Zanzibar is part of the United Republic of Tanzania, geographically corresponding to the archipelago of the same name, made up of two main islands, Unguja and Pemba, and numerous smaller islands.
Due to the influence of the joint Arab cultures, Persian and Bantu, and the frenetic commercial activity that Zanzibar has linked to the Middle East and even India and China, the archipelago is one of the most representative of the Swahili culture, whose language was long the predominant one in trade between Asia and Africa, and still plays the role of lingua franca in much of East Africa.
The historic center of the capital of Zanzibar, Stone Town, full of architectural and historical heritage of Swahili culture, has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. Zanzibar was also a central place of the slave trade in East Africa, and the spice route, and even today a significant part of its economy is based on the production of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and ginger. In recent decades it has experienced a continuous and rapid development of the tourism sector, which exploits the natural heritage, landscape and culture of the island.
The history of Zanzibar has a turbulent past, marked by domination of different peoples that have determined the character and left an indelible mark on the people and the island in general. The geographical location, on the edge of Africa and on the routes of European merchants, Arabs and Indians has meant that Zanzibar was at the center of intense trade of precious spices, ivory and slaves, and that in a not too distant past the island It was very rich. Dominations Persian, Portuguese, Omani have followed over the centuries. Traces of all these dominations are located in its buildings, its walls, in the culinary culture, in the physical appearance of its people. The Persians landed in Zanzibar around the year 1000 AD and the merger of the African culture with the Persian and later Muslim, was born the Swahili civilization, culture that has spread from the coast of Somalia to Mozambique, boosted by trade in the Indian Ocean. Around 1500 AD. Zanzibar, on routes to India the Portuguese fleet, was sacked and looted, as indeed most of the Swahili coast. The impact was devastating and all the Portuguese coast experienced a period of decline. To revive the fortunes of Zanzibar, giving it a long period of prosperity and wealth, were the Omanis, though, want to change, the key factor in this newfound prosperity was the slave trade. It is estimated that from Zanzibar has passed more than a million slaves from the countries of East Africa. In 1841 the Omani capital was moved from Muscat to Zanzibar. Omani culture is undoubtedly the one that left the greatest impression, in the uses, customs, religion. Who has had the opportunity to visit Oman can see the strong bond between the two countries continues. The Omanis, aware that the slave trade would not last forever (given also the pressure of the British government for their abolition), introduced in Zanzibar cultivation of cloves, making the island the world’s largest producer. The cultivation of cloves are added to other spices, which since then became hallmark of the production island. The abolition of slavery, which officially took place in 1897, and the cultivation of cloves decimated by a violent storm, gave the coup de grace at the end of the domination of Oman. The November 1, 1890 Zanzibar was declared a British protectorate. After various vicissitudes in June 1963 the British government gave Zanzibar own government, albeit with limited powers and December 10, 1963 was born the Sultanate of Zanzibar. Meanwhile, a feeling of hostility was raised against the Arab population, which controlled much of the power and wealth. The revolution of 12 January 1964 forced the Arabs and Indians to flee, contributing to the further decline of the island. So Sheikh Karume, who proclaimed himself prime minister, agreed to a pact of union with Tanzania that gave birth to the United Republic of Tanzania. The rest is history of our days.
Languages spoken in Zanzibar
The language spoken in Zanzibar is the Kiswahili, a language of Bantu origin, with significant Arab influences and actually under many anglicisms. The ruling coincides with the writing, like the Italian, with the emphasis mostly on the last syllable. Zanzibaris are very important for the greetings. In meetings with local people, you will see how the greetings are a continuing one, not only asks how is the data subject, but also the entire family.
Money and Currency Exchange
The currency is the Tanzanian shilling. The euro / shilling is about 2500 tsh for a euro. While the dollar is about 2300 tsh for $ 1. Of course the change is subject to change. We advise you to change your currency in the city in various bureaux de change, even if the dollars are always welcome. You can also withdraw by debit and credit cards only at banks that are in Stone Town, not in the villages or in the hotel. In addition, many accept credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express. On credit cards it is usually applied a 5% commission.
Please check with your local health authority for current and required vaccinations.
To travel to Zanzibar is necessary that you get a visa once landed in the country. An entry is priced at 50 usd, payable locally. You also pay an exit visa 40 usd, included in the ticket price of many airlines. Information at travel agencies or on the websites of various companies. If you plan to exit and enter the country more than once you will need multiple visas, require it to your Tanzanian embassy. Otherwise you will have to pay a visa each time you go to Zanzibar.
Places to visit in Stone Town
Stone Town, also known as Mji Mkongwe (“old town” in Swahili), is the old part of the capital of Zanzibar. Once the capital of the Sultanate of Zanzibar, then colonial administrative center during the British occupation, and now the seat of the institutions of the state government of semi-autonomous Zanzibar, Stone Town is one of the city’s most historic East Africa. Its architecture, in much of the nineteenth century, reflecting the multiplicity of influences that define the Swahili culture in general: in fact it is possible to find elements Moorish, Arab, Persian, Indian and European.
A visit to Stone Town can begin from its colorful market, the Darajani Market. You will be captivated by the colors of fruits, vegetables and spices that make a fine show on the shelves of retailers, as well as the smells of the fish market and the meat, only for strong stomachs. Nothing to do with the sterility of our supermarkets. Do not miss the trading day traders and housewives, trying to hoarding goods at the lowest price. You can then lose in the tangle of streets and lanes that take you through what might be termed the historic center of Stone Town, streets full of people, of women wrapped in long black abaja, hawkers, children festive. Not far from the market, in the eastern part of the city, it is the former slave market and the Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ.
The Old Dispensary is a historic building in Stone Town, built at the behest of Tharia Topan, a rich Indian merchant Ismaili, in order to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It is located on the waterfront, in Mizingani Road, roughly halfway between the Sultan and the port. The dispensary is one of the best decorated buildings in Stone Town, 4-storey building, with carved balconies, stucco and mosaic windows, reminiscent of the Indian colonial buildings. It is considered a symbol of style multi-cultural architecture Zanzibar. It was the hospital for the poor until the revolution of 1964 when, became property of the state, was abandoned. To revive its fortunes was the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, who rented it and restored it, returning it to its former glory. There currently is home to the Stone Town Exhibition Centre.
The House of Wonders is one of the buildings that made up the complex of the Sultan, along with other two buildings, connected by suspension bridges. It is located on the seafront in Mizingani Road. Should the name "Palace of Wonders" to being the largest architectural structure of Zanzibar and he was the first building on the island to be equipped with electricity and running water; It was also the first building in the whole of East Africa to be equipped with a lift. It was built in 1883 as a ceremonial building at the behest of Sultan Barghash bin Said, in the same position as that previously housed the residence of Queen Zanzibari Fatuma. The building now houses a museum whose rooms are all long and narrow, with massive ornamental doors. Guarding the building two bronze cannons Portuguese.