By the 15th century this important port was a thriving, sophisticated city with established trade routes to China, Persia, and India.
Today Mombasa city continues to be the largest port on the East African coast serving the countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and eastern Zaire, and of course, Kenya.

The population is fast approaching half a million with 70% of African descent and a small minority of Asians and Europeans.

Over the centuries Mombasa has struggled with numerous foreign invaders and hostility.
The Portuguese, the ferocious Zimba tribe, and the Omanis have all laid claim to Mombasa since the 12th century.
By the late 1800s it became the base of exploration for British expeditions to Kenya’s interior. In 1988, the Imperial British East Africa Company set up headquarters in Mombasa. British rule of Mombasa became official in 1895 when they leased a stretch of the coast including the port city from the Sultan of Zanzibar. Officially this coastal strip still belonged to Zanzibar until ceded to a newly independent Kenya in 1963.

The British affirmed Mombasa’s importance as East Africa’s most vital port when they completed a railway in 1901 stretching from Mombasa to Uganda.
Today, the city remains one of Africa’s major links to the rest of the world. Built on a 15 sq. km island, Mombasa is surrounded by a natural harbour. The mainland coasts north and south of the city boast a proliferation of tourist resorts. Within the city itself, a traveller has numerous opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Fort Jesus is perhaps Mombasa’s biggest attraction as it dominates the harbour entrance. This Portuguese stronghold was built in 1593 to fend off local enemies and Turkish warships. The remains of the fort provide an interesting tour back through history and a small museum
features a variety of relics.

The Omani House, located in the north-western corner of the fort has fascinating displays on Swahili life and breathtaking views over the old town.

Mombasa Old Town features a smattering of styles and traditions common to coastal Swahili villages and late 19th century Indian and British colonial architecture. Although its history goes back centuries, most of the houses in Old Town are generally no more than 100 years old. Nevertheless, many of these buildings were modelled on ancient Swahili designs and feature intricately carved doors and doorframes. The Muslim influence can also be seen in the construction of  balconies, their support brackets, and detailed latticework. This area of Mombasa is well worth exploring walking guides are readily available.

The modern centre of Mombasa is the intersection of four major thoroughfares:
Moi Avenue, Nyerere Road, Nkrumah Road, and Digo Road.
Moi Avenue provides the most interesting opportunity for exploration as it is lined with a double row of souvenir shops and stalls. The city’s most famous landmark is also located here: two pairs of crossed tusks created as a ceremonial arch to commemorate the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. Treasury Square remains the administrative centre of Mombasa and features old colonial buildings, the historic town hall, and a charming garden square.