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Trace and Tell your Family's Empire Stories

Trace and Tell your Family's Empire Stories

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Flag of Tanzania (Tanganyika)

Tanzania (Tanganyika)

The mainland coast and the nearby islands of Tanzania have been important centres for trade between Africans, Arabs and Indians for around 2000 years. European contact began with the Portuguese at the end of the fifteenth century, while British and German activity began in the mid-nineteenth century.

The Sultan of Oman moved his court to Zanzibar in 1832 and many Arabs settled on the island and the mainland coast. After Britain claimed a protectorate over the island in 1890, indirect rule was maintained through the sultans. When Zanzibar became independent in 1963 the Arab leaders were overthrown in a violent coup.

While Britain focused on neighbouring countries, mainland Tanganyika was claimed by Germany in 1891. However, when German overseas territories were shared out under League of Nations mandate after the First World War, Tanganyika became the responsibility of Britain. Tanganyika gained its independence in 1961.

The name 'Tanzania' is a blend of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. They were united in 1964 following the uprising in Zanzibar.

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Independence for Zanzibar

Tanzania (Tanganyika) 10 December 1963

Topic: Politics


Flag of Tanzania (Tanganyika) Icon forPolitics

The transition to independence in Zanzibar was less peaceful. Political unrest had been growing since the death in 1960 of the ninth sultan, who had ruled for nearly 50 years. A new constitution was approved for Zanzibar and the first elections to the new Legislative Council were held in 1960. However, these ended in deadlock and further elections were accompanied by serious rioting and heavy casualties.

Seats were split between the African-dominated Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) and the mainly Arab Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP), with a minority held by an offshoot of the ZNP, the Zanzibar and Pemba People's Party (ZPPP). The ZNP and ZPPP combined forces and internal self-government was finally established in June 1963 with the elections held the following month being won by the ZNP-ZPPP coalition.

On 10 December 1963, Zanzibar became independent. The following year the Sultanate of Zanzibar was overthrown by the ASP in a violent revolution. The uprising, led by John Okello (dates unknown), was carried out by only about 600 armed men but won support amongst much of the African population. As many as 17,000 Arabs were massacred in the riots and many thousands more fled.

The new republic was short-lived and Zanzibar merged with Tanganyika to form Tanzania in 1964. Nyerere became president with the head of the Zanzibar government as vice-president. However, Zanzibar continued to have its own government and for years pursued its own policies.


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