Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25 - 50 kilometres (16-31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja and Pemba.
The capital of Zanzibar, located on the island of Unguja, is Zanzibar City. Its historic centre, known as Stone Town, is a World Heritage Site and is claimed to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa.
One of the most amazing things about Zanzibar is that, despite the relatively high volumes of visitor traffic that it now experiences, it remains far from being a floppy faux tourist island. Zanzibar is very much a real place, a slice of Africa, where over a million people live out their lives, most with little connection to the passing tourist traffic.
This is most noticeable in Stonetown, which despite huge investment by various agencies over the years, still refuses to be tamed. Stonetown is a vibrant, colourful, crazy place, where you can lose yourself the maze of alleyways and markets and barely see a foreign face. Okay, so along the front there is the odd ice-cream parlour (thank heavens in this heat), a museum or two and even some good restaurants, but overall the place remains pretty wild.
This we generally consider to be a positive, although it is quite clear that less acclimatised visitors may well view the place as a stinking hell-hole and feel insecure when walking the alleyways of the old town. The truth, no doubt, lies somewhere in between.
Zanzibar has a wide range of different types of beach, some of which are definitely amongst the finest in East Africa.