FACTS ON ZANZIBAR
Zanzibar is an island partner within the United Republic of Tanzania, located in the Indian Ocean about 35 km off the coast of mainland Tanzania at six degrees south of the Equator. Zanzibar is made up of many islands, the main two being Unguja (sometimes called Zanzibar) and Pemba. The land is divided into three main areas, the plantation area, the coral rag area and the indigenous forests. The highest point is 390 feet above sea level. The population is estimated at around 1 Million, including Pemba and Mafia islands.
LANGUAGE The main language is Kiswahili. Even if you only use a few words whilst you are in Zanzibar you will make many friends. English is widely spoken and many people also speak Arabic. Other European languages such as French and Italian are known by some local people, especially around the tourist areas.
RELIGION About 97% of the local population is Muslim. The remainder are Hindu or Christian and some with traditional beliefs. As well as many many mosques, Stone Town hosts an Anglican and a Catholic Cathedral and a Hindu Temple.
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 are characterized by short showers, which do not last long. The heat of summer is seasonally often calmed by windy conditions, resulting in pleasant sea breezes, particularly on the North and East coast. Being near 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.
GENERAL INFORMATION The population of Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim with a rich Swahili culture. Because of religious and cultural traditions dress code is important, and men and women should dress appropriately when away from the beach, ie covering shoulders and legs too below the knees. Beachwear on the beach is fine, although nude or topless bathing is not tolerated. When in villages or in Stone Town wearing beach wear would (and does) cause offence. Try to wear loose-fitting, non-transparent clothing when in public. Zanzibari people are generally very warm, open and hospitable, and your respect for permission before taking photographs or filming local people is appreciated. Do not take photos or film at sensitive government sites including the State House, seaport, airport or military sites. If uncertain, it is always better to ask. Public consumption of alcohol is not permissible, except in hotels and tourist areas, bars and some restaurants, where it is no problem. Public displays of affection such as kissing are not customary and generally considered offensive, unless behind closed doors. Local customs should respected. Mosques are sacred places an there is generally no entry to non-Muslims, unless accompanied by a person of the faith who can show you around except during the times for congregational prayer, which are five times daily. When offering or accepting things, try and remember to offer and receive with your right hand. This is the hand which should also be used for eating.
EXCHANGE OF CURRENCY Banks, bureau de change and most hotels exchange cash travellers cheques. USD AND GBP are preferred but and other convertible currencies are accepted.
BANKS MONDAY-FRIDAY- 8.30am - 4.00pm MONDAY-FRIDAY SATURDAYS- 8.30am - 2.00pm SUNDAY- SUNDAYS
BUREAU DE CHANGE 8.00am - 6.00pm MONDAY -FRIDAY 9.00am - 1.00pm MONDAY-SUNDAY
SHOPS 9.00am - 6.00pm MONDAY-SUNDAY
USE OF CREDIT CARD Most Hotels, and some curio shops accept major credit cards i.e. VISA, MASTER CARD.
LANGUAGE The official language is Swahili, but English is widely spoken.
DRESS CODE 97% of the population follow the Islamic religion; we therefore request you to dress accordingly in public.
DRINKING WATER Bottled mineral water recommended.
DRIVING Driving is on the left. A valid international driving licence is necessary to hire automobiles.
HEALTH Malaria is endemic in AFRICA and we stress the importance of taking prophylactics prescribed by your Doctor and should be continued during and after your visit; appropriate clothing to assist in covering arms and legs too avoid bites is advised in the evenings.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS JANUARY 1,JANUARY 12, GOOD FRIDAY, EASTER MONDAY, MAY 1, PROPHET MOHAMMEDS BARTH DAY AUGUST 8, DECEMBER 25, IDD-EL-FITR, IDD-EL-HAJ.
SECURITY Zanzibar is no different from other parts of the Africa/World. Excessive displays of jewelery or money will tempt undesirable elements. Do not leave valuables lying around, use the facilities provided by the hotel. Walking around in unfamiliar streets of the Stone Town during evening hours with camera is not recommended.