About Zanzibar

Explore the islands with us and discover the evocative heritage of Shirazi and Omani sultans, slave traders and spice merchants! Learn about the fascinating culture of the Zanzibaris, swim in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, and relax on the white sandy beaches beneath palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze!

Zanzibar is mysterious, romantic and intriguing.

Once it was one of Africa’s most prosperous countries, due to its position on the ancient trade routes between the countries along the Indian Ocean and the African interior.

Spices, ivory, slaves and minerals were among the treasured goods that were traded in Zanzibar for centuries. Immigrants from Arabia, India, Persia and China came to settle on the islands and mixed with the local Bantu people to create the distinctive Swahili society and culture.

 

Later, European colonial powers left their mark, too: the Portuguese during the 16th and 17th century, before they were ousted by the Omani Arabs, who maintained power until the revolution in 1964, and the British, who took it as a protectorate following the Helgoland-Zanzibar Treaty in 1891.

Now no longer very prosperous in the fiscal sense, the islands still have a wealth of culture and many historical monuments which commemorate the African, British and particularly Arab influences – sultan’s palaces, cathedrals, mosques, Hindu temples, fortresses and old colonial houses.

Population

Zanzibar’s total population is 1,300,000, with approximately 900,000 living on Unguja (Zanzibar Island) and 400,000 on Pemba. Mafia Island with its 41,000 inhabitants geographically belongs to the Zanzibar archipelago, but is administered by mainland Tanzania. The smaller islands are only sparsely populated or uninhabited.

Religion

More than 90% of the local population are Muslims; the remainder are Hindu or Christian and some with traditional beliefs. As well as close to 70 mosques, Stone Town features an Anglican and a Catholic Cathedral and several Hindu Temples.

Religious tolerance has a long and deeply rooted tradition on the island; Sultan Barghash even donated the church bell for the Anglican Cathedral!

Language

The main language is Kiswahili. Even if you only use a few words while you are in Zanzibar, you will make many friends. English is widely spoken and many people also speak Arabic. Other European languages such as Italian and French are known by some local people, especially around the tourist areas.

Visa

Visa are required for all visitors. Please check with any Tanzanian High Commission or Consulate.
Tanzanian Embassies worldwide: http://www.embassypages.com/tanzania

Health

The standard of health care varies widely on the islands. There are some good doctors and private clinics, most of them in Zanzibar Town. There are also some well-stocked pharmacies, but if you need special medication, it is strongly recommended you bring a sufficient supply from home.

Malaria has decreased significantly over the past years in Zanzibar, but is still present. A yellow fever vaccination is required for visitors arriving from a yellow fever area. For other possible health risks and recommended vaccinations, please consult your doctor before travelling.

Electricity

Power system is 220-240 volts A/C, plugs 13amp, usually square pin. Adapters are available to purchase in Zanzibar. Power cuts are quite frequent, though usually short; it is a good idea to bring a torch.

Driving

To drive a car or motorbike in Zanzibar, an international driving license is required. Alternatively, a temporary exemption certificate can be issued for a fee. Driving is on the left.

Safety

Tanzania and especially Zanzibar are generally quite safe, but there have been some incidents of muggings and bag-snatching, particularly in tourist areas at night. It’s best to leave your valuables in the hotel safe.