The city of Dar es Salaam is relatively young. No European even visited the area until 1859, when the Hamburg native Albert Roscher landed along the Tanzanian coast. The town was named Dar es Salaam (meaning “house of peace” in Arabic) by the Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar (off the Tanzanian coast) in 1866. Eleven years later, the German East Africa Company overthrew the Arabic rulers of Dar es Salaam, established a trading station in Dar es Salaam and colonized the East African coast. They built an administrative center to oversee local issues in German East Africa and a commercial center to direct the development of the Central Railway Line. Under German rule, the urban center of Dar es Salaam developed methodically along a grid-block system and became a major trading hub. Today, German historical influences are still very much visible in the city; many Lutheran churches, the German Hospital and St. Joseph’s Cathedral were all built during the late 1800s and reflect German culture and architecture.

The British captured German East Africa during World War I and renamed it Tanganyika, but Dar es Salaam’s name and status as the region’s capital was maintained. During this time, South Asian immigrants to Dar es Salaam increased, and the city’s economy also experienced great growth. In 1961, Tanganyika declared independence from the British Crown and merged with Zanzibar to form Tanzania.