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» Geography

Zanzibar lies off the east coast of Africa and consists of two main islands; Unguja and Pemba, and several surrounding small islands.

The capital, Zanzibar town, is on Unguja Island, which is situated 37 km from the mainland, 73 km from Dar es Salaam and 219 km from Mombasa. It is 86 km long and 39 km wide, and has an area of 3,354 sq km. This island is higher in the central parts, but lower and flat in the eastern region is mainly coral rag.

» Climate 

The climate in Zanzibar is hot and sometimes humid. From December to March, when the north east monsoon blows, it is hot and humid. In April and May heavy rains occur. June to October is the coolest and driest period. The lesser rains fall in November. Temperatures sway between 25C and 35C and annual rainfall is about 20 cm.

» Health

Yellow fever vaccination: now needed on the mainland but no longer compulsory in Zanzibar. Visitors are advised to take anti-malaria tablets for beach holidays. Personal insurance is also advised and flying doctors facilities are available.

» Currency

The Tanzania shilling is the currency in Zanzibar. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency visitors may import as long as it is exchanged through authorized dealers such as banks, hotels and bureau de changes. Receipts should be kept, in order to reconvert any remaining Tanzanian shillings on departure.

» Credit Cards

Credit cards are not widely accepted in Zanzibar. Where credit cards are accepted, it is usually Visa and Master Card, and a surcharge is often levied. It is preferable to carry enough cash or travellers cheques. US Dollars are the main trading currency. There is no way to withdraw cash dollars on a card in Zanzibar. Some places also have a surcharge on traveller’s cheques.

» Tipping

It’s customary to tip often in Zanzibar. This is a way of expressing gratitude rather than a payment.

» Language

The national language in Zanzibar is Swahili however; the official language that is used in commerce as well as a means of communication is English.

» Code of Conduct

The majority of Zanzibar residents practice the Islamic faith and this is reflected in their lifestyle and culture.

The following is some advice to help the visitor to respect Muslim customs:

» Photography, except of women, is generally accepted with good humour in Zanzibar but it is always better to ask. 

» Dress when off the beaches, especially when in Stone Town or in villages, should be respectful of Islamic culture. Longer shorts can be worn but bare shoulders and thighs are not acceptable.

» During the religious fasting period of Ramadan it is forbidden to eat, drink or smoke in public and modest dress is even more important.
 
 
 
 
 
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Kelele Square, PO Box 3747, Shangani, Stone Town
Zanzibar, Tanzania