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Zanzibar Tourist Information
Zanzibar, a part of the United Republic of Tanzania, is a series of many islands, the main ones being Unguja and Pemba. The more populated of the two main islands, Unguja, is better known as Zanzibar Island and is home to Stone Town (also known as Zanzibar Town or Zanzibar City), an historic, bustling city of narrow alleyways and stone coral buildings. In addition to the two main islands, there are many other islands and islets in the Zanzibar archipelago which stretches from the top of Pemba to the south point of Unguja.

Unguja is in the Indian Ocean about 40 km east of Bagamoyo on the Tanzanian mainland. The slightly hilly island itself is about 85 km long and between 20 – 30 km wide at its widest points. Most of the population lives in the more fertile regions of the north and west. The eastern part of the island is arid and covered in coral rag (rock made of coral)making it unattractive for farming, but the beaches and the reefs on the eastern coasts make them ideal for fishing villages, tourist guesthouses, and resorts.

Pemba, located about 50 Kms north of Unguja, is far less populated. Known also by its Arabic name, Al Khundra meaning Green Island, Pemba is covered in steep hills full of palms, clove and rubber trees, rice paddies and the Ngezi Forest in the north. There are many pure, beautiful beaches in and around the numerous inlets and coves. Tourism is not as developed on Pemba as it is on Unguja but resorts are being built and the infrastructure will undoubtedly improve as tourism increases.

Map Of Zanzibar


 

 

 

 

 

 



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People
The people of Zanzibar are predominantly Muslim, about 95% of the population being followers of Islam. The remaining percentage is a mix of Christians, Hindus and followers of various other religions. Swahili is the official and national language of Tanzania but English is also spoken in Zanzibar, and a percentage of the population also has a working knowledge of Arabic. The population consists of people from the following ancestries: African, Persian, Omani (and other Arab states), and Asian. The local economy is based on agriculture and fishing. The population of the archipelago is estimated at over 740,000 while the population of Unguja is estimated at almost 450,000, forty per cent of which live in Stone Town. The literacy rate in Zanzibar is very high.

Climate
Zanzibar is a few degrees south of the equator and enjoys a tropical climate that is largely dominated by the Indian Ocean monsoons. The kasikazi winds are from the north and occur in the winter months bringing the short rains.

The long rains, known as mwaka, arrive in March and last until late May or June. January through March is generally hot and dry with little rainfall. April through June is wet because of the long rains which start to taper off in May.

July through October are ideal months for visiting Zanzibar because the average temperature is 25 C, the air is dry and breezy and there is little rainfall. November and December are when the short rains appear.

Average rainfall in Zanzibar is about 165 cm (65 inches) and the average temperature is 26 C (79 F).

The name Zanzibar came from a combination of two Arabic words, 'Zinj', meaning black, and 'barr', being the Arabic word for land, the result meaning 'Land of the Blacks'.

Visas/taxes
Please note that you will require a visa for Tanzania at a cost of $ 50 per person and you will also have to pay airport departure taxes of $25.
visas airport taxes, etc.
Visas can be obtained in advance or upon arrival at the airport in Tanzania.

Health
Yellow Fever vaccinations are mandatory, and we recommend anti – malarial tablets, especially during the rainy season. Most prescription drugs can be bought affordably and with ease over the counter in Stone town.. Personal Insurance is advised.

Official Language
Swahiili is the main language here. English is also widely spoken and understood.

How to get to Zanzibar
Getting to Zanzibar by Air from the Rest of the World at present, Kenya airways (together with KLM) Air Tanzania, South African airways, offer international scheduled flights to Zanzibar. Several large carriers fly into Dar es Salaam, which is only a short trip by air or sea from Zanzibar. Amongst them are British Airways, Emirates Airlines, Gulf air, Ethiopian
airline.
Domestic Flights:
Coastal Aviation, Precision Air, and Zan air, offers a range of scheduled flights between Zanzibar and Tanzania's main cities.

Getting to Zanzibar by Sea.
There are several sea ferry companies that ply the waters between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam. They're Ferris as Azam Marine, Sea express, Sea bus, and you can book ferry tickets through us. Links to these companies can be found
in the Touring Zanzibar section website.

Tours
Tours of Zanzibar Island are a rewarding experience with cultural sights and natural beauty on the itinerary.

History
For a small island in the southern waters of the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar has a long and unexpected history. Easily accessible for the people of the African mainland, the Zanzibar islands are believed to have been settled first by Africans, some three to four thousand years ago. Centuries later the island began a history of hosting foreigners from Egypt, Greece, Persia, Arabia, India, China and Europe. The first recorded visit to Zanzibar is from about 60 AD and appears in a work titled "The Periplus of the Erythaean Sea", written by a Greek merchant who was living in Alexandria. Claudius Ptolemy, the famous Greek geographer living in Egypt, also made mention of Zanzibar in his work at about 150 AD, although the island was referred to under another name. Trade routes from Egypt, Roman Europe and the African coast, including Zanzibar, were, by the time of Ptolemy's writing, extending to Indo-Chinese ports.

It is believed that Bantu people (Africans speaking Bantu languages) settled in Zanzibar somewhere around the 4th century AD. By the 7th century AD, Islam had made its way to Zanzibar by way of Arab and Persian immigrants who were fleeing political strife, war, and famine in their own lands. The Arabs mixed with the local African population and along with trading goods, traded words as well, which eventually resulted in a language called Kiswahili today. The people referred to themselves and their culture as Swahili (thought to be named from the Arabic word sahil meaning coast) and thus the language was named as well. For the following centuries the Arabs and Persians continued to trade with their homelands while marrying into local society in Zanzibar and along the East African coast. Typical cargoes bound for Persia or Arabia consisted of gold, animal pelts, tortoise shells, ivory, ebony, and slaves; return ships contained porcelains, beads, and cloth. The Swahili culture reached its peak in the 13th century and it prospered up until the arrival of the Europeans in the late 15th century.Chinese shipping logs show entries from junks having visited Zanzibar harbour as early as the 13th century.

The oldest trace of Islam on the island is in Kizimkazi, the southern-most village on Unguja, where there's a mosque with inscriptions dating back to 1107 AD. The mosque has been renovated several times but the old inscriptions are still there and available for viewing by tourists. Remember to remove shoes, keep shoulders and knees covered, speak quietly, and leave a donation. Women are allowed to enter this mosque.

By the 15th century, Zanzibar was its own Sultanate but this independence did not last. In 1498 Vasco da Gama's expedition from Portugal began a stronghold over the whole East African Coast that lasted for two centuries. During this time, Jesuits, Dominicans, and Augustinians built churches and tried to convert the local populace to Roman Catholicism, but were largely unsuccessful. The Portuguese did not send enough men to protect their new territory and by the late 1600s they had lost their last East African holding by surrendering Mombasa on the now Kenyan coast. There is little evidence left that the Portuguese dominated Zanzibar for two hundred years although there are still bullfights on Pemba, some words left in Swahili that originated from Portuguese, and the patterns of the kanga (ubiquitous local cloth) are said to have originated from Portuguese handkerchiefs.

The Bullfights in Pemba, assumed to be a cultural holdover from the Portuguese era, do not result in the death of the animal. The bulls are Indian and not nearly as fat and fierce as those seen in bullfights in Europe.

 
     
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Tel: +254-20-2011066/3004051 Fax: +254-20-2011061 E-mail: nahdy@todays.co.ke