The Zanzibar Archipelago Gems of Tanzania
Do you know what an archipelago is? An archipelago is a group of small islands. Did you know that Zanzibar is not only just one island but is an archipelago made up of several small islands?? These islands are: Unguja popularly known as Zanzibar, Pemba, Changuu, Mafia, Chumbe, Tumbatu, Bawe, Uzi and Latham Islands. A lot of people don’t know that so many islands actually make up the Zanzibar Archipelago.
Zanzibar – Unguja – Spice Island
Unguja widely known as Zanzibar is also known as the ‘Spice Island’ due to the amount of spices that are grown and sold both within and out of the island. Zanzibar, a name that is now getting more and more recognition from all around the world, holds one of the 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tanzania known as Stone Town. Stone town, located in the south western side of the island of Zanzibar has great symbolic importance in the suppression of slavery, since it was one of the main slave-trading ports in East Africa. Numerous other reasons give the Stone Town in Zanzibar its UNESCO World Heritage status. Besides the historical aspect, Zanzibar is known to hold the best beaches in Tanzania, many would say best in Africa. Zanzibar holds white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, coral reefs for many people to enjoy, relax, unwind, sun bathe, swim, scuba dive, snorkel or simply enjoy the salty breeze and the calming sounds of the waves.
From Changuu over Pemba to Mafia
Islands that make up the Zanzibar Archipelago all have different things to offer. As Unguja offers a lot of history, white sand beaches, Jozani forest which holds Red Colobus Monkeys and education of various spices, Pemba offers something completely different. Pemba is paradise for scuba divers, for it holds amazing untouched coral reefs and marine life. The island of Changuu also commonly known as Prison Island (Earning its name as a former prison for slaves and a quarantine station for Zanzibar) is home to giant land tortoises that were imported from Seychelles in the late 19th century. Now it is more commonly known as a home of Zanzibar’s Giant Aldabran Tortoise colony, some of which are over a hundred years old where visitors have a chance to feed these endangered species. As for Mafia island, the star of the show here is the stunning Marine Park with its fantastic protected coral reefs – the diving here is truly outstanding.
There are many things about the Zanzibar Archipelago that are not known to many people, a few of these facts include:
1. Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the band Queen, was born in Zanzibar in 1946. His birth name was actually Farouk Bulsara.
2. The word Zanzibar is derived from Arabic which roughly translates to “The coast of black people”.
3. The shortest war ever recorded by man is the Anglo-Zanzibar War where the British bombarded the Beit al Hukum Palace and after 40 minutes, a ceasefire was called.
4. Chumbe Island is home to the Coconut Crab also called Robber crab, is with a diameter of up to 45 cm, making it the largest land-living crab in the world.
5. The name “Swahili” (language spoken throughout Tanzania) is derives from an Arabic words “sawahil” which means “coast’.
6. Zanzibar Red Colobus monkeys are endemic (native) to Unguja (Zanzibar) are now an endangered species of colobus monkeys. They are only found in the Zanzibar Archipelago. In the island of Zanzibar they can be found at Jozani Forest Reserve.
7. The population of Zanzibar is around 98% Muslim. The country was hugely influenced by Islamic traditions through centuries of trade with Muslim nations. The island also has one of the oldest Islamic buildings in all of East Africa, the Kizimkazi mosque. It was built almost 1,000 years ago (in 1107) by settlers from Shiraz (Persia).
8. Up until the middle of the 1970s, Zanzibar exported a large portion of the world’s cloves. So much so that most of its economy was based on it. Spices, along with farming, fishing and tourism continue to be the largest economic drivers.
There are many other cultural and historical experiences that these islands share with all its visitors. Everybody is looking for the perfect vacation spot to have it all in one. If you are one to think that way, then ZANZIBAR is the answer.