Tanzania is one of the oldest settled lands in human pre-history. There is evidence to suggest that Tanzania has actually been settled since before humans were humans, with some finds confirming the presence of homonid species. At least 10,000 years ago the area was inhabited by tribes that spoke Khoisan languages – languages with clicks and pops in place of consonants, indeed the Hadzabe tribe and others still use this language today.
The presence of Bantu speaking tribes is relatively recent for Tanzania, around 2,000 years ago the migration into the area began. Around the same time trading links began in the coastal regions of what is now modern Tanzania with the city of Rhapta being mentioned in Ptolemy’s Geography as well as Roman trade links. The city of Rhapta is believed to lie under the Rufiji river, north of what became the main coastal trade hub of Zanzibar, which has a strong Arabesque influence from the trade with the middle east that peaked sometime before 1505, which is when the Portuguese invaded and occupied Zanzibar. European rule continued until the 1800’s when they were ejected by a combined force of locals and Omani Arabs. The Omani’s promptly claimed Zanzibar for themselves, which served to further strengthen the Arabic influence on the island.
The mid 1800’s also saw the expansion of other European empires, such as the Dutch and and German empires. These two initially laid claim to much of east Africa, though in the end it was German rule that prevailed in Tanzania. German rule sought to erase African traditional beliefs and superimpose European values on the local population. When rebellion broke out it was very swiftly and violently crushed. The situation prevailed until the end of the first world war, when the area, now known as Tanganyika, was transferred to British rule.
Within a decade the British governor had taken steps to hand ruling power back to Tanganyikan people, establishing political councils and the like, however the country remained a British protectorate until well after world war 2. In 1961 power passed wholly to the TANU party, under Julius Nyrere.
Tanzania still did not exist as a political entity until 1964, when Zanzibar joined with Tanganyika to form one country, though Zanzibar retains much autonomy. Nyrere installed a system of African Socialism, in practice a from of communism that brought most of the country’s decision making and total financial control under the government. Like most political systems of the sort, African Socialism could not be maintained and so the modern capitalist Tanzania was born, with very little fuss. Today Tanzania is famous, as it always has been for Safari tourism, as well as for beach holidays on the exotic Indian ocean. Indeed many peoples’ ‘bucket lists’ involve at least 2 or 3 entries that require travel to Tanzania. With such attractions as well as mineral resources, Tanzania’a future looks very bright indeed.