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Mombasa montage.png
Clockwise: Fort Jesus, Mombasa Town Hall, Mombasa Old Town, Nyali beach, sunset panorama, Moi Avenue's elephant tusks and Downtown Mombasa
Utangamano kwa Maendeleo
(Unity for Development)
Kenya adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Mombasa
Coordinates: 4°03′S39°40′E / 4.050°S 39.667°E / -4.050; 39.667 Coordinates: 4°03′S39°40′E / 4.050°S 39.667°E / -4.050; 39.667
CountryFlag of Kenya.svg  Kenya
County Mombasa County
Founded900 A.D.
50 m (160 ft)
1,500,000 [1]
Demonym(s) Mombasite
Time zone UTC+3 (EAT)
Area code(s) 020
An aerial view of Mombasa skyline at sunset from the old town Mombasa skyline.jpg
An aerial view of Mombasa skyline at sunset from the old town

Mombasa ( /mɒmˈbɑːsə/ ) is a city in a coast of Kenya along the Indian Ocean. It is the country's oldest (circa 900 AD) and second-largest city [2] (after the capital Nairobi), with an estimated population of about 1.5 million people in 2017. [1] Its metropolitan region is the second largest in the country and has a population of approximately 3 million people. [2] Administratively, Mombasa is the county seat of Mombasa County.

Kenya republic in East Africa

Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in Africa with 47 semiautonomous counties governed by elected governors. At 580,367 square kilometres (224,081 sq mi), Kenya is the world's 48th largest country by total area. With a population of more than 52.2 million people, Kenya is the 27th most populous country. Kenya's capital and largest city is Nairobi while its oldest city and first capital is the coastal city of Mombasa. Kisumu City is the third largest city and a critical inland port at Lake Victoria. Other important urban centres include Nakuru and Eldoret.

Indian Ocean The ocean between Africa, Asia, Australia and Antarctica (or the Southern Ocean)

The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering 70,560,000 km2 (27,240,000 sq mi). It is bounded by Asia on the north, on the west by Africa, on the east by Australia, and on the south by the Southern Ocean or, depending on definition, by Antarctica.

Nairobi City in Nairobi County, Kenya

Nairobi is the capital and the largest city of Kenya. The name comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, which translates to "cool water", a reference to the Nairobi River which flows through the city. The city proper had a population of 3,138,369 in the 2009 census, while the metropolitan area has a population of 6,547,547. The city is popularly referred to as the Green City in the Sun.


Mombasa is a regional cultural and economic hub; it has an extra-large port and an international airport, and is an important regional tourism center. Located on the east coast of Kenya, it also is the home of one of the State House (Kenya), and is considered by some as a second capital in all but name. In Mombasa County and the former Coast Province, Mombasa's situation on the Indian Ocean made it a historical trading center, [3] and it has been controlled by many countries because of its strategic location.

Moi International Airport airport

Moi International Airport, is the international airport of Mombasa, the second-biggest city in Kenya. It is located in Mombasa County, in a township called Port Reitz and features regional as well as intercontinental flights.

State House (Kenya) building in Kenya

State House is the official residence of the President of Kenya. It was the residence of the Prime Minister of Kenya from independence until Kenya transformed into a republic. As the Prime Minister's position was abolished, it has been the official residence of the president since then.

Mombasa County County in Kenya

Mombasa County is one of the 47 counties of Kenya. Its capital and the only city in the county is Mombasa. Initially it was one of the former districts of Kenya but in 2013 it was reconstituted as a county, on the same boundaries. It is the smallest county in Kenya, covering an area of 229.7 km2 excluding 65 km2 of water mass. The county is situated in the south eastern part of the former Coast Province. It borders Kilifi County to the north, Kwale County to the south west and the Indian Ocean to the east. Administratively, the county is divided into seven divisions, eighteen locations and thirty sub-locations.


Mombasa city has a population of about 939,000 [4] [5] per the 2009 census. 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 Island island

Mombasa Island is a 5 by 3 km coral outcrop located on Kenya's coast on the Indian Ocean, which is connected to the mainland by a causeway. Part of the city of Mombasa is located on the island, including the Old Town.

Creek (tidal) The portion of a stream that is affected by ebb and flow of ocean tides

A tidal creek, tidal channel, or estuary is the portion of a stream that is affected by ebb and flow of ocean tides, in the case that the subject stream discharges to an ocean, sea or strait. Thus this portion of the stream has variable salinity and electrical conductivity over the tidal cycle, and flushes salts from inland soils. Tidal creeks are characterized by slow water velocity resulting in buildup of fine, organic sediment in wetlands. Creeks may often dry to a muddy channel with little or no flow at low tide, but with significant depth of water at high tide. Due to the temporal variability of water quality parameters within the tidally influenced zone, there are unique biota associated with tidal creeks which are often specialised to such zones. Nutrients and organic matter are delivered downstream to habitats normally lacking these, while the creeks also provide access to inland habitat for salt-water organisms.

Tudor Creek is one of two main water bodies separating Mombasa Island from the Kenyan mainland.

Mombasa has a cosmopolitan population, with the Swahili people and Mijikenda predominant. 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 practised in the city are Islam, Christianity and Hinduism. [6] 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.

The Swahili people are an ethnic and cultural group inhabiting East Africa. Members primarily reside on the Swahili coast, in an area encompassing the Zanzibar archipelago, littoral Kenya, the Tanzania seaboard, and northern Mozambique. The name Swahili is derived from Arabic: سواحل‎, translit. Sawāhil, lit. 'coasts'. The Swahili speak the Swahili language, which belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger-Congo family.

Mijikenda peoples people

Mijikenda are a group of nine related Bantu ethnic groups inhabiting the coast of Kenya, between the Sabaki and the Umba rivers, in an area stretching from the border with Tanzania in the south to the border near Somalia in the north. Archaeologist Chapuruka Kusimba contends that the Mijikenda formerly resided in coastal cities, but later settled in Kenya's hinterlands to avoid submission to dominant Portuguese forces that were then in control. Historically, these Mijikenda ethnic groups have been called the Nyika or Nika by outsiders. It is a derogatory term meaning "bush people."

Kamba people ethnic group

The Kamba or Akamba people are a Bantu ethnic group - or tribe - who live in the semi-arid formerly Eastern Province of Kenya stretching east from Nairobi to Tsavo and north up to Embu, Kenya. This land is called Ukambani which constitutes of Makueni County, Kitui County and Machakos County.


Historical affiliations
  Sultan of Mombasa Before 1593

Flag Portugal (1640).svg Portuguese Empire 1593–1698
Flag of The Imamate of Oman.svg Imamate of Oman 1698–1728
Flag Portugal (1640).svg Portuguese Empire 1728–1729
Flag of The Imamate of Oman.svg Imamate of Oman 1729–1824
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg British Empire 1824–1826
Flag of Muscat.svg Sultanate of Muscat and Oman 1826–1887
Flag of Kenya (1921-1963).svg British East Africa/Kenya 1887–1963

Portuguese Empire global empire centered in Portugal

The Portuguese Empire, also known as the Portuguese Overseas or the Portuguese Colonial Empire, was one of the largest and longest-lived empires in world history. It existed for almost six centuries, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415, to the handover of Portuguese Macau to China in 1999. The empire began in the 15th century, and from the early 16th century it stretched across the globe, with bases in North and South America, Africa, and various regions of Asia and Oceania. The Portuguese Empire has been described as the first global empire in history, a description also given to the Spanish Empire.

British Empire States and dominions ruled by the United Kingdom

The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

Kenya Colony British possession in east Africa between 1920 and 1963

The Colony and Protectorate of Kenya was part of the British Empire in Africa from 1920 until 1963. It was established when the former East Africa Protectorate was transformed into a British Crown colony in 1920. Technically, the 'Colony of Kenya' referred to the interior lands, while a 16 km (10 mi) coastal strip was the 'Protectorate of Kenya' but the two were controlled as a single administrative unit. The colony came to an end in 1963 when a black majority government was elected for the first time and eventually declared independence as Kenya.

Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya 1963–present

Ancient and medieval

The founding of Mombasa is associated with two rulers: Mwana Mkisi and Shehe Mvita. According to legend, Mwana Mkisi is the original ancestor of Mombasa's oldest lineages within Thenashara Taifa (or Twelve Nations). Families associated with the Twelve Nations are still considered the original inhabitants of the city. Mwana Mkisi was a pagan queen who founded Kongowea, the original urban settlement on Mombasa Island. Importantly, both of these names have linguistic and spiritual connections with Central Africa. "Mkisi" is considered the personification of "ukisi" which means "the holy" in kiKongo. "Kongowea" can similarly be interpreted as the Swahili locative of "kongo" which denotes the essence of civilizational order in central Africa. These legends can be read as an acknowledgment of the Bantu-speaking origins of the Swahili people. Shehe Mvita superseded the dynasty of Mwana Mkisi and established the first permanent stone mosque on Mombasa Island. Mombasa's oldest extant stone mosque, Mnara, was built c. 1300. 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 Mwana Mkisi and 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. [7]

Most of the early information on Mombasa comes from Portuguese chroniclers writing in the 16th century.

The famous Moroccan scholar and traveller Ibn Battuta 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, religious people, trustworthy and righteous. Their mosques are made of wood, expertly built. [8]

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. The oldest stone mosque in Mombasa, Mnara, was built c. 1300. The Mandhry Mosque, built in 1570, has a minaret that contains a regionally specific ogee arch. This demonstrates that Swahili architecture was an indigenous African product and disproves assertions that non-African Muslims brought stone architecture to the Swahili Coast. [9]

1572Mombasa from Civitates orbis terrarum by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg City mombassa 1572.jpg
1572Mombasa from Civitates orbis terrarum by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg

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 were 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. [10] 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." [11]

Portuguese domination

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 a joint military expedition between the Somalis of Ajuran Empire and the Turks of Ottoman Empire led by Emir 'Ali Bey successfully liberated Mombasa and other coastal cities in Southeast Africa from the Portuguese colonizers. [12] The Portuguese landlords; only Malindi remained loyal to Portugal. The Zimba 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.

After the building of Fort Jesus Mombasa was put by the Portuguese under the rule of members of the ruling family of Malindi. In 1631 Dom Jeronimo the ruler of Mombasa slaughtered the Portuguese garrison in the city and defeated the relief force sent by the Portuguese. In 1632 Dom Jeronimo left Mombasa and became a pirate. That year the Portuguese returned and established direct rule over Mombasa. [13]

Omani rule

With the capture of Fort Jesus in 1698, the town came under the influence of the Imamate 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):

Mombasa briefly 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:

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.

British rule

On 25 May 1887 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.

Kenya-Uganda railway near Mombasa, circa 1899 Kurve bei Mombasa.jpg
Kenya–Uganda railway near Mombasa, circa 1899

Mombasa became the capital of the Protectorate of Kenya, sometime between 1887 and around 1906. [14] The capital was later moved because, medical officers warned that the ground was swampy and urged Sir James Hayes Sadler, then Commissioner of the East Africa Protectorate, to plead with London to move the town elsewhere.[ why? ] Nairobi has since been Kenya's capital to date. [15]

Old Town Entering the old town, Mombasa.jpg
Old Town


Being a coastal town, Mombasa is characterised 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 has a tropical wet and dry climate (Köppen: As). The amount of rainfall essentially depends on the season. The rainiest months are April and May, while rainfall is minimal between January and February.

Located near the equator, Mombasa has only a slight seasonal temperature variation, with high temperatures ranging 28.8–33.7 °C (83.8–92.7 °F).

As a seaport, Mombasa is subject to detrimental consequences of a fluctuating climate. In October 2006, Mombasa experienced a large flood that affected 60,000 people. [16]

Coastal erosion has become a problem for Mombasa infrastructure. Due to rising sea levels, the coastline has been eroding at 2.5–20 cm (0.98–7.87 in) per year. This has increased the number of annual floods. [16]

Climate data for Mombasa (1961–1990, extremes 1890–present)
Record high °C (°F)35.9
Average high °C (°F)33.2
Daily mean °C (°F)27.6
Average low °C (°F)22.0
Record low °C (°F)16.8
Average precipitation mm (inches)33.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)315101410108998794
Average relative humidity (%)77757780828282828081828080
Mean monthly sunshine hours 269.7254.8269.7225.0204.6207.0210.8244.9246.0272.8264.0260.42,929.7
Mean daily sunshine hours
Source #1: NOAA [17]
Source #2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (humidity, 1962–1993), [18] Meteo Climat (record highs and lows) [19]


Mombasa Island

Tudor, Mombasa Tudor, Mombasa.jpg
Tudor, Mombasa

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.

Kibokoni: Part of Old Town with Swahili architecture. Fort Jesus is in Baghani.

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 Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) is situated in this neighbourhood.

North Coast

Seafront of Nyali Beach, north coast (from the Voyager Resort). Nyali Beach.JPG
Seafront of Nyali Beach, north coast (from the Voyager Resort).

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. [20] 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 is 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, Mkomani, Bombolulu, Kisauni and, across the Mtwapa creek, the popular area of Mtwapa , which is already located in Kilifi county.

The North Coast has an entertainment industry which attracts locals and tourists.

South Coast

Likoni: is a lower income and lower-middle-class neighbourhood 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. [21]

Diani Beach : a beach resort area situated over the Likoni Ferry on the south coast of Mombasa. It is located some 36 km (22 miles) 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.

Mombasa Mainland

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 harbour.

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 county sub-divisions

Mombasa is also a county and divided into six constituencies and thirty wards. [22]



Biashara Street, Mombasa Mombasa biashara street.jpg
Biashara Street, Mombasa

Mombasa is a major trade centre and home to Kenya's only large seaport, the Kilindini Harbour. [23] 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 Diani beaches 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, [24] and a cement factory capable of producing over 1.1 million tons per year. [25] The major intercontinental undersea telecom cables reach shore next to Mombasa, connecting the African Great Lakes to the rest of the world and supporting a fast-growing call centre business in the area. The estimated real GDP growth for Kenya in 2016 is 5.7-6.0%. This growth will be in response to the construction of a railway system from Nairobi to Mombasa which will aid in trade and transportation between Kenya’s two major cities. [26]

Mombasa will become a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in which certain industries such as tea, garments, and footwear will be exempt from certain taxes to promote domestic growth. This is in response to the deficiencies in Export Processing Zones (EPZ). [26]

The Kenyan Dock Worker’s Union is situated in Mombasa and has roughly 5,000 members. [26]

President Kenyatta has made it a priority to deepen economic ties with Asia at the onset of his presidency. Japan has played a role in financially sponsoring the expansion of the Mombasa port in phase one and two of the expansion project. [26]

At 44%, the rate of youth unemployment in Mombasa is more than double the national average of 21% (2016). [27]



Sunrise at Moi International Airport Sunset at Mombasa airport.jpg
Sunrise at Moi International Airport

Moi International Airport serves the city of Mombasa. It is located in Port Reitz area, also known locally as Chaani area on the mainland metropolitan area. Flights to Nairobi and other Kenyan, European and Middle Eastern destinations depart from the airport each day. Mombasa is connected to Nairobi by dozens of scheduled flights.

Moi International Airport Moi International Airport Mombasa.jpg
Moi International Airport


Mombasa currently has a modern railway station on the Mombasa–Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway that replaced the century old station built by the British. Completed in 2017 and located at Miritini, the Mombasa Terminus station links Mombasa to Nairobi. The station, situated about 20 kilometers from the city center, is accessible through the newly built (2018) highway, being the first phase of the larger Dongo Kundu bypass. Kenya Railways transports passengers and cargo through the Standard Gauge Railway between Nairobi to Mombasa. The journey takes approximately five hours between the two cities.


Moi Avenue in Mombasa Tusks on Moi Avenue in Mombasa, Kenya.jpg
Moi Avenue in Mombasa

Driving in Mombasa is straightforward and the majority of the roads are tarmacked. Main roads include Jomo Kenyatta Avenue, Digo Road, Nyerere Road, Nkurumah Road, Moi Avenue, Mama Ngina Drive, Barack Obama Road, Nairobi Highway and Nyali Road.

Highways connect Mombasa to Nairobi, Dar es Salaam while northward road link to Malindi and Lamu, which also extends towards the border with Somalia.

Within Mombasa, most local people use matatus (mini-buses) which are extremely common in Kenya, to move around the city and its suburbs. The tuk-tuk —a motor vehicle with three wheels—is widely used as transport around the city and its suburbs. No more than three passengers may be carried. A boda-boda is originally a bicycle taxi but have long since been replaced by motorcycles.


Mombasa Waterfront with ferry Likoni Ferry.jpg
Mombasa Waterfront with ferry

Mombasa's port is the largest in East Africa, with 19 deep water berths with two additional berths nearing completion and two oil terminals. [28] Rail connects the port to the interior. [28] There is little or no scheduled passenger service. International cruise ships frequent the port.


There is no bridge between Mombasa Island and south coast, instead the distance is served by ferries operated by the Kenya Ferry Service from Kilindini and Mtongwe to Likoni in the south coast of Mombasa. The last major accident occurred in 1994 when a ferry serving Mtongwe route sank killing more than 270 people. [29]

As a result of increases in more luxurious hotels at the South Coast and a lack of a direct bridge linking the South Coast to Mombasa island, visiting tourists have the option of flying directly from Nairobi into the South Coast airstrip at Ukunda.

The Dongo Kundu Bypass Highway is currently (2018) under construction. With a total of three bridges, it will finally connect the mainland to the south coast easing the burden on the ferry services.


Moonlit boats in Mombasa Moon Over Mombasa.jpg
Moonlit boats in Mombasa

A major cultural hub in Kenya and the African Great Lakes, Mombasa's proximity to Zanzibar, Nairobi and the Indian subcontinent, as well as its large shipping and maritime industries gives it a diverse mosaic of cultures. Music is a main feature of Mombasa's culture.


The majority of Mombasa's population is Muslim. [30] This large population has recently adapted Arab immigrant practices into Swahili New Year. The celebrations of maulidi, a celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birth, the Mombasa adopted name for the Swahili New Year, have witnessed an increasing overlap of cultures within the city. This parallels increased migration of Muslim Arab immigrants in the region. [31]

The Catholics are pastorally served by the Metropolitan Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa.

Mombasa has a branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Hare Krishna Movement) on Beach Road.

Music and nightlife

Taarab music, which originates from Zanzibar, has a prominent local presence. [32] Styles of music native to Mombasa include the smooth and mellow Bango, fast-paced Chakacha and traditional Mwanzele.

Musicians of note are Mombasa Roots, Safari Sounds, Them Mushrooms, Anwar Juma Bhalo and Princess Farida. Mombasa has been the home or base for former greats like Fundi Konde, known for his song "Tausi"; Fadhili Williams and Grand Charo, famous for the song "Malaika"; Sal Davies; Malika Mohammed; Stara Butte; Juma Bhalo. Contemporary hip-hop fusion artistes are Susumila, Majizee, Nyota Ndogo, Cannibal (musician), Sharama and Ukoo Flani super group which once could boast up to 40 rappers.

Recently, hip hop, reggae, soul, blues, salsa and (among the Indian community) bhangra have become popular, especially amongst the youth. Mombasa is mainly a tourism centre populated by hundreds of entertainment spots of all categories from night clubs, bars, hotels, fancy restaurants and many more. It has the most vibrant night life in Kenya catering to the mainly tourist population.


Currently, Mombasa is represented in the Kenyan Premier League by Bandari F.C, which plays at the Mbaraki Sports Grounds. Also, the Congo United FC, Promoted and dropped in 2011, are in the second tier Nationwide Super League with 4 other hometown clubs – Admiral F.C.; Magongo Rangers; Sparki Youth and Coast United. [33] Derbies between Mombasa teams have become intriguing affairs recently. [34] Another team, Coast Stars, was relegated several years ago from the league. The only Mombasa-based team to win the league is Feisal F.C., the 1965 champions. Kiziwi leopards was a popular team in the 1980s as was Mombasa Wanderers decades before. There are several cricket teams in Mombasa. One of them is Mombasa Sports Club (MSC), whose ground was given ODI status in 2006. MSC has also a rugby union team playing in the Kenya Cup League, the premier rugby competition in Kenya. Mvita XI men and MSC ladies represent Mombasa in Kenyan field hockey leagues.

Mombasa is represented in the nationwide rugby league by Mombasa RFC. The city is also host to a leg of the national rugby sevens circuit, being one of only six city hosts. The Mombasa leg is referred to as the Driftwood sevens, and the annual tournament is extremely popular, attracting thousands of fans from across the country.

The 2007 World Cross Country Championships were held in Mombasa. Mombasa Marathon is competed annually in Mombasa. The town also hosts the biennial classic edition of Safari Rally and annually a Kenya National Rally Championship round.

Scuba diving takes place mostly within the Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve, which is managed and maintained by Kenya Wildlife Service. The park has a length of about 8 km (5.0 mi).

Twin towns – sister cities

Flag of the United States.svg  USA Seattle Washington 6 April 1981 [36]
Flag of the United States.svg  USA Long Beach California20 November 2007
Flag of the United States.svg  USA Charlotte Amalie United States Virgin Islands unknown
Flag of the United States.svg  USA Honolulu Hawaii2008
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa eThekwini KwaZulu-Natal 20 February 2012
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway Bergen Hordaland unknown
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China Lianyungang Jiangsu unknown
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China Fuzhou Fujian unknown

Notable residents

During its history, Mombasa was visited by numerous pioneers of the maritime exploration, such as the Arabs Al Idrissi (1151) and Ibn Battuta (1330), the Chinese Zheng He (1413) or the Portuguese Vasco da Gama (1498), Pedro Álvares Cabral (1500) João da Nova (1505) and Afonso de Albuquerque (1507).[ citation needed ]

In the film Out of Africa , Mombasa is the train destination as the seaport for voyages to Europe via the Suez Canal, and Mombasa is indicated as downriver ("This water must go home to Mombasa").

Mombasa is a pivotal setting in the highly popular Halo video game series. Mombasa appears as a major setting in Halo 2 , and the entirety of Halo 3: ODST takes place in Mombasa. The science fiction games are set in the year 2552, and the city has been divided into "Old Mombasa" and "New Mombasa" (a prosperous section filled with futuristic skyscrapers and an iconic orbital elevator). It is the capital of the fictional East Africa Protectorate. The city comes under attack by humanity's alien adversaries, "The Covenant", who focus their planetary invasion in and around Mombasa in search of a massive, technologically advanced artifact buried nearby. [41]

In the Warren Zevon song Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner , Mombasa is one of the key locales related to the protagonist's quest.

The Finnish pop hit Mombasa (by Taiska) is about the city. [42]

In the US, the Walt Disney World resort recreated a Kenyan village in the Africa section of the Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park named "Harambe", which is modelled after Mombasa. The village features a store called the "Mombasa Marketplace". [43]

In the Indian movie Mr. India, Mombasa is mentioned in the popular song, Hawa Hawaii. [44]

Most of the events in the story "Consummation in Mombasa" (by Andrei Gusev) takes place in Mombasa and in the nearest district Mtwapa. [45] [46]

One-Way Ticket to Mombasa (Menolippu Mombasaan) is a 2002 Finnish film directed by Hannu Tuomainen. [47]

See also

Related Research Articles

Fort Jesus fort in Mombasa, Kenya

Fort Jesus is a fort located on Mombasa Island. Designed by Italian Giovanni Battista Cairati, it was built between 1593 and 1596, by order of King Philip I of Portugal, to guard the Old Port of Mombasa. Fort Jesus was the only fort maintained by the Portuguese on the Swahili Coast, and is recognised as a testament to the first successful attempt by a Western power to establish influence over the Indian Ocean trade.

Malindi Municipality in Kilifi County, Kenya

Malindi is a town on Malindi Bay at the mouth of the Galana River, lying on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya. It is 120 kilometres northeast of Mombasa. The population of Malindi was 207,253 as of the 2009 census. It is the largest urban centre in Kilifi County.

Kilwa Kisiwani island in Tanzania

Kilwa Kisiwani is a community on an Indian Ocean island off the southern coast of present-day Tanzania in eastern Africa. Historically, it was the center of the Kilwa Sultanate, a medieval sultanate whose authority at its height in the 13th-15th centuries CE stretched the entire length of the Swahili Coast. Kilwa Kisiwani has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with the nearby stonetown Songo Mnara.

Lamu Town in Lamu County, Kenya

Lamu or Lamu Town is a small town on Lamu Island, which in turn is a part of the Lamu Archipelago in Kenya. Situated 341 kilometres (212 mi) by road northeast of Mombasa that ends at Mokowe Jetty, from where the sea channel has to be crossed to reach Lamu Island. It is the headquarters of Lamu County and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Pate Island island

Pate (Paté) Island is located in the Indian Ocean close to the northern coast of Kenya, to which it belongs. It is the largest island in the Lamu Archipelago, which lie between the towns of Lamu and Kiunga in the former Coast Province. The island is almost completely surrounded by mangroves.

Sultanate of Zanzibar 1856-1964 monarchy in the Indian Ocean

The Sultanate of Zanzibar, also known as the Zanzibar Sultanate, comprised the territories over which the Sultan of Zanzibar was the sovereign. Those territories varied over time, and at one point included all of what is now Kenya as well as the Zanzibar Archipelago of the Swahili Coast. Later, the kingdom's realm included only a ten mile wide coastal strip of Kenya and Zanzibar. Under an agreement concluded on 8 October 1963, the Sultan relinquished sovereignty over his remaining territory in Kenya. On 12 January 1964, Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah was deposed and lost sovereignty over the last of his dominions, Zanzibar.

Kilindini Harbour is a large, natural deep-water inlet extending inland from Mombasa, Kenya. It is 25-30 fathoms at its deepest center, although the controlling depth is the outer channel in the port approaches with a dredged depth of 17.5 metres (57 ft). It serves as the harbour for Mombasa, with a hinterland extending to Uganda. Kilindini Harbour is the main part of the Port of Mombasa, the only international seaport in Kenya and the biggest port in east Africa. It is managed by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA). Apart from cargo handling, Mombasa is frequented by Cruise ships.

Makupa Causeway road in Kenya

The Makupa Causeway is a causeway linking Mombasa island to the Kenyan mainland. The road runs for approximately one and a half miles between the Magongo Circus and Makupa Circus. The causeway dissects Tudor Creek to the east and Port Reitz Creek to the west.

Likoni Ferry

The Likoni Ferry is a boat service across the Kilindini Harbour, serving both the island city of Mombasa and the Kenyan mainland town of Likoni. Two - four double-ended ferries alternate across the harbour, carrying both road and foot traffic. The ferries are operated by the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS), and is the only remaining ferry service by KFS. The Likoni ferry started operating in 1937. Passenger services are free while vehicles, tuktuks and motorcycles have to pay a ferry toll.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) is a state corporation with the responsibility to "maintain, operate, improve and regulate all scheduled seaports" on the Indian Ocean coastline of Kenya, including principally Kilindini Harbour at Mombasa. Other KPA ports include Lamu, Malindi, Kilifi, Mtwapa, Kiunga, Shimoni, Funzi and Vanga.

Chaani is a suburb of Mombasa, Kenya. It is bordered by Port Reitz to the west, Changamwe to the north and Kilindini Harbour to the south. It is linked to Mombasa Island by the Kipevu Causeway.

Nyali Place in Mombasa County, Kenya

Nyali is a residential area within Mombasa City, located on the mainland north of Mombasa County. It is connected to Mombasa Island by the New Nyali Bridge. Nyali is known for its many high-class hotels and residential houses, modern standards, and long white sand beaches making it a popular destination for both local and foreign tourists.

Imperial Bank Limited (IBKL), commonly known as Imperial Bank, is a commercial bank in Kenya, the largest economy in the East African Community. It is one of the forty-three commercial banks licensed by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), the central bank and national banking regulator.

Bamburi Airport airport

Bamburi Airport is an airport in Kenya.

Dongo Kundu Bypass Highway, also Mombasa Southern Bypass Highway , is a road under construction in Kenya. When completed, it will connect Mombasa Mainland West to Mombasa Mainland South, without entering Mombasa Island.

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Mombasa, Coast Province, Kenya.


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