All about Dar es Salaam

Yona F. Maro

Nov 2, 2006
Mzizima's dates back several centuries to the time when the Barawa tribes started to settle and farm the areas close to Mbwa Maji,Gezaulole, Maji Mbagara and Mjimwema,.

A German called Hamburg was the first European to arrive at Mzizima or "healthy town" as Dar was known until 1866 when the Omani Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar gave it its present name. Dar es Salaam means Haven of Peace in Arabic . From the Arabic "bandar" meaning harbour. Dar es Salaam declined after Majid's death but was revived in 1887 when the German East Africa Company moved in. The town's growth was caused by its role as the commercial hub of German East Africa. There was also significant industrial expansion with the building of the Central Railway Line early in the 1900s.

German East Africa was taken by the British in World War I and was subesequently called Tanganyika. Dar es Salaam was remained as the territory's commercial nexus.

Post World War II, Dar es Salaam enjoyed a period of rapid growth. Tanganyika achieved independence from British rule in December 1961. Dar es Salaam served as the capital even when in 1964 Tanganyika merged with Zanzibar to form Tanzania. In 1996 Dodoma was made the capital but this is an impotent decision as the commercial center is Dar which has now become East Africa’s most important port and trading center. Dar remains the home of the government and serves as the effective capital for the country. Whilst Dodoma has been oddly appointed as the new capital of Tanzania, Dar is the real capital and sits on some of the most commercially vital sea lanes on earth.

Dar has a heady mix of African, Muslim, and Asian influences. There is a rich diversity of nightlife available, though for most travellers, Dar es Salaam is a passing port of call enroute to more exotic venues such as Zanzibar, the National Parks, Pemba or Mafia. This is a shame because “Dar” does have a lot to offer the visitor.

With its population estimated around 2,500,000, Dar is also Tanzania's most affluent city. The population is increasing by around 4.39% annually (this is the 3rd fastest growth in Africa and the 9th fastest globally). The city population is forcasted to reach approximately 5.12 million by the year 2020

In 1998 one of the U.S. embassy bombings occurred in Dar es Salaam. This is an exceptional violent act in an otherwise peaceful city.

Be warned though, like all cities it has dangers. It is advised not to walk around the city at night especially around the port and on the beaches near the city. Never change money on the streets, you will be robbed.
The city itself is a jumbled mix of Swahili, German, Asian and British architectural styles, reflecting the colonial past and recent history. Places to visit include: the German Hospital, the St Joseph’s Cathedral, the Lutheran Church, botanical gardens, the village museum and the National Museum.

Dar es Salaam is the largest port of Tanzania and the major sea outlet for: Republic of Zambia, Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and the DRC. It has Latitude 6 degrees 49' south, Longitude 39 degrees 19' east. The entrance channel is 2km in length from its outer entrance. In Inner Harbour port working is completely unaffected by weather. Due to the sharp bends, no attempt can be made to navigate the passage in a single prop. vessel more than 175m long without the consent of the management!
Roy J. Hinde
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