Zanzibar and its sister island – Pemba are situated of the eastern part of the African Continent bracing the Indian Ocean. It comprises of Unguja and Pemba and the islets within the territorial waters.
Unguja: derives from the name of the village in the south of the island called “Unguja Kuu” – Big City – The earliest settlers of Unguja were the Africans from the mainland and estimated time of settlement to be about seven hundred years ago.
The Islands can be described as the ancient islands and the same time known as the “Spice Islands” of the Indian Ocean. The clove trees, which were introduced to the islands in the 19century, between 1820 and 1830, proved successful, and in a short period of time the island, became an important commercial centre internationally. Today, there are still large clove forests, which perfume the evening breeze.
Zanzibar (Unguja): Current population of five hundred thousand is the second largest island on the East African Coast with an area of 640 square miles. It is situated on latitude 6*5, longitude 39*E and is separated from the African coast by a channel, 22.5 miles wide.
Pemba: Current population of four hundred thousand is smaller of the two, and lies about 25 miles north-east of Zanzibar and has an area of 380 square miles wide.
The highest point in Zanzibar is only 390ft. above sea level at Masingini-Dole, also known as Pin Terraces.
The name Zanzibar (Zenj-al-baar) originates from Oman and means Black people. It is also found in Persian Scripts as Zangistan.
Africans were followed by Shirazis from Persia who later integrated with offspring’s to be known as “Washirazi”. Other prominent inhabitants apart from the Omanis, who colonised Zanzibar, are the Yemeni Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis, and Comorians and for that matter from Europe – Portuguese and English.
Besides the shared cultural among all these inhabitants, majority of them still retain their original traditions and customs. The main religion is of Sunni faith (Islam) constitutes 97% and practiced by majority of the islanders. Followed by Christians of both Anglican and Catholics and Hinduism,. The social gathering which is quite unique, came out of a language of a Creole type and widely spoken within the East African Coast as far as Somali in the north and Mozambique in the south. The same is spoken widely in the interior of the continent through – Burundi/Rwanda, Zaire, Zambia, and Malawi and inclusive of Kenya and Uganda.
Kiswahili came into writing in the early 19century. With emerging of major towns and villages, some communities became stronger as a result of settling in rich and fertile areas, thus dominating the weaker ones and the start of slavery. Later, in April of the same year, Zanzibar united with Tanganyika to form the United Republic of Tanzania
To-date, Zanzibar remains an autonomous with its own President within the legislature, and judiciary in the Union.