Ndovu Adventures

Tanzania History: A Journey Through Time


Tanzania, located in East Africa, is a country with a unique history. The country has been home to various communities since prehistoric times, with archaeological evidence of early humans found in the Olduvai Gorge. The country has a rich history of tribal kingdoms, colonialism, and independence struggles. Today, Tanzania is a vibrant country with a diverse culture, fascinating wildlife, and breathtaking landscapes.

Pre-Colonial Tanzania

Before the arrival of the European powers, Tanzania was home to various kingdoms and city-states, each with their unique cultural practices, customs, and languages. These communities had established trade links with the outside world, with the Swahili city-states along the coast being the most prominent.

The Coastal City States

The coastal region of Tanzania was home to various city-states, such as Kilwa, Zanzibar, and Pemba. These city-states were important trade hubs, with trade links to Arabia, India, and China. They were known for their impressive architecture, arts, and culture. The city-states were also influenced by Islam, with Arabic being the lingua franca.

The Rise of the Kingdoms

Inland Tanzania was home to various kingdoms, such as the Maravi, Yao, and Nyamwezi kingdoms. These kingdoms had well-organized societies, with agriculture being the main economic activity. The kingdoms had established trade links with the coastal city-states, exchanging ivory, gold, and slaves for spices, textiles, and weapons.

Colonial Tanzania

Tanzania’s history changed significantly with the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th century. The Portuguese were the first to arrive, followed by the Germans and the British.

The Arrival of the Portuguese

The Portuguese arrived in Tanzania in the late 15th century, establishing trade links with the coastal city-states. They also established forts along the coast, such as Fort Jesus in Mombasa and Fort Sao Sebastiao in Kilwa. However, the Portuguese were driven out by the Omani Arabs in the 17th century.

The German Colonization

In the late 19th century, Germany established control over Tanzania, then known as Tanganyika. The Germans exploited the country’s natural resources, such as rubber and sisal, and forced the locals to work on plantations. This exploitation led to several uprisings, the most notable being the Maji Maji Rebellion of 1905-1907.

The British Rule

After Germany’s defeat in World War I, Tanzania became a British colony under the League of Nations’ mandate. The British administration focused on developing the country’s infrastructure, such as railways, roads, and ports, to facilitate trade. The country also played a significant role in World War II, with the British establishing military bases in the country.

Tanzania Today

Tanzania gained its independence in 1961, with Julius Nyerere becoming the country’s first president. Nyerere’s administration focused on promoting socialism and unity among the diverse ethnic groups in the country. In 1964, Tanzania united with Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania.

Independence and Union

Tanzania’s independence marked a new chapter in the country’s history, with the government focusing on social and economic development. The country’s economy has grown significantly, with tourism being a significant contributor. Tanzania is known for its wildlife, such as the Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Ngorongoro Crater, attracting millions of visitors every year.

The Tanzanian Economy

Tanzania’s economy is based on agriculture, with over 80% of the population engaged in farming. The country is known for its exports of cash crops such as coffee, tea, and cashew nuts. The country has also invested in mining, with significant deposits of gold, diamonds, and other minerals.

Cultural Heritage

Tanzania’s culture is diverse, with over 120 ethnic groups, each with their unique cultural practices, customs, and languages. The country is known for its traditional music, dance, and art, with the most popular being the ngoma dance. Tanzania is also home to the Maasai people, known for their distinctive dress, customs, and lifestyle.


Tanzania is a country with a rich and diverse history, from the pre-colonial kingdoms to the colonial era and the struggle for independence. The country has made significant strides in social and economic development, with tourism being a significant contributor to the country’s economy. Tanzania’s culture is also diverse, with various ethnic groups contributing to the country’s unique identity.


  1. What are the major tourist attractions in Tanzania?
  • The Serengeti National Park
  • Mount Kilimanjaro
  • The Ngorongoro Crater
  • Tarangire National  Park
  • Mount Meru
  • Zanzibar Island
  1. What languages are spoken in Tanzania?
  • Swahili is the official language, with English being widely spoken.
  1. What is the climate like in Tanzania?
  • Tanzania has a tropical climate, with a rainy season from March to May and a dry season from June to October.
  1. What is the currency used in Tanzania?
  • The Tanzanian Shilling is the country’s currency.
  1. Is Tanzania safe for travellers?
  • Tanzania is relatively safe for travellers, but it is advisable to take precautions such as avoiding walking alone at night and keeping valuables safe.

Independent guest reviews

Ratings from
Tanzania Safaris
Amazing Safari
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Best holiday we have every had – a fabulous safari experience. A mix of lodges is definitely worthwhile, and even the distances are not a problem as the flights and car transfers were all very straightforward.
Best Vacation
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Our trip was absolutely fantastic, couldn’t have been better. Thank you so much for organising everything. Perfect! The Migration were awesome, the accommodations all excellent and Tanzania also unbelievable. We saw so much!
Highly Recommended
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We did a private safari for our 8 day honeymoon including Tarangire, Serengeti and Ngorongoro parks with 1 stop at Lake Eyasi. Just 1 word: MAGIC. It was a fantastic experience, everything was perfect and very well organized from start to the end.