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|Native name: Al Jazeera Al Khadra (the green island)|
The main islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago: Unguja (left) and Pemba (right)
|Area||988 km2 (381 sq mi)|
|Population||406,808 (as of census 2012)|
|Density||428 /km2 (1,109 /sq mi)|
With a land area of 988 square kilometres (381 sq mi) it is situated about 50 kilometres (31 mi) to the north of Unguja, the largest island of the archipelago. In 1964, Zanzibar was united with the former colony of Tanganyika to form Tanzania. It lies 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of mainland Tanzania, across the Pemba Channel. Together with Mafia Island (south of Unguja), these islands form the Spice Islands (not to be confused with the Maluku Islands of Indonesia).
Most of the island, which is hillier and more fertile than Unguja, is dominated by small scale farming. There is also large scale farming of cash crops such as cloves.
In previous years the island was seldom visited due to inaccessibility and a reputation for political violence, with the notable exception of those drawn by its reputation as a center for traditional medicine and witchcraft. There is a quite large Arab community on the island who immigrated from Oman. The population is a mix of Arab and original Waswahili inhabitants of the island. A significant portion of the population also identifies as Shirazi people.
The most important towns in Pemba are Chake-Chake (the capital), Mkoani, and Wete which is the largest city. The centrally located Chake-Chake is perched on a mound with a view to the west on a bay and the tiny Misali island, where the tides determine when a dhow can enter the local harbour. Pemba is, with the exception of a strip of land along its eastern coast, a very fertile place: besides clove trees, the locals grow mainly rice, coconut, bananas, cassava and red beans (called maharagwe in the Swahili language).
Recent archaeological research on Pemba has shown its centrality to the Swahili coast trading system as early as 600 AD. Along the northern coast, urban settlements at Chwaka later developed and flourished from the eleventh century to ~1500 AD.
West of Pemba's capital Chake-Chake, on a long stretched peninsula called Ras Mkumbuu, one can find some of the oldest and best preserved series of early ruins on the islands (Ndagoni ruins, probably 14th century).
East of Chake-Chake one can find the Mkama Ndume ruins at Pujini village (south of the airport) within easy reach by road from Chake-Chake. This is the only known early fortification on the whole Swahili Coast; it is dated to the fifteenth century.
Pemba is also famous for its rich fishing grounds. Between the island and the mainland there is the deep 50 kilometre wide Pemba channel, which is one of the most profitable fishing grounds for game fishing on the Swahili Coast.
A large proportion of the Zanzibar export earnings comes from cloves. The greatest concentration of clove trees is found on Pemba (3.5 million trees) as growing conditions here are superior to those on Unguja island. Clove trees grow to the height of around 10 to 15 metres and can produce crops for over 50 years.
More recently with the booming tourism industry in neighbouring Zanzibar, more adventurous travellers are seeking out the less-crowded Pemba, led by dive tourists seeking the uncrowded and un-spoiled reefs the island offers the experienced diver.
For the promotion of tourism the department of Surveys and Mapping at Chake-Chake is publishing a map with tourist guide since 1992.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pemba Island.|
- Tanzania in figures 2012, National Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Finance, June 2013, page 7
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- LaViolette, Adria; Fleisher, Jeffrey (2009). "The Urban History of a Rural Place: Swahili Archaeology on Pemba Island, Tanzania, 700-1500 AD". International Journal of African Historical Studies 42 (3): 433-455.
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- Pemba - The clove island 1:100,000, Map & Guide, 3rd edition, 2013, Dept. of Surveys and Mapping, Box 235, Chake-Chake