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The late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere—the country's founding father.

We the people of Tanganyika would like to light the torch and put it on top of Mount Kilimanjaro which would shine beyond our borders, giving hope where there was despair, love where there was hate, and dignity where there was before only humiliation...

Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere said on Independent Day—December 9, 1961

Tanganyika united with Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania...

The Articles of the Union were signed by the 2 Founders of the Union, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (Tanganyika) and Abeid Amani Karume (Zanzibar).On 22 April 1964

The Friendly People of Tanzania...


The ethnicity of native Tanzanians is predominantly Bantu (95%) and is comprised of more than 130 different tribes. The religious breakdown of Tanzania is 45% Christian, 35% Muslim, and 20% indigenous beliefs. Swahili is the official language of Tanzania but English is the primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education.
Many Tanzanians are still living very close to their traditional customs and lifestyles. Most of these people are subsistence farmers. The Maasai people, favored by photographers for their strikingly colorful décor, still adhere to the pastoral traditions of their ancestors, following their herds of cattle from one grazing ground to another. Their "villages" are located throughout northern Tanzania, where other small tribes of pastoral nomads and hunter-gatherers can also be found.

The Discovery of Early Man in Tanzania

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Olduvai Gorge

The unrecorded history of Tanzania dates back millions of years, as evidenced by the Leakeys' discovery of four million—year—old, humanoid footprints at Laetoli, just south of Olduvai Gorge. That amazing discovery was followed by one even more incredible—a 1.75 million—year-old jawbone of an extinct species of man.

The Coming of European Explorers and Missionaries

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Marking a pivotal period in Tanzania's history, the mid-19th century saw European missionaries and explorers penetrating deep into the heart of the country. Johann Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann (German missionaries) were the first to reach Mt. Kilimanjaro in the 1840s. Sir Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke mapped out large areas of the country on their quest to find the "source" of the Nile River. As news reports from missionaries and explorers began to reach Europe, the territory became part of the larger "scramble for Africa", with European powers racing to gain colonial control of strategic areas. 
By the late 19th century, most of what is now Tanzania came under the direct control of the Germans. The early 20th century brought heavy German colonization to the area, as well as modern transportation, health care, and western education. After the German defeat in World War I, the League of Nations mandated the administration of the country to the British. The British opted for an indirect approach to ruling the country, promoting the establishment of indigenous political institutions and leaders while retaining de-facto political control by co-opting key figures in the local power structure.

Introducing the United Republic of Tanzania

 The formation of the Tanganyika African National Union in 1954, headed by Julius Nyerere, effectively ended the British administration of the country. Just seven years later, Tanzania peacefully gained its independence from Britain with Nyerere as its first president. Tanzania's island neighbor, Zanzibar, became independent in 1963, and a year later the two nations united to form the United Republic of Tanzania.
On October 29, 1995, Tanzania held its first democratic elections. Today, Tanzania is often used by the leaders of other African nations as a neutral meeting ground, giving it the unofficial title "Switzerland of Africa."

Founding a Democracy—Tanzania

The United States calls itself a melting pot, but with more than 130 different tribal groups living in harmony, Tanzania might have America beat... the country has managed to avoid the internal political upheavals that have plagued other African nations.

Photo credit: JFK Presidential Library & Museum

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