Arab traders first came to Zanzibar in the 8th century using it as a base for their voyages between Africa and Arabia. The traders established garrisons on the island and built the first mosque in the Southern Hemisphere.
In 1698 the island came under the control of the Sultanate of Oman who worked to develop an economy in Zanzibar. Plantations were started to grow spices which led to Zanzibar being known as the Spice Islands. The island also became an important slave and ivory trading post for the Arab traders.
With its desire to eradicate the slave trade, the British became increasingly involved in Zanzibar and in 1896 the Anglo-Zanzibar War was fought between British forces and the reigning Sultan. The war is recorded as the Shortest War in History and only lasted 40 minutes after which the island came under British control.
Zanzibar gained its independence from Britain in 1963 and soon afterwards underwent the Zanzibar revolution and joined mainland Tanganyika. Zanzibar remains semi-autonomous to Tanzania.