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About Zanzibar

Zanzibar is part of the East African republic of Tanzania. It consists of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 km (15–30 mi) off the coast of the mainland. There are numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, informally referred to as "Zanzibar"), and Pemba. Zanzibar was once a separate state with a long trading history within the Arab world; it united with Tanganyika to form Tanzania in 1964, and still enjoys a high degree of autonomy within the union. The capital of Zanzibar, located on the island of Unguja, is Zanzibar City, and its old quarter, known as Stone Town, is a World Heritage Site.

Zanzibar's main industries are spices, raffia, and tourism. It is still sometimes referred to as the Spice Islands because of the significance of its production of cloves, of which it used to be the world leader, and also nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper. The ecology is of note for being the home of the endemic Zanzibar Red Colobus and the elusive Zanzibar Leopard.


Time Zone
GMT + 3

Tanzanian Shilling (Tsh)

Approximate exchange rate
US$ 1 = 1,600 Tanzanian Shillings

Official languages
Kiswahili & English

220 - 240 V AC, 50 Hz

Predominantly Sunni Islam

International Dialing code
+ 255 24, followed by 7-digit local number

Visas and Entry Requirements

All visitors require a passport, valid for the duration of their stay. Visitors can obtain visas at Zanzibar International Airport. Other points in Tanzania currently offering visa on entry are Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro International Airports, and Namanga on the road border between Tanzania and Kenya. Nationals of some countries do not require visas, so it is advisable to check with your nearest Tanzanian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate prior to visiting. Key Tanzanian diplomatic missions:

Tanzania High Commission
3 Stratford Place
London W1C 1AS
United Kingdom
Tel: + 44 20 7569 1470

Tanzanian Embassy
2139 R Street NW
Washington DC 20008
United States
Tel: + 1 (202)884-1080, (202)939-6125/7

Latest entry requirements, and visa information can be found at the Tanzania High Commission (London, UK) web-site.

Help us preserve Zanzibar's magic
Zanzibar is as yet unspoiled by the unpleasant effects of mass tourism - the number of visitors to the island is still low, but has been on the rise throughout the 1990's an early part of this century. It is our hope that increases in tourism do not impact adversely on the magic of Zanzibar, and we humbly ask all visitors to follow a handful of guidelines, ensuring they will not offend the traditional values of the local people or harm the environment in any way. It is typical of the Zanzibaris' friendly nature that they will not harass you for infringing these guidelines, but you should be aware that this is merely politeness, and is not an excuse for ignoring them!

* Please ensure that you dress modestly when off the beach. Women should not expose too much leg and chest, and topless sunbathing is also strongly discouraged.

* If you have children and are bringing them to Zanzibar, please make sure that they don't display their expensive toys in front of their Zanzibari contemporaries. This may instill a false sense of values in the local children, whose parents are unlikely to be able to afford such luxuries.

* If you are diving or snorkelling, you may be tempted to collect some pretty shells from Zanzibar's many coral reefs. Please do not, as this kills entire reefs, the devastating effects of which can be seen in the well-trodden areas of East African coast. Although there are shell sellers, you are asked not to buy shells from them, as it simply encourages this harmful industry.

* Zanzibar is an amazingly photogenic place, but if you want to take photographs of people, please ask their permission first out of courtesy.

* If you are non-Muslim, then please do not enter any of Zanzibar's many mosques