The Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar and Pemba lie off the east African coast.
â€¢ Territories: Zanzibar and Pemba Island
â€¢ Status: Semi-autonomous islands in union with Tanzania
â€¢ Population: 982,000 (2002, Tanzania census)
â€¢ Capital: Zanzibar
â€¢ Area: 2,461 sq km (950 sq miles)
â€¢ Major languages: Kiswahili, English
â€¢ Major religion: Islam
â€¢ Life expectancy: 42 years (men), 44 years (women)
â€¢ Monetary unit: Tanzania shilling
â€¢ Main exports: Cloves, seaweed, coconut, copra
â€¢ GNI per capita: n/a
â€¢ Internet domain: .tz
â€¢ International dialling code: +255
The semi-autonomous territory maintains a political union with Tanzania, but has its own parliament and president.
A former centre of the spice and slave trades, present-day Zanzibar is infused with African, Arab, European and Indian influences.
Zanzibar's original settlers were Bantu-speaking Africans. From the 10th century Persians arrived. But it was Arab incomers, particularly Omanis, whose influence was paramount.
They set up trading colonies and in 1832 the Omani sultan moved his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar, which had become a major slave-trading centre. Zanzibar became an independent sultanate.
The slave trade was abolished in 1873 and in 1890 the British declared Zanzibar a protectorate. In 1963 the islands regained independence, but upheaval was around the corner.BBC