Zanzibar comprises two main islands, Unguja and Pemba, and a number of sparsely populated smaller islands, all of which make up a total area of 2,643 square kilometres. Since 1964, Zanzibar forms part of the United Republic of Tanzania. The Union Government is responsible for defence, external affairs, fiscal policy and monetary issues, while Zanzibar has autonomy over development policy and execution of both recurrent and capital activities. While Tanganyika and Zanzibar constitute the United Republic of Tanzania, education is not a union matter. Consequently, the responsibility for ensuring its development falls under the full responsibility of Zanzibar.
In 2002, Zanzibar’s population was estimated 981,754 inhabitants, 51% of which was female and 57 percent rural. The population was growing at an estimated 3.1 percent per annum. Of the total population, 54 percent was in the 15-55 age group, which is indicative of the size of the active labour force. Administratively, Zanzibar has five regions, three in Unguja and two in Pemba. North Pemba had a population of 185,326 while South Pemba had 175,471 inhabitants. North Unguja had a population of 136,639, the Urban/West had 390,074 inhabitants and South Unguja had the smallest population of 94,244. Each region has two districts under the District Commissioner. The head of the region is the Regional Commissioner. Each district is also subdivided into several smaller administrative units knows as “Shehias”.
Zanzibar’s economy is based on agriculture, but the tourist industry is also gradually becoming a major contributor to the country’s economy. Income per capita in 2000 was US$220, and was growing at 1.2 percent per annum. Levels of employment in the formal sector were low as a result of low domestic investment and negative fiscal pressure.