Pemba Island (1988 est. pop. 265,000), c.380 sq mi (980 sq km), NE Tanzania, in the Indian Ocean just off the E African mainland. Pemba is part of the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar within Tanzania, and is divided into two regions. Wete, Chake Chake, and Mkoani are the island’s main towns. The lush island is the world’s leading producer of cloves. Coconuts are also exported, and fishing is an important industry. Many of the inhabitants of Pemba are partly descended from traders from the Persian Gulf region who settled on the island beginning in the 10th cent. The Portuguese occupied the island in the 16th cent. but were displaced by Omani Arabs in 1698. In 1822 the island was conquered by Sayyid Said (later the sultan of Zanzibar) from the rulers of Mombasa. As part of the sultanate of Zanzibar, Pemba passed under British rule in 1890. The sultanate became independent in 1963. After the sultan was overthrown, a republic was formed, which joined with Tanganyika in 1964 to form Tanzania.
With a land area of 988 square kilometres (381 sq mi) it is situated about 50 kilometres (31 mi) to the north of Unguja, the largest island of the archipelago. In 1964, Zanzibar was united with the former colony of Tanganyika to form Tanzania. It lies 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of mainland Tanzania, across the Pemba Channel. Together with Mafia Island (south of Unguja), these islands form the Spice Islands (not to be confused with the Maluku Islands of Indonesia).
Most of the island, which is hillier and more fertile than Unguja, is dominated by small scale farming. There is also large scale farming of cash crops such as cloves.
In previous years, the island was seldom visited due to inaccessibility and a reputation for political violence, with the notable exception of those drawn by its reputation as a center for traditional medicine and witchcraft. There is a quite large Arab community on the island, who immigrated from Oman. The population is a mix of Arab and original Waswahili inhabitants of the island. A significant portion of the population also identifies as Shirazi people.
Unguja, also known as Zanzibar Island, is the main island in the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar. Stone Town, part of Zanzibar City, is an old trade center, with mosques and winding lanes. The 1883 House of Wonders is a former sultan’s palace with a clock tower. The Old Fort now houses a cultural center and a stone amphitheater. Underground aqueducts fed hot water to the late-19th-century Hamamni Persian Baths.
The main island of Zanzibar, Unguja, has a fauna reflecting its connection to the African mainland during the last Ice Age.
Endemic mammals with continental relatives include the Zanzibar red colobus (Procolobus kirkii), one of Africa’s rarest primates, with perhaps only 1,500 existing. Isolated on this island for at least 1,000 years, this colobus is recognized as a distinct species, with different coat patterns, calls, and food habits from related colobus species on the mainland. The Zanzibar red colobus lives in a wide variety of drier areas of coastal thickets and coral rag scrub, as well as mangrove swamps and agricultural areas. About one third of them live in and around Jozani Forest. The easiest place to see the colubus is farmland adjacent to the reserve. They are accustomed to people and the low vegetation means they come close to the ground.
Rare native animals include the Zanzibar leopard, which is critically endangered, and the recently described Zanzibar servaline genet. There are no large wild animals in Unguja. Forested areas such as Jozani are inhabited by monkeys, bushpigs, small antelopes, African civets, and, as shown by a camera trap in June 2018, the elusive leopard. Various species of mongoose can also be found on the island. There is a wide variety of birdlife and a large number of butterflies in rural areas
Mafia Island is the largest of a small archipelago of islands and atolls and is truly a paradise in the Indian Ocean. It is the southern most of three islands (Pemba & Zanzibar) located off the coast of Tanzania. 25kms from the mainland and 130kms from Dar es Salaam, it is reachable by light aircraft in 35 minutes or 45 minutes from Zanzibar and the Selous Game Reserve. The resident population of 46,000 are mainly fishermen or smallholder farmers that grow coconut, paw-paw, rice and cassava. The islanders are friendly and welcoming and the atmosphere relaxed and laid-back. The dominant religion is moderate Islam and both christians and muslims live in peace and harmony. The air and sea temperatures remain warm all year round with the rainy season between April to June. Today Mafia Island is known as a wild and beautiful Indian Ocean tropical island that is famous for deep sea fishing and scuba diving.. Aquatic life is abundant and the coral gardens are pristine due to the protection of the Mafia Island Marine Park. The park is located between the Rufiji River delta to the west and the open Indian Ocean to the east. The dual influences of the river and the sea have combined to create a rich and exceptional biodiversity with unique landscapes under the sea and on dry land. It is a unique and perfect destination as part of a safari package or simply a place to unwind and get away from the daily, modern and busy world.