Climate - Zanzibar experiences ideal holiday weather for most of the year, with the exception of April and May which are seasonally subject to the long rains. Short rains can occur in November, but do not last long. The heat of summer is seasonally cooled by windy conditions, resulting in pleasant 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. Zanzibar is blessed with an average of 7-8 hours of sunshine daily.
Wildlife - There are no large wild animals in Zanzibar, and forest areas such as Jozani are inhabited by monkeys, bush-pigs, small antelopes, civets - and rumour has it, the elusive Zanzibar leopard! Various species of mongoose can also be found on the island. There is a wide variety of bird life, 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 snorkelling and scuba diving.
People, Religion and Language - Zanzibar's local people are an incredible mixture of ethnic backgrounds, indicative of her colourful history. Islam is the dominant religion, and practised 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. Many believe that the purest form is spoken in Zanzibar as it is the birth place of the language.
Government - Zanzibar is an island state within the United Republic of Tanzania, and has its own semi-autonomous government made up of a Revolutionary Council and House of Representatives. The present government is led by the island's President, Dr Salmin Amour.
Economy - 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. At this stage, the numbers are still low (less than 100,000 annually) and the potential for tourism is relatively untapped.
General Time Zone - GMT + 3
Currency - Tanzanian Shilling (Tsh) = 100 cents. Approximate exchange rate US$ 1 = 750 Tanzanian Shillings
Official languages - Kiswahili & English
Electricity - 220 - 240 V AC, 50 Hz. Remember to bring you international adapter.
Religion -Predominantly Islam
International Dialling code + 255 54, followed by local number
Visas and Entry Requirements - All visitors require a passport, valid for the duration of their stay. Preparations are under way for visitors to obtain visas at any entry point, but as yet, this is not fully operational. Nationals of some countries do not require visas,so it is advisable to check with your nearest Tanzanian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate prior to visiting.
Key Tanzanian diplomatic missions: Tanzania High Commission, 43 Hertford Street London W1Y 7FF United Kingdom Tel: + 44 171 491 3600 - Tanzanian Embassy, 2139 R Street NW Washington DC 20008, United States Tel: + 1 202 9396128
All visitors are required to present an International Yellow Fever Immunisation Card upon arrival.
Food - Lobsters, kingfish, prawns, octopus, crabs and squid are just a few of the many types of seafood on offer. It is not surprising that Zanzibar's specialities are centred around what is available locally, so take full advantage of the variety of spicy seafood dishes on on offer. Coconut also features in many dishes.
Zanzibar is unspoilt by the unpleasant effects of mass tourism - the number of visitors to the island is still low, but has been on the rise throughout the 1990's. It is our hope that increases in tourism do not impact adversely on the magic of Zanzibar, and we humbly ask all visitors to follow a handful of guidelines, ensuring they will not offend the traditional values of the local people or harm the environment in any way. It is typical of the Zanzibaris' friendly nature that they will not harass you for infringing these guidelines, but you should be aware that this is merely politeness, and is not an excuse for ignoring them!
What to wear - It never gets really cold in Zanzibar and light clothes are advisable. The island is located very close to the Equator, so you should bring a sunhat/cap, suntan lotion and good sunglasses.
Health precautions - Zanzibar is a malaria area and communication with your doctor regarding what malaria pills to take is important. It is also a good idea to bring a good mosquito repellent for use in the evenings. Your chances of getting malaria are dramatically reduced if you sleep under a net, and all good quality hotels provide these as standard. It may also be advisable to get some immunisations prior to visiting Zanzibar, and your doctor will be able to help you with this.
Money - As mentioned above, the local currency is the Tanzanian Shilling. It is not available internationally, so visitors are advised to bring a sensible mix of hard currency traveller's cheques and cash. These are easily changed into local currency in Bureaux de Change or Banks. US Dollars are recommended for the best rates of exchange. There is not an active currency black market in Zanzibar. You can use credit cards at larger establishments - Visa, Mastercard and JCB are the most widely accepted, but American Express and Diners Club cards can also come in handy.
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