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Swahili coast tourism features deep history, bright beaches

By Otiato Opali | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-31 09:54

A tourist walks along the beach next to the Indian Ocean in the resort town of Diani, south of Mombasa, on the coast of Kenya.[Photo/AP]

Kenya's coastline, which is dotted with ancient cities, offers travelers a striking taste of the African tropics suffused with centuries of seafaring history.

This cosmopolitan tourist hub stretches for miles, and was the main point of contact between the Swahili people and European, Chinese, Persian, Indian and Arab merchants, explorers, diplomats and conquerors. As such, it is packed with numerous tourist attractions that are guaranteed to submerge visitors in the history of the Indian Ocean rim.

Among the earliest visitors to these shores were the Portuguese, whose most visible legacy is Fort Jesus, an imposing monument to the first European empire to attempt to capture the region's lucrative trade routes.

However, 115 kilometers north of the city of Mombasa in old Malindi town, an ancient pillar commemorates the first Portuguese foray into the area. Known as the Vasco da Gama pillar, the towering white obelisk is one of the few remnants of the early modern European presence along the coast of East Africa.

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