FACTS ABOUT ZANZIBAR
Zanzibar is an Island partner within the United Republic of Tanzania, located in the Indian Ocean about35km off the coast of mainland Tanzania at 6 degrees south of the Equator.
Zanzibar is an archipelago, the main two islands being Unguja (sometimes called Zanzibar) and Pemba.
The Islands are green as a result of the plantations, coral rag, and natural forests. The Zanzibar is flat to undulating with the highest point being 390 feet above sea level. The current population is estimated at 1 million people.
Kiswahili is the Official language. 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.
About 97% of the local population is Muslim with a rich Swahili culture. The remaining percentage comprises Hindus or Christians and some with traditional beliefs. There are many mosques all over Zanzibar and Stone Town hosts an Anglican and a Catholic Cathedral and a Hindu Temple.
Zanzibar experiences ideal holiday weather for most of the year, with the exception of April and May, a season for the long rains. Short rains can occur in November but are characterized by short showers, which do not last long.
The heat of summer from December through March 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 official summer and winter peak in December and June respectively
Zanzibar is blessed with an average of 7-8 hours of sunshine daily.
GENERAL INFORMATION ON CONDUCT
Because of religious and cultural traditions dress code is important, and men and women should dress appropriately when away from the beach, i.e. covering shoulders and legs to below the knees.
Beach wear 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.
Zanzibar 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 baracks.
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 be 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.
Harbour tax $ 5 per person
Intl. flight tax $30 per person
Domestic flight T.sh 5,000 per person
Note. The tax can only be paid in cash.
EXCHANGE OF CURRENCY
Banks, bureau de change and most hotels exchange cash and travelers’ cheques. USD AND GBP are preferred but and other convertible currencies are accepted.
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
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.
As 97% of the population follows the Islamic religion; you should dress accordingly in public.
Potable water is not always safe nad therefore bottled mineral water recommended.
Driving is on the left. A valid international driving license is necessary to hire automobiles.
Malaria is endemic in AFRICA and the importance of taking prophylactics prescribed by your Doctor should not be overemphasized and should be continued during and after your visit; appropriate clothing to assist in covering arms and legs to avoid mosquito bites is advised in the evenings.
JANUARY 1, JANUARY 12, GOOD FRIDAY, EASTER MONDAY, MAY 1, PROPHET MOHAMMED’S BIRTH DAY AUGUST 8, DECEMBER 25, IDD-EL-FITR, IDD-EL-HAJ.
Zanzibar is no different from other parts of the Africa/World. Excessive displays of jewelry 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.
Facilities for international Telephone and Fascimile are available, but the charges and handling fees in the hotels or offices can be exorbitant. Facilities at the town post office is recommended.