People, Religion and Language

Zanzibar's local people are an incredible mixture of ethnic backgrounds, indicative of her colorful history. Islam is the dominant religion, and practiced by most Zanzibaris, although there are also followers of Christianity and Hinduism.

Population is estimated at 800,000, with the largest concentration being Zanzibar City which has approximately 100,000 inhabitants. Zanzibaris speak Swahili (known locally as Kiswahili), a language which is spoken extensively in East Africa. The official languages are Kiswahili and English.

The climate of Zanzibar is tropical. The long rains are from March to May. The hottest months are from November to March.


Visitors entering Tanzania from yellow fever infected areas require yellow fever international certificate of vaccination. Exemptions are made for visitors arriving from non-endemic areas such as Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. The northwestern forest region is considered a high-risk area for yellow fever. Malaria is common in Tanzania. Visitors are strongly advised to take anti-malaria medication commencing two weeks before travel.

It is recommended to take vaccinations against hepatitis A, polio and typhoid. HIV-AIDS is prevalent in the country and I cannot emphasize enough the need for protection measures. Cholera is a risk throughout the country and precautions are necessary when drinking water ask for bottled water. Modern hospitals and chemists are available. Tanzania is a malaria prone area so it is advisable that you consult your doctor before traveling to this tropical island paradise.


There are no large wild animals in Zanzibar, and forest areas such as Jozani are inhabited by monkeys especially the red colobus monkey, bush-pigs and small antelopes. Civets - and rumor has it, the elusive Zanzibar leopard! Various species of mongoose can also be found on the island. There is a wide variety of birdlife, and a large number of butterflies in rural areas. The coral reefs that surround the East Coast are rich in marine diversity, and make Zanzibar an ideal location for snorkeling and scuba diving.


Fishing and agriculture are the main economic activities of the local people. Zanzibar was once the world's largest producer of cloves, and her economy was based on large incomes thus derived. Although cloves are still a major export along with coconut products and spices, tourism has been ear-marked as the primary foreign exchange earner, with more visitors coming to Zanzibar each year.

Culture and Festivals

Zanzibar's most famous event is the Zanzibar International Film Festival, also known as the Festival of the Dhow Countries. Every July, this event showcases the best of the Swahili Coast arts scene, including Zanzibar's favorite music, Taarab. Various artists the especially form the east African are invited and also the world over. On show are a variety of films, traditional and contemporary dance and music performances, not to mention the various forms of art exhibited. The festival is an opportunity to learn the cultures of the various dhow countries represented.