You probably didn’t know this but Tanzania got its name from the union of two States, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. This union was formed on April 26, 1964.
Tanganyika is an amalgamation of two Swahili words, “tanga” meaning “sail,” and “nyika” meaning “wilderness.” The two words were joined in a phrase meaning “sail in the wilderness.”
On the other hand, Zanzibar is derived from two words as well, “Zeng” which means “black” and “barr” of Arabic origin which means “shore” or “coast.”
Both countries gained independence from Britain shortly before they forged this union. Tanganyika used to be a German colony along with two other smaller regions and they were known as German East Africa between 1894 and 1914. After Germany’s defeat in the First World War, Britain assumed trusteeship of the area as a result of a decree by the League of Nations in 1920.
Zanzibar was already under British control since 1890 even though it was already in contact with Persian traders since the tenth century. It gained independence in 1963 even though it was still being controlled by Omani Arabs, specifically Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah.
Since the natives outnumbered the Arabs, there was a revolution to seize power. It was known as the Zanzibar Revolution and it saw over 20,000 people lose their lives while the Sultan was deposed before being sent into exile.
The revolutionary government was led by Abeid Karume, a member of the Afro-Shirazi Party. Karume visited Julius Nyerere just 105 days after the revolution where the latter proposed a union between both States. The former agreed to this and went ahead to suggest that Nyerere head the government.
That is the story of how Tanzania was formed by the merger of two States.