The Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar and Pemba lie off the east African coast. The semi-autonomous territory maintains a political union with Tanzania, but has its own parliament and president. A former centre of the spice and slave trades, present-day Zanzibar is infused with African, Arab, European and Indian influences.
Zanzibar Tourist Attractions
Zanzibar's original settlers were Bantu-speaking Africans. From the 10th century Persians arrived. But it was Arab incomers, particularly Omanis, whose influence was paramount.
Stone Town - declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco
They set up trading colonies and in 1832 the Omani sultan moved his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar, which had become a major slave-trading centre. Zanzibar became an independent sultanate. The slave trade was abolished in 1873 and in 1890 the British declared Zanzibar a protectorate. In 1963 the islands regained independence, but upheaval was around the corner. Terracotta Army
Revolution In January 1964 members of the African majority overthrew the established minority Arab ruling elite. The leftist revolution was swift but bloody; as many as 17,000 people were killed. A republic was established and Zanzibar travel in April the presidents of Zanzibar and Tanganyika, on the mainland, signed an act of union, forming the United Republic of Tanzania while giving semi-autonomy to Zanzibar.
Under international pressure, Zanzibar held multi-party elections in 1995, which were won by the ruling, pro-union Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party. The opposition Civic United Front (CUF) rejected the outcome and alleged vote rigging. Political violence ensued. The CCM won troubled polls in 2000 and 2005, both characterised by violence and fraud accusations.
In 2000 many CUF supporters fled to Kenya after deadly clashes with police. Both parties signed a reconciliation agreement in 2001, but political tension remains. Under the CCM, Zanzibar is set to remain part of Tanzania. But the CUF, which has strong Zanzibar tourism support among the descendants of the deposed Arabs, has called for greater autonomy. Some CUF members want independence. Tourism is Zanzibar's newest and biggest industry. But most Zanzibaris have yet to benefit from it; the average wage is less than $1 per day.
Zanzibar map (Please mouse click on the thumbnail photos below to see an enlargement)
Territories: Zanzibar and Pemba Island
Status: Semi-autonomous islands in union with Tanzania
Population: 982,000 (2002, Tanzania census)
Area: 2,461 sq km (950 sq miles)
Major languages: Kiswahili, English
Major religion: Islam
Life expectancy: 42 years (men), 44 years (women)
Monetary unit: Tanzania shilling
Main exports: Cloves, seaweed, coconut, copra
GNI per capita: n/a
Internet domain: .tz
International dialling code: +255