Tanzania Historical sites | Tanzania Safaris


Tanzania has along history of tribal habitation stretching back at least 10,000 years, to the early hunters-gathers who lived around the Oduvai Gorge. Later tribal migrations, occurring between 3,000 to 5,000 years ago, brought agricultural and pastoral knowledge to the area as competing tribal groups spread over the country in search of fertile soils and plentiful grazing for their herds.

European missionaries and explores mapped the interior of the country by following well-worn caravan routes, including Buron and Speke who in 1857 journeyed to find the source of the Nile. Traditional ways of life remained largely intact until the arrival of German colonizer in the late 19th century.

On the Swahili coast, Indian Ocean trade began as early as 400BC between Greece and Azania, as the area was commonly known. Around the 4th century AD, coastal towns and trading in settlements attracted the Bantu speaking people from the African interland. They settled around Marcantile area and often facilitated trading with the Arabs and the Persians, who bartered for slaves, Gold, Ivory, and spices, sailing north with the monsoon wind.

Between the 13th and 15th Centuries, the civilizations of Kilwa Kisimani and the Zanzibar Archipelago reached their peak, with a highly cosmopolitan civilization of Indian, Arabs and African trading in luxury goods that reached as far as china. The completion of Portuguese domination in 1525 meant that trade, for short time was lessened, but rival Omani Arab influences soon took control of the caravan routes and regained complete control of the Islands, even going as far as Zanzibar the capital of Oman in the 1840s.

In the late 19th century, British influence in Zanzibar Archipelago in contrast to German influence on the Tanzanian main land – slowly suppressed the slave trade and brought the area under the influence of the Empire. Local rebellions in German East Africa – mostly notably the Maji Maji rebellion from 1905-1907 slowly weakened the colonizer’s grip on the nation and at the end of the First World War, German ceded Tanganyika to English Administration. Under the leadership of Julius Nyerere, popularly referred to s a Mwalimu, or “teacher”, Tanganyika achieved full independence 1962. Meanwhile a popular revolution in Zanzibar ousted the Omani Arabs and established majority rule in 1963. A year later the United Republic of Tanzania was formed, unifying the Tanganyika mainland with the semi-autonomous Island of the Zanzibar Archipelago.

Mysterious ruins of complex irrigation system span the area around Engaruka, the remnants of highly developed but unknown civilization that inhabited the area at least 500 years ago and then vanished without a trace.

The Island is of Kilwa Kisiwani and nearby ruins of Songo Mnara are among the most important remnants of Kishwahili civilization on East African coast. The area became the centre point of the Kiswahili civilization in the 13th century, when it controlled the gold trade with Sofala, a distant settlement in Mozambique. In the 14th century, Arab traveler Battuta described Kilwa as being exceptionally beautiful and well developed. After a brief decline under the rule of the Portuguese, Kilwa once again became the centre of Kiswahili trade. In the 18 century, when slaves were shipped from its Port to the Island of Comoros, Mauritius, and Reunion.

The port town of Lindi, in south –western Tanzania, was the final stop of slave caravans from Lake Nyasa during the heyday of the Zanzibar Sultans. In 1909, a team of German Palaentologists unearthed the remains of several dinosaur bones in Tendunguru, including the species Brachiosaurus brancai, the largest discovered dinosaur in the world.

Another central part in the Kiswahili coast’s network of Indian Ocean trade, in the 15th century Mikindani’s reach extended as far as the African hinterlands of the Cong and Zambia. The area became the centre of German colonial administration in the 1880s and was a chief exporter of sisal, coconuts and slaves.