Zanzibar, a part of the United Republic of Tanzania, is a series of many islands, the main ones being Unguja and Pemba. The more populated of the two main islands, Unguja, is better known as Zanzibar Island and is home to Stone Town (also known as Zanzibar Town or Zanzibar City), an historic, bustling city of narrow alleyways and stone coral buildings. In addition to the two main islands, there are many other islands and islets in the Zanzibar archipelago which stretches from the top of Pemba to the south point of Unguja.
Unguja is in the Indian Ocean about 40 km east of Bagamoyo on the Tanzanian mainland. The slightly hilly island itself is about 85 km long and between 20 – 30 km wide at its widest points. Most of the population lives in the more fertile regions of the north and west. The eastern part of the island is arid and covered in coral rag (rock made of coral)making it unattractive for farming, but the beaches and the reefs on the eastern coasts make them ideal for fishing villages, tourist guesthouses, and resorts.
Pemba, located about 50 Kms north of Unguja, is far less populated. Known also by its Arabic name, Al Khundra meaning Green Island, Pemba is covered in steep hills full of palms, clove and rubber trees, rice paddies and the Ngezi Forest in the north. There are many pure, beautiful beaches in and around the numerous inlets and coves. Tourism is not as developed on Pemba as it is on Unguja but resorts are being built and the infrastructure will undoubtedly improve as tourism increases.
The people of Zanzibar are predominantly Muslim, about 95% of the population being followers of Islam. The remaining percentage is a mix of Christians, Hindus and followers of various other religions. Swahili is the official and national language of Tanzania but English is also spoken in Zanzibar, and a percentage of the population also has a working knowledge of Arabic. The population consists of people from the following ancestries: African, Persian, Omani (and other Arab states), and Asian. The local economy is based on agriculture and fishing. The population of the archipelago is estimated at over 740,000 while the population of Unguja is estimated at almost 450,000, forty per cent of which live in Stone Town. The literacy rate in Zanzibar is very high.
Zanzibar is a few degrees south of the equator and enjoys a tropical climate that is largely dominated by the Indian Ocean monsoons. The kasikazi winds are from the north and occur in the winter months bringing the short rains. The long rains, known as mwaka, arrive in March and last until late May or June.
January through March is generally hot and dry with little rainfall.
April through June is wet because of the long rains which start to taper off in May.
July through October are ideal months for visiting Zanzibar because the average temperature is 25 C, the air is dry and breezy and there is little rainfall.
November and December are when the short rains appear.
Average rainfall in Zanzibar is about 165 cm (65 inches) and the average temperature is 26 C (79 F).
The name Zanzibar came from a combination of two Arabic words, ‘Zinj’, meaning black, and ‘barr’, being the Arabic word for land, the result meaning ‘Land of the Blacks’.
For more info go to http://www.zanzibar.org/#guide