In Tanzania, every 26 April is Union Day to commemorate the creation of Tanzania through the union of Tanganyika and the offshore island nation of Zanzibar on 26 April 1964.
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The mainland section of modern Tanzania, Tanganyika, was colonised by Germany during the late 1800’s and became the bulk of German East Africa. But German control soon ended after Germany’s defeat in World War I, and Tanganyika became a part of the British Empire.
Zanzibar was controlled by the Arab Kingdom of Oman for a long time, but it also became a British “protectorate”, with its very own sultan. Zanzibar and Pemba was long a separate colony.
Tanganyika escaped from British rule in 1961, but Zanzibar did not become independent until two years later, in 1963. The unification of the two former British colonies was blocked by the existence of the Zanzibar sultanate. But the sultan was overthrown in a coup in 1964, which however, led to a Communist government being installed in its place.
Despite the Communist control in Zanzibar, the island nation united with Tanganyika only a few months after the fall of the sultanate. The name “Tanzania” combines the first syllable of the names of the two formerly separate states and symbolises national unity.
Union Day is a time of patriotic speeches by politicians and of parades by school children and various public and private organisations. A large parade is held in the capital city of Dar es Salaam, but there are many held all over the country.