Zanzibar – The Majestic Spice Island of the Indian Ocean

Africa | | December 9, 2011 at 5:48 am


Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, East Africa and consists of Zanzibar Archipelago in Indian Ocean around 25 to 50 kilometers off the coast one of the mainland and comprises of plethora of small isles with two huge ones: Pemba and Unguja. Other close by territories and countries include Mayotte and Comoros to south, Reunion and Mauritius to far southeast and Seychelles Islands around 1500 kilometres to east. Portuguese and Arab traders stayed the region initially and it was managed by Omanis in 18th and 19th centuries.


Britain founded the protectorate, which became independent sultanate in the year 1963 and republic after uprising in the month of January 1964. Zanzibar City is the capital of Zanzibar situated on Unguja Island and the historic centre called Stone Town is World Heritage Site. The major industries of Zanzibar include tourism, spices and raffia. In particular, the islands turn out cloves, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. For these reasons, the islands are at times called Spice Islands. It is the ultimate Indian Ocean experience with magnificent beaches and fascinating historical Stone Town. Its Indian Ocean provides world class watersports such as scuba diving, sailing on conventional local dhows, snorkelling, waterskiing, deep sea fishing, windsurfing and kayaking.

The islands became a part of historical record of broader world when Persian dealers founded them and used them as base of passages between Middle East, Africa and India. Throughout the age of Exploration, a Portuguese Empire was the 1st European power for gaining control of Zanzibar and retained it for almost 2 centuries. In the year 1968, Zanzibar fell under control of Sultanate of Oman, which urbanized economy of cash crops and trade with ruling Arab elite. It has a government of national unity with existing president of Zanzibar being Ali Mohamed Shein, since November 2010. As Tanzania’s semi-autonomous part, it has its own administration called Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar. It is made up of Revolutionary Council and House of Representatives.

Unguja consists of three administrative regions such as Zanzibar West/Urban, Zanzibar South/Central and Zanzibar North, while Pemba comprises of two, the Pemba South and Pemba North. The major political parties of Zanzibar include Chama Cha Mapinduzi and Civic United. Widespread mammals with continental relatives include Zanzibar red colobus, Africa’s one of rarest primates and Zanzibar red colobus, which might be only about 1500. Isolated on Zanzibar for at least 10 centuries is the Zanzibar red colobus, which is known as unique distinct species, with different calls, food habits and coat patterns as compared to related colobus species on mainland.


Rare native animals on Zanzibar include Zanzibar leopard, which is possibly extinct and critically endangered; the recently known Zanzibar servaline genet. You won’t find large wild animals on this island, and forest areas like Jozani are occupied by bush-pigs, monkeys, civets and small antelopes along with elusive Zanzibar leopard. However, you will find different species of mongoose along with wide array of birdlife, and large number of butterflies. Pemba island is detached from Unguja island and African continent by deep channels and has respectively limited fauna, reflecting comparative isolation from the mainland. Its quite famous endemic is Pemba Flying Fox.

Jozani forest

The local residents of Zanzibar are from mixture of ethnic backgrounds indicative of colorful history. They speak Swahili, a language spoken widely in East Africa. Many people believe that purest form is spoken in Zanzibar, because it is the origin of the language. One of the most famous sports of Zanzibar is Football overseen by Zanzibar Football Association. It is the associate member of Confederation of African Football, which means that Zanzibar National Football Team will not be eligible for entering national Confederation of African Football competitions, including African Nations Cup. However, it gets representation at CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup.

Hotels near Zanzibar include Emerson and Green Hotel, Serena Inn, Tembo House Hotel, Dhow Palace Hotel, Shangani Hotel, Mazsons Hotel, Sultan Palace, Breezes Beach Club, Karafuu Hotel, Fisherman’s Resort, Matemwe Beach Village, Blue Oyster Hotel, Tamarind Hotel, Mbweni Ruins Hotel, Ras Nungwi Hotel and Pongwe Hotel. So, travel to Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania and experience its amazing beaches, fascinating history and wonderful spices.

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