Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of the United Republic of Tanzania, in East Africa. It comprises the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. It consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, informally referred to as Zanzibar), and Pemba.
Other nearby island countries and territories include Comoros and Mayotte to the south, Mauritius and Réunion to the far southeast, and the Seychelles Island.
The capital of Zanzibar, located on the island of Unguja, is Zanzibar City. Zanzibar's main industries are spices, raffia, and tourism. In particular, the islands produce cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper. For this reason, the islands, together with Tanzania's Mafia Island, are sometimes called the Spice Islands.
Zanzibar has a government of national unity, with the current president of Zanzibar being Ali Mohamed Shein, since 1st November 2010. As a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, Zanzibar has its own government. Zanzibar is a mainly low lying island, with its highest point at 120 meters.
It is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town - said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. The coral reefs that surround the East Coast are rich in marine diversity. The heat of summer is seasonally often cooled by windy conditions, resulting in sea breezes, particularly on the North and East coasts. Being near to the equator, the islands are warm all year round, but officially, summer and winter peak in December and June respectively.Rare native animals include the Zanzibar leopard, which is critically endangered and possibly extinct. The most commonly practised religion is Islam. About 95% of Zanzibar's population follow the laws of Islam. Its history was influenced by the Arabs and the Indian mainland people. The remaining are Christians.
Zanzibar exports spices, seaweed and fine raffia. It also has a large fishing and dugout canoe production. Tourism is a major foreign currency earner. Zanzibar's economy is based primarily on the production of cloves (90% grown on the island of Pemba), the principal foreign exchange earner. Exports have suffered with the downturn in the clove market. Tourism is a promising sector with a number of new hotels and resorts having been built in recent years.
The island's manufacturing sector is limited mainly to import substitution industries, such as cigarettes, shoes, and processed agricultural products. In 2000 there were 207 government schools and 118 privately owned schools in Zanzibar. There are also two universities and one college: Zanzibar University, the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA). Zanzibar now has an improved and thriving sea transport network, by which public owned ships and private speed boats serve the ports of Zanzibar, which was renovated by the help of European Union. The energy sector in Zanzibar consists of unreliable electric power, petroleum and petroleum products; it is also supplemented by firewood and its related products. Coal and gas are rarely used for either domestic and industrial purposes. Zanzibar's local people are from a mixture of ethnic backgrounds, indicative of its colourful history. Zanzibaris speak Swahili (known locally as Kiswahili), a language which is spoken extensively in East Africa. Zanzibar's most famous event is the Zanzibar International Film Festival, also known as the Festival of the Dhow Countries.