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An archipelago off the coast of Eastern Africa, Zanzibar has been an international trading centre since time immemorial. Zanzibari traders controlled much of the spice and slave trade in the western part of the Indian Ocean. Periods of relative independence and foreign control by Persians, Portuguese, Omanis and British followed each other. Occupied by the British in 1893, Zanzibar achieved independence in 1963. Shortly thereafter, the last sultan was overthrown and Zanzibar joined with Tanganyika to form the United Republic of Tanzania.