Culture – Tanzania
Tanzania is formerly known as Tanganyika, a name that was given to the country by a British civil servant in the early 1920’s (Tanga meaning sail and Nyika meaning arid plain). The previously known German East Africa was then became known as Tanganyika Territory. In 1964, Tanganyika was joined with Zanzibar and other offshore islands to become what is known as today: United Republic of Tanzania.
There are more than 120 ethnic tribes in Tanzania. The largest ethnic groups include the Sukuma (over three million), Chagga, Haya, and Nyamwezi (over one million each). Despite the numerous cultural diversity represented by all these tribes, they are all united by use of Swahili or Kiswahili – a coastal Bantu language with Arabic influence.
The Tanzanians have strong feelings of national pride and cohesion, and this strong sense of nationalism backed up with the use of a common language has enabled Tanzanians to resolve most internal conflicts without resorting to violence keeping the country at peace for over two decades, in comparison to most of its neighbours.
Wherever you go in Tanzania, opportunities abound for getting to know the country’s people and cultures. Meet red-cloaked Maasai warriors. Spend time with semi-nomadic Barabaig near Mt Hanang. Experience the hospitality of a local meal and the rhythms of traditional dance. Chat and barter at local markets. More than anything else, it is the Tanzanian people – with their characteristic warmth and politeness, and the dignity and beauty of their cultures – that make visiting Tanzania so memorable.