Zanzibar is one of the Indian Ocean islands. It is situated on the Swahili Coast, adjacent to
Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania). The northern tip of Unguja island is located at 5.72 degrees south,
39.30 degrees east, with the southernmost point at 6.48 degrees south, 39.51 degrees east. The island
is separated from the Tanzanian mainland by a channel, which at its narrowest point is 36.5 kilometres
(22.7 mi) across. The island is about 85 kilometres (53 mi) long and 39 kilometres (24 mi) wide,
with an area of 1,464 km2 (565 sq mi). Unguja is mainly low lying, with its highest point being 120
metres (390 ft). Unguja is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs. The
reefs are rich in marine biodiversity.
The northern tip of Pemba island is located at 4.87 degrees south, 39.68 degrees east, and the southernmost
point is located at 5.47 degrees south, 39.72 degrees east. The island is separated from the Tanzanian
mainland by a channel some 56 kilometres (35 mi) wide. The island is about 67 kilometres (42 mi) long and
23 kilometres (14 mi) wide, with an area of 985 km2 (380 sq mi). Pemba is also mainly low lying, with its
highest point being 95 metres (312 ft).
Ancient pottery implies trade routes with Zanzibar as far back as the time of the ancient Assyrians.
Traders from the Arabian Peninsula, the Persian Gulf region of modern-day Iran (especially Shiraz),
and west India probably visited Zanzibar as early as the 1st century. They used the monsoon winds to
sail across the Indian Ocean to land at the sheltered harbor located on the site of present-day Zanzibar City.
The island's manufacturing sector is limited mainly to import substitution industries, such as cigarettes,
shoes, and processed agricultural products. In 1992, the government designated two export-producing zones
and encouraged the development of offshore financial services. Zanzibar still imports much of its staple
requirements, petroleum products, and manufactured articles.
There is also a possibility of oil availability in Zanzibar on the island of Pemba, and efforts have been
made by the Tanzanian Government and Zanzibar revolutionary Government to exploit what could be one of the
most significant discoveries in recent memory. Oil would help boost the economy of Zanzibar, but there have
been disagreements about dividends between the Tanzanian mainland and Zanzibar, the latter claiming the oil
should be excluded in Union matters.
There is no government-owned public transportation in Zanzibar. The privately owned Daladala, as it is
officially known in Zanzibar, is the only kind of public transportation. The term Daladala originated
from the Kiswahili word DALA or five shillings during the 1970s and 1980s when public transport cost five shillings.
There are five ports in the islands of Unguja and Pemba, all operated and developed by the Zanzibar Ports Corporation.
The main port at Malindi, which handles 90 percent of Zanzibar's trade, was built in 1925. The port was rehabilitated
between 1989 and 1992 with financial assistance from the European Union. The Italian contractor, Salini Impregilo S.p.A.,
was supposed to build wharves that lasted 60 years; however, the wharves lasted only 11 years before crumbling and degenerating
because the company deviated from the specifications. After a long legal battle, the company was required in 2005 by the
International Court of Arbitration to pay Zanzibar US$11.6 million in damages. The port was again rehabilitated between
2004 and 2009 with a 31 million euro grant from the European Union. The contract was awarded to M/S E. Phil and Sons of Denmark.
The then-director of the contractor suggested that the rehabilitation would last a minimum of 50 years. But the port is again
facing problems, including sinking.