In the 19th century Zanzibar was East Africa’s main slave-trading port [Image: Courtesy
Zanzibar consists of a series of small tropical islands off the coast of Tanzania in the southern waters of the Indian Ocean. There are in fact two main islands – Unguja (commonly known simply as ‘Zanzibar’) and Pemba. Now part of the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar was once a separate state and has a long trading history with the Arab world. The country has lured traders, adventurers, explorers – and now discerning tourists – to its shores for centuries.
Zanzibar’s history begins when the island became a base for Arab traders voyaging between Arabia, India, and Africa. Although the island had few resources of interest to the traders, it offered a good location from which to make contact and trade with towns on the East African coast.
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