A Brief History


Kenya has known the presence of humankind since the very earliest development of our species. Moreover, the region has long been a migratory path, passed through by wave upon wave of peoples from all over Africa and, later, from the Middle East as well. By the 10th century or so, the region had developed its own lingua franca, Swahili, which is a Bantu language heavily overlaid with Arabic. Among other familiar words, safari is Swahili, meaning simply travel.

With the arrival of the Portuguese at the end of the 15th century, the East African coastal region was for a time dominated by the Europeans. However, in 1729 the Portuguese were expelled, to be replaced by two Arab dynasties. Arab rule lasted until the end of the 18th century, when Kenya passed into the British sphere of influence. The country became independent in 1963.


This is probably one of the oldest known continuously inhabited areas on Earth; fossil remains of humans and pre-human hominids have been found dating back over two million years. More recently, Tanzania is believed to have been populated by hunter-gatherer communities, probably cushitic and Khoisan speaking people. About 2000 years ago, Bantu-speaking people began to arrive from western Africa in a series of migrations. Later, Nilotic pastoralists arrived, and continued to immigrate into the area through to the 18th century.
Travellers and merchants from the Persian Gulf and Western India have visited the East African coast since early in the first millennium CE. Islam was practised on the Swahili coast as early as the eighth or ninth century CE.

In the late 19th century, Imperial Germany conquered the regions that are now Tanzania (minus Zanzibar), Rwanda, and Burundi, and incorporated them into German East Africa. The post-World War I accords and the League of Nations charter designated the area a British Mandate, except for a small area in the northwest, which was ceded to Belgium and later became Rwanda and Burundi). British rule came to an end in 1961 after a relatively peaceful (compared with neighbouring Kenya, for instance) transition to independence. In 1954, Julius Nyerere transformed an organization into the politically oriented Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). Nyerere became Minister of British-administered Tanganyika in 1960 and continued as Prime Minister when Tanganyika became officially independent in 1961. After the Zanzibar Revolution overthrew the Arab dynasty in neighboring Zanzibar, which had become independent in 1963, the island merged with mainland Tanganyika to form the nation of Tanzania on 26 April 1964.