How is the culture in Zanzibar?

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Zanzibar has two main islands, Unguja (Zanzibar island) and Pemba. There are many smaller ones around the main islands, most of them without permanent inhabitants or only hotels. Zanzibar is an autonomous part of Tanzania. The two countries – Tanganyika and Zanzibar – formed the Republic of Tanzania in 1964. Until 1963 Zanzibar was a British protectorate.

Zanzibari people are an ethnic mixture of many different backgrounds, including Persian, Arab and African. While Zanzibar is over 90% Muslim (mainly Sunni but including many minorities as well), there are also different Christians, Hindus and other, smaller religions represented on the island.

Although they are used to Western ways, you should try to be respectful. This means:

  • Women and men should make an effort to cover their legs and arms

  • It is regarded as disrepectful to show public affection

  • Be discreet when drinking alcohol in public

  • During Ramadan - the month of fasting - travellers should avoid eating and drinking publicly during the daytime. Also, be sure not to smoke in front of people

This cultural hotpot is known for it’s gorgeous beaches, spice farms and it’s Arabic influenced historical city, Stone Town. The history also contains a darker era, because Zanzibar used to be the biggest slave trader hub in East-Africa. Until today, many historical sights can be visited. To find out more you can read our article about What to do in Zanzibar? or see our Zanzibar Daytrips to discover more activities.

Zanzibar Mosque Stone Town.jpg

As the culture of Zanzibar is a mix of different lifestyles reflecting various ethnic groups and historical backgrounds, Zanzibar clearly differs from the Tanzanian way of life. Especially Stone Town creates a unique atmosphere that often reminds visitors of arabian countries with a european influence. There are many museums, historical sights, food markets, churches and shops to explore. A famous symbol of Stone Town is the Forodhani Food Market that always starts when it is getting dark along the frontwalk of Stone Town. Here you can taste the different cultural influences by trying some of the most delicious food variety. Explore the secrets of Stonetown with Tanzania Horizon Safaris with your private Stonetown Daytrip.

The nightly ForOdhani Food Market

The nightly ForOdhani Food Market

A typical variety of food in Zanzibar

A typical variety of food in Zanzibar