Zanzibar Overview

Zanzibar is a group of islands in the Indian Ocean that form a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania (a country in Africa). The main islands are Unguja and Pemba, and the capital city of Zanzibar is Zanzibar city, which is located in Unguja Island. 

Aerial View of Zanzibar

History

Zanzibar was initially under the Portuguese influence in the 1450s after the visit of Vasco da Gama in 1498. This visit marked the beginning of European influence on the region until the 1960s. British was also among the Europeans who exercised colonial rule on Zanzibar in the 19th and 20th century. The British had established Zanzibar as a protectorate in 1890, which lasted until 1963, making Zanzibar an independent commonwealth country under the Sultan, as a constitutional monarchy. A People’s Republic of Pemba and Zanzibar was however established in 1964 after a revolution that overthrew the Sultan and forced him into exile. The republic later joined with Tanganyika, which had just gained independence from the British. The united republic of Zanzibar was then renamed to modern-day Tanzania through the blending of words. TAN was obtained from TANGANYIKA, ZAN obtained from ZANZIBAR, while IA was obtained from both TANGANYIKA and ZANZIBAR. 

Geography, environment and climate

The region has an area of approximately 2461 square kilometers. Unguja (the largest island) has its northern tip located at 5.72 degrees south and 39.30 degrees eat while the Sothern tip is 6.48 degrees south and 39.51 degrees east. The northern tip of Pemba is located 4.87 degrees south, and 39.68 degrees east while the southern tip is 5.47 degrees south and 39.72 degrees east. The shortest distance from Unguja Island to mainland Tanzania is approximately 36.5 kilometers, while the narrowest point from Pemba is 56 kilometers wide. 

Zanzibar is warm round the year from the fact it lies near the equator. Rainfall seasons are split into two main parts. The primary one comes in March, April and may while the secondary phase comes in November and December. Zanzibar has indiscriminate dumping of waste mainly composed of medical equipment, plastic bottles, and cigarette butts along the shores.

Demography and Language

According to the 2012 national population and housing census, Zanzibar had a total of 1.304 million people. The national and official language of the region is Kiswahili, a language that is spoken widely in East African countries. Other official languages used are English and Arabic, while some citizens speak French and Italian. 

Education

Education in Zanzibar is not as stable as the mainland Tanzania and other notable developing countries. The country uses a 3-7-3-2-2 system of education. The first three years are spent at pre-primary level, seven years in primary education, three years in lower secondary education, which they call junior. The following two years involve form III and IV termed as senior secondary education while the remaining two years constituting of form V and VI are referred to as advanced secondary education. Of the entire curriculum, the primary and the junior secondary education are basic, compulsory, and free. Zanzibar has three universities, namely Zanzibar University, State University of Zanzibar, and the Sumait University. 

Sports, culture and Tourism

The most popular sport in Zanzibar is football, which falls under the Zanzibar Football Association. Zanzibar is not a member of FIFA but an associate member of the Confederation of African Football. 

Zanzibar has its most famous cultural event known as the Zanzibar International Film alias Festival of Dhow Countries. It involves showcasing of best Swahili art scenes and the region’s most popular music, taarab. The most eye-catching architectural scenes are Livingstone house found in stone town, House of Wonders, and Gulian Bridge, among others. 

Zanzibar receives thousands of tourists from across the world on a yearly basis. Tourist enjoy diving and snorkeling in the islands, watching aquatic life such as dolphins, lionfish, etc., dhow cruising and also viewing sunset for refreshments, among other recreational stuff. The tourists also visit the stone town in Zanzibar’s capital, which houses the house of wonders, Dunga ruins, Hamamni, and Kidichi Persian baths, among other historical and cultural sites. 

Religion

Almost the entire population of Zanzibar is made up of Muslims, while there is a small number of Christians estimated at 22000 in number. Other religions in the region are Sikhs, Jains, and Hindus however, they are very small in number. 

Governance

The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar rules Zanzibar. It is made up of a revolutionary council and a house of representatives of Zanzibar. The government is headed by the president of Zanzibar, who also chairs the revolutionary council.

References

Ingrams, W. H. (2012). Zanzibar: its history and its people. Routledge.

Khamis, Z. A., Kalliola, R., & Käyhkö, N. (2017). Geographical characterization of the Zanzibar coastal zone and its management perspectives. Ocean & Coastal Management149, 116-134.