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[edit]

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

3rd millennium BC[edit]

Year Date Event
3000BC Evidence 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[edit]

Year Date Event
600BC International 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[edit]

Year Date Event
100BC - 300AD The 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[edit]

Year Date Event
~1AD - 50AD The 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[edit]

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

4th century AD[edit]

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

7th century AD[edit]

Year Date Event
614AD - 900AD Starting with the first Hijrah (migration) of Prophet Muhammad's followers to Ethiopia, Islam spreads across Eastern, Northern and Western Africa.[4][8]
630AD - 890AD Archaeological 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[edit]

Year Date Event
1000AD - 1500AD Emergence of the Swahili City States.[4][10]
1000AD - 1200AD The 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[edit]

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

13th century[edit]

14th century[edit]

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

15th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1400-1500 The 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]
1498 25 February The 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[edit]

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

17th century[edit]

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

18th century[edit]

19th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1822 United Kingdom signs a treaty with Sultan Seyyid Said to begin the abolition of slavery in Zanzibar.[19]
1840 December Omani Sultan Seyyid Said moves his capital to Zanzibar City.[18][20]
1848 11 May German missionary Johannes Rebmann, accompanied by Johann Ludwig Krapf, become the first Europeans to report seeing Mount Kilimanjaro.[21][22]
1856 Sultan 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]
1857 26 June British explorers Richard Burton and John Speke travel from Zanzibar to the East African coast and begin their exploration of continental East Africa.[24]
1858 13 February Burton and Speke reach Lake Tanganyika, the first known Europeans to do so.[24]
1861 2 April Zanzibar and Oman are split into two separate principalities with Majid bin Said becoming the first Sultan of Zanzibar.[25]
1873 Zanzibari Sultan Barghash bin Said stops the export of slaves over the sea.[26]
1876 Barghash bin Said closes Zanzibar's slave market.[26]
1884 28 March The 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]
1885 3 March The German government announces its intention to establish a protectorate in East Africa.
2 April The German East Africa Company is formed by Karl Peters to govern German East Africa.
1886 1 November An 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]
1888 April The German East Africa Company leases the coastal strip opposite Zanzibar from Sultan Khalifah bin Said for 50 years.[29]
1890 1 July The Heligoland–Zanzibar Treaty makes Zanzibar and Pemba a British protectorate.[18]
1 August The Sultan of Zanzibar signs an anti-slavery decree.[26]
1896 27 August The Anglo-Zanzibar War is fought between Zanzibar and the United Kingdom. It lasted approximately 38 minutes and is the shortest war in history.[C]
1897 5 April Sultan Hamoud bin Mohammed issues a decree making slavery illegal in Zanzibar.[19][26]
1898 19 July Following years of resistance, Chief Mkwawa of the Hehe is cornered by German soldiers and commits suicide in lieu of capture.[30]

20th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1905 July The Maji Maji Rebellion starts as a violent resistance to colonial rule in Tanganyika.[31]
1907 August The Maji Maji Rebellion ends, leaving between 200,000 and 300,000 rebels dead.[32][D]
1914 8 August The East African Campaign of the First World War begins.[33]
3 November The Battle of Tanga, the first major military engagement of the First World War, takes place.[34] (to 5 November)
1916 4 September Dar es Salaam is occupied by troops from the United Kingdom and South Africa.[35]
1919 28 June Following 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]
1920 Sir Horace Byatt is appointed the first governor of Tanganyika.[37]
10 January The British mandate over Tanganyika comes into force.[38]
1929 The Tanganyika African Association is founded by members of the Tanganyika Territory African Civil Service association.[39]
1946 13 December British mandate over Tanganyika is converted to a United Nations Trusteeship.[40]
1954 9 June Germany 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]
1961 October The 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 December Tanganyikan independence; Julius Nyerere as Prime Minister.[45]
14 December Tanganyika becomes a member of the United Nations.[46]
1962 22 January Julius Nyerere resigns as Prime Minister and is succeeded by Rashidi Kawawa.[45]
9 December Tanganyika becomes a republic with Julius Nyerere as its first president.[47]
1963 16 December Zanzibar becomes a member of the United Nations.[46]
19 December Zanzibar receives independence from the United Kingdom, becoming a constitutional monarchy.[48]
1964 12 January The 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 April The Republic of Tanganyika and the Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba unite to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar.[46]
1 November The United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar changes its name to the United Republic of Tanzania.[46]
1965 21 September President Nyerere is returned to power in a one-party election.[50]
1 October Nyerere is sworn in for his second presidential term.[51]
1967 5 February President Nyerere issues the Arusha Declaration, outlining the principles of Ujamaa.[52]
1969 24 September The Arusha Agreement is signed between the European Union and the East African states of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.[53]
1970 1 July Tanzania'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]
1971 1 January The Arusha Agreement is enacted.[53]
1972 7 April Vice 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]
1976 Archaeologist Mary Leakey and her team discover homoinid fossil footprints at Laetoli, south of the Olduvai Gorge.[55][56]
1977 5 February Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) and Zanzibar's Afro-Shirazi Party merge to become Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).[57]
18 April The border between Tanzania and Kenya is closed.[58]
25 April The constitution of Tanzania is adopted.[48]
1978 27 October Ugandan forces under Idi Amin invade Tanzania, starting the Uganda–Tanzania War, also known as the Liberation War.[59]
1979 11 April Tanzanian troops capture the Ugandan capital of Kampala, heralding the end of the Uganda–Tanzania War and Amin's regime.[60]
1983 Tanzania's first AIDS diagnosis is made in Bukoba district, Kagera Region.[61]
17 November The Tanzania–Kenya border reopens.[62]
1984 31 January Ali Hassan Mwinyi is sworn in as the third President of Zanzibar and Vice President of Tanzania.[62]
1985 5 November Julius Nyerere retires and Ali Hassan Mwinyi becomes the second President of Tanzania.[63] Mwinyi is succeeded as vice president by Joseph Sinde Warioba.[64]
1990 October Ali Hassan Mwinyi wins a single-party election with 95.5% of the vote and is sworn in for a second presidential term.[65]
1992 28 May The Civic United Front is formed.[18]
1995 29 October Tanzania holds its first multi-party election.[66]
23 November Benjamin Mkapa is sworn in as the third President of Tanzania.[67]
1973 February The Tanzanian parliament moves from Dar es Salaam to the new capital of Dodoma.[68]
1998 7 August The United States embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya are simultaneously bombed.[69]
1999 14 October Julius Nyerere dies of leukaemia in London.[52]
30 November The East African Community Treaty between Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda is signed in Arusha.[70]
2000 7 July The East African Community Treaty comes into force.[70]
29 October Benjamin Mkapa is re-elected as President of Tanzania, with 72 percent of the vote.[71]

21st century[edit]

Year Date Event
2001 28 January Demonstrators 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]
December The government controversially decides to spend £28m on a new air traffic control system.[73]
2002 24 June The Igandu train disaster kills more than 200 people and is Tanzania's worst train crash.[74]
July Mkapa's government is criticized for purchasing a £15m presidential jet shortly before reaching an agreement with the UK for £270m in aid.[75]
2003 December The 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]
2005 14 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]
2006 11 May Scientists 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]
2008 6 February A parliamentary committee reports on corruption within the cabinet.[82]
7 February Prime Minister Edward Lowassa and two other ministers resign following the report on corruption. President Kikwete dissolves the cabinet.[83]
2021 17 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[edit]


  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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