Zanzibar, or the Spice Islands as it had been known, and Tanganyika had united in 1964 and they now form Tanzania. The islands had had a long tradition of trading with the Arab world and are known for producing cloves. The islands are near the equator and visitors can enjoy typical tropical weather: long, sunny days with some wind.
Zanzibar, or Unguja Island, is part of Tanzania in East Africa. The Zanzibar archipelago comprises 2 main islands – Unguja Island and Pemba Island – and a few smaller ones.
- Zanzibar Stone Town - This is Zanzibar’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Stone Town – Mji Mkongwe in Swahilli – is an old part of Zanzibar City, which is the island’s capital. Visit it for the roads that are too narrow and small to fit cars; the fusion of Arab, Persian, Indian and African styles.
- Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park - JCBNP is Zanzibar’s only national park and covers about 50 square kilometres. The park rests upon a limestone terrace and various endangered and endemic animals reside within the park.
- Unguja Ukuu - This village has a rich history and had been built on the earlier town (c. 500 - 900 AD). The villagers tell many stories about one of their most famous ancestors: Mohamed wa Joka.
- Arab Fort - The Omani Arabs had ousted the Portugese in 1698 and built the Arab Fort, or Ngome Kongwe, in the years following the ousting. The fort – built on the site of an old Portugese church – has been used as protection against other groups, a prison, and a barracks.
- Hamamni Persian Baths - Burgash bin Said, Zanzibar’s second sultan, built the baths during his reign in the late 19th century. These had been Zanzibar’s first public baths. They no longer function – since the 1920s – but they offer a good glimpse of a bygone era.
Zanzibar activities and events:
- Zanzibar International Film Festival - This yearly festival celebrates film, features, documentaries, shorts, and animation from African, India, Pakistan, Gulf States, Iran and the Indian Ocean islands. The festival – the largest of its kind in East Africa – started in 1997 and runs from June to July each year.
- Mwaka Kogwa - This 4-day festival takes place during each July. The feast’s origins are Zoroastrian and Zanzibarians celebrate the Shirazi New Year by burning huts and having mock fights. Anyone is welcome to participate in the festival; Zanzibarians believe that houses without guests are unhappy places.
- Zanzibar Music Festival - Zanzibar celebrate the Sauti za Busara – Sounds of Wisdom – festival each second weekend of February. This is an international festival that celebrates East African music and has been celebrated since 2003. There are carnivals, street parades, African performances and a finalé party.
- Eid-al-Fitr - Zanzibarians of the Muslim faith celebrate Eid-al-Fitr, which means 'Smaller Eid' for 3 days. They celebrate Eid-al-Fitr or Sikukuu to break the fast of Ramadan.
- Zanzibar Cultural Festival - This 6-day festival takes place in July, shortly after the Zanzibar International Film Festival had been held. While the majority of the festival celebrates Zanzibar’s heritage, it does also give opportunity to performers from other countries – most notably East African. Expect Taarab music, bull fights, arts and crafts, and dancing.