Sea Cliff - Resort & Spa Zanzibar

History of Zanzibar Sea Cliff Resort

People have lived in Zanzibar for 20 000 years; history proper starts when the islands became a base for traders voyaging between Arabia, India, and Africa.

Unguja offered a protected and defensible harbour, so although the archipelago had few products of value, Arabs settled at what became Zanzibar City (Stone Town) as a convenient point from which to trade with East African coastal towns. They established garrisons on the islands and built the first mosque in the Southern hemisphere.

During the Age of Exploration, the Portuguese Empire was the first European power to gain control of Zanzibar, and kept it for nearly 200 years. In 1698 Zanzibar fell under the control of the Sultanate of Oman, which developed an economy of trade and cash crops, with a ruling Arab elite. Plantations were developed to grow spices, hence the name the Spice Islands. Another major trade good was ivory, the tusks of elephants killed in mainland Africa. The third pillar of the economy was slaves, giving Zanzibar an important place in the Arab slave trade.The Sultan of Zanzibar controlled a substantial portion of the East African coast, known as Zanj, and extensive inland trading routes.
Sometimes gradually, sometimes by fits and starts, control came into the hands of the British Empire; part of the political impetus for this was the movement for the abolition of the slave trade.
In 1890 Zanzibar became a British protectorate. The death of one sultan and the succession of another of whom the British did not approve led to the Anglo-Zanzibar War, also known as The Shortest War in History.

The islands gained independence from Britain in December 1963 as a constitutional monarchy. A month later, the bloody Zanzibar Revolution, in which several thousand Arabs and Indians were killed and thousands more expelled and expropriated, led to the Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba. That April, the republic merged with the mainland Tanganyika, or more accurately, was subsumed into Tanzania, of which Zanzibar remains a semi-autonomous region.

As Zanzibar was a country on its own until 1964 when unification took place, it has been influenced by many different cultures including the great Oriental cultures, like China, Arabia and Persia. The history and cultures have also been strongly influenced by both the traders and invaders over the centuries, from the Portuguese and Omani Arabs to the English. Creating a very unique history and culture.

The capital Stone Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and is an eclectic mix of cultures, architecture and languages. What was once a small fishing village is now a thriving town with an extraordinary history.

The impact of the different cultures can be seen on the buildings and on the faces of the inhabitants while walking around in Stone Town. Coral and stone houses boast imposing Zanzibar doors, with their brass studs to defend against charging elephants, carved with scripts from the Qu’ran. Indian houses have courtyards behind the shop fronts and intricately carved balconies. Arab houses are characterised by their white washed walls, flat terraces and small windows to preserve the modesty of the woman.

Zanzibar does not have tribes instead local traditions are a fusion of different ethnic groups that settled on the island.

Although Zanzibar benefits from Tourism the majority of the population still makes their living from subsistence farming and fishing.

Zanzibar is a unique destination filled with history and character, beautiful beaches and wonderful people.

Important Cultural Considerations

Zanzibar is a very religious country and consists of 95% Muslim people. To show respect towards Zanzibar’s culture visitors are requested to dress modestly and refrain from public displays of affection. When walking through towns or villages women should wear clothes that cover their shoulders and knees and men should not walk bare-chested or swimming trunks. Swimwear is acceptable on the beaches but topless sunbathing is not. Visitors are advised not to take pictures of people unless you’ve asked their permission. During the fast of Ramadan, it is considered the height of bad manners to drink and eat in public places or while walking down the street. Non-Muslims should also not enter mosques unless specifically invited to do so.