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Getting to know Dar es Salaam

Getting to know Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam is a city in the East African country of Tanzania. The name is derived from Arabic, Dār as-Salām, meaning “the house of peace”. This article is about exploring the city and getting to know Dar es Salaam better.

Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania with an estimated 4 – 6 million inhabitants. Moreover it is widely regarded as the most influential city in Tanzania. It is also largely considered the economic capital of the country. As a result it has blossomed into one of East Africa’s most important ports and trading centers. To this end Dar es Salaam is the city in Tanzania to which villagers flock for better opportunities. It also important to note that Dar es Salaam is the largest and most populous Swahili-speaking city in the world.


Formerly known as Mzizima, Dar Es Salaam was established in 1862 by Sultan Seyyid Majid as a fishing village. Until 1974, Dar es Salaam served as Tanzania’s capital city. However, the metropolitan city still remains Tanzania’s financial and political hub.


The city of Dar es Salaam is located in a picturesque bay bordered on the east by the Indian Ocean. As a result it’s lively and busy harbour is the main port in Tanzania. It’s strategic location and bustling port have subsequently led to the city’s growing success. Dar es Salaam is split into 5 regulatory sectors. Each of these administrative districts is managed as a civic council. As a result, all of the city’s suburbs or wards are affiliated with the districts.

1. Kinondoni

The is the most inhabited of all the districts. Nearly half of the city’s population resides within this area. It is also home to high-income suburbs that include:

  • Masaki, Oysterbay and Ada Estate, located along the central beach;
  • Mikocheni and Regent Estate;
  • Msasani is to the northeast of the city center;
  • Mbezi Beach, a beachfront suburb, is located along the northern Dar es Salaam Beach;
  • West of Dar es Salaam’s CBD, are Sinza, Kijitonyama, Magomeni, Kinondoni and Mwenge.
  • Tandale, Mwananyamala-Kisiwani and Kigogo are low income neighbourhoods.

2. Ilala

The administrative district of Ilala is the houses the majority of government offices and ministries. The district is home to the CBD, the Julius Nyerere International Airport, as well as some middle to high-income suburbs.

  • The greatest cluster of Asian communities within Dar es Salaam is found in Upanga & Kisutu;
  • In addition, Kariakoo is the shopping district. As a result it is dotted with shops, bazaars and merchants.

3. Temeke

Temeke is the industrial hub, hence it houses both light and heavy industries. Furthermore, most of the manufacturing activity in the city takes place here. Kurasini, Chang’ombe, Temeke, Mtoni, Tandika, Mbagala and Kijichi are all suburbs in this district.

4. Ubongo

The Ubungo terminal serves as a transportation link to most of Dar es Salaam.

5. Kigamboni

Kigamboni is a beachfront suburb. As such, access to the suburb is mostly via passenger boats. The district is home to an economically diverse population.


Dar es Salaam in not just one of the fastest growing cities in the world, it also has a rich cultural tapestry. The diverse culture is a rich blend of African, Muslim, and South Asian influences. In addition, Dar es Salaam is home to British and German expatriates, Catholics, as well as Lutherans. This medley in people is reflected in the culture. The city enjoys wide ranging and diverse cuisine. From international cuisine, Tanzanian barbecue, Zanzibari food, Thai, Chinese and American restaurants, Dar es Salaam has it all.


The city’s diverse industrial area produces a varying degree of products for domestic consumption, as well as for export. In addition, the city is the main contact point between the agricultural mainland and the world of trade and commerce in the Indian Ocean. The major export commodities that pass through Dar es Salaam include minerals, for example gold, gemstones, diamonds, and coal. Additional commodities are inclusive of coffee, cotton, cashew nuts, tea, sisal, tobacco, pyrethrum and cloves. The principal imports are machinery and, textiles and clothing, and petroleum products.


Firstly, the landscape and architecture around the city is testament  of both German and British influence. Secondly, The are several museums including; the National Museum and the Village Museum which are well worth a visit. Thirdly, Dar es Salaam is full of colourful and bustling markets, as well as, many interesting historical sites. Dar es Salaam is also the home of St Joseph’s Cathedral, the White Father’s Mission House , the Botanical Gardens and the old State House. Lastly, Seven kilometres north of the city is Bongoyo Island Marine Reserve which offers good snorkeling and diving sites. The attractions listed above are not conclusive, in addtion you can visit national parks for safaris and the islands of Unguja and Pemba.


1. Air

Most people traveling to and from Dar es Salaam do so by way of Julius Nyerere International Airport. The airport is located a mere 12 kilometres southwest of the city centre. The airport boasts flights to destinations in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East

2. Maritime

As city located along a coastline, Dar es Salaam has several ferries that offer an alternative mode of transportation. This is a great way to move about quickly, take in some fresh ocean air and take in the sights. For example;  MV Kigamboni passenger boats run across southeast Kivukoni and northwest Kigamboni. Furthermore, as the country’s busiest port, Dar es Salaam handles approximately 90% of the country’s cargo. This translates into a huge influx and efflux of container ships.

3. Road

Firstly, Dar es Salaam has numerous luxury coaches coming in and going out of the country. Due to the port, many people travel by bus to Dar es Salaam to pick up their vehicles from the port. Dar es Salaam also has countless buses and converted trucks called dala dala to ferry the locals around the city.

4. Rail

To start with Dar es Salaam  is the hub for all rail travel in Tanzania and has commuter transportation via rail to urban and sub-urban areas. Secondly, Tanzania Railways operates the Central Line from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma. Lastly, there is an international rail line linking Dar es Salaam and Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia.


As the education hub of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam is home to both public and private schools. Moreover, several notable institutions of higher education are located in the city. Some of the more renowned schools include; Braeburn Dar es Salaam International School, International School Of Tanganyika,The Latham School and Atlas School. The city is home to several institutions, for example;  University of Dar es Salaam, Ardhi University, and the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences.


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