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Tanzania

Dar-es-Salaam

Dar-es-Salaam

Founded in 1862 by Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar, Dar-es-Salaam (House of Peace), is both Tanzania’s largest city and the country’s financial and cultural centre. Originally a small fishing community, and known then as Mzizima, it now boasts a population of almost 3 million. It is not, however, Tanzania’s capital. For reasons of location, Dar-es-Salaam gave way to Dodoma in 1973, but does not seem to have suffered any loss of status.

Located on the coast, it is an enormous and natural harbour, and, along with Mombasa and Zanzibar, played a significant role in trade with the Middle East and with Asia. Taken over first by the Germans, and then by the British, it quickly established itself as the region’s administrative, commercial and political centre. A hotbed for anti-colonialism, it helped pave the way for independence in 1961.

Like many cities on our portfolio, Dar-es-Salaam tends to be overlooked by visitors – who, understandably, have come to Tanzania more for its beaches and wildernesses than for streets, shops and crowds. However, Dar-es-Salaam is worth that extra bit of effort. It is home to a wide range of people – representatives of all its tribes, immigrants from much of the rest of east and central Africa, and families whose origins lie in the Middle East and Asia – and this is reflected in its cuisine, its music, its markets. During the day the city centre is packed. The roads, which often lack sidewalks, are an education in themselves, and here drivers adhere to a different set of rules. For things to do, the zoological gardens are good, Bongoyo Island is a must, there’s hiking to be had in Pugu Hills, and there are the Kariakoo and Mwenge markets for textiles and crafts respectively.

At night, it is reasonably quiet, and easy to get around on foot. Clubs and bars tend to be spread out in residential areas. Accommodation, as in any city, depends on budget and choice, but Dar-es-Salaam has its fair share of luxury hotels.

Climate Information

Climatically, the mainland coast, the Zanzibar archipelago and Mafia Island are all influenced by the Kaskazi and Kuzi monsoons. The first of these, the Kaskazi blows in from the north-east during the months of November to March inclusive. Reasonably benign, these relatively dry winds, though warm, help mitigate the effects of an otherwise very humid atmosphere. The second monsoon, the Kuzi, lasts from April through to September, and brings with it the long rains, which last from April through to June, with April being the year’s wettest month. The short rains, though present, are less significant, and occur between October and November.

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