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Pemba Island, Tanzania

The second bigest island of Zanzibar archipelago, Pemba is one of the most densely populated areas of Tanzania. It also relies more on agriculture than on tourism in its economy. The land here is extremely fertile, and Pemba produces excessive amounts of clove and other spices that have been exported across the country and neighbouring states for centuries. Clove trees grow as tall as 20 metres and form the biggest share of Pemba’s economy. Red beans, cassava, bananas and coconuts are also part of the island’s agricultural export. The Pemba channel is one of the best fishing places in Tanzania, and most adventurous travelers get a chance to hitch a ride to Pemba from Tanga town on the mainland with local fishermen for a moderate fee. With the growing popularity of Zanzibar main island, more and more travelers decide to visit Pemba instead, to stay away from the mainstream crowds.


In the past, Pemba was known as center of traditional medicine and witchcraft and gained a doubtful reputation among the mainland inhabitants. Until now, it hosts quite a big Arab community whose ancestors immigrated here from Oman, along with the local Swahili population. The society here is predominantly Muslim, so most people dress quite conservatively and are not accustomed to foreigners as much as on Zanzibar. However, this makes them even more open and hospitable towards the rare traveler who makes it all the way to Pemba. Local people might invite you to spend time at their traditional house and prepare some homemade food.


The tiny capital, Chake-Chake, is located on a hill above the bay filled with dhows and boats. East of the capital you will find the ruins of the only ancent fortification in East Africa, Mkama Ndume ruins, dating back to the 15th century. On the outskirts of Chake-Chake there is a spooky abandoned amusement park, and West of the city you will find historical Ndagoni ruins (14th century).


Pemba is becoming more and more famous for its dive sites, with untouched coral, steep walls and variety of marine life. If you are an experienced diver in search of unexplored seabeds, Pemba’s coral reefs most definitely will bring you satisfaction.

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