Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba Island. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic centre is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site. The name Zanzibar is derived from the Persian zang-bar signifying “black coast”.
Zanzibar’s main industries are spices, raffia, and tourism. In particular, the islands produce cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper. For this reason, the Zanzibar Archipelago, together with Tanzania’s Mafia Island, are sometimes called the “Spice Islands” (a term also associated with the Maluku Islands of Indonesia). Zanzibar is the home of the endemic Zanzibar red colobus, the Zanzibar servaline genet, and the (possibly extinct) Zanzibar leopard.
Geography : Zanzibar is one of the Indian Ocean islands. It is situated on the Swahili Coast, adjacent to Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania). The northern tip of Unguja island is located at 5.72 degrees south, 39.30 degrees east, with the southernmost point at 6.48 degrees south, 39.51 degrees east. The island is separated from the Tanzanian mainland by a channel, which at its narrowest point is 36.5 kilometres (22.7 mi) across. The island is about 85 kilometres (53 mi) long and 39 kilometres (24 mi) wide, with an area of 1,464 km2 (565 sq mi). Unguja is mainly low lying, with its highest point being 120 metres (390 ft). Unguja is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs. The reefs are rich in marine biodiversity. The northern tip of Pemba island is located at 4.87 degrees south, 39.68 degrees east, and the southernmost point is located at 5.47 degrees south, 39.72 degrees east. The island is separated from the Tanzanian mainland by a channel some 56 kilometres (35 mi) wide. The island is about 67 kilometres (42 mi) long and 23 kilometres (14 mi) wide, with an area of 985 km2 (380 sq mi). Pemba is also mainly low lying, with its highest point being 95 metres (312 ft).
Understand : The island and the surrounding islets are divided into three regions. They are Zanzibar Central/South, Zanzibar North and Zanzibar Urban/West. Zanzibar City, on the central west coast, is the capital and largest city of Zanzibar and the region of Zanzibar Urban/West. The population of Unguja was 984,625 in the census of 2002, with the most concentrated populations located in the Zanzibar Urban region.
The larger and more populated of Zanzibar’s two main islands, Unguja is separated from its northern neighbor Pemba by 48 km of open sea. The mainland of Tanzania, which lies to the southwest of Unguja and is separate from it by the Zanzibar Channel, is considerably closer, as is the major Tanzanian mainland port of Dar es Salaam. Smaller islands surround the coast, notably Tumbatu in the northwest, Uzi in the south, and Mnemba Atoll in the northeast. A considerable number of smaller islands and reefs lie off Unguja’s southwest coast. Many of Zanzibar’s main centres are on Unguja, and most of the Zanzibari economy is also based here. Other than the capital, the island’s major population centres include Mbweni, Mangapwani, Chwaka, and Nungwi. Tourism is a major industry.
History : Zanzibar is rich in history, with numerous archaeological sites dotting the island, most notably at Unguja Ukuu, just to the north of the causeway which links Unguja and Uzi Islands. The island has been deeply influenced by Arab culture for many centuries, and was part of the Sultanate of Oman starting in 1698. In 1896, Zanzibar was the location of the world’s shortest war — they surrendered to the British Army after 38 minutes.
Access : Coordinates: -6.133333, 39.316667 / By boat : There are many ferries and catamarans that can take you between Dar es Salaam and the Island. Azam Marine,Sea Express, Sea Star, Seagull Kilimanjaro and Sepideh Megaspeed Liners are among the nicest available. Some of these are run by Azam (2 hr, US$35 for non-residents, leaving Dar es Salaam at 07:00, 09:30, 12:30 and 15:45 and returning from Stone Town at 07:00, 09:30, 12:30 and 15:30, check for updates). Depending on demand, weather and condition of the boats additional ferries may run at different times. Be sure to arrive at the port at least 30 minutes in advance to allow for emigration, luggage security checks and to secure a good seat on the boat.
First class is US$5 more expensive than economy and often not worth the money: While there’s good comfortable seating, you’ll stay in a freezing room with the A/C set to 18°C and foreigners are often allowed in first class anyways, since they already pay around 2½ times the local price. If you prefer to stay on the sundeck outside, choose economy. The quoted US$ price may be more expensive when paid in local currency, so it may be a good idea to exchange money first.
By plane : Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (ZNZ IATA) (located on Unguja Island, it is about 5 km (3.1 mi) south of Zanzibar City). Abeid Amani Karume International Airport , Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (Q1393401)
Airlines that fly to Zanzibar are: Regional Air, Precision Air, ZanAir, Coastal Aviation, Tropical Air, Mango, Flydubai, Qatar Airways, Oman Air, Auric Air, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and Fly540. In January 2014, Coastal was charging US$70 for a one-way flight from Dar with a 15-kg baggage limit preferably in soft bags. The planes are small, so luggage can be an issue if you’re doing a lot of shopping. A Precision Air ticket will cost a bit more but with a more generous baggage allowance. Zanzibar has 2 departure taxes: domestic flights TSh 5,000 (or US$5), and international flights US$30. For almost all cases though, this tax is incorporated into your flight ticket price.
Taxi : There are taxis waiting for passengers when you exit the terminal. Despite having a “list” of prices for the various tourist destinations on the island, prices are negotiable. Although you can arrange a pick up at the airport with your hotel or tour company, even a little negotiating will get you a better price than the inflated one quoted by most hotels. However, some Stone Town hotels do offer free shuttle service from the airport.
Attractions : Jozani Forest , Nakupenda beach , Stone Town , The inner city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Blending Moorish, Middle Eastern, Indian, and African traditions and architectures , The House of Wonders , Former Slave Market , East Beaches , Kendwa Beach , paje beach
Activities : Spice tour , Scuba diving and snorkelling , Dolphin tour , Ride on a local’s dhow , Sit and stare at the water , Zanzibar Butterfly Centre.