zanzibar island tanzania africa

Zanzibar Island

The name Zanzibar ( زنگبار ) derives from the Persian "zanj" and it is with this term that the Persians indicated the blacks, we can think that "zang-i bar" means "Land of the blacks".
There is a second theory about the name of the island, that is it comes from the Arabic word "zanjabīl" which means "ginger", one of the spices traded from Zanzibar, even today we do not know exactly the precise etymology of the name of the island yet.

Until the 16th century it was under Arab control, then the conquest of the island by the Portuguese led to a rapid collapse of the Swahili civilization.
At the end of the 17th century, the Sultanate of Oman drove out the Portuguese from Zanzibar, which became part of the sultanate.
In 1890 it came under the British dominion, which lasted until 1963, the year in which the United Kingdom granted the independence to the sultanate. The following year Tanzania was born.

The Zanzibar archipelago is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania located in the Indian Ocean, 25-50 km off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, indicated informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba.
In Tanzania's political system, Zanzibar has administrative autonomy, with its own government called the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, its own parliament with a five-year mandate that is divided into two chambers: the Revolutionary Council of Zanzibar and the House of Representatives of Zanzibar, a own president and also his own constitution.
The capital is Zanzibar, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic center is Stone Town, which is a world heritage site.

About the 97% of the population of Zanzibar is of Ibadi Muslim faith; the remaining 3% mainly includes Christians and Hindus.
There is a very strong historical and cultural presence in Zanzibar: there are monuments related to both European and Asian culture, some of which were built before the 12th century.
Historically it was one of the most important centers for the slave trade.

Visiting the historic center of Stone Town, visitors can stroll between the Sultan's Palace, the House of Wonders, the Portuguese fort, the gardens, the merchants' houses and the Turkish baths of the old city.
The "Spice Tour" gives the visitor the chance to observe the cultivation of: cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices that have made the island famous.

The coast of Zanzibar offers some of the best beaches in the world, but the sand and waves vary depending on which side of the island you are on.

On the east coast, the waves break on coral reefs and sand tongues and when there is low tide, they reveal small pools with starfish, small fish and anemones.
Towards the north, the ocean is much less susceptible to tides, and smooth beaches and white sand provide the tourist with a unique seaside experience.

On the southern coast of Zanzibar there is the Menai Bay Conservation Area, a sea turtle protection area for endangered species that allows them to reproduce on the island.
The roads to the south-east coast bring visitors through the Jozani forest, home of the rare red Colobus monkeys of Zanzibar and other primate species as well as small antelopes.

Peculiarities of Zanzibar:

  • is a UNESCO heritage site;
  • the islands of Zanzibar were united to the continent during the last ice age, in fact on the island there are many species present also on the continent. The most famous species are: the red colobus of Zanzibar (one of the rarest African primates to see), the Zanzibar leopard (which to this day is considered extinct) and the servaline genet of Zanzibar;
  • so many spices can be found, such as: ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and many others;
  • one of the best places in the world to see the whale shark, it is also one of the most beautiful places for diving and snorkeling;
  • you can do many types of excursions: tour to observe the dolphins, tour to discover all the local spices, or to visit the prisons, visit the Jozani forest and many others;
  • one of the things that remains from the period of British domination is the great popularity of football: on the island there is its own league and its own national team, which is not recognized by FIFA.

What to do

Beach holidays, diving and snorkeling, boat and canoe excursions, cultural tourism, fishing, luxury travel, spa treatments, sports holidays, volunteering, weddings.


It is 35 km from the coast of Dar es Salaam and the island covers an area of 1,465 km².
Zanzibar is an island located in the Indian Ocean a few degrees south of the equator.

When to Go

The climate is hot and humid, the maximum temperature is 32° C. The hottest months go from November to February.
The season of the Great Rains is from April to May, while that of the Little Rains is from October to November.

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