Our Curious Continent – Zanzibar

2 min Read January 18, 2023

Our Curious Continent – Zanzibar

Few destinations in the world can compete with the exotic associations of the name Zanzibar. Microliths (small tools used as spear points in the later stone age), found on the island, suggest that Zanzibar has been home to humans for at least 20,000 years.  Zanzibar is in fact an archipelago of two main islands, Unguja and Pemba, and about forty smaller islands. The capital is called Zanzibar City, and its most historic feature is the ancient Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • On 27 August 1896, the shortest war in history was waged in Zanzibar. The Anglo-Zanzibar War between the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate lasted roughly 45 minutes before a ceasefire was called.
  • Zanzibar has one of the “youngest” flags in Africa, with arguably the most colorful history.
  • Zanzibar was the first country in Africa to introduce color television – in 1973.
  • Zanzibar is the home of the world’s largest land-dwelling crab- the coconut crab found on Chumbe Island.
  • Another rare animal that resides in Unguja is the Zanzibar servaline genet. First discovered in the 1990s, and first photographed in 2003, it has tan-colored fur,  black spots, and a long tail ringed with black and light-colored bands.
  • Red Colobus Monkeys are endemic to Unguja (the main island commonly called “Zanzibar”), and most commonly spotted in the Jozani forest also known as Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, the only national park on Zanzibar Island.
  • It is unclear whether there are any Zanzibar leopards left on the island, and experts have previously agreed that they are extinct, but potential sightings in recent years have renewed hope that the population is surviving.
  • The Rock Restaurant is accessible by wading through the shallow water at low tide, but a small boat is needed to convey guests when the tide is high.
  • Much like Nairobi’s mkate wa nyama (meat bread), Zanzibar Pizza resembles pizza in appearance only.  What makes a “Zanzibar pizza” unique is the combination of minced beef, finely diced onions, tomatoes, green peppers, cheese, and egg.
  • Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, was born Farrokh Bulsar in Zanzibar in 1946, and a museum dedicated to the world legend is now located in the house where Freddie and his family lived until they moved to England in 1963.


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