Stone Town also known as Mji Mkongwe ( swahili for "old town") is the old part of Zanzibar City , the main city of Zanzibar , in Tanzania , as opposed to Ng'ambo (Swahili for 'the other side'). It is located on the western coast of Unguja , the main island of the Zanzibar Archipelago . Former capital of the Zanzibar Sultanate, and flourishing centre of the spice trade as well as the slave trade in the 19th century, it retained its importance as the main city of Zanzibar during the period of the British protectorate. When Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined each other to form the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar kept a semi-autonomous status, with Stone Town as its local government seat.
Stone Town is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance in East Africa . Its architecture, mostly dating back to the 19th century, reflects the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture, with a unique mixture of Moorish, Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. For this reason, the town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Due to its heritage, Stone Town is also a major visitor attraction in Tanzania, and a large part of its economy depends on tourism -related activities.
History of Zanzibar
The first stone houses in Stone Town were probably built in the 1830s, gradually replacing an earlier fishing village. At the time, the Zanzibar Archipelago was controlled by the Sultanate of Oman.
In 1840, Sultan Said bin Sultan moved his seat from Muscat, Oman, to Stone Town, which thus entered an era of quick development as the new capital of the Sultanate of Oman and Zanzibar. In 1861, as a consequence of a war of succession within the Omani royal family,
Zanzibar and Oman were separated, with Zanzibar becoming an independent sultanate under Sultan Majid bin Said.
In the 19th century Stone Town also flourished as a trading centre. It was especially renowned for the commerce of spices (mostly cloves) and slaves. Around middle of the century, the sultanate had a close relationship with the British;David Livingstone, for example, is known to have stayed in Stone Town in 1866 while he was preparing his final expedition into the interior of East Africa. In the same period, several immigrant communities from Oman, Persia and India formed as a consequence of the town's intense commercial activity.
Effects of the naval bombardment of the 1896 Anglo-Zanzibar War
In the last decades of the century, the Sultans of Zanzibar gradually lost their possessions in mainland East Africa to the German Empire and the United Kingdom. In 1890, with the Helgoland, Zanzibar itself became a British protectorate.
In 1896, a sudden rebellion of the Zanzibar Omanis against the British rule led to the Anglo-Zanzibar War, which is remembered as the shortest war in history: the Sultan surrendered after 45 minutes of naval bombardment of Stone Town by the Royal Navy
During the period of British protection, Stone Town remained a relatively important trading centre, although the British gave privileges to Mombasa and Dar es Salaam as their trading stations in East Africa. The slave trade was abolished in 1897.
In 1964, Stone Town was the theater of the Zanzibar Revolution that caused the removal of the sultan and the birth of a socialist government led by the Afro-Shiraz Party (ASP). Several refugees, especially Arabs and Indians, escaped the island as a consequence of the revolution.
When Tanganyika and Zanzibar combined to form Tanzania, Stone Town kept its role as a capital and government seat for Zanzibar, which was declared to be a semi-autonomous part of the new nation
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