The island of Zanzibar occupies an advantageous location in the overlap between the cultural and trading worlds of eastern Africa’s maritime rim and the Indian Ocean’s western rim. Since the first settlements of approximately the sixth century ce, Zanzibar’s history can be seen as a microcosm of the wider Swahili coast, subject to similar trends of prosperity and decline. If the Swahili are regarded as the traders and cultural brokers of eastern Africa, Zanzibar has from an early date been one of the key gateways through which access was negotiated.