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Tanzania Information - Page 2
Many people think that the history of mankind started in Kenya and Tanzania. The Leakey family, excavating in the region in the 1960s, found evidence of some of our earliest ancestors.

Over the years, Bantu speaking people moved to the area and by the eighth century Arab traders were living along the coast. The Shirazi and Swahili people who populated the East African coast had their origins in Persia (Iran).

At the end of the fifteenth century Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, visited the region. Before long Portugual controlled much of the East African coast. However, at the end of the seventeenth century Arabs from Oman took control of the island of Zanzibar, a major centre of the slave trade.

In 1886 Britain and Germany divided present-day Tanzania betweeen the two countries: Germany had control over most of the mainland and Zanzibar became a British Protectorate.

Following the First World War, mainland "Tanzania", known as Tanganyika, was governed by the British for the League of Nations; after the Second World War the country came under the trusteeship of the United Nations.

Led by Julius Nyerere, Tanganyika became independent in 1961 and Zanzibar gained independence in 1963. The following year Tanganyika and Zanzibar became the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, soon renamed the United Republic of Tanzania.

The economy of Tanzania has been heavily dependent on agriculture. Many Tanzanians are subsistence farmers. Produce grown includes bananas, cassava, coconuts, sweet potatoes, maize, millet, rice and wheat. Cash crops are cashew nuts, coffee, tea, cotton, sisal, tobacco and pyrethrum (used in insecticides).

Zanzibar is famous for cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Cattle, sheep, goats and chickens are kept.

Industries are fishing, salt, mining (gold, diamonds, gem stones and iron), oil refining, cement, fertiliser, clothes, shoes, agricultural processing and beverages.

In 2012 the Statoil and Exxon Mobil oil companies discovered large gas reserves off the coast of Tanzania.

The Tanzania Tourist Board promotes the country's National Parks and its world famous wildlife. Coastal pursuits include dolphin watching and deep sea fishing. (2014)

There are over one hundred and thirty tribes in Tanzania, each with their own artistic skills. For example, the Makonde are famous for ebony carvings of masks, and the Masai are known for the designs on their shields. Carvings on the doors of the old stone houses in Zanzibar reflect the country's Arab heritage.

Traditionally, tribal groups in Tanzania used music and dance to mark special occasions such as harvest, initiation ceremonies and weddings. The drum, one of the most important musical instruments, was also used as a method of communication. On the island of Zanzibar, the traditional Swahili sung poetry, known as Taarab, a combination of music and poetry, is very popular.

Today traditional and modern music is often combined. An example can be seen in the work of the Mionzi Dance Theatre which promotes the music, dance and drama of Tanzania.

Football is probably the most popular team sport in Tanzania.

Runners from Tanzania have been successful in international competitions. Every year runners carry a "freedom torch" across the country from Mount Kilimanjaro to celebrate independence.

Religious holidays are observed. Other days commemorated include New Year's Day - 1 January, Zanzibar Revolution Day - 12 January, Union Day (Tanganyika and Zanzibar) - 26 April, International Labour Day - 1 May, Peasant's Day - 8 August and Independence Day - 9 December.

News for Tanzania is available from Newslink.

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Leakey: Quest for Humankind's Beginnings


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