Zakale Expeditions

Zanzibar Island


Zanzibar Island is an archipelago made up of Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba Island and several islets. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 40 km from the Tanzanian coast and 6° south of the equator. The island is 96 km long and 32 km wide. Zanzibar is a province of Tanzania.

The island has played a part in local history out of all proportion to its size. The reason is its easy access to traders and adventurers exploring down the east coast of Africa from Arabia. The Assyrians, Sumerians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Indians, Chinese, Persians, Portuguese, Omani Arabs, Dutch and English have all been there at one time or another. Some, particularly, the Shirazi Persians and Omani Arabs, stayed to settle and rule. With this influence, Zanzibar has become predominantly Islamic (95%), the remaining 5% is made up of Christians.

In the 19th century, Zanzibar's sultanate controlled East Africa's major slave and ivory routes. Caravans started out from Bagamoyo on the mainland coast, travelling as much as 1,000 miles on foot as far as Lake Tanganyika, buying slaves from local rulers on the way, or, more cheaply, simply capturing them. The slaves were chained together and used to carried ivory back to Bagamoyo. The name Bagamoyo means 'lay down your heart' because it was here that slaves would abandon hope of freedom. Slaves who survived the long trek from the interior were crammed into dhows bound for Zanzibar, and paraded for sale like cattle in the Slave Market. The long road to the abolition of the slave trade started in 1920, but it took almost 100 years before this came to reality.

For pragmatic reasons Zanzibar became the starting point of all expeditions into the main land. Most followed the long established caravan routes. Burton, Speke, Grant, Livingstone and Stanley all started their expeditions with the help of the Sultanate and penetrated the mainland via Bagamoyo and Kilwa.

Fishing and agriculture are the main economic activities of the local people. Zanzibar was once the world’s largest producer of cloves. Although cloves are still a major export along with coconut products and spices, tourism  is developing each year.

Zanzibar has beautiful sandy beaches with coral reefs and the magic of historic Stone Town. The beaches in Zanzibar are a paradise, interspersed with picturesque fishing villages where the people live a simple way of life, unchanged over the years.


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