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Tanzania Dar es Salaam

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Dar es Salaam Region and City

Dar es Salaam (Arabic meaning: "Abode of Peace"), formerly Mzizima, is the largest city in Tanzania. With a population estimated around 2,500,000, it is also the country's richest city and an important economic centre. Though Dar es Salaam lost its official status as capital city to Dodoma in the mid-1970s, it remains the centre of the permanent central government bureaucracy and continues to serve as the capital for the surrounding Dar es Salaam Region.


Dar es Salaam is located at 6°48' South, 39°17' East (−6.8000, 39.2833). It lies on the East Coast of Africa on the Indian ocean.


In 1859, Albert Roscher of Hamburg became the first European to land in Mzizima ("healthy town"). In 1866 Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar gave it its present name, an Arabic phrase meaning Haven of Peace. Dar es Salaam fell into decline after Majid's death in 1870, but was revived in 1887, when the German East Africa Company established a station there. The town's growth was facilitated by its role as the administrative and commercial centre of German East Africa and industrial expansion resulting from the construction of the Central Railway Line in the early 1900s.

German East Africa was captured by the British during World War I and from then on was referred to as Tanganyika. Dar es Salaam was retained as the territory's administrative and commercial centre. Under British indirect rule, separate European (e.g. Oyster Bay) and African (e.g. Kariakoo and Ilala) areas developed at a distance from the city centre. The town's population also included a large amount of South Asians.

After World War II, Dar es Salaam experienced a period of rapid growth. Political developments, including the formation and growth of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), led to Tanganyika attaining independence from colonial rule in December 1961. Dar es Salaam continued to serve as its capital, also when in 1964 Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form Tanzania. However, in 1973 provisions were made to relocate the capital to Dodoma, a more centrally located city in Tanzania's interior. The relocation process has not yet been completed, and Dar es Salaam remains Tanzania's primary city.

One of the deadly 1998 U.S. embassy bombings occurred in Dar es Salaam; the other was in Nairobi, Kenya.

Economy and infrastructure

Dar is Tanzania's most important city for both business and government. The city contains unusually high concentrations of trade and other services and manufacturing compared to other parts of Tanzania, which has about 80 percent of its population in rural areas. For example, about one half of Tanzania's manufacturing employment is located in the city despite the fact that Dar holds only ten percent of Tanzania's population. Located on a natural harbour on the Indian Ocean, it is the hub of the Tanzanian transportation system as all of the country's main railways and several highways originate in or near the city. Its status as an administrative and trade centre has put Dar es Salaam in position to benefit disproportionately from Tanzania's high growth rate since the year 2000 so that by now its poverty rates are much lower than the rest of the country. The Dar es Salaam Airport connects the city with other African countries, the Middle East as well as Europe.

The growth of industry is hampered by several factors, including uneven supplies of electricity, an increasingly overburdened infrastructure, and corruption which makes operation of business difficult.

City Life

Although the city has a low violent crime rate, this is increasing along with the already high number of instances of theft, as inequality increases and the amount of money available from Tanzania's thriving aid industry increases. A common nickname for the city is "Bongo" (literally, "brain" in Swahili), which refers to the street smarts necessary to survive there.

Administratively, Dar es Salaam is broken into 3 districts: Ilala, Kinondoni, and Temeke.


Downtown Dar es Salaam has an Arabic and Indian flavour, including many small business proprietors from those origins. Many of the buildings and general layout of the downtown area have a frenetic, claustrophic air that lends itself to street vendors and restauranteers earning a steady living.

The areas outside the city centre are newer and tend to be spread out and disorganized (sprawling). The outskirts are generally populated by Africans, with the exception of Oyster Bay, where there is a large western population. Although there is little in the way of open racial hostility, the various ethnic communities of Dar es Salaam do not tend to intermingle heavily. The edges of Dar es Salaam are spreading rapidly, taxing the transportation system and creating fear that the city will suffer urban overcrowding in the near future.

Perhaps the favourite local pastime is drinking and nightlife. Most establishments serve Tanzanian barbeque, including "Nyama Choma" (roasted meat) and "Mishkaki" (Shish Kabob) which are barbequed and served with salt and various hot peppers on the side. A number of restaurants specialize in traditional Indian or Zanzibari cuisine and due to the growth of the expatriate community and increasing tourism, the number of international restaurants is increasing very rapidly.

There is also a lively music scene in Dar es Salaam which is divided among several styles. The longest standing segment is live dance bands such as Kilimanjaro, Twanga Pepeta and FM Academia. Taarab which was traditionally strong in Zanzibar has also found a niche but remains a small compared both to dance music and "Bongo Flava", a broad category that represents the Tanzanian take on Hip Hop and R&B, which has quickly become the most popular locally produced music. This type of music is especially strong among the youth and it seems that its pull is reducing the interest in performing and hearing dance music. Songs by artists such as Ferooz name check Dar districts such as Sinza. Traditional music, which locally is used to refer to tribal music is still performed but typically only on family oriented occasions such as weddings.

A variety of museums, including the National Museum, the Village Museum and the Botanic Gardens are all very close by. Within an hour's drive north is Bagamoyo, which is home to the Kaole ruins. There are beaches on the Kigamboni peninsula east of Dar es Salaam and on Kigamboni Island to the North where residents and tourists alike frequently visit. The National Stadium hosts Dar es Salaam's Simba football club, Tanzanian football clubs, and many other international matches.

The first cineplex in Tanzania to show first-run Western and Indian releases was opened in Dar es Salaam in December 2003.


Dar es Salaam is also the educational centre of Tanzania. The city is home to the University of Dar es Salaam, the Open University of Tanzania, the Hubert Kairuki Memorial University (HKMU) as well as the International Medical and Technological University (IMTU). Other institutes of higher education include the Institute of Financial Management (IFM), Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT) and the College of Business Education (CBE).


The building that houses The National Audit Office of Tanzania used to be a car salesroom before it was nationalized by the state shortly after independence.

Bongo is the commonly-used nickname for Dar es Salaam. The use of the word can be traced to the mid-1980s. Bongo is Swahili for 'brains'. It is thought that due to the hard economic times during Nyerere's rule, the only way one could survive was by using his brains (streetsmarts). 'Bongoland' sometimes refers to Tanzania.

Dar es Salaam is home to University of Connecticut Basketball Star Hasheem Thabeet.


More Articles from Tanzania - Dar es Salaam

National Parks from Tanzania - Dar es Salaam

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