The name Mafia is probably derived from the Arabic “morfiyeh”, meaning “group” or “archipelago”, or from the Swahili “mahali pa afya” meaning “a healthy dwelling place”. Its history goes back to the 8th century where it played a key role in the East African trading routes between Kilwa and Zanzibar.
Mafia is part of the Tanzanian Zanzibar Archipelago, together with Unguja, Pemba and Latham Islan, The Mafia consists of one large island (394 km²) and several smaller ones. Mafia has a great deal to offer as an unspoiled, little-visited alternative to other Indian Ocean locations around Zanzibar and along the coast. However, as with Pemba, Mafia has better diving than Zanzibar. Mafia is the one island off Tanzania's coast that really encourages visitors to explore its offshore islands and sand bars. There are very few hotels here which only add to the attraction of Mafia as the beach destination for the adventurous travelers.