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Mafia Island: an authentic place with little tourism

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The island of Mafia is part of the Zanzibar archipelago, an archipelago located along the coast of Tanzania made up of a multitude of small islands and three main islands: Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia. The island of Mafia, which is the smallest of the three (it measures 435 sq km), is also the southernmost of the three islands and is located near the Tanzanian coast. At its closest point the island is only 16 km from the African continent. The island is flat, its highest point is a small hill 53 meters high. The main inhabited center of the island is the town of Kilindoni located along the southwest coast.

The economy of the island is based on fishing and subsistence agriculture. In recent years, with the restructuring of the airport, the island has begun to open itself timidly to tourism. Especially divers, fishermen, and sea lovers frequent it. The island is full of beaches that are still virgin and not exploited by tourism at all. Mafia is an authentic place with still underdeveloped tourism. The island of Mafia has a small airport located close to the town of Kilindoni. The island is connected with flights to Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, Pemba and other places in Tanzania.


To preserve the nature of the island in the southern part of Mafia, in 1995 the first marine park in Tanzania was created, the Mafia Island Marine Park. The area of the park, which covers over 800 sq km, begins on the west coast just south of Kilindoni and extends to the Chole bay on the east coast including the entire south coast of the island. There are numerous excellent spots for diving and snorkelling. From August until October it is possible to spot humpback whales in the waters of Mafia, in the channel between Mafia and the mainland. In the same area, from late November to March, you can swim with whale sharks, the largest fish in the world.

Along the southeast coast of Mafia, the island of Chole closes the bay of the same name. Chole, in past centuries, was an important commercial port between Asia and Africa, in this port came silver from the mines of eastern Zimbabwe which was then traded by the Arabs to Asian ports. On the island there are also the remains of some buildings built by the Germans in the late nineteenth century, when the island like the rest of mainland Tanzania was their colony. In the nearby island of Juani there are the suggestive remains of the medieval swahili city of Kua. These remains seem to date back to the 12th century. Here you can see what remains of an ancient mosque, the cemetery and other historic buildings now reduced to suggestive ruins.

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