Population of Zanzibar

Population of Zanzibar
A panorama of Zanzibar, particularly the Stone Town taken from the Indian Ocean. Seen in the picture are the Sultan's palace, House of Wonders, Forodhani Gardens, and St. Joseph's Cathedral.
According to the most recent census of 2002, the total population of Zanzibar was 984,625 – with a steady annual growth rate of 3.1%. According to that census the population of Zanzibar City, which is the largest city, is approximately 205,870. The people of Zanzibar are of diverse ethnic origins. The first permanent residents of Zanzibar seem to have been the ancestors of the Hadimu and Tumbatu, who began arriving from the East African mainland around AD 1000. They belonged to various mainland ethnic groups, and on Zanzibar they lived in small villages and did not coalesce to form larger political units. Because they lacked central organization, they were easily subjugated by outsiders.

Ancient pottery demonstrates existing trade routes with Zanzibar as far back as the time of the ancient Assyrians. Traders from Arabia, as well as the Persian Gulf region of modern-day Iran (especially Shiraz), and west India, probably visited Zanzibar as early as the 1st century. They used the monsoon winds to sail across the Indian Ocean to land at the sheltered harbor located on the site of present-day Zanzibar City.

Zanzibar is mostly populated by African people of Swahili origin, but there is also a minority population of Asians, originally from India and Arab countries. A significant proportion of people also identify as Shirazi.
A street scene in Stone Town.
Produce vendors at a market.

According to the 2002 census, around two thirds of the people – 622,459 – live on Zanzibar Island (Unguja), with the greatest proportion settled in the densely populated west. Besides Zanzibar City, other towns on Zanzibar Island include Chaani, Mbweni, Mangapwani, Chwaka, and Nungwi. Outside of these towns, most people live in small villages and are engaged in farming or fishing.

On Pemba Island, the overall settlement pattern is similar to that of the main island. The largest town is Chake-Chake, with a population of 19,283; other smaller towns are Wete and Mkoani. The other island of Zanzibar, Mafia, has a total population of about 40,801.

Considerable disparities exist in the standard of living for inhabitants of Pemba and Unguja, as well as the disparity between urban and rural populations. The average annual income of just US$250 hides the fact that about half the population lives below the poverty line. Despite a relatively high standard of primary health care and education, infant mortality is still 83 in 1,000 live births, and it is estimated that malnutrition affects one in three of Zanzibar's people. Life expectancy at birth is 48 years, which is significantly lower than the 2010 world average of 67.2. While the incidence of HIV/AIDS is considerably less in Zanzibar than in Tanzania as a whole (0.6% of the population, as against the national average of around 8%), it is a growing problem.

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