Zanzibar - the Spice Islands
Just the name, Zanzibar, evokes dreams of romance and mystery and the reality will not disappoint the traveller bored with mass tourism and seeking an enlightening and enjoyable holiday experience. Zanzibar - the name includes the main island, Unguja, and its sister island, Pemba - has for centuries attracted seafarers and adventurers from around the world. Now it welcomes a new generation of explorers - those who have come to marvel at the rich heritage, reflected in the architecture and the culture of the people. For this is where Arabia meets Africa. Visit Zanzibar’s historic Stone Town, where the sultans once ruled. Relax on one of 25 dazzling white, palm-fringed beaches, where the azure waters of the Indian Ocean beckon swimmers, divers, fishermen and watersports enthusiasts alike. Breathe in the fragrant scents of cloves, vanilla, cardamom and nutmeg, and discover why Zanzibar is called “The Spice Islands.” Explore the forests, with their rare flora and fauna. Or visit some of the ancient, archeological sites. Spend a few days here after a safari on the African mainland or, better still, allocate a week or two and immerse yourself in the magic that is Zanzibar.
A Melting Pot of Cultures Zanzibar’s colourful history is a saga of travellers and traders, raiders and colonisers. To its shores came Summerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Indians, Chinese, Malays, Persians, Portuguese, Arabs, Dutch and the British, each leaving behind a legacy of their stay. From the island the great European explorers - Burton, Speke, Livingstone, Stanley - set off for their voyages of discovery into the vast, uncharted wilderness of the great African hinterland.
Bantu tribes from the mainland were the first inhabitants of the island, but by 700 AD the Indian Ocean tradewinds had brought Persians and Arabs to its shores. It was the intermarriage of the Arabs with the native inhabitants that gave birth to a new people and language, the Kiswahli (Swahili). From the beginning of the 16th century, for 200 years, Portuguese raiders dominated this part of the East African coast. Then, in 1652, Zanzibar was invaded by Arabs from Oman, signalling the end of Portuguese domination. Sultan Sayyid Said moved his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar in 1840 to exploit the flourishing slave trade and the island grew in power, wealth and population. David Livingstone strongly protested against this inhumane activity and the treatment of slaves creating a groundswell of opposition in Britain which led to action by the Royal Navy. Under pressure the Sultan outlawed the export of slaves in 1873. Zanzibar became a British protectorate in 1890 and in 1913 power was transferred to the British. Independence was achieved, under Sultan Jamshid bin Abdulla in December 1963 but the sultanate was toppled in favour of a People’s Republic a month later. On April 26, 1964 the republic joined Tanganyika to become the United Republic of Tanzania.