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Mombasa Kenya

Mombasa is the chief seaport of Kenya and the capital of Coast Province. It lies along the Indian Ocean, just south of the equator. The fast-growing city, also serves as a port for Tanzania and landlocked Uganda. It includes old Mombasa, located on a small offshore island and a larger, more modern mainland metropolitan area, which is connected to the island by causeway, bridge, and ferries. Kilindini, a modern harbor on the western side of the island, has extensive docks and shipyards. Old Mombasa Harbour, on the eastern side of the island, handles mainly dhows and other small coastal trading vessels.

By the 15th century Mombasa was a thriving, sophisticated city with established trade routes to many parts of the world. Today Mombasa continues to be the largest port on the East African coast serving the neighbouring countries like Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, etc.

From its founding, Mombasa has struggled with many invaders and hostility. For example, the Portuguese, the Zimba tribe, and the Omanis have all laid claim to Mombasa since the 12th century. By the late 1800s it became the base of exploration for British expeditions to Kenya’s interior. In 1988, the Imperial British East Africa Company set up headquarters in Mombasa. British rule of Mombasa became official in 1895 when they leased a stretch of the coast including the port city from the Sultan of Zanzibar. Officially this coastal strip still belonged to Zanzibar until ceded to a newly independent Kenya in 1963.

The British promoted the importance of Mombasa as East Africa’s most vital port when they completed a railway in 1901 stretching from Mombasa to Uganda. Today, the city remains one of Africa’s major links to the rest of the world. Built on a 15 sq km island, Mombasa is surrounded by a natural harbor. The mainland coasts north and south of the city boast a proliferation of tourist resorts. Within the city itself, a traveler has numerous opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Mombasa Old Town is a melting pot of styles and traditions common to coastal Swahili villages and late 19th century Indian and British colonial architecture. Although its history goes back centuries, most of the houses in Old Town are generally less than 100 years old. Many of these buildings were modeled on ancient Swahili designs and feature intricately carved doors and door frames. The Muslim influence can also be seen in the construction of balconies, their support brackets, and detailed lattice work.

A major tourist attraction the Fort Jesus was built by the Portuguese in the 1590s and in now maintained as a museum. Mombasa was founded about the 8th century by Arab traders. It was visited in the 1330s by the noted Arab traveler Ibn Batuta and in 1498 by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. Mombasa was controlled by several leaders before coming under the control of the sultan of Zanzibar in 1840. It passed to the British in 1895 and was the capital of the British East Africa Protectorate until 1907. It was made the capital of the coastal Protectorate of Kenya in 1920, and in 1963 it became part of newly independent Kenya.

The central business district of Mombasa is the intersection of four major roads i.e Moi Avenue, Nyerere Road, Nkrumah Road, and Digo Road. Moi Avenue provides the most interesting opportunity for shopping as it is dotted with a a row of souvenir shops and stalls. The city’s most famous land mark is also located here: two pairs of crossed tusks created as a ceremonial arch to commemorate the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.


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