Human history begins in this wonderful land: here the first hominids have moved their steps, leaving indelible footprints for millions of years in the volcanic sediments. In the deep gorge of Olduvai scholars, especially the Leakey spouses, have found the incredible paleontological finds that have revolutionized our knowledge of human evolution. Already bipedal, with erect position, the Australopitheans have moved from these boundless lands the steps towards the conquest of the planet.

Numerous testimonies also left by modern man, homo sapiens. At Lake Natron, we have the most numerous and ancient footprints of its passage, carved into the volcanic rock. It lived on hunting and harvesting fruits, plants and roots. Around 1000 B.C. the first traces of agricultural settlements appear. In the 4th century A.D. some Bantu tribes began to emigrate to our territories. They knew simple tools and forged iron.


Meanwhile, the available evidence of other archaeological sites and historical documents attest to the existence of numerous important waves of migrations on the coast of Tanzania over the millennia. The first of these probably included traders from countries such as Greece, Rome, Phoenicia, Arabia, Persia and India, as early as the 5th century BC.

But it was the advent of the Arabs in the 8th century A.D. that brought about a rapid change in both trade and cultural and religious structures. Islam became a religion known to the people and still present on the territory today.

The ancestors of the bright Masai people also began in the eleventh century to move from the southern part of Sudan to the territories of Tanzania, perpetuating the migratory flow until the eighteenth century.


The first “modern” European to arrive on the coast of Tanzania was the navigator Vasco de Gama in 1498. Thus began the Portuguese domination on the shores of the Ocean which also led to the occupation of the islands of Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba. Everything ended towards the end of the seventeenth century with the advent of the Arabs from Oman and this began the terrible practice of the withdrawal of slaves in Tanzanian land.

The exploration of the inner territories of Tanzania began by Europeans in the 19th century. In particular in 1840 two Germans, Krapf and Rebmann, arrived at the foot of Kilimanjaro, while the British Burton and Speke explored Lake Tanganyika. The first European missionaries began their work of evangelization in the second half of the nineteenth century and with them the Germans, led by Karl Peters, who began to colonize the region. The 1890 treaty between Germany and England assigned Zanzibar and the Germans continental Tanzania.

The German occupation was not well liked by the inner tribes and provoked violent riots, the most important of which was that of the Maji Maji.

After the First World War, British rule increased the production of cotton for export.


From the 1930s the Tanzanian people began to become aware of themselves and to organize, with the foundation, in Dar es Salaam, the African Association. In 1941 the territories of Tanganyika (continental Tanzania) were placed under the patronage of the UN. The ’50s are fundamental for the constitution of a new consciousness of the people, thanks to the work of the “Master” Nyerere. Independence was achieved in 1961, with UN recognition and entry into the Commonwealth. On 26 April 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar were unified with the proclamation of the United Republic of Tanzania, under the presidency of Julius Nyerere, who adopted a social and economic policy based on the principles of socialism. In 1968, Swahili became the official language of the republic.

In 1985, President Muinyi was elected, who had more liberal views on economic policy and opened trade to foreign trade. In 1992 Tanzania became a democracy with several political parties; in 1995 Beniamin Mkaga was elected president and then in 2005 Jakaya Kikweta.  Since 1996 the capital is Dodoma, although the transfer from Dar Es Salaam of government facilities was somewhat laborious and only partially completed.


President John Magufuli, elected in 2015 and recently deceased (17 March 2021), has committed himself to the fight against corruption and the development of tourism and industrialization, while carrying out large public works (transport and communications). The current president is Samia Suhulu Hassan, called “Mama Samia” as a sign of respect, the first woman president with government powers in Africa and among the few in the world.

Tanzania’s National Day (Union Day) is April 26, commemorating the unification of Zanzibar and the mainland in 1964.

*Image by Chickenonline

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