Malindi is situated about 120 km north
of Mombasa just a little south of the equator. The district has a coastline
of 155 kilometres, Tourism is a thriving business in Malindi. Beach hotels
and other luxury hotels dot the town of Malindi. Residential villas that
house tourists and foreigners have also become a common feature. The sunny
beaches and marine parks are a major tourist attraction.
Arabs were the rulers, there were Africans
and Indians as well. The Africans were the majority. In Malindi there
were around 1000 Arabs, 2500 Africans in or by Malindi and additional
2000 Africans in the surrounding plantations. The inhabitants were of
therefore different races.
Agriculture is the economic activity in
the Malindi. There were large plantations with fruits (lemons, oranges),
coconut palm trees, vegetables (millet, rice, sugar cane), cattle and
meats. Slaves and ivory were exported. Malindi was an important port in
East Africa. Because of the monsoon places all over the Indian Ocean could
be reached. Malindi had an increasing importance throughout the fifteenth
After the abolition of slave trade in 1873 greatly affected Malindiís economy.
In the late 1890 with the restrictions in slave trade and the following lack of slave labor agriculture in Malindi region began to decrease. The Arabs were partly unwilling to hire the local Africans on a wage basis.
In 1887 the British East Africa Association
hired from the Sultan of Zanzibar his territories on the East African
coast from Vanga in the south to Kipini. In their territories the Company
had control over the administration of the entire area, the collection
of taxes and customs duties. In the following year the Sultan asked the
company to oversee in his name some large plantations in the Malindi area.
From 1890 to 1910 the agricultural economy declined. The economic stagnation of agriculture was temporarily terminated when a new group of Europeans began planting (1906) and exporting large quantities of rubber from their plantations. 1917 ended this period because the price of rubber fell sharply because of overproduction in Malaya.
The years between 1925 and 1938 were characterized
by droughts, which were often followed by floods. The agricultural production
declined. Famine relief was common during this period. On the other hand
there was a big increase in production of cotton until the year 1935,
when the price of cotton decreased sharply. From 1925 to 1938 exports
from Malindi port to coast and foreign destinations declined by more than
one half. During the 1920ís the road to Mombasa was greatly improved,
but the port facilities of Malindi remained as primitive as they were
in 1861. Therefore after 1924 many export commodities were sent out of
the region not so much through the port but were more transported to Mombasa
During the World War II there was not much economic development in the Malindi area. Although by late 1939 all the tourists had left Malindi, they were more than compensated by the arrival of many soldiers. By late 1944 the holidaymakers from upcountry were returning, and the army was slowly pulling out, so that Malindi once again returned to normal. Immediately after World War II two new Hotels (Malindi Hotel, later named Sindbad Hotel and Eden Roc) were built north of the town on the seafront.1948 the population of Malindi Town was 3,292. In the period from 1929 to 1948 the population of Malindi Sub District increased from about 27,000 to 39,000 (+42%).
1962 the population in Malindi Town increased to 5,818. The largest percentage increase was that of the European population. Most of the European were retired people from the highlands. By the late 1950ís when it was obvious that Kenya would obtain independence from Britain, more European farmers decided to retire permanently. The big impetus to retirement from the highland farms came in late 1962 in the year before Independence. Most of the Europeans settle down north of the old town . During the Arab, Portuguese and Zanzibar periods, this area was covered by plantations, which stretched from the immediate outskirts of the town to several miles north. It was not until after World War II that it was developed as residential area. In the south of the Old Town, around Vasco da Gama Point and extending to Silversands as far as Casuarina Points another strictly residential area was developed. Almost all the European-owned houses faced the sea. In the early 1960ís the fifth tourist beach hotel was constructed, the Driftwood Beach Club. With the arrival of so many Europeans in Malindi after World War II, there was pressure by the new residents for the improvement of the services and amenities of the town. To gain money for these improvements in Malindi 1952 local taxes (rates) were introduced. New roads were constructed, electricity introduced, new schools built and a new hospital constructed.
Until the late 1960ís there were two different types of tourists who came to Malindi: the East African Residents, especially from Kenya and the overseas visitor from Western Europe who flied directly to Malindi (with a change of aircraft in Nairobi). The majority of the overseas visitors came from England, France, Switzerland and Germany. Before the advent of charter flights from Europe in 1965, the five tourist beach hotels were small. Until 1969 they nearly triple their bed capacity up to 614 beds.
In the 1960ís also in Watamu opened three tourist hotels: Watamu Beach (1967), Seafarers (1966) and Ocean Sports (1956, but rooms were not added until 1967). Their bed capacity increased from 1966 from a total of 20 beds to 1968 to a total of 208 beds. End of the 1960ís tourism industry became the largest single business sector in the town. Over half of the money spent by visitors was originated from outside East Africa.
In the period from 1945 to 1968 the population in the Malindi Sub District expended dramatically from 40,000 to 93,000 (+133%). Part of this expansion is due to the migration of Giryama people into the Sub District.
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