Tanga, Tanzania Travel Guide

Right on the east coast of Africa, during an hour’s drive from the border with Kenya, lies Tanga. The city, which is also known as Tanzania’s northernmost port city, has 273,332 inhabitants. Despite the size of the population, the city is somewhat more relaxed to move around in, compared to other major cities in Tanzania.

Since its establishment in the 16th century, Tanga has been a city in development. This is due in particular to the fact that the city’s location on the coast has been incredibly sought after during colonial times in East Africa. Tanga has been a hub for the slave and ivory trade, and is today a major export area for coffee, tea, cotton and sisal. Tanga is the perfect place to visit if colonial history is close to your heart.

Tanga’s location

According to pharmacylib, Tanga is located on the northernmost point of the east coast of Africa. From here it is only a short drive to neighboring Kenya. The city is among the largest in Tanzania, and has since its establishment been an important trading area for the country. Therefore, Tanga also has more transportation options than most Tanzanian cities can otherwise boast of.

Experiences in Tanga

URITHI Tanga Museum

This museum is created and maintained by “URITHI – The Tanga Heritage Center” . The purpose of the museum is to preserve Tanga’s cultural heritage, in order to be able to use these for future development of the city.

The museum, which was established by the then German colonial administration in the 1890s, is built of coral stone, lime and sand. These are some fragile but extremely fine elements that the building is made of. Therefore, one has also had to seek expertise from the skilled technicians from Stone Town in Zanzibar.

Behind the museum’s fine walls you will find historical picture exhibitions, based on Tanga’s historic buildings. You will get an insight into the city’s architecture as well as Tanga’s heart child, the sisal industry. Ideas for new exhibitions are constantly being considered, so that the museum is constantly evolving.

Amboni Caves

Just 8 kilometers north of Tanga, you will find East Africa’s most extensive limestone caves. The caves are traced back to the geological period Jura, which is about 150 million years back in time. The area with the limestone caves spreads over 234 km2, where ten caves have their place. However, only one of these is used for guided tours.

In 1892, the area of ​​the caves was taken over by the company Amboni Limited, from which the name derives. The company dealt in its time with sisal plantations. After the British took over Tanga in 1914, the company even informed the British powers about the caves. Thereafter, the limestone caves were declared protected in 1922. Following Tanganyika’s declaration of independence, the caves were handed over to The Department of Antiquities in 1963.

It is not known for sure what the caves have been used for in the past, but it does suggest that ethnic groups such as Segeju, Sambaa, Bondei and Digo used the caves to store beans. These tribes all stayed close to the caves before.

Inside the caves you can find stones that have later been designed as, among other things, a sofa, a ship, a crocodile and even as a map of Africa. The very goddess of liberty carved in stone also has homes in the caves.

Galanos hot springs

A few kilometers from the Amboni limestone caves, in the middle of a coconut plantation, you will find Galano’s heat sources. These are named after the locally famous sisal plantation owner, Christopher Galanos. The sources’ content of sulfur, creates blue and yellow shades in the water.

It is possible to take a dip in the water. Maybe you want to experience something wonderful. Among the locals, there are stories that the water should have a magical healing effect on arthritis and skin diseases.

Tongoni ruins

17 kilometers from Tanga, is a small fishing village called Tongoni. here are several ruins of mosques and burial sites. The ruins date from the 15th century, when the city was also a well-functioning trading post. Today, the city is relatively deserted.

It is believed that the city was established by the Persian people Shirazi, who founded several Islamic territories around southeastern Africa. The first known visit to Tongoni was made by the Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama in 1498. He was most of all impressed by the juicy oranges of the area.

Today, the famous Tongoni ruins are under the protection of The Department of Antiquities. It is now possible for tourists to visit the ruins. A local guide named Mr. Job Tengamaso will be happy to show you around the well-kept ruins. If you have questions about the area, he is the right person to ask.

Toten Island

Just off Tanga harbor, lies the island of Toten. Here you will find the ruins of two mosques, as well as a cemetery. As a reference to the many burial sites, the island got its name, based on the German word for “dead corpse” . Until 1854, people still lived on Toten, but now all the inhabitants have moved to the mainland in Tanga.

Tanga, Tanzania

Tangas history

Slaves and ivory

The city of Tanga was founded in the 16th century as a Portuguese trading post, especially for the sale of slaves. Portugal held power over the city for more than 200 years, but in the early 1700s, the then Sultan of Zanzibar regained control of the city. However, the status of the city as an important Arab area for the slave and ivory trade was not changed.

In 1873, European powers abolished the slave trade. Later, the struggle of the European superpowers for East Africa begins, and in 1891, the Germans buy Tanga from the Sultan. The city was then in rapid expansion, which is why it served as the center of German colonial administration.

The Battle of Tanga

When World War I broke out in 1914, Tanga was the city in Tanzania that was first invaded by the British. This is primarily due to the fact that the city is Tanzania’s northernmost port city with location next to the Indian Ocean. In November 1914, the Germans and the British fought a long and fierce battle for the city. Today, this historic event is known as the “Battle of Tanga”. One and a half years later, Tanga was under British rule.

Overrun node

Due to its function as a commercial area, the city has always experienced heavy human traffic. Therefore, around the year 1890, a tram track was installed in Tanzania. It was to facilitate the country’s internal transport. This was not enough, because already in the year 1896, construction began on the well-known Usambara railway. To this day, Tanga is still a city in development, but the slave trade has been replaced by trade in coffee, tea, cotton and sisal.

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