Mombasa

The coastal city of Mombasa, in Mombasa County is located in the South Eastern part of the Republic of Kenya. Mombasa is the second largest city in the country after Nairobi. Its estimated population is 1.2 million people (2016).

A regional and cultural hub, it hosts the Port of Mombasa (Kilindini Harbour), an international Airport (Moi International) and is a vital regional tourism center.

By virtue of its strategic location on the Western Indian Ocean it was once a historical trading center. For this reason, prior to colonialization of Kenya, it had hitherto been visited and controlled by several countries. In the 14th century Chinese travelers dropped anchor and traded with indigenous communities in the north. In the 16th century Mombasa was occupied by the Portuguese and Arabs and finally by the British around the late 19th century.

Structures, culture and mannerisms from the past in Mombasa are still apparent today. Fort Jesus, a historic structure put up by the Portuguese, and the Old Town are some of the attractions influenced by Mombasa’s trade culture, with many examples of Portuguese and Islamic architecture.

Mombasa Island hosts the majority of the population as well as the seat of the Country Administration. The island is separated from the mainland by 2 creeks: Tudor creek and Kilindini Harbour. Access to the island is serviced by Nyali Bridge in the north, the Likoni Ferry in the south and the Makupa Causeway to the west.

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 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.

Suburbs

Mombasa Island

Moi avenue and Digo Road Intersection, Mombasa CBD (photo: travelmombasa.com)

Mombasa Island hosts the Central Business District (CBD) sprawled along Digo Road, Nkrumah Road, Haile Selassie Road, Moi Avenue (famous for the Mombasa Tusks) and the following suburbs:

  • Kizingo: Hosts various prime residential estates, the County Administration, the Mombasa State House, the Law Courts and the famous Fort Jesus.
  • Kibokoni: Part of Old Town with Swahili architecture.
  • 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 The Baluchi former soldiers who settled within this area before it developed into a town.
  • Ganjoni: Primarily a middle class residential
  • Mombasa Island also features majority of the University Campuses: JKUAT, MU, UON, TUM.

North Coast

Nyali bridge which links Mombasa Island to the North Coast (photo: travelmombasa.com)

Nyali is also considered an up-market residential area located on the mainland (North of the island) and is linked by the Nyali Bridge. It has numerous beach front hotels. 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 a multiplex cinema, shopping malls, banks, schools and post offices. This often eliminates the need for residents to go over to the congested Mombasa CBD (Mombasa Island). Nyali is home for the Nyali Cinemax complex, Mamba Village, the Nyali Golf Club, and some prestigious primary and high schools.

Kongowea is a cosmopolitan settlement mainly inhabited by people from mainland who commute to the city for work mainly in the service and manufacturing sector. The area is adjacent to Nyali which employs a portion of the village residents. Kongowea is also home to one of the largest open-air markets in the African Great Lakes.

A beach on Mombasa North Coast

Bamburi is an outlying township along the Mombasa – Malindi highway. Bamburi is the location of the Bamburi Portland Cement Company operated by Lafarge. Other notable features in the area are the Mijikenda public beach (commonly referred to 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. It is the largest estate in Mombasa

Other areas include, Shanzu (which hosts the conference venue), Mkomani, 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.

South Coast

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.

Diani (Kwale County): a coastal resort town situated 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 venue for local and international tourists.

Mombasa Mainland – hinterland

Magongo: is an outlying township 20 minutes driving distance northwest of Mombasa Island, situated on the Nairobi Highway. It is a rural area with mainly informal settlements and serves as a link between the city and Moi International Airport.

Mikindani: This is an outlying township on the mainland along the Nairobi Highway. It is built in the heavy industry sections of Changamwe and mainly accommodate the working class who either work in the industries, the town centre on the Island and the Port of Mombasa.

Miritini: outlying township on the Mombasa Nairobi Highway which is fast 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.

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 the Kenya Ports Authority Headquarters.

Port Reitz: Is a suburb on the mainland which hosts oil refineries and housing estates.