Dar es Salaam, meaning The Haven of Peace in Arabic, has one of the best deep natural harbours in the world. From a small Swahili town in the middle of the 19th century, Dar es Salaam has grown into a large metropolitan centre with a population of over 3,500,000 dwellers. The city population represents the over 120 tribes of Tanzania with their different cultural backgrounds coming together, alongside the oriental civilizations from the far and middle east, and the Europeans including early Portuguese visitors in the 16th Century, the Germans and later the British.
The city started to bloom economically with the establishment of the German East Africa Company and the construction of the Central Railway Line at the beginning of the 20th century. During the World War I the German East Africa was captured by the British and renamed to Tanganyika. Dar es Salaam was from then on Tanganyika’s administrative and commercial center.
Under the British rule the city had separate European (Oyster Bay) and African (Kariakoo and Ilala) areas. The city started to rapidly grow after World War II with political developments such as the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). Tanganyika attained the independence from colonial rule in 1961 with Dar es Salaam remaining the countries capital even after Tanganyika and Zanzibar formed the independent United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Although in 1973 Dodoma was made the countries capital city, Dar es Salaam still remains the primary city.
All cultures at one time or another passed through Dar es Salaam. It is necessary to visit Dar es Salaam to understand the secret of letting different cultures live together in absolute harmony. Being the commercial capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam is also the main gateway to the nature reserves of southern Tanzania, which include the Selous Game Reserve and the National Parks of Mikumi, Ruaha and Udzungwa Mountains, Saadani and Kitulo.
It also serves as a convenient connection for travel to the islands of Mafia, Zanzibar and Pemba both by sea and air. A city tour of Dar es Salaam will take you to the National Museum, Nyerere Cultural Centre, the Village Museum, Mwenge Wood Carvings Market, and the Magogoni Fish Market, among other interesting spots.