Kilwa Kisiwani is located on a small island about 300 km south of Dar es Salaam. It was occupied from the 9th to 19th century and reached its peak prosperity and influence in the 13th and 14th centuries. Kilwa Kisiwani was founded in 975 by Hassan ben Ali from Shiraz, Persia. Its importance as a trading center along with the neighbor Songo Mnara grew through the centuries until they dominated and controlled trade along the East African Coast from Mozambique to Somalia. The most valuable commodities were gold and ivory from inland communities. They controlled Sofala in Mozambique where the gold from Zimbabwe was shipped to the rest of the world. Kilwa Kisiwani was described in 1332 by Ibn Battuta, the famous Morocco explorer, as “amongst the most beautiful of cities and elegantly built.” The repeated migrations and trading voyages of Persians and Arabs beginning in the 10th century led to the dominance of Islam in coastal communities.
Al-Masudi stated in the 10th century that Kilwa was producing food crops such as bananas, durra, yams and coconuts. There were reports of sugar cane and tamarind. The Portuguese mentioned finding oranges, lemons, peas, cotton and cattle in Kilwa in the 15th century. The Great Mosque of Kilwa completed during the reign of Sultan Sulayman al Adil between 1412 and 1442 is considered one of the masterpieces of Swahili architecture. Another masterpiece is Husuni Kubwa dating from the 14th century which has no parallel and likely served as a model for dwellings of notables in Gedi, Kisimani Mafi and Kilwa. The Portuguese chronicles described Kilwa Kisiwani as a sophisticated city on pare with those of Portugal at the time.
The arrival of the Portuguese in late 15th century led to the end of the dominance of Kilwa Kisiwani. Vasco da Gama exacted tribute from the city on one of his voyages in 1502. Dom Francisco d’Ameida extolled the beauty and wealth of the city and then ransacked it in 1505. By 1513 the Portuguese had destroyed the trading networks of the Indian Ocean that had provided the wealth of Kilwa Kisiwani and its sister city. Today the extensive ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara are evidence of the power and wealth that existed there centuries ago.
There are 8 species of mangrove on the coast of Tanzania. Mangroves provide many products to the local population. Their main value is in the many ecosystem services including habitat for wildlife, fish and crustaceans and protection to the shore from damage by severe wave action during major storms.
|Botanical name||Vernacular names|
|Rhizophora mucronata||red mangrove|
|Ceriops tagal||spurred mangrove|
|Bruguiera gymnorrhiza||black mangrove|
|Avicennia marina||grey mangrove|
|Sonneratia alba||white mangrove|
|Xylocarpus granatum||cannonball mangrove|
|Heritiera littoralis||looking-glass mangrove|
|Lumnitzera racemosa||black mangrove|