Zanzibar is a unique coral island lying in the Indian Ocean a short distance from Tanzania. With Pemba, and about 50 other islands, Zanzibar originally was an independent country until 1964 when it was united with Tanganyika to form Tanzania under President Julius Nyerere. Presently it has its own President and a degree of autonomy.
The island's history goes back many centuries. Its heyday came in the early 19th century when the Sultan of Muscat moved his court to Zanzibar. Spice cultivation was developed (particularly the clove tree), and the slave trade was at its height - Zanzibar became the most important town in East Africa.