26, 1964, Tanganyika united with Zanzibar to form the United
Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, this was renamed the United Republic
of Tanzania on October 29, 1964.
United Republic of Tanzania
Zanzibar received its independence from the United Kingdom on December
19, 1963, as a constitutional monarchy under the sultan. On January 12,
1964, the African majority revolted against the sultan and a new government
was formed with the ASP leader, Abeid Karume, as President of Zanzibar
and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. Under the terms of its political
union with Tanganyika in April 1964, the Zanzibar Government retained considerable
To form a sole ruling party in both parts of the union Nyerere merged
TANU with the Zanzibar ruling party, the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) of Zanzibar
to form the CCM (Chama cha Mapinduzi-CCM Revolutionary Party), on February
5, 1977. The CCM was to be the sole instrument for mobilizing and controlling
the population in all significant political or economic activities. He
envisioned the party as a "two-way street" for the flow of ideas and policy
directives between the village level and the government. On April 26, 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.
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 party for 5 more years and was influential in Tanzanian politics
until his death in October 1999. The current President, Benjamin Mkapa,
was elected in 1995 and re-elected for a second five-year term in 2000.
Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume, the son of Zanzibar’s first president,
was elected in 2000, in general elections that were marked by widespread
irregularities throughtout the Isles. His predecessor, Salmin Amour, was
first elected in single-party elections in 1990, then re-elected in 1995
in Zanzibar’s first multi-party elections. These elections, also were tainted
by widespread irregularities on Zanzibar.