From time to time, my collecting interests expand into new territories. It really doesn’t take much — a certain stamp or cover may catch my eye or perhaps I will read a historical account that piques my interest for some new area. In recent years, I have found myself pursuing several regions on the African continent particularly German East Africa, which was occupied by British forces during World War I. After the war, the territory came under British rule, was named Tanganyika and issued stamps under that name until after a union with Zanzibar in 1964. A set of four commemorative stamps marking the union were issued 7 July 1964 inscribed “UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANGANYIKA & ZANZIBAR”. The following December, just six days after I was born, a set of 14 definitives (plus overprinted Official stamps) were issued inscribed “TANZANIA” as depicted on today’s cover.
The United Republic of Tanzania (Swahili: Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania) is a country in East Africa within the African Great Lakes region. It borders Uganda to the north; Kenya to the northeast; Comoro Islands and the Indian Ocean to the east; Mozambique and Malawi to the south; Zambia to the southwest; and Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, is in northeastern Tanzania.
Many important hominid fossils have been found in Tanzania, such as 6-million-year-old Pliocene hominid fossils. The genus Australopithecus ranged all over Africa 4 to 2 million years ago and the oldest remains of the genus Homo are found near Lake Olduvai. Following the rise of Homo erectus 1.8 million years ago, humanity spread all over the Old World, and later in the New World and Australia under the species Homo sapiens. H. sapiens also overtook Africa and absorbed the older archaic species and subspecies of humanity. One of the oldest known ethnic groups still existing, the Hadzabe, appears to have originated in Tanzania, and their oral history recalls ancestors who were tall and were the first to use fire, medicine, and lived in caves, much like Homo erectus or Homo heidelbergensis who lived in the same region before them.
Later in the Stone and Bronze Age, prehistoric migrations into Tanzania included Southern Cushitic speakers who moved south from present-day Ethiopia; Eastern Cushitic people who moved into Tanzania from north of Lake Turkana about 2,000 and 4,000 years ago; and the Southern Nilotes, including the Datoog, who originated from the present-day South Sudan–Ethiopia border region between 2,900 and 2,400 years ago. These movements took place at about the same time as the settlement of the Mashariki Bantu from West Africa in the Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika areas. They subsequently migrated across the rest of Tanzania between 2,300 and 1,700 years ago.
German rule began in mainland Tanzania during the late 19th century when Germany formed German East Africa. This was followed by British rule after World War I. The mainland was governed as Tanganyika, with the Zanzibar Archipelago remaining a separate colonial jurisdiction. Following their respective independence in 1961 and 1963, the two entities merged in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania. The countries had joined the British Commonwealth in 1961 and Tanzania is still a member of the Commonwealth as one republic.
The United Nations estimated Tanzania’s 2018 population at 56.31 million, which is slightly smaller than South Africa, making it the second most populous country located entirely south of the Equator. The population is composed of about 120 ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The sovereign state of Tanzania is a presidential constitutional republic and since 1996 its official capital city has been Dodoma where the president’s office, the National Assembly, and some government ministries are located. Dar es Salaam, the former capital, retains most government offices and is the country’s largest city, principal port, and leading commercial centre. Tanzania is a de facto one-party state with the democratic socialist Chama Cha Mapinduzi party in power.
Tanzania is mountainous and densely forested in the north-east, where Mount Kilimanjaro is located. Three of Africa’s Great Lakes are partly within Tanzania. To the north and west lie Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, and Lake Tanganyika, the continent’s deepest lake, known for its unique species of fish. To the south lies Lake Malawi. The eastern shore is hot and humid, with the Zanzibar Archipelago just offshore. The Menai Bay Conservation Area is Zanzibar’s largest marine protected area. The Kalambo Falls, located on the Kalambo River at the Zambian border, is the second highest uninterrupted waterfall in Africa.
Christianity is the largest religion in Tanzania, but there are also substantial Muslim and Animist minorities. Over 100 different languages are spoken in Tanzania, making it the most linguistically diverse country in East Africa. The country does not have a de jure official language, although the national language is Swahili. Swahili is used in parliamentary debate, in the lower courts, and as a medium of instruction in primary school. English is used in foreign trade, in diplomacy, in higher courts, and as a medium of instruction in secondary and higher education; although the Tanzanian government is planning to discontinue English as the primary language of instruction it will be available as an optional course. Approximately 10 per cent of Tanzanians speak Swahili as a first language, and up to 90 per cent speak it as a second language.
Until 1976, the stamps of Tanzania were also valid in Kenya and Uganda and so Tanzania did not typically issue its own commemoratives. A definitives series issued 9 December 1967 featured various fish, and series of 15 stamps from 3 December 1973 depicted butterflies. Four of these values were surcharged and released on 17 November 1975. In 1976 and 1977, Tanzania issued eight commemorative sets that shared design with the stamps of Kenya, and after that it issued its own designs.
The Tanzanian stamp-issuing policy was relatively restrained in the 1980s, with about seven to eight special issues each year, typically of four stamps each, and a definitive series of mammals in 1980, but by the end of the decade the postal administration had begun putting out large numbers of issues aimed solely at stamp collectors, with averages of over 100 types annually. Tanzania is currently a client of the Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation based in New York.
The fourteen stamps on the first day cover depicted above depict various country motifs as follow:
- 5 Tanzanian senti: Hale Hydroelectric Plant (Scott #5)
- 10 Tanzanian senti: national flag (Scott #6)
- 15 Tanzanian senti: Army squad (Scott #7)
- 20 Tanzanian senti: road building (Scott #8)
- 30 Tanzanian senti: native handicraft (Scott #9)
- 40 Tanzanian senti: giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) in Mikumi National Park (Scott #10)
- 50 Tanzanian senti: zebra (Equus sp.) in Manyara National Park (Scott #11)
- 65 Tanzanian senti: Mount Kilimanjaro (Scott #12)
- 1 Tanzanian shilingi: Dar es Salaam Harbor (Scott #13)
- 1.30 Tanzanian shilingi: Skull of Zinjanthropus (Scott #14)
- 2.50 Tanzanian shilingi: Indo-Pacific Sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) (Scott #15)
- 5 Tanzanian shilingi: Sisal Plantation (Scott #16)
- 10 Tanzanian shilingi: Government Palace, Dar es Salaam (Scott #17)
- 20 Tanzanian shilingi: state coat of arms (Scott #18)
The stamps were printed using the photogravure process with the senti values perforated 14 x 14½ and the shilingi values comb perforated 14½.