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It is said that the mainland portion of what is now Tanzania was named by a British civil servant in 1920, from the Swahili words tanga (sail) and nyika (bright arid plain).Thus what was known formerly as German East Africa became Tanganyika Territory.On 9 December 1961, Tanganyika was proclaimed an independent nation.In 1963, Zanzibar was granted independence from Great Britain, and in 1964 an Act of Union was signed between Tanganyika and Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania. The national identity is influenced by several factors.There are heavy population concentrations in the urban centers (including Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Tabora, and Mbeya), in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, and along the coast of Lake Malawi. While each ethnic group speaks its own local language, almost all Tanzanians are also fluent in the national language, Swahili ( Kiswahili in Swahili), a coastal Bantu language strongly influenced by Arabic.The second official language is English, a vestige of the British colonial period.Most Tanzanians with postsecondary educations speak both official languages fluently in addition to their tribal language.Nyerere encouraged the adoption of Swahili for all Tanzanians in a concerted and successful effort to enable people from different parts of the country to communicate with one another and to encourage them to identify themselves as one people.
Perhaps the most important influence on a sense of national identity was the development of Tanzanian socialism.The Arabs had been trading along the coastline for centuries when Sa'id ibn Suttan moved his capital from Oman to Zanzibar in 1840 to take advantage of the slave markets.During the early nineteenth century, Arab slave and ivory traders began to penetrate deeper into the interior of what was to become Tanzania.At the same time, however, repressive, corrupting influences emanating from the colonial, socialist, and capitalist eras have fostered among many Tanzanians an attitude of dependency and fatalistic resignation that helps keep the country one of the poorest in the world. Covering approximately 365,000 square miles (945,000 square kilometers)—an area about one and one-half times the size of Texas, Tanzania lies on the east coast of Africa, just south of the equator.It shares borders with Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and the Indian Ocean.Severe depredations by poachers from both inside and outside the country, however, continue to threaten the survival of many species.The torch of freedom ( uhuru ) and the figure of a soldier (representing the sacrifice of veterans and the war dead) are also common symbols throughout the country.Elegant ebony carvings of both representational and modern design, a specialty of the Makonde people of southeast Tanzania, are prized by collectors around the world.Tanzania was cradle to some of the earliest hominids on earth, made famous by the discoveries of Louis and Mary Leakey at Olduvai Gorge.Tanzania also shares three great lakes—Victoria, Tanganyika, and Malawi—with its neighbors.The country is comprised of a wide variety of agro-ecological zones: low-lying coastal plains, a dry highland plateau, northern savannas, and cool, well-watered regions in the northwest and south.