The name Zanzibar is derived from a combination of two Arabic words, 'Zinj', meaning black, and 'barr', being the Arabic word for land, resulting in the ancient title 'Land of the Blacks'. As Zanzibar absorbed peoples from as far as The Orient and Iberia, Assyria and India, so the tapestry of Zanzibar cultures became more diverse in its range, more unique in its expression.
Zanzibar is the birthplace of Swahili, a lingua franca forged from global dialects, upon which legends were carried, trade routes opened and a Sultan's empire prospered.
Zanzibar has a rich history with many invasions through the centuries. In the middle of the 19th century under the Omani Arabs the Island was the most important trading port on the East Coast of Africa.
The strident laments and exultant overtures of Swahili taarab were born, their rhythms and melodies carried and honed between Zanzibar and the Arabian Gulf until they became the sounds of the islands' own musical narrative. The architectural styles of Stone Town were borne of the social convergence, while the tangled mass of stories, woven from centuries of lives lived, bestow a folklore and legacy that permeate life on the archipelago.
The stone town of Zanzibar is a fascinating warren of narrow streets, overhanging balconies and huge intricately carved doors. The bustling Suk (bazaar) where traders frantically bargain, is full of the pungent perfume of exotic spices.