The United Republic of Tanzania was founded in 1964 by bringing together the archipelago of Zanzibar and the territory of Tanganyika. It is a land of many different terrains and cultures, it is a land where its people are proud and care for their heritage and their future. For the past twenty years every country that has borders with Tanzania has been involved in civil war and in many cases genocide and corruption, they have managed to remain neutral and to receive many refugees and people running in fear of repression and ethnic extermination. In the middle of violence and ethnic extermination and political turmoil Tanzania survived suffering the devastation of its natural resources and sometimes the murdering of its people too.
Tanzania has two official languages Swahili and English; everybody speaks Swahili and their native dialects too. Unfortunately corruption and the old ways of colonialism remain and even though Tanzania is a growing, developing country, they are still one of the poorest in the world. Tanzania is located in Africa just below the Equator, it shares borders with Rwanda, Kenya, Congo, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia., Mozambique and the Indian Ocean, and it also shares the coasts and waters of three great lakes with its neighbors, Victoria, Tanganyika and Malawi. Mount Kilimanjaro which everybody has seen in many movies and postcards around the world is located in Tanzania.
Tanzania has a rich history going back many years to the times when the Arabs controlled the Indian Ocean. The Bantu tribes in Tanzania traded ivory and other products with them way back then. There is evidence of extremely old Arab settlements in Tanzania that are not restricted to the coasts but go inland to the great plains where elephants were hunted and killed for their ivory. Tanzania does not only have its own history, it also contains part of humanity's history, some of the first human like apes walked in the Tanzanian grasslands. It is a land of great contrasts which awaits anyone who wishes to see its raw wonderful beauty, to share with its people and to dance to the rhythm of their drums.
In fact, it was in Tanzania where Arab slave traders camped while they captured slaves from any and all tribes in the area. They would set their camps near the coast and go far inland until they captured their quota of slaves. On the way back, they would kill as many elephants as they could and made the slaves carry the rich ivory tusks to the coast where they would be shipped to Oman, the capital of the Arab Empire. In 1890 Zanzibar and Tanganyika became German colonies and they remained so until Germany was defeated in World War II when the British took over and allowed them certain independence and self control.
Later on Tanzania and its wilderness fell victims to movie stars and actors with huge rifles and the desire to kill its magnificent beasts. Many years passed while this great country was ravaged by the wars around it and the corruption inside its own borders, today things are very different. Today many thousands of people come to Tanzania to have fun, to rest and to meet its great beasts in the wild. Rifles are not allowed, only cameras and tourism grows every day. It is a country in peace that keeps and protects the mystery of its inheritance, and of its people. Most Tanzanians live in rural areas, about ten percent of the population lives in cities. When you leave the towns and cities behind you transport to times long gone when the elephant roamed the prairies free and the lion was king of the land.
Now that things seem to have quieted down in most of the neighboring countries and that relative peace has reached the area, tourism is growing. Mount Kilimanjaro has always been an icon of African tourism, today it is not alone, huge extensions of land have been turned into national game reserves where wild animals roam free and protected. Lions, zebras, elephants, giraffes, all of those animals we see in our city zoos, they run wild and proud in Tanzania. Camera tourism has spread and every year more and more people come to visit the open spaces and to get a taste of a Tanzania safari.
Many things have changed in the administration and government levels, there is more attention given to the people and to improving their way of life. Many of them do not care about change, they have their customs and their traditions and changing them would not be good. Ethnic groups like the Masai refuse to change their ways and to move into brick houses and care for their cattle in pens. They are free spirits that have always enjoyed their freedom and their travel. Today it is possible to come into their villages on special occasions to watch their rituals and dances. In some villages they even have shows for tourists to watch and learn about them. It is all part of the Tanzanian experience, one you will never forget.