On Zanzibar, the island of herbs, the amazing white beaches are lined with coconuts. The water is warm. Even if the sun is hot the coral sand is not. The sea is full of colourful fish which makes the snorkeling fantastic. To pole a carved log from the mango tree is probably the nicest way to reach the reefs. The sail is used for a nice and easy return. Freshwater caves are yet another of the exciting activities offered. What you must not miss is a visit to a herbal farm or a walk down the old alleys in Stonetown, the Arabic part of town.
Zanzibar is 85 km long and 20 km wide. It lies 40 km from the mainland in the Indian Ocean. 400 000 of its 1 million inhabitants live in Zanzibar town. Nearly everyone lives off fishing and farming. 99 percent of the population is Muslim. Zanzibar is in fact two islands, Unguja (the one we call Zanzibar) and Pemba.
Their export of clove covers 90 percent of the demand in the world. What is also exported is other herbs as well as copra (the white flesh inside the coconut) and seaweed used for example as thickener in toothpaste.
Swahili, which is the language spoken in Tanzania, is a blend of African bantulanguages and Arabic. There are many Arabic words in Swahili.
Sultans and adventurers like Livingstone, Burton and Speke help to make the history of the island a fascinating one.
There are many traces left from the slave trade that stopped in 1870. For tourists to understand this dark past there are tours down one of the caves where slaves were hidden after the official illegalization.
The permanent inhabitation started about 1000 A.D. with tribes from the mainland. After a couple of hundred years Arabic traders built their homes here. The main trade was slaves, ivory and fabrics. In the beginning of the 1600s the island was colonized by Portugal. In the end of the 1700s the sultan of Oman took control. This rein lasted until the end of the 1900 century when the island became a British protectorate after a 45 minute war! Zanzibar got its independence in December 1963 and the republic Tanzania was founded in April 1964 after the union between Zanzibar and Tanganyika.