Zanzibar Facts, History, Geography, Map, Religion, People

Zanzibar Facts, History, Geography, Map, Religion, People. There are fifty-one islands in the Zanzibar archipelago, ranging in size from tiny rocky outcrops to the main island of Zanzibar, also known as Unguja Island, and its sister island, Pemba Island, located about thirty miles to the north. Unguja, the larger of the two main islands, is just 50 miles long and 24 miles wide and is located in the Indian Ocean about 35 km from the Tanzanian mainland. with Pemba’s length being 40 miles and width being 14 miles. The capital, Zanzibar City, is located on the west coast of Unguja and is home to the old Stone Town.

The main islands in the archipelago, Unguja and Pemba, are home to a thriving agricultural economy that provides the islands with a distinctive flavor and the enticing scent of exotic fruits and spices. The warm, turquoise waters that surround the islands of the archipelago all year long draw divers, snorkelers, and other fans of the underwater world. Some of the most vibrant island scenery in the world are also home to dazzling white sand beaches dotted with palm trees. It’s no surprise that many take vacations here after going on safari, as the region truly is paradise.

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Zanzibar at a glance

CAPITAL CITY: Zanzibar City (on island of Unguja)
LANGUAGE: KiSwahili and English
ELECTRICITY: Type G (Irish/British 3-pin)
POPULATION: 1.1 million
TIME ZONE: GMT + 3 hours
CURRENCY: The Tanzanian Shilling

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Zanzibar History And Politics

Zanzibar has a past fraught with conflict and upheaval. By 1045, nearly all of Zanzibar’s native population had converted to Islam after Arabs first arrived there in the 9th century. By 1700, the Omani Arabs had recovered power after 200 years of Portuguese rule and were exploiting the slave trade among the clove farms. With the British leading the elimination of the slave trade, this practice was prohibited in Zanzibar in 1873.

Zanzibar became a British protectorate in 1890, notwithstanding German administration on the neighboring mainland of Tanganyika. After 70 years of relative calm between the two wars, the British finally relinquished control of Zanzibar in 1963. After Tanganyika achieved its own independence in 1961, the two countries united in 1964 to form the current nation of Tanzania. As a semi-autonomous province of Tanzania, Zanzibar has its own Government of National Unity known as the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar. While Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and Civic United Front (CUF) are not the only two political parties operating in Zanzibar, they have held sway over the island nation since the early 1990s.

The House of Representatives is the legislative body of Zanzibar. It has 81 members, 50 of whom are elected at large every five years. The remaining 31 members are ‘selected’ by what may be considered a less democratic process: 10 are appointed directly by The President of Zanzibar, 15 are reserved for women from parties with existing representation in Parliament, and 6 are allocated to representatives from certain regions. Then, from among these 81, 5 are chosen to represent Zanzibar in Tanzania’s National Assembly.

The latest election on 25th October 2015 was nullified by the Chairman of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission, calling into doubt the level of democracy in operation on the island. The election’s invalidation caused the United Kingdom to release the following statement on October 29: “we call upon all political actors to seek a solution which respects the will of the Zanzibari people as expressed on the polls on October 25.” The heated power battle that has developed between the CCM party and the CUF party over the past 20 years appears to be far from being settled.

Zanzibar Religion

The majority of Zanzibaris adhere to the Islamic faith, and every city and village on Unguja and Pemba, in addition to Zanzibar City, has its own mosque.

An distinctive characteristic of Zanzibar City is the evocative sound of the muezzins calling the people to prayer, highly memorable when witnessed especially during the evening prayer session after sunset. There is an active Christian and Hindu minority within the country’s 98 percent Muslim majority.

What is ZANZIBAR (Tanzania)

Zanzibar People & Culture

Arab people have had a profound impact on Zanzibari culture, which offers visitors with numerous unforgettable experiences. The name Zanzibar comes from the Persian or Arabic word zangh bar, which means “the Negro Coast,” and dates back to the 9th century, when invading Arabs from the north settled on the islands. These Arab conquerors blended in with the natives of these islands, bringing with them a robust Arab culture that is still evident today.

Zanzibar’s distinct cultural character is exemplified by the old “Stone Town” district of the city. This area has been preserved as a virtual “time capsule” of Arab culture. The fact that Norman Bennett titled his book about Zanzibar “The History of the Arab State of Zanzibar” is another evidence of the strength of this Arab culture. Stone Town is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity since it is so rich in Arabian culture.

One of the most powerful examples of a country’s culture that a visitor can experience is the winding alleyways of historic Arabian buildings, the local Arab people, their individual customs of dress, bazaars, markets, and religious practices, all set among a wide range of miscellaneous Arabian art. In addition, the traditional cuisine of the area is infused with unique spices (one of Zanzibar’s primary exports), thus a trip to Zanzibar is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on any foodie.