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The History Of Zanzibar

Africa is the cradle of mankind and it is obvious that some of its regions will have a history as old as time itself. The history of Zanzibar is older than 20,000 years. In 2005, an excavation of the Kuumbi Cave lead to the finding of several stone tools used for heavy duty activities. The tools were about 22,000 years old. This led to the inference that Zanzibar has been inhabited since the Paleolithic age.

However, there is little evidence to suggest that the land has been inhabited continuously. There are three parts of the history of Zanzibar: the prerecorded era which is only substantiated by archaeological evidence, excavations and subsequent carbon dating; the era of exploration when European settlers and colonizers along with sultans and Arabic empires tussled for control over Zanzibar; and the modern times when Zanzibar became a semiautonomous territory of the African country of Tanzania and has since emerged as a popular tourist destination. Zanzibar has historically been an important trading site. There wasn’t much produce of significance but the location of the region facilitated its emergence as a trade hub.

Zanzibar offered an easy route for Africans to reach out to Arabs and Indians and vice versa. Unguja in Zanzibar was one of the most significant trading sites about a millennium back and earlier. While Yemenis and Omanis were the first settlers in Zanzibar, the control of the region was taken over by the Portuguese. They were the first to reach Zanzibar and gained control of all its ports and islands including Zanzibar City or Stone Town, which is a popular tourist destination today. The Portuguese Empire reigned Zanzibar for about 200 years before the Sultanate of Oman seized control in 1698. It was during the reign of the Sultan of Oman that Zanzibar started becoming a spice hub.

Over time, Zanzibar became a hotspot for spices, ivory from the tusks of African elephants and for slaves. Zanzibar was also briefly a British colony. Having been a British Protectorate for about seventy years and subsequent to the abolition of slavery and slave trade, Zanzibar became independent in 1963 following which it became a part of Tanzania. Today, Zanzibar continues to be a semiautonomous territory and is one of the most popular beach destinations in the world.

Zanzibar is also popular for its safaris. It is also among the few travel destinations in Africa that are absolutely safe.