oa Africa Insight - Country profile - Tanzania

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



The United Republic of Tanzania (incorporating mainland Tanganyika and a number of offshore islands, including Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia) comprises a wide variety of land forms, climates and people; and the country includes the highest and lowest parts of Africa - the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (5 895 m above sea-level) and the floor of Lake Tanganyika (358 m below sea-level). The histories of the mainland and island portions of the United Republic of Tanzania form two distinct stories from the end of the 19th century until Union Day on 26 April 1964. Before this time a division existed, not between the mainland and islands, but between the entire coastal area and the east African interior. The coastal area, from Mogadishu to Mozambique, was named Zanj or Zinj (land of the blacks) by medieval Arab geographers. The name Zanzibar was derived from Zanj. On Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia and elsewhere along the coast, in the 10th and 11th centuries, a series of independent towns linked by commercial ties to Arabia, and sometimes to each other through tributary relationships, were established. The developers of the towns were foreign immigrants from Oman and Persia. Since most of them came as individuals rather than as families, a mixing of Africans with the Shirazi Persians and Arab traders occurred. The resulting people were called the Swahili, which means ""coastal people"".

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error