Zanzibar is the semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of the mainland. The archipelago is made up of small islands and two major islands, Unguja (the main island) and Pemba.
Historic Stone Town, located in the centre of Zanzibar City, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is believed to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. Persian traders initially used Stone Town as a base for travel between the Middle East, India and Africa. By the 19th century, it had become the centre of the spice trade and the slave trade with some 600,000 slaves passing through Zanzibar from 1830-1863.
Today, Zanzibar offers a complete change of pace from that of the mainland. It continues to be a melting pot of cultures and Arab, Persian, Indian, European and African influences are felt everywhere. Along with Tanzania’s Mafia Island, Zanzibar is sometimes referred to as the Spice Islands as the production of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper among others remain an important industry.
A popular tourist destination, many people visit the archipelago to learn about its rich history while others come to take advantage of the white sand beaches. Pemba in particular is becoming very well known for the dive sites in its channels. Experienced divers can enjoy the untouched and less crowded reefs on offer.
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