Image of the Port of Dar es Salaam from the book Von Unseren Kolonien
by Ottomar Beta in the year 1908
In the 19th century, Mzizima (Swahili for "healthy town") was a coastal fishing village on the periphery of Indian Ocean trade routes. In 1865 or 1866, Sultan Majid bin Said of Zanzibar began building a new city very close to Mzizima and named it Dar es Salaam. The name is commonly translated as "abode/home of peace", based on the Arabic dar ("house"), and the Arabic es salaam ("of peace"). Dar es Salaam fell into decline after Majid's death in 1870, but was revived in 1887 when the German East Africa Company established a station there. The town's growth was facilitated by its role as the administrative and commercial centre of German East Africa and industrial expansion resulting from the construction of the Central Railway Line in the early 1900s.
German East Africa was captured by the British during World War I and became Tanganyika with Dar es Salaam remaining the administrative and commercial centre. Under British indirect rule, separate European (e.g., Oyster Bay) and African (e.g., Kariakoo and Ilala) areas developed at a distance from the city centre. The city's population also included a large number of workers from British India, many of whom came to take advantage of the trade and commercial opportunities presented to them. After World War II, Dar es Salaam experienced a period of rapid growth.
Political developments, including the formation and growth of the Tanganyika African National Union, led to Tanganyika attaining independence from colonial rule in December 1961. Dar es Salaam continued to serve as its capital, even when in 1964 Tanganyika and People's Republic of Zanzibar merged to form Tanzania. In 1973, however, provisions were made to relocate the capital to Dodoma, a more centrally located city in the interior. The relocation process has not yet been completed, and Dar es Salaam remains Tanzania's primary city.
In 1967, the Tanzanian government declared the Ujamaa policy, which set Tanzania into a socialist path. The move slowed down the potential growth of the city as the government encouraged people not to move in cities but stay in Ujamaa socialist villages. However, by the 1980s the Ujamaa policy proved to be a failure in combating increasing poverty and hunger that Tanzania faced, and delayed the development that it needed. This led to the 1980s liberalization policy that virtually ended socialism and its proponents within Tanzania's government.
Until the late 1990s, Dar es Salaam was not put into the same category as Africa's leading cities like Nairobi, Johannesburg, Lagos, or Addis Ababa. The 2000s became the turning point when the city experienced one of Africa's fastest urbanization rates. Businesses were opened and prospered, growth expanded in the construction sector with new multi-story buildings, bridges and roads, Tanzanian banks headquartered in the city began to be run with better regulation, the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange expanded and the Dar es Salaam harbour continued to be the most important in Tanzania. The port is prominent for entrepot trade with landlocked countries like eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, and Zambia. The CBD skyline hosts tall buildings, among them the 35-floor PSPF Tower, finished in 2015, and the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) Tower, currently under construction.