Tanzania is one of the largest states in the African continent, roughly comparable to Nigeria in terms of land area. It is situated on the eastern central part of the continent, facing the Indian Ocean, a few miles northwest of Madagascar. Since 1996, the government picked Dodoma as the capital, although the most important city is the former capital, Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s communication, commerce, business, and chief port. Tanzania is bordered by Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique to the south, Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi to the west, Kenya and Uganda to the north, and the Indian Ocean to the east. The name Tanzania is a combination of mainland Tanganyika and the offshore island of Zanzibar. The two were former British colonies that were granted independence in 1964. Since then, the two decided to merge, giving birth to Tanzania.
Like many other coastal countries in Africa (Tanzania is along the coast of the Indian Ocean) the country has been invaded and occupied by European nations at some time in her recent history. Tanzania won her independence as two separate countries, one in 1961 and the other in 1963. The two merged to form a single country soon after, and have been united ever since.
While Tanzania is a part of the “cradle of the Earth”, and thus likely part of the origins of humanity, it is her neighbor, Kenya, that has laid claim to a great deal of fossil remains, including dinosaur fossils from millions of years ago. The two countries from which Tanzania are formed were originally Tanganyika on the mainland, and the Zanzibar islands off the east coast.
The history is Zanzibar is relatively peaceful, with an Arab trading post established until the British gradually took over in the late nineteenth century. The history of Tanganyika, however, is much more bloody.Tanganyika
The mainland country did not actually come into being as a political entity until the time of the turnover of the German lands in Africa to the United Kingdom as mandated by the League of Nations in 1920 after WWI. The area, however, was affected by Europe long before the arrival of the Germans, most notably by the Portuguese traders who had military interests in the coastal cities of East Africa. The Portuguese sacked, threatened, and coerced the coastal city-states until they had tribute for the crown and security for the sailing trade vessels in the Indian Ocean. Trade prospered in the area under the Portuguese influence, including the sale and shipment of slaves from Bagamoyo, a Tanganyika port.
The Arabs took a great deal of interest in this country a bit later, establishing inland trade routes in the nineteenth century including a very profitable slave trade. Camels provided transportation on these inland routes, facilitating the trading process. The French, English and Dutch all hade relations with these traders including the sultan who ran his business from this African nation, and the English even demanded that the slave trade end in 1873. The slave trade continued to flourish illegally after that.
The Germans who had occupied the area since the late eighteen hundreds exercised brutality and hate to control the native population, and the Maji Maji war began against the Germans in the early twentieth century as a result. Indiscriminate slaughter took place on both sides of the war, lasting through the first World War until the League of Nations caused Germany to pull her people out.
The British policy of ruling through African leaders suited the local population much better, and relative peace was established again until the country was declared independent in the 1
The country today is full of life and welcomes visitors with open arms. The diverse history of the region makes for a fascinating culture to explore including the Masaai people, probably one of the best known of Tanzania’s native peoples. The country is also part of the Spice Islands, meaning that trade has always been a huge part of the country’s existence.
Tanzania is easily accessible both by air and by sea. Dar es Salaam receives daily flights from Europe via the major airlines. On the other hand, cruise ships and luxury liners plying the Indian Ocean frequently make port call on the picturesque city of Dar es Salaam. Guests are enthralled by the mix of European-influenced architecture, the wild landscape beyond the city, and the marvelous ocean before it.
The country’s topography varies very quickly as one goes around the country. This is one reason why tourists love it here because they’ll get to enjoy numerous vistas in a single place. The eastern part of the country is hot and humid, dotted with fine beaches along the coast. The central part is a plateau, while the northern portion is mountainous. Tanzania is home to numerous wildlife reserves that attract tourists to visit the country whole year round. The climate is distinctly tropical with the months of November to February as the hottest.
From game reserves to genuine African safaris to amazing scuba diving on the Swahili coast, Tanzania has something for everyone with a taste of genuine Africa for the adventurous traveler and an amazing culture to share. You will never be disappointed by a trip to beautiful Tanzania.
When traveling to Tanzania, be sure to visit these popular tourist destinations:
- Mt. Kilimanjaro. Immortalized in numerous songs, memoirs, and stories by poets and laymen alike, Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain with a height of 19,330 feet. What is more amazing is the fact that this is a snow-capped mountain despite being only a few miles south of the equator. Located in a region of arid lands and vast wildlife territory, the Kilimanjaro is definitely a sight to behold.
- Serengeti National Park. Equally made famous by men who were awed by the sight of nature at its purest, Serengeti is Africa’s biggest wildlife reserve, and no doubt, the most famous. Kilimanjaro is located in the Serengeti region.
- Gombe National Park. Both Kilimanjaro and Serengeti are situated to the north of Tanzania, but in the west is also another famous park: the Gombe National Park. This is where scientists have studied the behavior of primates in the wild.
- Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika. Lake Victoria is Africa’s biggest lake, while Lake Tanganyika is the deepest lake in the continent. Moreover, Lake Tanganyika is known for having the most diverse species of fishes.
- Kalambo Falls. This is the second highest falls in the continent, feeding Lake Tanganyika.
- So if you are planning to visit a place where you will be nearest to nature, the only place worth your time and money is Tanzania.