Mosques, narrow streets and the smell of cloves – what could be more exotic than Zanzibar, a place with a rich fusion of African, Arab, European and Indian influences? Because the main products are cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper, they were known as the Spice Islands (a name shared with an island in Indonesia).

More significantly, Zanzibar was a centre of the slave trade when it was an independent state. Slavery was abolished in 1873 and in 1890 the British declared Zanzibar a protectorate. In 1963 it became independent; but this was followed by a leftist revolution against the minority Arab ruling elite. In 1964 Zanzibar decided to join with what was then Tanganika to become the United Republic of Tanzania.

Zanzibar has several small islands and two main ones: Unguja, commonly known as Zanzibar, and Pemba. It is a lovely, relaxing place for a holiday. There are beaches, the beautiful United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Stone Town, good facilities, boat trips, fishing and luscious fruits. Pemba can be visited by boat and, in fact, you can reach Zanzibar by boat from Dar es Salaam as an alternative to flying. It is only 24km to 32km off the coast of Tanzania. Tourism is Zanzibar’s newest and biggest industry, with considerable development taking place. The all-inclusive developments sit uncomfortably with the smaller enterprises; but most Zanzibaris have yet to benefit from it as they earn, on average, less than US$1 a day.

Tourism Concern have various Ethical Tour Operators Group (ETOG) members operating in Zanzibar. See the ETOG icon on the Tanzania Map for more details.

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