Known in Arabic as “The Green Island” Pemba Island forms an integral part of the Zanzibar Archipelago of Tanzania. It lies in the Indian Ocean off the Swahili Coast, 40km to the north is considered the ideal detour on a Tanzania Safari. The area measured as 379.9 mi² (984 km²) had an estimated population of 362,000 in 2002.
Pemba, unlike most coral atolls, is not flat. It is an island made up of fertile land that is a noticeably hilly terrain lending its green and scenic escarpments. There are presumably many hundreds of clove trees and ten varieties of mangoes. These crops have been the economic backbone of the island for many years and described as Pemba’s wealth.
Pemba Island considered as being a top snorkel and diving location on the coast of Tanzania is an ideal location for serious and experienced divers. Coral reefs surround the whole island, making it an ideal location for observing colourful species of coral and marine life. Pemba is a popular destination for fishing and watching large fish such as tuna, barracuda, whales and shark. It makes it ideal for groups of big game fishing safaris, with the Pemba Channel shelving to depths of over 2000m between mainland Tanzania and the island. However, Pemba is not recommended for the first time, and inexperienced divers as the currents are very strong. Visibility, however, is in general very good, affording spectacular sights.
Pemba is mainly rural, and the focus of activities is on the natural environment. These are with concentration in the forest reserves, the marine life and coral reefs. Of course, the number of coral rag and stonework ruins seen on the island is evidence of a bygone era dating to the 11th century and onwards of ancient Shirazi and Swahili settlements. The pillar tombs seen inlaid with China at the ancient site of Ras Mkumbuu and the other ruins of the nearby palaces indicate a complex irrigation system, mosques, and wells now silted up and falling into the sand.
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