Tanzania's history is intertwined with the history of numerous other people groups from all over the world. The United Republic of Tanzania is a union of Tanganyika and the Islands of Zanzibar. Tanganyika and Zanzibar achieved independence from the British in the early 1960s and united on April 26, 1964, to form Tanzania. Tanzania has more than 130 tribes with different languages.
When Arab traders arrived in the region in the eighth century, the area was largely inhabited by Bantu farmers who had migrated from the west and south, and by the Nilotes and related people groups from the north.
By 1506, the Portuguese had claimed control of the coastal region of Tanganyika but were overthrown by the early 1700s. German missionaries were the first Europeans to travel into the interior of Tanganyika in the mid-1800s, and by 1884, Germany had begun colonizing the country. However, at the end of World War I, Tanganyika became a trust territory under British control. Over the years, the Tanganyikans increased their role in their government and finally established self-government that led to their independence from Great Britain in 1961.
Zanzibar fell under Portuguese control in the late 1500s but a century later, Arabs regained the power they had lost. The spices of Zanzibar attracted traders from all over the world and in the early 1820s, Great Britain took a commercial interest in Zanzibar and also sought to end the slave trade there. In 1876, the sale of slaves in Zanzibar was finally prohibited. Indirect British rule through Arab sultans continued largely unchanged until after World War II. In 1963, Zanzibar became fully independent of Great Britain.
Tanzania was formerly a one-party state, but in 1990, the country began to change its political system. One-party rule ended in 1995 with the first democratic elections since the 1970s. Zanzibar's semi-autonomous status and popular opposition led to two contentious elections since 1995, which the ruling party won despite international observers' claims of voting irregularities. The formation of a government of national unity between Zanzibar's two leading parties succeeded in minimizing electoral tension in 2010.
In 2012, the Tanzania Constitutional Review Commission was formed, and in June 2013, completed the first draft of a new constitution.
Despite its problems with poverty, Tanzania is home to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, and is rich in natural resources and minerals. With the introduction of economic reviews, Tanzanians hope for an increase in their standard of living.
Source: The World Factbook, 2014.