HISTORY IN ZANZIBAR.
Zanzibar Island gained independence from Britain in December 1963 as a Constitutional monarchy. A month later, the bloody Zanzibar Revolution, in which several thousand Arabs and Indians were killed and thousands more expelled and expropriated, led to the Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba. That April, the republic merged with the mainland Tanganyika or more accurately was subsumed into Tanzania, of which Zanzibar remains a semi-autonomous region. Zanzibar was most recently in the international news with a January 2001 massacre, following contested elections.
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25 – 50 kilometers (16 – 31 mi) off the coast of the mainland and consists of many small Islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba Island. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic center is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site.
Zanzibar’s main industries are spices, raffia, and tourism. In particular, the Islands produce cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper. For this reason, the Zanzibar Archipelago together with Tanzania’s Mafia Island, are sometimes referred to locally as the “spice island”.
Zanzibar is a home of the endemic Zanzibar red colobus, the Zanzibar servaline ganet and the extinct or rare Zanzibar leopard.
Zanzibar is one of the Indian Ocean Islands. It is situated on the Swahili coast, adjacent to Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania). The northern tip of Unguja Island is located at 5.72 degrees south, 39.30 degrees east, with the southernmost point at 6.48 degrees south, 39.51 degrees east.
The Island is separated from the Tanzanian mainland by a channel, which at its narrowest point is 36.5 kilometers across. The Island is about 85 kilometers long and 35 kilometers wide, with an area of 1,464-kilometer square, Unguja is mainly low lying, with its highest point being 120 meters. Unguja is characterized by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs. The reefs are rich in marine biodiversity.
The northern tip of Pemba Island is located at 4.87 degrees south, 39.68 degrees east, at the southernmost point is located at 5.47 degrees south, 39.72 degrees east. The Island is separated from the Tanzanian mainland by a channel some of 56 kilometers wide. The Island is about 67 kilometers (42 mi) long and 23 kilometers (14 mi) wide, with an area of the 985-kilometer square. Pemba is also mainly low lying, with its highest point being 95 meters (312 ft.)
Zanzibar’s brilliant white beaches lapped by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean provide the perfect place to relax, soak up the sun and take a break from some busy sightseeing.
The beaches in Zanzibar are a paradise, interspersed with picturesque fishing villages, where the people live a simple way of life, unchanged over the years. There are more than 25 fantastic beaches in Zanzibar, and some are so peaceful and remote that the only noise breaking the silence is likely to be the Ocean.
WHITE SANDS AND ISLETS ABOUND
At the northern tip of the island is Nungwi, approached by a road lined by banana palms, mangrove and coconut trees. This is the dhow building capital of Zanzibar Island, so it is a good place to see traditional craftsmen at work.
On the west coast of Zanzibar, Manga-pwani beach is worth a visit, and to the east are the beaches of Matemwe, Pwani Mchangani, Kiwengwa, Uroa, Bwejuu and Jambiani, all with stretches of beautiful white sands.
TRANSPORT IN ZANZIBAR
Zanzibar has 1,600 kilometers of roads, of which 85% are tarmacked or semi-tarmacked.
There is no government-owned public transportation in Zanzibar. The privately-owned Daladala, as it is officially known in Zanzibar, is the only kind of public transportation. The term Daladala is originated from Swahili word DALA(DOLLAR) or Five Shillings during the 1970s and 1980s when public transport cost five shillings to travel the nearest town. Therefore traveling to town will cost a Dollar (Dala) and returning will cost a Dollar, hence the term “Daladala” Originated.
Stone town is the main hub for ‘daladala’ on Zanzibar and nearly all journeys will either start or end here. There are two main daladala stations in stone town: Darajani Market and Mwanakwerekwe Market. The Darajani Market terminus serves the North and North East of the Island and the Mwanakwerekwe Market terminus serves the south and South East. As with most of the East-African transport, the bus does not run on a set schedule instead – departing when full.
There are five (5) ports in the Islands of Unguja and Pemba, all operated and developed by the Zanzibar Ports Corporation.
The Main port at Malindi, which handles 90% of Zanzibar trade, was built in 1925. The port was rehabilitated between 1989 and 1992 with financial assistance from the European Union.
Zanzibar’s main airport, Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, has been able to handle large passenger planes since 2011, which has resulted in an increase in passenger and cargo inflows and outflows. Since another increase in capacity by the end of 2013, it can serve up to 1.5 Million passengers per year.
Zanzibar made famous for its spices and the slave trade of the 19th century, Zanzibar Island is much more than a stopping point on an itinerary, and can be seen as a destination in itself. What the Island offers is a Unique combination of outstanding beaches, along its eastern edge, interesting activities, such as visiting a working spice farm, and the cultural delights of Stone town, with Arabian fortresses and minarets.
Roughly speaking; the Island is a fairly undeveloped affair with only 5 main roads, all leading back to the main town, Zanzibar, on its western edge. This simplicity makes it a perfect destination for those that are looking to explore a little as, should you reach the beach, and you know you have gone wrong.
Geographically; the Island is only around 40mks across and 100kms from north to south at its widest points. Featuring outstanding, powdered white beaches along its eastern shores, flanked by barrier reefs, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Stone town on its western edge, the Island itself (Unguja in Swahili) is fairly narrow, with a ridge running through its middle from north to south. Along its eastern coastline runs a protective barrier reef and then the Indian Ocean. This is where the best beaches are located, all with coral white sand and gently lapping waters.
Along the western side of the Island runs the Zanzibar Channel and is where the main town (Zanzibar Town) and where the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Stone Town is located while there are few pockets of good beach along this western edge (namely around Kendwa), this side of the Island is not really seen as being the place to go for the beach-bound.
With its location, barrier reef and outstanding beaches Zanzibar can offer all of the attractions that most crave such as Scuba diving, glorious beaches, fresh seafood and much more. For those that are a little restless, there is a small forest in the interior called Jozani, that has indigenous red colobus monkeys and the spice tours in one of the small farms just outside Zanzibar Town are a fascinating glimpse into why this island has become so famous.
WRITTEN BY SAFIYAH ALLY