Some of the earliest hominid remains have been found in Tanzania, leading to its claim to be the one of the oldest continuously-inhabited places on earth. Until 2 000 years ago, the region would have been populated principally with Cushitic and Khoisan people until the arrival of the Bantu in a seri ...
Some of the earliest hominid remains have been found in Tanzania, leading to its claim to be one of the oldest continuously-inhabited places on earth. Until 2 000 years ago, the region would have been populated principally with Cushitic and Khoisan people until the arrival of the Bantu in a series of migrations from the west. Later they would be joined by Nilotic pastoralists from the North.
A significant Arab, Persian and Omani influence dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries, by which time Islam was already a major influence. Indeed in the 1840 Sultan Seyyid al Said of Oman claimed the entire coastal strip and moved his capital to Zanzibar. Up to 90% of the residents of Zanzibar were enslaved during that era.
In the late 19th century Germany took the reins in this part of eastern Africa, only to lose control after World War I when most of German East Africa was granted to Britain under a UN mandate. The remainder, a small section in the north-east, would be given to Belgium and later become Rwanda and Burundi. Interestingly, German East Africa was the last piece of German territory to surrender to the Allies, with the last troops only surrendering two weeks after Armistice Day!
British rule came to a relatively peaceful end in Tanganyika in 1961 with Julius Nyerere as president. In 1963 after the overthrow of the Arabs in a revolution in Zanzibar, the two territories would merge to form the United Republic of Tanzania, which then headed into 30 years of Marxism and pan-African socialism. From the mid 1990s though, the economy has begun to grow considerably.
Tanzania’s economy is principally agriculture-based but there have been recent successful extractions of natural gas and the country has significant ore deposits. It is Africa’s third-largest producer of gold after South Africa and Ghana.
From a tourism perspective, Tanzania offers a veritable treasure house of national parks and protected areas, with the added advantage that visitor numbers are controlled and mass tourism avoided. It contains some of the most unspoilt wildernesses on earth.
The Zanzibar Cultural Festival attracts acts from around the world butis strongly local in flavour and steeped in ritual (July)
Arusha International Cultural Diversity Festival – shared traditions in a diverse region (September)
Bagamoyo Cultural Festival – contemporary arts and dance with a bit of reggae thrown in (September)
Features, creatures & Flower power
See African Violets and Busy Lizzies growing wild in the forests of the Usamabara Mountains near Lushoto. And you thought they were all cultivated in your local nursery! And while you are there look out for Ross’s turaco – a flash of red and blue in the greenery – and preening samango monkeys.
Addis in Dar for authentic Ethiopian cuisine + 255 741 266 299
Sombrero, Mbeya, for a surprising spaghetti Bolognese, topped with basil +255 025 250 3636
Marangu Hotel, Marangu, for the best-value table d’hôte menu in Africa +255 27 275 6591
New Acropol, Morogoro, purely for the silver service and the local equivalent of Cod Mornay +255 744 309410
Forodhani Gardens, Zanzibar, for seafood straight out of the sea, grilled on the quayside. No phone – it’s a market
Monsoon, Zanzibar, for traditional Swahili delights, sitting on the floor. +255 747 411 362
Monk-y business! When you know what you are doing, you can find some delicious home-made cheeses and wines in the rural areas of Tanzania. Look out especially for nuns and monks making cheese from goats’ milk and wine from just about anything from palms to bananas.