The name Zanzibar refers to the archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of mainland Tanzania, made up of Unguja, the largest island, commonly called Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia and other smaller islands.
Compared to the mainland, Zanzibar often seems like a different country and that’s largely because up until the unification in 1964, it was. The archipelago and its people have their own unique history and culture which is strongly influenced by the Portugese, Omani and English traders and invaders over the centuries.
Unlike mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar doesn’t have tribes. Instead local traditions are a fusion of different ethnic groups that settled on the islands, resulting in events like Pemba bull fights from the Portuguese and Mwaka Kogwa, the celebration of the Persian New Year.
In recent years, Zanzibar has gained international prominence as a cultural centre after hosting the Sauti za Busara music festival and the Zanzibar International Film Festival. This has shown how the islands have succeeded in celebrating their heritage while constantly moving towards the future.