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Zanzibar island is a semi-autonomous part of mainland Tanzania, in East Africa located 25kilometres off the coast of tanzania. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean and consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja-which is Zanzibar itself and Pemba.
The island’s coast covered in white sandy beaches stretching for miles. The waters are steaming with beautiful coral reefs attracting scuba divers from around the world. You’ll find that the coast also attracts tourists for canoeing, swimming and several other Zanzibar beach holiday adventures.
It is 53 miles (85 km) at its greatest length and 24 miles (39 km) broad. The highest point of the central ridge system is Masingini, 390 feet (119 m) above sea level. Higher ground is gently undulating and gives rise to a few small rivers, which flow west to the sea or disappear in the coral country.
Zanzibar is within the tropical climate belt of Africa. July to October are cool weather months with average temperature being 26ºC making this time the best in which to tour the spice island.
Rainfall is reliable and well-distributed in comparison with most of eastern Africa. Northeast trade winds blow from December to March and southeast trade winds from May to October. The “long rains” occur between March and May and the “short rains” between October and December.
Nevertheless, the island has warm weather although the year balancing between hot and humid. Zanzibar is an all year round adventure destination for all kind of travel.
Zanzibar being part of the greater Tanzania plays a bit role in Agriculture. For as long as the times of the early explorers on the Indian ocean coast, this island was famous for spice growing and this tradition still holds to date.
The other incomes on the island are from fishing, export of spices and tourism which is fast growing in the area. The recent growth n Zanzibar’s economic prosperity can be attributed to tourism which as boosted infrastructure such as hotels, roads and other investments in the sector to attract the market across the globe. Going without say, Zanzibar is second to Mauritius in beach and honeymoon holidays in the region.
The local currency is the Tanzanian Shilling divided into one hundred cents. Foreign exchange services are available in Tanzania’s banks and forex bureaus with competitive rates. Some Zanzibar holiday hotels allow use of credit cards and foreign currency.
For East African countries, Kiswahili is widely used even as far as Zanzibar and the neighboring islands. English is also used widely but it is advisable to learn a few Kiswahili words like jambo and habari (hello), chakula (food), , asante (thank you) and kwa heri (good bye). You don’t want to get stuck on your Zanzibar holiday because of a few words.
The local people are so kind and hospitable that you would find yourself at a loss for not having these words to reciprocate. Many of the locals are employed at the Zanzibar hotels, and will always greet you in their native language.
Culture & Religion
Zanzibar has a strong Islamic tradition just like many other islands on the east African coast. This religion defines the lifestyles, cultures and traditions of the island since the early 1800s.
For all tourists and visitors, you are highly encouraged to respect their culture. Some of the important things about their culture is wearing long clothing whether you are a man or woman especially when in public.
Drinking alcohol in a muslim community is a taboo. Depending on where you are staying around Zanzibar, you will hear the call to prayer like 5 times a day but this should not bring you in fright.
Zanzibar’s most famous event is the Zanzibar International Film Festival, also known as the Festival of the Dhow Countries. Every July, this event showcases the best of the Swahili Coast arts scene, including Zanzibar’s favorite music-dubbed Taraab.
The unique Arab architecture defines Zanzibar’s cultures for ages especially in the capital Stone Town. Some of the important architectural structures in Stone town include Livingstone house, the Guliani Bridge, Michenzani flats built in 1970s by the Germans, Ngome kongwe (The Old fort of Zanzibar), The Old dispensary of Zanzibar and the House of Wonders. The town of Kidichi features the Hamamni Persian Baths, built by immigrants from Shiraz, Iran during the reign of Barghash bin Said.
With increasing trade and tourism in the area, there has been an influx of different people from Africa and from other parts of the world. Many African people here of mixed cultural background, which has resulted in the unique art, food and crafts for which Zanzibar is famous.
Distinctive for its spicy foods, Zanzibar offers a lot when it comes to food and dining. Different local dishes are available to suit every pocket and satisfy every palate. There are several spices grown on the island namely turmeric, nutmeg, black pepper, ginger, cloves, chocolate, star fruit, coconuts, and cinnamon, to name a few.
Other favorites served in the hotels include rice, potatoes, peas, fish can request for French Cuisine, Ethiopian Injera, Korean BBQ, Tandoori and traditional dishes
The privately owned Daladala, as it is officially known in Zanzibar, is the only kind of public transportation on the island.
There are three ports on the island liking Zanzibar to mainland Tanzania, Lamu, Pemba and other smaller island in the archipelago. Malindi is the main port on the island. Transport by boat is fairly thriving on the island with a series of accidents recorded in 2009 and the latest in July 2012 when MV Skagit capsized due to over loading.
Travel by air is good with Zanzibar international airport handling most of bulk for trade and tourists in and out of the island.
Important to note-A valid International Certificate of Vaccination against Yellow Fever and Hepatitis A is necessary for everybody. Remember to pack some light clothing, swim wear, sunscreen, a wide brimmed hat and warm jacket for the chilly evenings. Otherwise the island is friendly and so are the people before long you’ll be here again.
Shopping is an ideal way to conclude your Zanzibar holidays and stock up on some souvenirs from the different markets around the island. If you traveled with your camera, the pictures from your holiday are the first gifts you take home. Other gifts to buy include Khanga, traditional spices, art paintings and other handcrafts.
Different types of carvings of Coffee pots, models of dhows and canoes, outriggers, Arab doors, silver jewelry, clove pomanders, bracelets, woven baskets, coffee spoons and cocktail sticks are some of the other items you have to get. There are so many things that you will be tempted to buy.With these and so much more in the souvenir shops, you have something to take home from your Tanzania-Zanzibar holiday even with as little as 2 dollars.