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About Zanzibar

Zanzibar is an island partner within the United Republic of Tanzania, located in the Indian Ocean about 35 km off the coast of mainland Tanzania at six degrees south of the Equator. Zanzibar is made up of many islands, the main two island Unguja (sometimes called Zanzibar) and Pemba. The land is divided into three main areas, the plantation area, the coral rag area and the indigenous forests. The highest point is 390 feet above sea level. The population is estimated at around 1 Million, including Pemba islands.

Location and Size

Zanzibar (Unguja and Pemba) is located in East Africa, at the western side of the Indian Ocean at 39º degrees East of the Prime Meridian and 6º degree South of the Equator. Zanzibar has a total of 2332 square kilometres, which includes the two main islands and several small surrounding islands.


Zanzibar experiences ideal holiday weather for most of the year, with the exception of April and May which are seasonally subject to the long rains. Short rains can occur in November but are characterised by short showers. The heat of summer is often cooled by the wind, with pleasant sea breezes, particularly on the North and East coasts. Being near to the equator, the islands are warm all year round, but officially, summer and winter peak in December and June respectively. Zanzibar is blessed with an average of 7-8 hours of sunshine daily and year round average temperatures of between 25 and 28 Centigrade.


The main language is Kiswahili. Even if you only use a few words whilst you are in Zanzibar you will make many friends. English is widely spoken and many people also speak Arabic. Other European languages such as French and Italian are known by some local people, especially around the tourist areas.

Entry Requirements

A valid passport and Visa are required from visitors. You can obtain visa from the Tanzania Diplomatic Mission or upon your arrival at the point of entry. The rate of the Visa varies according to the types, duration and nationality. It is advisable to check this well in advance in order to avoid inconveniences.

Use Of Credit Card ​

Most Hotels, and some curio shops accept major credit cards i.e. VISA, MASTER CARD. 


Zanzibar is no different from other parts of the Africa/World. Excessive displays of jewelery or money will tempt undesirable elements. Do not leave valuables lying around, use the facilities provided by the hotel. Walking around in unfamiliar streets of the Stone Town and coastal beaches during evening hours with camera is not recommended.


Tanzania uses English plugs (Socket 3 Pin Square) at 220/230 voltage 50 Hz. If you need to operate electrical gear be sure to bring an appropriate adaptor. Unplug all electric appliances when not in use. Power blackouts are common. )

Dress Code

97% of the population follow the Islamic religion; we therefore request you to dress accordingly in public. 


If you want to rent a car or motorbike, be sure to carry validdriver's license,  Often you will be required to stop at police roadblocks to present your license. Foreigners must be 21 years of age. Driving is on the left. Road and traffic conditions in Tanzania present hazards that require drivers to exercise caution. Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles pose serious traffic hazards. 

Health And Safety

Transit travelers coming to Zanzibar from endemic areas even for a brief stay are strongly advised to protect themselves with vaccination against Yellow Fever at least two weeks prior to their departure. It is advisable to take precocious measures, particularly mosquito repellant and wearing long - sleeved shirts and trousers in the evening. Note that the best preventative for Malaria is not to get bitten by the mosquitoes.

General information

The population of Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim with a rich Swahili culture. Because of religious and cultural traditions dress code is important, and men and women should dress appropriately when away from the beach, ie covering shoulders and legs too below the knees. Beachwear on the beach is fine, although nude or topless bathing is not tolerated. When in villages or in Stone Town wearing beach wear would (and does) cause offence. Try to wear loose-fitting, non-transparent clothing when in public. Zanzibari people are generally very warm, open and hospitable, and your respect for permission before taking photographs or filming local people is appreciated. Do not take photos or film at sensitive government sites including the State House, seaport, airport or military sites. If uncertain, it is always better to ask. Public consumption of alcohol is not permissible, Public displays of affection such as kissing are not customary and generally considered offensive, unless behind closed doors. Local customs should respected. Mosques are sacred places an there is generally no entry to non-Muslims, unless accompanied by a person of the faith who can show you around except during the times for congregational prayer, which are five times daily. When offering or accepting things, try and remember to offer and receive with your right hand

Time Zone

GMT + 3

Opening hours

Government offices : 7.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday
Businesses : 8.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday,
                     : 8.30am to 1.00pm Saturday
Shops often close for lunch and sometimes on Friday afternoons for mosque services.
We Zanzibar Rent A Car Ltd: Office hours : 8.00am to 2.00pm
                                                                            4.30pm to 8.00pm
                                                           Services : 24/7

Depature Tax

Harbour tax $ 5 per person
International flight tax : US$ 41 per person
Domestic flight:               TZS 13,000  per person
Safety fee:                        US$8 per person

History Of Zanzibar

Zanzibar has a most romantic, old and fascinating history which emanates from long interaction with many cultures. As early as AD 60, Zanzibar was first mentioned by the Periplous of the Erythraen one of the famous Greek sailors of that time, in his writings. This suggests that residents and traders from other continents must have visited Zanzibar. The earliest travelers came from Persia, India and North Africa. Then the arrival of Shirazis, Omanis, Portuguese and the British exposed Zanzibar to the rest of the world. Legendary Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama visited Zanzibar in 1499 on his way to India. The British warship, Edward Bonaventure anchored at the Zanzibar port in 1592 lead by James Lancaster. British colonization of Zanzibar begun later and ended in 1963.
After ousting the Portuguese, the Omani Arabs ruled over Zanzibar. Their influence wasnt really felt until 1804, when Seyyid Said bin Sultan arrived from Oman and fell in love with this lush tropical island. He made Zanzibar the capital of the Omani empire and moved his court and palaces to the island in 1832. In 1818, he introduced cloves to the islands and they flourished in the sunshine and fertile soil on the west coasts of both Unguja and Pemba. During the nineteenth century, clove mania hit the islands and the archipelago became the largest producer of cloves in the world. Coconuts, cloves, ivory and slaves powered Zanzibars economy, making it a centre for trade. In 1860, cloves made up 22% of Zanzibars exports, with the royal family receiving a hefty 25% export tax on all clove exports, despite the stagnation of the market caused by overproduction.
The royal family owned several plantations, manned by slaves, picking, drying and sorting cloves in the baking sun. Over time, other spices were introduced from Asia and South America, including cinnamon, ginger and cardamom, which have come an ingrained part of Zanzibari life. The archipelago became known as the Spice Islands and it was said that sailors were greeted by the scent of cloves on the wind as they sailed into port in Zanzibar. 


It is illegal to export shells, coral, ivory and turtle shell.

Festival &  Events

Eid-ul-Fitr is the festival at the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. Also known as
Eid or Sikukuu (days of celebration, festival or holiday), this festival is a time of giving charity.

Eid ul Hajj (also known as Eid-al-Adha or Eid al-Kabir) is the high point of the hajj season when many Muslims go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. The second celebratory feast of the Muslims is this feast of sacrifice, and Zanzibaris celebrate this three-day event with fervour.

Mwaka Kogwa​
A four-day-long celebration, Mwaka Kogwa is best observed at Makunduchi, a village in the south part of Zanzibar. The origins of this holiday are Zoroastrian (a Persian religion older than Islam). It is a celebration of the Shirazi New Year and some of the events include the burning of the hut and mock fights.

ZIFF Festival
The Festival of the Dhow Countries is now the largest annual cultural event in East Africa, and among the eight major festivals in sub-Saharan Africa. It is scheduled annually around the first two weeks in July. The festival celebrates the arts and cultures of the African Continent, India, Pakistan, Gulf States, Iran and the Indian Ocean islands.