Timeline of Tanzanian history

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This is a timeline of Tanzanian history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Tanzania and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Tanzania. See also the list of presidents of Tanzania.


Early Pleistocene

1.65 mya to 1.53 mya Oldowan stone tool culture at Olduvai Gorge. [1]

3rd millennium BC

3000BCEvidence of indigenous pottery and agriculture dating as far back as this period is found in the Tanzanian coast and offshore islands. [2]

6th century BC

600BCInternational trade goods including Graeco-Roman pottery, Syrian glass vessels, Sassanian pottery from Persia and glass beads dating to this century are found at the Rufiji River delta. [3]

1st century BC

100BC - 300ADThe earliest settlements in the Swahili coast appear on the archaeological record in Kwale in Kenya, Misasa in Tanzania and Ras Hafun in Somalia. [4]

1st century AD

~1AD - 50ADThe Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, a Graeco-Roman manuscript is written. It describes the East African coast (Azania) and an established Indian Ocean Trade route [5]

2nd century AD

100AD - 600ADCenturies ahead of European metallurgists, the Haya people from the western shores of Lake Victoria manufacture carbon steel. [6] [7]

4th century AD

300AD - 1000ADGrowth of Azanian and Zanj settlements in the Swahili coast. Local industry and international trade flourish. [4]

7th century AD

614AD - 900ADStarting with the first Hijrah (migration) of Prophet Muhammad's followers to Ethiopia, Islam spreads across Eastern, Northern and Western Africa. [4] [8]
630AD - 890ADArchaeological evidence indicates that crucible steel is manufactured at Galu, south of Mombasa. Metallurgical analysis of iron artefacts indicates that the techniques used by the inhabitants of the Swahili coast combined techniques used in other African sites as well as those in West and South Asian sites. [4] [9]

11th century

1000AD - 1500ADEmergence of the Swahili City States. [4] [10]
1000AD - 1200ADThe oldest Swahili texts in existence date to this period. They are written in old Swahili script (Swahili-Arabic alphabet) based on Arabic letters. [11]

12th century

1178 - 1195Suleiman Hassan (c. 1178–1195), conquers the rival nation of Sofala.

13th century

14th century

~1331 Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta visits Kilwa. [12] [13]

15th century

1400-1500The ancestors of the Iraqw are credited as the builders of the Iron Age settlement at Engaruka in Northern Tanzania. Complex irrigation systems supporting intensive agriculture supported an estimated peak population of 40,000. It is recognised as the largest abandoned system of irrigated agricultural fields and terraces in sub-Saharan Africa. [14] [15] [16]
149825 FebruaryThe Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama is the first known European to reach the East African coast, landing at Kilimane, where he stayed for 32 days. [17]

16th century

1505AugustCaptain John Homere, part of Francisco de Almeida's fleet, captures the archipelago of Zanzibar, making it part of the Portuguese Empire. [18]

17th century

1698Zanzibar falls under the control of the Sultan of Oman. [18]
1700Over 100,000 slaves pass through Zanzibar as part of the Arab slave trade.

18th century

19th century

1822United Kingdom signs a treaty with Sultan Seyyid Said to begin the abolition of slavery in Zanzibar. [19]
1840December Omani Sultan Seyyid Said moves his capital to Zanzibar City. [18] [20]
184811 May German missionary Johannes Rebmann, accompanied by Johann Ludwig Krapf, become the first Europeans to report seeing Mount Kilimanjaro. [21] [22]
1856Sultan Seyyid Said dies at sea and is succeeded by his sons Thuwaini bin Said, in Muscat and Oman and Majid bin Said, in Zanzibar. [23]
185726 JuneBritish explorers Richard Burton and John Speke travel from Zanzibar to the East African coast and begin their exploration of continental East Africa. [24]
185813 FebruaryBurton and Speke reach Lake Tanganyika, the first known Europeans to do so. [24]
18612 AprilZanzibar and Oman are split into two separate principalities with Majid bin Said becoming the first Sultan of Zanzibar. [25]
1873Zanzibari Sultan Barghash bin Said stops the export of slaves over the sea. [26]
1876Barghash bin Said closes Zanzibar's slave market. [26]
188428 MarchThe Society for German Colonization is formed by Karl Peters in order to acquire German colonial territories in overseas countries. Peters signs treaties with several native chieftains on the mainland opposite Zanzibar. [27]
18853 MarchThe German government announces its intention to establish a protectorate in East Africa.
2 AprilThe German East Africa Company is formed by Karl Peters to govern German East Africa.
18861 NovemberAn agreement is reached between Britain and Germany designating a 10-mile (16 km) wide strip of land along the coast as being controlled by Sultan Barghash bin Said, along with Zanzibar, Pemba, and Mafia. The area that is to become Tanganyika is assigned to Germany while the area to become Kenya is assigned to Britain. [28]
1888AprilThe German East Africa Company leases the coastal strip opposite Zanzibar from Sultan Khalifah bin Said for 50 years. [29]
18901 JulyThe Heligoland–Zanzibar Treaty makes Zanzibar and Pemba a British protectorate. [18]
1 AugustThe Sultan of Zanzibar signs an anti-slavery decree. [26]
189627 AugustThe Anglo-Zanzibar War is fought between Zanzibar and the United Kingdom. It lasted approximately 38 minutes and is the shortest war in history. [C]
18975 AprilSultan Hamoud bin Mohammed issues a decree making slavery illegal in Zanzibar. [19] [26]
189819 JulyFollowing years of resistance, Chief Mkwawa of the Hehe is cornered by German soldiers and commits suicide in lieu of capture. [30]

20th century

1905JulyThe Maji Maji Rebellion starts as a violent resistance to colonial rule in Tanganyika. [31]
1907AugustThe Maji Maji Rebellion ends, leaving between 200,000 and 300,000 rebels dead. [32] [D]
19148 AugustThe East African Campaign of the First World War begins. [33]
3 NovemberThe Battle of Tanga, the first major military engagement of the First World War, takes place. [34] (to 5 November)
19164 SeptemberDar es Salaam is occupied by troops from the United Kingdom and South Africa. [35]
191928 JuneFollowing the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles divides German East Africa, with the United Kingdom acquiring the largest section which it names the Tanganyika Territory. [36]
1920Sir Horace Byatt is appointed the first governor of Tanganyika. [37]
10 JanuaryThe British mandate over Tanganyika comes into force. [38]
1929The Tanganyika African Association is founded by members of the Tanganyika Territory African Civil Service association. [39]
194613 DecemberBritish mandate over Tanganyika is converted to a United Nations Trusteeship. [40]
19549 JuneGermany returns the skull of Hehe chief Mkwawa (died 1898) to Tanzania and it is put on display near Iringa. [41]
7 July Julius Nyerere forms the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) and becomes its first president. [42] [43]
1961OctoberThe University College, Dar es Salaam is established as one of three constituent colleges of the University of East Africa, with 14 law students. [44]
9 DecemberTanganyikan independence; Julius Nyerere as Prime Minister. [45]
14 DecemberTanganyika becomes a member of the United Nations. [46]
196222 JanuaryJulius Nyerere resigns as Prime Minister and is succeeded by Rashidi Kawawa. [45]
9 DecemberTanganyika becomes a republic with Julius Nyerere as its first president. [47]
196316 DecemberZanzibar becomes a member of the United Nations. [46]
19 DecemberZanzibar receives independence from the United Kingdom, becoming a constitutional monarchy. [48]
196412 JanuaryThe Zanzibar Revolution by local Africans overthrows the Sultan of Zanzibar and his primarily Arab government. Sheikh Abeid Karume becomes the first President of Zanzibar. [49]
26 AprilThe Republic of Tanganyika and the Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba unite to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. [46]
1 NovemberThe United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar changes its name to the United Republic of Tanzania. [46]
196521 SeptemberPresident Nyerere is returned to power in a one-party election. [50]
1 OctoberNyerere is sworn in for his second presidential term. [51]
19675 FebruaryPresident Nyerere issues the Arusha Declaration, outlining the principles of Ujamaa . [52]
196924 SeptemberThe Arusha Agreement is signed between the European Union and the East African states of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. [53]
19701 JulyTanzania's first university, the University of Dar es Salaam is founded from the split of the University of East Africa into three national universities. [44] [54]
19711 JanuaryThe Arusha Agreement is enacted. [53]
19727 AprilVice President Abeid Karume is assassinated in Zanzibar Town. [50]
11 April Aboud Jumbe becomes the second President of Zanzibar and Vice President of Tanzania. [49]
1976Archaeologist Mary Leakey and her team discover homoinid fossil footprints at Laetoli, south of the Olduvai Gorge. [55] [56]
19775 February Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) and Zanzibar's Afro-Shirazi Party merge to become Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). [57]
18 AprilThe border between Tanzania and Kenya is closed. [58]
25 AprilThe constitution of Tanzania is adopted. [48]
197827 October Ugandan forces under Idi Amin invade Tanzania, starting the Uganda–Tanzania War, also known as the Liberation War. [59]
197911 AprilTanzanian troops capture the Ugandan capital of Kampala, heralding the end of the Uganda–Tanzania War and Amin's regime. [60]
1983Tanzania's first AIDS diagnosis is made in Bukoba district, Kagera Region. [61]
17 NovemberThe Tanzania–Kenya border reopens. [62]
198431 January Ali Hassan Mwinyi is sworn in as the third President of Zanzibar and Vice President of Tanzania. [62]
19855 NovemberJulius Nyerere retires and Ali Hassan Mwinyi becomes the second President of Tanzania. [63] Mwinyi is succeeded as vice president by Joseph Sinde Warioba. [64]
1990OctoberAli Hassan Mwinyi wins a single-party election with 95.5% of the vote and is sworn in for a second presidential term. [65]
199228 MayThe Civic United Front is formed. [18]
199529 OctoberTanzania holds its first multi-party election. [66]
23 November Benjamin Mkapa is sworn in as the third President of Tanzania. [67]
1973FebruaryThe Tanzanian parliament moves from Dar es Salaam to the new capital of Dodoma. [68]
19987 AugustThe United States embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya are simultaneously bombed. [69]
199914 October Julius Nyerere dies of leukaemia in London. [52]
30 NovemberThe East African Community Treaty between Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda is signed in Arusha. [70]
20007 JulyThe East African Community Treaty comes into force. [70]
29 OctoberBenjamin Mkapa is re-elected as President of Tanzania, with 72 percent of the vote. [71]

21st century

200128 JanuaryDemonstrators in Zanzibar protesting the 2000 elections, clash with police and 32 people are killed. [72]
5 July Ali Mohamed Shein becomes Vice President of Tanzania. [48]
DecemberThe government controversially decides to spend £28m on a new air traffic control system. [73]
200224 JuneThe Igandu train disaster kills more than 200 people and is Tanzania's worst train crash. [74]
JulyMkapa's government is criticized for purchasing a £15m presidential jet shortly before reaching an agreement with the UK for £270m in aid. [75]
2003DecemberThe Kipunji, a new species of monkey, is found in Tanzania—the first new African monkey species since 1974. It is also independently discovered in July 2004. [76]
200514 December General elections are held. [48] Anna Senkoro of the Progressive Party of Tanzania–Maendeleo is the first woman in Tanzania to run for president. [77]
21 December Jakaya Kikwete is sworn in as the fourth President of Tanzania. [78]
30 December Edward Lowassa is sworn is as Prime Minister. [79]
200611 MayScientists announce that the Kipunji monkey found in 2003 belongs to a new genus of African monkey—the first to be discovered since 1923. [80]
9 August$642m of Tanzania's debt is cancelled by the African Development Bank. [81]
20086 FebruaryA parliamentary committee reports on corruption within the cabinet. [82]
7 FebruaryPrime Minister Edward Lowassa and two other ministers resign following the report on corruption. President Kikwete dissolves the cabinet. [83]
202117 March John Magufuli, President of Tanzania, dies. [84]
19 March Samia Suluhu Hassan is sworn in as Tanzania's first female President. [85]

See also


  1. ^
    Sources vary as to the exact timescale of the migration of Khoisan from Southern Africa. Nurse & Spear say "as long as twenty thousand years ago". [86]
  2. ^
    The Bantu expansion from West Africa likely happened in several stages. [87] Sources vary as to the exact timescale of the arrival of Bantu people to East Africa. Nurse & Spear say from "twenty-five hundred years ago". [86] Ndembwike says 100–200 AD. [88]
  3. ^
    Several durations are given by sources, including 38, [89] [90] 40 [91] and 45 [92] minutes, but the 38 minute duration is the most often quoted. The variation is due to confusion over what actually constitutes the start and end of a war. Some sources take the start of the war as the order to open fire at 09:00 and some with the start of actual firing at 09:02. The end of the war is usually put at 09:40 when the last shots were fired and the palace flag struck, but some sources place it at 09:45. The logbooks of the British ships also suffer from this with St George indicating that cease-fire was called and Khalid entered the German consulate at 09:35, Thrush at 09:40, Racoon at 09:41 and Philomel and Sparrow at 09:45. [93]
  4. ^
    There is no exact figure for the number of deaths in the Maji Maji Rebellion. German officials at the time estimated 75,000. [94] Most sources say over 200,000. [94] [95] [96]

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