The Stone Town of Zanzibar is a fine example of the Swahili coastal trading towns of East Africa. It retains its urban fabric and townscape virtually intact and contains many fine buildings that reflect its particular culture, which has brought together and homogenized disparate elements of the cultures of Africa, the Arab region, India, and Europe over more than a millennium.
The Stone Town of Zanzibar was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in the year 2000. This was done in recognition of its Outstanding Universal Value arising from its cultural diversity and harmony; its historic part in the Indian Ocean maritime trading activity over many centuries as expressed through architecture and urban structure; and its symbolic role in the suppression of slavery.
The inscription of the site was based on the following criteria of inscription under the World Heritage Convention of 1972, managed by UNESCO:-
Criterion (ii): The Stone Town of Zanzibar is an outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonization.
Criterion (iii): For many centuries there was intense seaborne trading activity between Asia and Africa, and this is illustrated in an exceptional manner by the architecture and urban structure of the Stone Town.
Criterion (vi): Zanzibar has great symbolic importance in the suppression of slavery, since it was one of the main slave-trading ports in East Africa and also the base from which its opponents, such as David Livingstone, conducted their campaign.
The Stone Town conservation covers a total surface area of 96 hectares (conservation area) and 84.79 hectares (buffer zone) comprising of the built-up portion of the Stone Town and open areas along its eastern border plus the older part of Darajani Street to Mlandege.
This comprises of about 5% of municipality’s total area (in 1990s). 60% of the properties are mostly commercial and residential, the rest are mainly religious building like churches, mosques and temples, others are public structures like markets, offices, schools, hospitals and alike.