Zanzibar Introduction

Zanzibar is an archipelago consisting of two main Islands of Unguja commonly referred to as Zanzibar Island, Pemba and about 51 other surrounding small islets. Zanzibar is a partner state of the United Republic of Tanzania, the Mainland. The name Zanzibar is derived from a combination of two Arabic words, 'Zenj', meaning black, and 'bar', being the Arabic word for land, resulting in the ancient title 'Land of the Blacks'. Zanzibar absorbed people from as far as the Orient and Iberia, Assyria and India. Pemba is the second largest island of the Archipelago, named Al-khudra "The Green Island"by the Arabic mariners. It is famous for its clove production and its channels offer some of the best diving experiences in Africa. Zanzibar is a magical blend of Arabia and Africa and combines history with tropical beaches, making it appeal to pretty much everybody.

Stone Town

The capital, Stone Town's architecture is a mix of Omani palaces, Arabian arches and Indian wooden balconies and chunky doors, still complete with hefty brass studs

Population

Zanzibar consists of a multiracial and multicultural community. It is a society of many faiths and of different origins. Almost the entire population is of mixed races primarily of Arab and African decent blended together. The current population of Zanzibar according to 2002 census is 984,625 inhabitants with an annual growth rate of 3.5%.

Government

Zanzibar is a part of the United Republic of Tanzania and has its own Government led by its president. It has a House of Representatives popularly elected and cabinet ministers for all matters which are not Union Affairs. Zanzibar became a multiparty democracy after the 1999 elections.

Climate and weather

Being so close to the equator, Zanzibar's temperatures are steady throughout the year, going from warm to quite hot (25 degrees Celsius to slightly above 30 degrees), with the advantage of a fresh sea breeze catching you everywhere. The so-called "heavy rains"last from March to end May. The "short rains"take place in November.

Best attractions

Even if you are after a beach or water sport holiday, a visit to Stone Town is worthwhile.

The House of Wonders

The House of Wonders (Bait al Ajaib), formerly the ceremonial palace of Sultan Bargash, incorporates most of the typical Zanzibarian architecture: the enormous wooden doors, a reminder of both Arab and Indian craftsmanship; the tall columns creating shady verandas around the building, and all rooms having been built along the four sides of the house, creating an airy and cool courtyard inside.
The House of Wonders dominates the sea front of Stone Town and was once connected with the majority of the other white palaces along the sea front by way of wooden shaded walkways. Next to the wondrous house, which, by the way, got its name due to it being one of the first buildings receiving electricity in East Africa, is the old fort, which houses a still much used amphitheatre, a couple of good art galleries, and the Neem Tree restaurant.The rabbit-warren that is old Stone Town houses many attractions, such as the old Persian Baths, the Cultural Centre, the spice market and many private houses which once belonged to wealthy merchants, and still display the trappings of splendor, such as delicately carved balconies and shuttered windows.

Spice Plantations

Another must, before you head to the beach, is a visit to a Spice Plantations and the Jozani Forest.There are several spice plantations that are open to visitors: You will be taken around by a guide, who will let you sniff, taste and experience all the small jewels that grow on the islands. Cinnamon, ginger, lemon grass, chili, cardamom, vanilla, turmeric, curry leaves, nutmeg, obviously cloves, bay leaves, and many more kitchen staples, together with ten species of banana, jack fruit, durian, guava, papaya and the ubiquitous coconut, which will be retrieved from its lofty place whenever you feel thirsty, make for an interesting day out.

The Jozani Forest

Further inside the island, the Jozani Forest, part of the Jozani Chwaka National Park, is a dedicated nature reserve that offers a home to the rare Red Colobus monkeys, which can only be found there.
The mature forest, where precious hardwoods such as teak and mahogany, raffia palms and wild date palms grown tall, and animals such as chameleons, elephant shrews and bush babies live, is overwhelming at its best, but once you encounter a group of monkeys, the forest truly comes alive.
The first sign that there are monkeys around are the rustling leaves and then you can spot the long straight tails dangling from the braches. The stunning forest together with the mad-cap and not-at-all-shy monkeys are an experience unique to Zanzibar Island, and should not be missed under any circumstances.

Beach Sunset

Another must-do is taking sundowners on Serena Inn hotel's terrace at sunset. Everything you imagine about exotic Zanzibar comes true there whilst you sit comfortably, sipping a cocktail and being serenaded by a small local orchestra. At sunset the triangular sails of the dhows come close to the coast, returning from fishing trips or longer voyages, dark triangles set against the orange red skies and small green islands with white beaches in the background.

Dolphin Excursions

And if this wasn't breath-taking enough, you have dolphins leisurely accompanying the sail boats and jumping out of the water just for your camera. Sounds just like one of those tacky oil-paintings, but its true never-the-less, and something you won't forget in a hurry.

Hospitality & Culture

Zanzibar is the birthplace of Swahili, a lingua franca forged from global dialects, upon which legends were carried. Trade routes opened and a Sultan's empire prospered. It is here that the Africa Culture blended with other cultures mainly Persian, Arabic and Indian to form Swahili Culture. Today the romance, the splendor and legends of the past are still vibrantly alive, traditional sailing dhows, carved wooden and doors, chests, the scent of the clove and the smile of the hospitable people welcomes you to Zanzibar.

Geography

The two Islands are located in the Indian Ocean about 35km off the coast of mainland Tanzania at longitude 39 degrees East and latitude 6 degrees South of Equator. Pemba is about 40 miles long and 14 miles wide. It has a surface area of 608 square miles (2,332 square kilometers). It is located about 36 miles from the continent and 29 miles north-east of Unguja Island. Unguja Island is 50 miles long and 24 miles wide. It has a surface area of 995 square miles. It is separated from the continent by a 21 mile corridor at its narrowest point. Its highest point is 390 feet above sea level.

Health & Safety

Visitors to Zanzibar are no longer required by law to have a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate. When you enter the country, please see your local doctor or Travel Clinic for further information about inoculations required for the area.
Malaria is still prevalent in East Africa and so one should also take a malaria prophylaxis. There are many different kinds of medications for Malaria. However, precautions should be taken to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Apply insect repellent and sleep under mosquito nets at night. Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers in the evenings.
Zanzibar is not much infected by HIV/AIDS. However you are advised to avoid all AIDS fueling factors.
As in almost all African countries, it is pleased to drink bottled water and avoid uncooked foods that may have been washed in untreated water. Sunstroke and heat exhaustion are common, so drink sufficient water, wear sensible clothing and use a high-factor sunscreen.

Safety

Zanzibar is a safe country, and most locals are friendly and honest. Simple precautions, however, should be taken so as to have a relaxing and interesting stay in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Media & Communication

Media and Communication provides access for tourists and investors to the latest technologies in sound, printing, and visual communication. There are numbers of media and communication companies that keep you home away from home. The most recommended media are: Guardian, Sunday News, Daily News, The daily nation and Zantel, ttcl, Zain, Vodacom, Tigo for communication.

Religion

The majority of Zanzibar residents practice the Islamic faith which reflects also their life style and culture. Mosques are sacred places and usually no entry by non Muslims. During the holy month of Ramadhan Muslims are fasting from dawn to sun set and you may find difficult to find food during the day hours. However some specified restaurants are allowed to serve the tourists. There are also Christian churches and Hindu temples which offer regular services on Sunday and on special occasions.

Shopping

As you stroll through Stone Town, you will find several shops selling wood carvings, Zanzibari chests, clothes, spices, jewellery, paintings and antiques. Most of the gift shops are situated along Kenyatta Road in Shangani, and Gizenga Street behind the Old Fort. Tourists are advised not to buy any products related to protected species on the islands, such as sea shells and turtles. A holiday to Zanzibar would be incomplete without visiting these souvenir shops.