Zanzibar, an island region of the nation of Tanzania. Zanzibar consists of a group of coral islands in the Indian Ocean off the east African coast. The total area is about 950 square miles (2,461 km2). The largest islands are Zanzibar and Pemba. The tropical climate, plentiful rain, and fertile soil make farming the main occupation. The region is the world's third largest producer of cloves and clove oil. Coconut oil and copra are also important.

Nearly all the people are Muslims. The majority are blacks, but there are more than 10,000 Asians and Arabs and a few Europeans. In 1995 the population was 779,400. The city of Zanzibar (population: 133,000), on Zanzibar Island, is the capital and chief port. The region has its own legislature.

Zanzibar was a center of Arab maritime trade for several centuries before 1503, when it was seized by the Portuguese. In the 17th century it reverted to Arab rule under the sultans of Oman, becoming capital of the Omani sultanate in 1840. Zanzibar became a separate sultanate in 1861 and remained under Arab domination until 1890, when it became a British protectorate. It gained independence in December, 1963. In 1964 rebels overthrew the Arab-dominated government and set up a republic with Sheikh Abeid Karume, a black nationalist, as president. Later that year, Zanzibar merged with Tanganyika to form Tanzania, but it remained largely autonomous.

Karume attempted to improve economic and social conditions in Zanzibar and accepted aid from Communist nations but alienated many persons by his stern, autocratic rule. He was assassinated in 1972. In 1985 a new constitution was passed. In 1990 Salim Amour was elected president; in 1995 he was reelected.