After unity with the then Tanganyika in 1964, Zanzibar, often considered the jewel of the Indian Ocean, became part of Tanzania, but has retained a strong cultural and visual identity that is very distinct from the mainland.
For centuries the main trading point for the East African coastline, with a fabulous history of spice route riches, ancient Arabic buildings and slave routes, Zanzibar is actually three main islands and some 50 smaller ones, set in a crystal turquoise tropical ocean.
To the south of Zanzibar Island is the Mafia Island group, and to the north is the Pemba Island group, both of which are more isolated and have fewer facilities.
Diving, snorkeling, water skiing and swimming are well catered for on Zanzibar - an increasingly popular beach destination. On offer are a number of large and smaller resorts and hotels that are set along superb beaches.
Then there is the oldest part of the city - Stone Town is a place of winding streets lined with fascinating carved doors, the call of the mosque and lovely fading coral and lime stone architecture. All of which offers a glimpse into the past of this exotic spice island, Stone Town is a must for a day or two of sightseeing.
For the beach adventurer, there are some exquisitely romantic destinations, with swinging in a hammock watching the local fishing boats being top on the list of desirable activities!
A popular holiday for the very active is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, of Mount Kenya, and then head for the coast or Zanzibar to relax. For the less active, game viewing in the interior followed by a break at the beach is an alternative.