In the 18th and 19th centuries, Africa was colonized by the European powers: Kenya by Great Britain and Tanzania by Germany (then called German East Africa, encompassing Rwanda and Burundi).

Queen Victoria was Kaiser Wilhelm II's grandmother. Young Wilhelm felt that England had hogged all the good mountains: the Himalayas, Mt. Kenya, Kilimanjaro, etc., and Germany had none. So for his birthday in 1886, Queen Victoria imperiously commanded her Foreign Office, "Let it be so!", and had the map of Africa redrawn to give him a mountain. Many sources say this is rubbish, but have a look at the map below ... true or false, it's a great story:

Map of Tanzania, Africa

An alternative explanation is that the original line was the Northern one, which put both Mombassa and Dar es Salaam in German East Africa. Britain wanted a port on the Indian Ocean and got it through some secret dealings in Berlin.

Whatever the truth may be, it's an interesting colonial remnant.

Henry Morton Stanley's famous greeting, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?", was delivered at Ujiji, just south of Kigoma, on Lake Tanganyika in 1871. Ujiji was the meeting-point of merchants from all parts of East Africa and the terminus of the caravan route from Dar-es-Salaam. Arabs from Zanzibar(an island off the Eastern coast) had made Ujiji their headquarters in the interior and it had become an active slave and ivory entrepôt.

After WW I, England took over Germany's African holdings and renamed them Tanganyika. Tanganyika gained independence in 1961. Tanganyika joined with Zanzibar in 1964 to become Tanzania, and Julius Nyerere became President, ruling for for 21 years.

Nyerere was one of the founders of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement. He also served as Chairman of the Front-Line States, concerned with eliminating apartheid in Southern Africa. Nyerere attempted radical Socialism at home, with help from Mao Tse Tung's People's Republic of China, nationalizing Tanzania's economy with predictably disastrous results.

Nyerere is nonetheless revered today because of the role he played in post-Colonial Africa, serving as a relatively uncorrupt beacon of independence and freedom for all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Tanzania is today one of the poorest countries in the world with a GDP per capita of $600 per year; its economy is primarily agricultural although only 4% of the country is arable and the infrastructure is very weak. Since 1995, the economy has been relatively "liberal" with low inflation. Having kicked Idi Amin out of Uganda, Tanzania in recent years has enjoyed good relations with its neighbors in the region and has been an active participant in efforts to promote the peaceful resolution of disputes ... the trial of some of the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide is being held in Arusha.

Infrastructure is being improved: the drive west from Arusha to Ngorongoro and the Serengeti used to take the better part of a very long day in a four-wheel-drive vehicle over dreadful roads (when the weather didn't shut the roads down altogether); these roads are being paved and the bush-plane industry is being threatened as a result.

Problems remain, however: in August 1998, terrorists bombed the US embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, killing over 250 people and injuring more than 5,000. Zanzibar experienced violent unrest in 2001 after an election stalemate; more recently, tourism on Zanzibar has been hurt by a State Department warning about terrorist activities. To the West, there has been a flood of Rwandan and Burundian refugees.

Dar es Salaam is identified on the map as the capital but Tanzania is doing a Brasilia and attempting to move governmental administration to the interior city of Dodoma. Ostensibly, because of Dodoma's more central location; in fact, the Arab/Muslim minority along the coast is deeply mistrusted by the inland majority and Dar es Salaam is not felt to be either safe or representative.

flag of tanzania

Mt. Kilimanjaro

The Serengeti

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