Zanzibar Archipelago is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania and its archipelago is 25–50 kilometres off the coast of Tanzania and consists of several small islands in the Indian Ocean which two large ones, namely Unguja and Pemba. On its main island, Unguja, familiarly called Zanzibar, is Stone Town, a historic trade centre with Swahili and Islamic influences and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The word Zanzi-bar comes from Arabic Zanjibār, which is in turn from Persian Zang-bār , a compound of Zang (“Black”) + bār (“coast”).
Unguja – Zanzibar
Unguja (also referred to as Zanzibar Island, in Ancient Greek Menuthias, Μενουθιάς – as mentioned in The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea) is the largest and most populated island of the Archipelago.
Unguja is a hilly island, about 85 kilometres long (north-south) and 30 kilometres wide (east-west) at its widest, with an overall area of about 1,666 square kilometres. It is located in the southern half of the Zanzibar Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean, about 59 kilometres south of the second largest island of the archipelago, Pemba. Unguja and mainland Tanzania are separated by the Zanzibar Channel.
Unguja is surrounded by a number of smaller islands and islets, with only two of them, Tumbatu and Uzi, being inhabited. Other minor islands around Unguja include Bawe, Chapwani, Changuu, Chumbe, Kizingo, Kwale, Latham, Mautani, Miwi, Mnemba, Mwana wa Mwana, Nianembe, Popo, Pungume, and Ukanga.
Zanzibar is very unique because of its white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, vast spice farms, but moreover its cosmopolitan nature which comes from its different former rulers – Omanis, Indians and African. It is beautiful to see how it is integrated in everything here on Zanzibar; in things such as buildings, furniture, doors, rugs, etc. In addition to that, it is also famous for being an ancient town and a former hub for slave trade. It is a town filled with so much history.
Generally, the climate in Zanzibar is warm all year round as it is close to the equator. The heat of summer (corresponding to the Northern Hemisphere winter) is often cooled by strong sea breezes associated with the northeast monsoon, particularly on the north and east coasts. Rains occur in November but are characterised by brief showers. Longer rains normally occur from March to May in association with the southwest monsoon.
Pemba – Zanzibar
Pemba Island, known as “The Green Island” in Arabic (الجزيرة الخضراء), is an island forming part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, lying within the Swahili Coast in the Indian Ocean.
With a land area of 988 square kilometres it is situated about 50 kilometres to the north of Unguja, the largest island of the archipelago. In 1964, Zanzibar was united with the former colony of Tanganyika to form Tanzania. It lies 50 kilometres east of mainland Tanzania, across the Pemba Channel. Together with Mafia Island (south of Unguja), these islands form the Spice Islands (not to be confused with the Maluku Islands of Indonesia).
Most of the island, which is hillier and more fertile than Unguja, is dominated by small scale farming. There is also large scale farming of cash crops such as cloves.
There are many excursions which ZanTours can provide while visiting Zanzibar. Please visit our Excursions page to see what we offer.