Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba Island. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic centre is Stone Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located near the equator, Zanzibar is warm year-round. The rainy season is split into two main seasons: a primary maximum in March, April, and May and a secondary maximum in November and December. The months in between receive less rain, with minimal rainfall in July.
The people of Zanzibar are of diverse ethnic origins. The first permanent residents of Zanzibar seem to have been the ancestors of the Bantu Hadimu and Tumbatu, who began arriving from the African Great Lakes mainland. They belonged to various mainland ethnic groups and generally lived in small villages on Zanzibar. Today Zanzibar is inhabited mostly by ethnic Swahili, a Bantu population of sub-Saharan Africans. There are also a number of Arabs as well as some ethnic Persian and Indian people.
Zanzibaris speak Swahili (Kiswahili), a Bantu language that is extensively spoken in the African Great Lakes region. Swahili is the official language of Tanzania. Many local residents also speak Arabic, English, French and/or Italian. Zanzibar’s population is almost entirely Muslim, with a small Christian minority.