Dar es Salaam means Haven of Peace in Arabic and was founded in 1862 by Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar. It started as a small fishing village in the mid 19th century and is now the largest city in Tanzania. It has become one of East Africa’s most important ports and trading centers and is the hub of financial and political matters despite having lost its status as official capital to Dodoma in 1973. Government offices all have their main base in Dar es Salaam, and diplomatic missions and non-governmental organizations in the country have a presence in the bustling urban city.
To most travellers though, the city is just a transit place on the way to the more exotic islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia or the start-off point for game safaris to the national parks. This is a great pity, because "Dar", as it is lovingly called by it’s aficionados, has a great atmosphere. The fascinating mix of African, Muslim, European and South Asian influences, the chaotic harbor, silvery beaches, colorful markets and historical buildings, make it well worth spending some extra time in.
Oyster Bay Photo by John Metzger