Zanzibar

Did you know?

*  The people of Zanzibar are known as Zanzibaris and their native language is Kiswahili, commonly known internationally as Swahili.

*  Zanzibar used to be the world's largest producer of cloves, and its history  was heavily influenced by the this activity.

*  Zanzibar's paradise beaches are fringed by an abundance of coconut  palms. Unlike most tourists, the local people see these trees as more  than aesthetically pleasing flora! Nothing goes to waste, and apart from the famous nut, the coconut palm yields an impressive variety of products, among them materials for weaving, building, eating and drinking. The roofs of many houses in Zanzibar (particularly in rural areas) are constructed using makuti palm thatching, made from palm leaves. Its many uses makes the coconut palm one of the most versatile of all plants.

*  The late Freddie Mercury, who was the lead singer and front man for the band “Queen”, was born in Zanzibar on 5th of September, 1946. His birth name was Farouk Bulsara, and his father was an accountant, working for the British government in the House of Wonders in Zanzibar Town. His family had emigrated to Zanzibar from India, but were originally of Persian extraction.

*  The rare Kirk's Red Colobus Monkey is only found in Zanzibar, predominantly in Jozani Forest.

*  Zanzibar had the first steam locomotive in East Africa, tiny two-foot gauge engine, to haul the sultan to and from his summer palace in the 1880's. Zanzibar also boasted a seven-mile railway to Bububu, built in 1905, which became notorious for setting the countryside alight.

*  Stone Town has been designated one of the world's few heritage sites by the United Nations.

*  The shortest war in history was fought in Zanzibar in 1896.  On the 25th of August, Sultan Hamid bin Thuwaini died, and two hours later, a usurper broke into the Sultan Palace and declared himself a ruler. In a show of Victorian gunboat diplomacy, the royal navy was asked to evict him. At precisely 9 o' clock on the 27th, three warships opened fire and in 45minutes reduced the Sultan Palace to rubble, and deposed the usurper. The bombardment has since been called the "Shortest War in History", as verified by the Guinness Book of Records.

*  At last count, there were 560 carved doors in Zanzibar. The oldest door, discovered in Zanzibar, is dated AD 1694. When a house was built in Zanzibar, the door was traditionally the first part to be erected. The greater the wealth and social position of the owner of the house, the larger and more elaborately carved his front door. Many doors are studded with brass spikes. This may be a modification of the Indian practice of studding doors with sharp spikes of iron to prevent them being battered in by war elephants. In 915 AD, an Arab traveller recorded, that Zanzibar Island abounded in elephants, and around 1295, Marco Polo wrote, that Zanzibar had 'elephants in plenty'. However, there are no elephants here now, and the brass studs, seen today, are purely for decoration!