Mombasa is a city on the coast of Kenya. It is the nation's second-largest city, after the capital Nairobi, with an estimated population of 1.2 million people in 2014.
A regional cultural and economic hub, Mombasa has an extra-large port and aninternational airport, and is an important regional tourism centre. Located on the east coast of Kenya, in Mombasa County and the former Coast Province, Mombasa's situation on the Indian Ocean made it a historical trading centre,and it has been controlled by many countries because of its strategic location.
It is located on Mombasa Island and sprawls to the surrounding mainlands. The island is separated from the mainland by two creeks: Tudor Creek and Kilindini Harbour. It is connected to the mainland to the north by the Nyali Bridge, to the south by the Likoni Ferry, and to the west by the Makupa Causeway, alongside which runs the Kenya-Uganda Railway. The port serves both Kenya and countries of the interior, linking them to the ocean. The city is served by Moi International Airport located in the northwest mainland suburb of Chaani.
Mombasa has a cosmopolitan population, with the Swahili people and Mijikendapredominant. Other communities include the Akamba and Taita Bantus as well as a significant population of Luo and Luhya peoples from Western Kenya. The major religions practiced in the city are Islam, Christianity and Hinduism. Over the centuries, many immigrants and traders have settled in Mombasa, particularly from the Middle East, Somalia, and the Indian sub-continent, who came mainly as traders and skilled craftsmen.
|FOUNDED :||900 A.D.|
|TIME ZONE :||EAT (UTC+3)|
|LANGUAGE :||English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages|
|RELIGION :||Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, Muslim 10%, indigenous beliefs 10%, other 2%; note: a large majority of Kenyans are Christian, but estimates for the percentage of the population that adheres to Islam or indigenous beliefs vary widely|
|AREA :||294.7 km2 (113.8 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||50 m (160 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||4°03′S 39°40′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: |
|ETHNIC :||Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, non-African (Asian, European, and Arab) 1%|
|AREA CODE :||020|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+254 41|
|WEBSITE :||Official Website|
Mombasa is Kenya's main tourist destination. It is on the eastern coastline of Kenya, bordering the Indian Ocean which has made it a popular destination for its beaches. Mombasa offers a diverse marine life, world-class hotels and friendly atmosphere. There is a tropical climate all year and it is a great destination filled with activities for all ages.
Mombasa was founded in the 16th century and has been ruled by the Portuguese, Arabs and British. The city's culture today still exhibits that of its pasts. Historical ruins like Fort Jesus and the Old Town are attractions that display the history in Mombasa.
The central part of the city, Mvita, is an island in a river delta, accessed by bridges and from the south by ferries operating around the clock. It is a very cosmopolitan city, and you can see a group of Muslims wearing niqab (here known as "bui bui") and Giryama people wearing almost nothing at the same time and place.
Together with Nairobi, it is the only place in the country that has a status as both city and county.
The founding of Mombasa is associated with two rulers: Mwana Mkisi (female) and Shehe Mvita. According to oral history and medieval commentaries, Shehe Mvita superseded the dynasty of Mwana Mkisi and established his own town on Mombasa Island. Shehe Mvita is remembered as a Muslim of great learning and so is connected more directly with the present ideals of Swahili culture that people identify with Mombasa. The ancient history associated with Shehe Mvita and the founding of an urban settlement on Mombasa Island is still linked to present-day peoples living in Mombasa. The Thenashara Taifa (or Twelve Nations) Swahili lineages recount this ancient history today and are the keepers of local Swahili traditions. Even though today Mombasa is a very heterogeneous cultural mix, families associated with the Twelve Nations are still considered the original inhabitants of the city.
Most of the early information on Mombasa comes from Portuguese chroniclers writing in the 16th century. In 1331, the famous Moroccan scholar and traveller Ibn Battuta also visited the area during his travels to the Swahili Coast and made some mention of the city, although he only stayed one night. He noted that the people of Mombasa were Shãfi'i Muslims, "a religious people, trustworthy and righteous. Their mosques are made of wood, expertly built."
The exact founding date of the city is unknown, but it has a long history. Kenyan school history books place the founding of Mombasa as 900 A.D. It must have been already a prosperous trading town in the 12th century, as the Arab geographer Al Idrisi mentions it in 1151.
During the pre-modern period, Mombasa was an important centre for the trade in spices, gold, and ivory. Its trade links reached as far as the Indian subcontinent and modern-day China and oral historians today can still recall this period of local history. History shows that there was trade links between Mombasa and Cholas of South India. Throughout the early modern period, Mombasa was a key node in the complex and far reaching Indian Ocean trading networks, its key exports then were ivory, millet, sesamum and coconuts.
In the late pre-colonial period (late 19th century), it was the metropolis of a plantation society, which became dependent on slave labour (sources contradict whether the city was ever an important place for exporting slaves) but ivory caravans remained a major source of economic prosperity. Mombasa became the major port city of pre-colonial Kenya in the Middle Ages and was used to trade with other African port cities, the Persian Empire, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Subcontinent and China. 16th-century Portuguese voyager Duarte Barbosa claimed, "[Mombasa] is a place of great traffic and has a good harbour in which there are always moored small craft of many kinds and also great ships, both of which are bound from Sofala and others which come from Cambay and Melinde and others which sail to the island of Zanzibar.
Vasco da Gama was the first known European to visit Mombasa, receiving a chilly reception in 1498. Two years later, the town was sacked by the Portuguese. In 1502, the sultanate became independent from Kilwa Kisiwani and was renamed as Mvita (in Swahili) or Manbasa (Arabic). Portugal attacked the city again in 1528. In 1585 the Ottoman Turks led by Emir 'Ali Bey caused revolts in Mombasa against the Portuguese landlords; only Malindi remained loyal to Portugal. Zimba cannibals overcame the towns of Sena and Tete on the Zambezi, and in 1587 they took Kilwa, killing 3,000 people. At Mombasa the Zimba slaughtered the Muslim inhabitants; but they were halted at Malindi by the Bantu-speaking Segeju and went home. This stimulated the Portuguese to take over Mombasa a third time in 1589, and four years later they built Fort Jesus to administer the region. Between Lake Malawi and the Zambezi mouth, Kalonga Mzura made an alliance with the Portuguese in 1608 and fielded 4,000 warriors to help defeat their rival Zimba, who were led by chief Lundi.
With the capture of Fort Jesus in 1698, the town came under the influence of the Sultanate of Oman, subordinate to the Omani rulers on the island of Unguja, prompting regular local rebellions. Oman appointed three consecutive Governors (Wali in Arabic, Liwali in Swahili):
12 December 1698–December 1698: Imam Sa'if ibn Sultan
December 1698 – 1728: Nasr ibn Abdallah al-Mazru'i
1728–12 March 1728: Shaykh Rumba
Next, Mombasa returned to Portuguese rule by captain-major Álvaro Caetano de Melo Castro (12 March 1728 – 21 September 1729), then four new Omani Liwali until 1746, when the last of them made it independent again (disputed by Oman), as the first of its recorded Sultans:
1746–1755: 'Ali ibn Uthman al-Mazru'i
1755–1773: Masud ibn Nasr al-Mazru'i
1773–1782: Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mazru'i
1782–1811: Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Mazru'i (born 17–died 1814)
1812–1823: 'Abdallah ibn Ahmad al-Mazru'i (died 1823)
1823–1826: Sulayman ibn 'Ali al-Mazru'i
From 9 February 1824 to 25 July 1826, there was a British protectorate over Mombasa, represented by Governors. Omani rule was restored in 1826; seven liwalis where appointed. On 24 June 1837, it was nominally annexed by Said bin Sultan of Muscat and Oman. On 25 May 1887, its administration was relinquished to the British East Africa Association, later the Imperial British East Africa Company. It soon became the capital of the British East Africa Protectorate and the sea terminal of the Uganda Railway, which was started in 1896. Many workers were brought in from British India to build the railway, and the city's fortunes revived. The Sultan of Zanzibar formally presented the town to the British in 1898.
Mombasa became the capital of the Protectorate of Kenya, sometime between 1887 and around 1906 then Kenya's capital was moved to Nairobi at around 1906. Nairobi has since been Kenya's capital to date.
On 28 November 2002, a suicide car bomb exploded at the Israeli-owned beachfront Paradise Hotel, killing three Israelis and ten Kenyans. About 20 minutes earlier, an unsuccessful attempt was made to shoot down an Arkia Israel Airlines Boeing 757 chartered tourist plane taking off from nearby Moi International Airport using surface-to-air missiles; nobody was hurt on the plane, which landed safely in Tel Aviv. The main suspect for both attacks is al Qaeda (see Kenyan hotel bombing).
Mombasa Republican Council is a separatist organisation based in Mombasa. The group claims areas around the city and the broader coastal region. It was formed in 1999 to address perceived political and economic discrimination against the people of the coast province. The Mombasa Republican Council traces its secession claims to the 1895 and 1963 agreements transferring the 16 km (10 mi) strip of land along the coast to the Government of Kenya from Zanzibar. The group contests these agreements as invalid because they were enacted without the consent of coastal stakeholders, and asserts that the Kenyan government has not honored the provisions designed to protect the coastal population.
The climate is tropical with a major rain season between mid-April and late May and a minor wet season in October and November. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, the summer, with temperatures above +32°C, occurs in January and March. At just 4° south of the Equator, the variation in temperature is relatively small.
|Daily highs (°C)||32||32.3||32.6||31.2||29.3||28.4||27.7||27.9||28.8||29.6||30.6||31.6|
|Nightly lows (°C)||23.2||23.6||24.2||23.9||22.7||21.3||20.4||20.3||20.8||22||23.1||23.3|
Source : World Meteorological Organisation
Being a coastal town, Mombasa is characterized by a flat topography. The town of Mombasa is centred on Mombasa Island, but extends to the mainland. The island is separated from the mainland by two creeks, Port Reitz in the south and Tudor Creek in the north.
Mombasa is a major trade centre and home to Kenya's only large seaport, the Kilindini Harbour.Kilindini is an old Swahili term meaning "deep". The port is so-called because the channel is naturally very deep. Kilindini Harbor is an example of a natural geographic phenomenon called a ria, formed at the end of the last glacial period when the sea level rose and engulfed a river that was flowing from the mainland.
Mombasa is a centre of coastal tourism in Kenya. Mombasa Island itself is not a main attraction, although many people visit the Old Town and Fort Jesus. The Nyali, Bamburi, and Shanzu beaches are located north of the city. The Shelly, Tiwi, and Dianibeaches are located south of Mombasa. Several luxury hotels exist on these beaches, while the less expensive hotels are located further away.
Mombasa's northern shoreline is renowned for its vibrant 24-hour entertainment offers, including both family entertainment (water parks, cinemas, bowling, etc.), sports (watersports, mountain biking and gokarting), culinary offers (restaurants offering a wide range of specialties from Kenya, China, Japan, India, Italy, Germany and other countries) and nightlife (bars, pubs, clubs, discothèques, etc.).
Other local industries include an oil refinery with a capacity of 80,000 barrels a day, and a cement factory capable of producing over 1.1 Million tons per year. The major intercontinental undersea telecom cables reach shore next to Mombasa, connecting theAfrican Great Lakes to the rest of the world and supporting a fast-growing call centre business in the area.
Kizingo: Considered the prime residential area of Mombasa. The State House of Mombasa, Provincial Headquarters, The Mombasa Law Courts, and the Municipal Council are located in Kizingo. The Aga Khan Academy, Aga Khan High School, Serani Primary School, Serani High School, Santokben Nursery School, Coast Academy, Jaffery Academy, Mombasa Primary School, Loreto Convent, Mama Ngina Girls' High School and the Government Training Institute (GTI) Mombasa are all in Kizingo as well.
Englani:Part of Old town between Kibokoni and Makadara.
Kuze: Part of Old Town with Swahili culture and architecture. Originally flourishing with Swahili people but currently becoming a more cosmopolitan neighbourhood.
Makadara: Part of Old Town consisting of a high number of descendants of Baluchi former soldiers who settled within this area before it developed into a town. The name is derived from the Arabic word Qadr-ur-Rahman meaning fate of God.
Ganjoni: Primarily a middle class residential, home of second biggest dry dock of Africa after the one in South Africa.
Tudor: Another middle class residential area with homes and shops. The Mombasa Polytechnic University College (MPUC) is situated in this neighborhood
Nyali: Also considered a prime and up-market residential area, it is on the mainland north of the island and is linked by the New Nyali Bridge. It has numerous beach front hotels in the area known as the "North Coast". Nyali has two distinct sections - the posh Old Nyali and the upcoming New Nyali. For many residents, Nyali has now become a self-contained residential area, with two Nakumatts, a multiplex cinema, shopping malls, banks, schools and post offices. This often eliminates the need for residents to cross the bridge and to go into the congested Mombasa city centre. Nyali is home for the Nyali Cinemax complex, Mamba Village, the Nyali Golf Club, and some of the most prestigious academic institutions of the Coast Province.
Kongowea: is a densely populated area with 15 villages, two sub-locations and an estimated population of 106,180 residents. Kongowea is a cosmopolitan settlement mainly inhabited by people from mainland who migrated into the city in search of employment, mainly in service and manufacturing sector. The area is adjacent to the rich suburb of Nyali which employs a portion of the village residents. They are mainly hired as cheap labour as watchmen, gardeners, masons for up coming houses and house help. The most well known villages inside Kongowea include Kisumu Ndogo, Shauri Yako and Mnazi Mmoja, despite being located in this prime area, many residents live under extreme conditions – poor sanitation, high crime rate and lack of basic essential amenities like schools, hospitals and tap water. Kongowea is also home to one of the largest open-air markets in the African Great Lakes.
Bamburi: also an outlying township (fifteen minutes drive) along the Malindi road. Bamburi is the location of Bamburi Portland Cement Company. Other notable features in the area are the Mijikenda public beach, commonly known as Pirates, and Haller Park, a nature trail and wildlife conservatory. Kiembeni Estate, also in the Bamburi area, hosts around 100,000 residents. The estate has its own supermarket, several retail shops, salons and boutiques, and a number of licensed drinking dens. The establishments include The Shilla Bar, Turkey Base, Stars Garden and Sensera pub. Kiembeni is arguably the largest estate in Mombasa, and growing even faster.
Other areas include, Shanzu, Mkomani09, Bombolulu, Kisauni and, across the Mtwapa creek, the popular area of Mtwapa, which is already located in Kilifi county.
The North Coast is famous for its broad entertainment industry which attracts locals and tourists as well.
Likoni: is a lower income and lower-middle-class neighborhood connected to Mombasa Island by ferry. It is south of Mombasa Island and made up of mostly non-Swahili Bantu tribes. The ferry was the target of the Likoni Riots of 1997.
Diani Beach: a beach resort area situated over the Likoni Ferry on the south coast of Mombasa. It is located some 36 km (22 mi) south of Mombasa city on the mainland coast and is a prime resort for many local and international tourists. Diani Beach has an airport at Ukunda town to cater for tourists who fly there directly from Nairobi Wilson or any other airports and airfields in the country.
Magongo: is an outlying township 20 minutes driving distance northwest of Mombasa Island, situated on the Nairobi Highway. This fringe community lacks any effective electricity, water or sewer systems, with a general lack of infrastructure. Poverty, lack of sanitation, and unemployment continue to be the greatest issues for the Mikindani Township, which have ensured low health and safety standards for its residents. Poor, lower class housing is widespread, ranging from simple stone, two storey structures to mud and earth homes fitted with corrugated iron roofs. Much of the community works outside of the township, within Mombasa Island itself as there is a lack of employment and industry. There are number of small health clinics, shops, and a few public primary schools: Nazarene primary is one school, which is known in particular as being staffed by a revolving volunteer teacher base from Western, and predominately English speaking nations. This small town serves as a link between the city and Moi International Airport. Magongo is also home to the Akamba Handicraft Cooperative.
Mikindani, a suburban area: This is an outlying township on the mainland along the Nairobi Highway.It is built in the heavy industrial sections of Changamwe and mainly accommodate the working class who either work in the industries, the town centre on the Island and the Port at Kilindini harbor.
Miritini: outlying township on the Mombasa Nairobi Highway which is first growing as a suburban area.
Changamwe: Industrial area which contains the Kipevu power generation projects, the Kenya Oil Refinery Company facility and housing estates such as Chaani and is the gateway to the Moi International Airport. The area has administrative offices of the D.O and the chiefs who serve the administrative division.
Migadini & Chaani: They are two adjacent estate that are located east of Airport road and east of Kenya Port Authority. They are bordered by Port Reitz, Magongo and KPA
Port Reitz: Is a suburb on the mainland which contains a beach, oil refineries, housing estates etc. Moi International Airport and the Port Reitz District Hospital are in Port Reitz.
Mombasa has several post offices open Mo-Fr 8-12:30 and 14-17.
- in Changamwe : international airport, Changamwe-Magongo and Kipevu ;
- in Kisauni : Bamburi, Kengeleni, Kisauni-Mtopanga, Mkomani and Nyali ;
- in Likoni : Likoni-Ferry and Mtongwe ;
- in Mvita : Docks (in the port of Kilindini), Kilindini, Makupa, Mwembe
In Mvita there's also the central post office that's open throughout the day as well as on Saturday:
Phone and Internet
All the Internet cafés in Mombasa have phone booths but the fees for calling abroad are very high. If you are staying in Kenya for at least 15 days, you might want to get a local SIM-card to save money, for example a M-Pesa by Safaricom. If you have a smartphone, use VoIP.
Wi-Fi is widespread in the city and many hotels and restaurants offer guests free access.
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