Anchored in the Indian Ocean off Africa’s east coast, Zanzibar, an island state within the United Republic of Tanzania, is an ethnic and architectural expression of a unique meeting place, mixing the cultures of Africa, the Arab region, India and Europe over more than a millennium. This is particularly visible in Zanzibar’s old Stone Town. Designating it a World Heritage site in 2000, it is described by UNESCO as “an outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonization”. As gateway to East Africa and turning point in trade on the Maritime Silk Road between Africa and Asia, Zanzibar brought together migrants, traders, conquerors and also victims of slave trades. Africans, Arabs, Indians, Persians, Portuguese, Dutch and English met and mingled here and left behind a hybrid civilization characterized by a distinctive stone architecture, a rich, eclectic cuisine, and a diverse population that introduced the words of many nations into Kiswahili, a language of Bantu origin

The Silk Roads on the Map

Country profile

flag United Republic of Tanzania
Capital: Dodoma City
Region: Africa

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75007 Paris, France

Social and Human Sciences Sector

Research, Policy and Foresight Section

Silk Roads Programme

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