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Unguja (also referred to as Zanzibar Island or simply Zanzibar) (Menuthias) as mentioned in The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (Greek: Περίπλους τὴς Ἐρυθράς Θαλάσσης) is the largest and most populated island of Zanzibar, in Tanzania.




Unguja is a hilly island, about 85 km long (north-south) and 30 km wide (east-west) at its widest, with an overall area of about 1666 km².[1] It is located in the southern half of the Zanzibar Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean, about 59 km south of the second largest island of the archipelago, Pemba. Unguja and mainland Tanzania are separated by the Zanzibar Channel.

Unguja is surrounded by a number of smaller islands and islets, with only two of them, Tumbatu and Uzi, being inhabited. Other minor islands around Unguja include Bawe, Chapwani, Changuu, Chumbe, Kizingo, Kwale, Latham, Mautani, Miwi, Mnemba, Mwana wa Mwana, Nianembe, Popo, Pungume, and Ukanga.


Unguja and the surrounding islands are divided in three regions: Zanzibar Central/South (capital: Koani), Zanzibar North (capital: Mkokotoni), Zanzibar Urban/West (capital: Zanzibar City). Unguja belongs to Zanzibar, which is defined by the Tanzanian Constitution as "a part" of Tanzania with a high degree of autonomy. The local Zanzibari government is based in Stone Town, on the west coast of Unguja.


At the 2002 census, the population of Unguja was 622,459 [2], mostly concentrated in the Zanzibar urban region.[3] The main settlement on the island is Zanzibar City, which serves as a capital for Zanzibar and which includes the renowned historical city of Stone Town as well as other populated areas such as Michenzani. Other major settlements on Unguja include Mbweni, Mangapwani, Chwaka, and Nungwi.

People of Unguja mostly speak kiunguja ("the language of Unguja"), which is the dialect of the Swahili language that was used as the main model for the definition of standard Swahili.[4]


Unguja is the island of the Zanzibar Archipelago that has the most developed tourism industry. This accounts for a substantial part of Unguja's economy. Agriculture (including the production of spices such as cloves) and fishing are other relevant activities. All along the east coast, most villages also rely on seaweed farming.


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Coordinates: 6°08′26″S 39°20′12″E / 6.140555°S 39.336548°E / -6.140555; 39.336548