Tanzania Feature

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A Bit of Tanzania History

The East African coast appears to have first been explored by the Phoenicians in approximately 600 BC. Bantu peoples arrived about 2,000 years ago and a few 4th-century Roman coins have turned up at the coast. We can tell from ancient writings that the Romans certainly knew about Mt. Kilimanjaro and the great inland lakes, but nobody is quite sure how they came by this knowledge. By AD 100, trade with India and the Middle East was well established, and many city-states ruled by local sultans sprang up along the coast. The Portuguese first arrived at the end of the 15th century looking for a trade route to India, but their hold on the country was shattered when the sultan of Oman captured Mombasa in 1698; 150 years later the capital was transferred here from Oman. The slave trade dominated the coast and the interior from the early 1800s. It was only after the passionate first-hand accounts given by Dr. Livingstone in the 1850s and his proposing its abolition that the slave trade was finally eradicated in 1918, when the British took control of Tanzania. This was followed in the Scramble for Africa by German rule. Germany was determined to make the colony self-sufficient by planting coffee and cotton, efforts that failed. Tanzania returned to British hands after World War I and finally won its independence in 1964. It's now a stable multiparty democracy. Dar es Salaam is still the country's capital, but the legislative offices have been transferred to the central city of Dodoma, which was chosen to be the new national capital in 1973; the transfer is slow moving because of the great expense. The National Assembly already meets there on a regular basis.

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