Zanzibar is located in the Indian Ocean, 6° south of the equator and 36 km from the Tanzanian mainland coast, with an area of 2,461 sq. km.
The islands gained independence from Britain in December 1963 as a constitutional monarchy. A month later, the Zanzibar Revolution led to the establishment of the Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba. That April, the republic was subsumed by the mainland former colony of Tanganyika. This United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar was soon renamed the United Republic of Tanzania, of which Zanzibar remains a semi-autonomous region with its own government. Zanzibar is mostly populated by African people of Swahili origin, but there is also a minority population of Asians, originally from India and Arab countries. A significant proportion of people also identify as Shirazi.

  • Kelly Askew

    Kelly M. Askew

    Director, African Studies Center
    Associate Professor, Anthropology
    Associate Professor, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies