Zanzibar is an island that lies about 35 kilometres east of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. The island has also been part of Tanzania since April 1964. It is about 1550 km2 in size and 1.4 million people (including Pemba) live there (2014). The largest city with about 250.000 inhabitants is Stonetown (or Zanzibar city), but other cities are Chwaka, Kizimkazi and Koani. The native name of the island is Unguja. The highest point is 120 meters. The main languages are Swahili and English, but also Arabic and French are spoken. The population is a mix of diverse cultures. The most important economic factors are agriculture, cattle, fishing and tourism. The island of Pemba, which lies to the north of Zanzibar and is slightly smaller, is also counted as Zanzibar. Pemba is best known for the production of cloves.
The island has an international airport that is flown from various countries. The country is also easily accessible by boat from Dar es Salaam, a crossing takes 2 hours (about 70 km). The island has a port. The island is also known as a free trade zone and has a growing economy (around 7%), but also high inflation (around 5%). More than 300.000 tourists visit the island every year, 2/3 of them from Europe. Around the island are several coral reefs, which are among the most interesting dive sites in the world. The only infrastructure on the island consists of roads, the quality of which is quite variable. There are approximately 180 traffic fatalities per year. There are 3 hospitals on the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.
The government makes a positive contribution to primary education, but the possibilities for further education are limited. The island has a semi-autonomous government and can therefore also make its own decisions. Although the island has its own drinking water facilities, the demand is more than the production. It has a 220 volt electricity grid.
More than 98% of the population is Muslim.
There are indications that people already lived around 20.000 BC. It involved small groups of people. It is estimated that the first people from the African country only came to 100 BC. When the world trade started slowly, merchants also found the island a good base. That trade was mainly done by Arabs, Persians and Indians. Around 100 AD, the population slowly increased. The most important settlement was at the location of the current Stonetown. Around 1400 the Chinese arrived and around 1500 the first European (Portuguese). In 1698 the Sultan of Oman gained control. Then the first slave trade also arose. Slaves from southeast Africa were transported to the island. Sometimes they were put to work on the island, but also traded to India and Arab countries. In the early 19th, 40.000 to 50.000 slaves were traded every year. About 30% stayed on the island. Because the slaves came from the mainland, there was also enormous transport of slaves. Many never reached the island, but died prematurely. Explorer David Livingstone even made an estimate that it involved 80.000 slaves who did not save it annually.
In 1822, the British signed a treaty with the sultan to curb trafficking in human beings. It was not until 1876 that the slave trade was officially banned. Because many slaves could not read or had no money, it took until the beginning of the 20th century that slavery had really been banned.
Because of the fertile soil and the favorable climate, the slaves were mainly used in agriculture. The most important product was (and is) cloves, but also coconuts were grown. Even now agriculture is still an important source of income. Sweet potatoes, rice, corn and citrus fruits are now also being grown. Although there is a lively trade, large parts of the population do not benefit from this. Poverty in cities is decreasing, but outside of city areas poverty is still high.
While Tanzania is known for its wildlife, it hardly appears on the island of Zanzibar. The Zanzibar fringed monkey or Red Colubus monkey only occur on Zanzibar. There was also a Zanzibar leopard, but it has not been observed since 2003. There are still many birds and butterflies to be found on the island.