In 1890, Zanzibar became a British protectorate while the mainland became part of German East Africa.The period of German rule was extremely heavy-handed; when the Africans fought back during the Maji-Maji rebellion of 1905, tens of thousands were killed.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.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.
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.
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.
This sense of nationalism has served to keep the country at peace for over two decades, while most of its neighbors have been involved intermittently in catastrophically destructive civil and cross-border wars.
Tanzanians have been able to resolve most internal problems without resorting to violence because of a shared language, the lack of political or economic dominance by any ethnic group, and the strong leadership provided by Julius Nyerere (1922–1999), the first president of Tanzania.