Pemba (pāmˈbə) [key], island (1988 est. pop. 265,000), c.380 sq mi (980 sq km), NE Tanzania, in the Indian Ocean just off the E African mainland. Pemba is part of the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar within Tanzania, and is divided into two regions. Wete, Chake Chake, and Mkoani are the island's main towns. The lush island is the world's leading producer of cloves. Coconuts are also exported, and fishing is an important industry. Many of the inhabitants of Pemba are partly descended from traders from the Persian Gulf region who settled on the island beginning in the 10th cent. The Portuguese occupied the island in the 16th cent. but were displaced by Omani Arabs in 1698. In 1822 the island was conquered by Sayyid Said (later the sultan of Zanzibar) from the rulers of Mombasa. As part of the sultanate of Zanzibar, Pemba passed under British rule in 1890. The sultanate became independent in 1963. After the sultan was overthrown, a republic was formed, which joined with Tanganyika in 1964 to form Tanzania.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.