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Kenya Mombasa District

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Mombasa District

is situated in the South East of Coast Province. It is the smallest in size covering an area of 294.6 km² inclusive of 65 km² of water mass. The District lies between latitudes 30 80’ and 40 10’ South of the equator and longitudes 390 60’ and 390 80’ East.

The district and the town are divided into four divisions namely:

  • Mombasa Island – 14.1 km²
  • Changamwe – 54.5 km²
  • Likoni – 51. 3 km²
  • Kisauni – 109.7 km²

Mombasa District lies within the Coast lowland, which rises gradually from the sea level in the east to slightly over 76.2m above sea level in the mainland west. The highest point is at Nguu Taita hills in the mainland North that rises up to 12 m above sea level.

Mombasa Island

is a 5 km by 3 km coral outcrop located on Kenya's coast on the Indian Ocean. The city of Mombasa is located on the island.

The old town of Mombasa is located at the eastern, seaward end of the island. Kilindini and Port Reitz, the modern deep water harbour and port separates the island from the Kenyan mainland to the south. The old harbour, which is named Port Tudor and guarded by Fort Jesus, and Tudor Creek separate the island from the northern mainland. Modern residential sprawl and industrial areas now occupy the rest of the island.

Mombasa is linked to the mainland by the Makupa Causeway to the west, by the Nyali Bridge to the north and by the Likoni Ferry to the south.

Port Tudor and Tudor Creek were named by Owen Tudor the Royal Navy captain who first surveyed the area.

Mombasa Island in one of the four divisions of Mombasa District. The division has a population of 146.334 (1999 census). It is divided into six subdivisions:

  • Ganjoni
  • Railway
  • Tononoka
  • Tudor
  • Majengo
  • Old Town

The City of Mombasa

Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya. It has a major port and an international airport. The city is the centre of the coastal tourism industry. The original Arabic name is Manbasa; in Kiswahili it is called Kisiwa Cha Mvita (of Mvita for short), which means "Island of War", due to the many changes in its ownership. The town is also the headquarters of Mombasa District which, like most other districts in Kenya, is named after its chief town.

The city has a population of around 900,000 inhabitants (1999 census: 665,018) and is located on Mombasa Island, which is separated from the mainland by two creeks; Tudor Creek and Kilindini Harbour. The island is connected to the mainland to the north by Nyali Bridge, to the south by the Likoni Ferry and to the west by the Makupa Causeway alongside which runs the Uganda Railway. The port serves both Kenya and countries of the interior linking them to the Indian Ocean.

The town is mainly occupied by the Muslim Miji Kenda/Swahili people. Over the centuries there have been many immigrants, particularly from the countries of the Middle East and Indian sub-continent who came mainly as traders and skilled craftsmen and even after four or five generations, their descendants continue to contribute highly to the economy of present day Mombasa and Kenya as a whole. Recent immigrants are peoples from the interior of Kenya brought to the area by employment opportunities in the tourist industry.

Traditional dress for the Swahili women is a brightly coloured, printed cotton sheet called a kanga, which may have inspirational slogans printed on it, and type of black headdress and veil called a "bui bui". Men wear a type of sarong, which is coloured in bright bands, called a "kikoi".

There are several places to visit in Mombasa, including Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese, and the Old Town, which is by now in bad need of repair but still shows plenty of examples of the old Islamic architecture. Biashara Street in Mombasa which in Swahili means “Trade Street” is also an old part of the city where the Indian and Arab merchants set up shop and one can now find kangas and kikoys (pl. vikoi) being sold in these small authentic shops.

Fort Jesus

Fort Jesus is a Portuguese fort built in 1593 on Mombasa Island to guard the Old Port of Mombasa, Kenya. It is built in the shape of a man (viewed from the air), and was given the name of Jesus in an obvious religious reference.

Between 1631 and 1875 the fort was won and lost nine times by the nations contesting control of Mombasa. It was declared a historical monument in 1958. Today it houses a museum.

The fort was designed by an Italian architect, Jao Batisto Cairato, who was the Chief Architect for Portuguese possessions in the East. Today, it is one of the finest examples of 16th century Portuguese military architecture. The fort quickly became a vital possession for anyone with the intention of controlling Mombasa Island. When the British colonised Kenya, they used it as a prison.

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