When most people think of the capital city of Tanzania they assume its Dar es Salaam however it is actually Dodoma after it was designated
by then President of Tanzania, Mr. Julius Nyerere, as the capital in 1973. It was planned to move the National Assembly
there in 1976 although Dar es Salaam,
302 miles to its west, remains its commercial centre. In reality, Dar es
Salaam is the de facto capital as the planned move mostly failed to
materialise with the majority of ministries and embassies remaining in the 'former'
capital. The move was initially planed in 1959 to provide the soon to be
independent state (achieved 9th December 1961) with
a capital city that was more central and accessible to the whole country. In
the last few years Dodoma has grown in prestige with the opening of two new
universities, Dodoma University UDOM and Saint Johns University which has
diversified employment opportunities from its existing agricultural base.
Dodoma, located to the east of
Tanzania's southern highlands, was founded in 1907 during the
construction of the Tanganjikabahn (central line) 1000mm gauge railway built
by Germany during its period of colonial rule of Tanzania, then Tanganyika. The railway,
which is intact today, runs from Dar es Salaam harbour on the coast, through Dodoma to Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika.
The railway was constructed to improve transport in the country and carry
agricultural crops to the coast for export. Dodoma was named after an alleged
incident when an elephant got stuck in the mud and locals exclaimed "Idodomya"
meaning "it has sunk" in the local Bantu language of Gogo. At that
time it was a recognised stopping point on the caravan route from the coast to
Lake Tanganyika. With a population today of just 180,551 is has grown steadily
since its founding however still has an antiquated feel with shops with tin
roofs and wooden shutters straddling it dusty streets. It is also the centre
of the country's developing wine industry.