Kilwa – Tanzania
Tucked away on the seldom-visited southern coast, the Kilwa district offers visitors a chance to ‘step back in time’ and take a peek into Tanzania’s cultural history. From the 13th century, the island of Kilwa Kisiwani was famous as a large trading hub. It now boasts the ruins of sultan’s palaces, Portuguese forts complete with torture rooms, and vaulted mosques.
In this unspoilt destination take an underwater adventure diving the pristine waters or go snorkel the coral reefs and mangrove shores. Explore on dry land a myriad of fascinating caves, often used as hideouts during times of conflict as well as being ‘home’ to thousands of bats.
Discover the traditional village life in this little piece of paradise. Or simply relax on the white sandy beaches listening to the gentle waves. This truly is a beach destination yet to be discovered by the masses.
A brief history of the Kilwa region
The Kilwa district is in the Lindi Region. The main towns are Kilwa Masoko and Kilwa Kivinje, with the islands of the Kilwa archipelago, Kilwa Kisiwani, Songa Mnara and Rukila.
The history of the island Kilwa Kisiwani
The island of Kilwa Kisiwani has been occupied by many cultures from at least the 8th century and was once one of the most powerful cities along the East African Coast. Arabs, Persians and the Chinese sailed across the Indian Ocean and used the island as a trading centre. The height of commerce was between the 13th and 15th centuries, where exports of animal products, slaves, gold and spices were exchanged for ceramics and silks.
The island was seized by the Portuguese in the early 16th Century until 1512, when it fell into the hands of an Arab mercenary, and later to the Omanis who controlled Zanzibar. After a brief occupation by the French, Kilwa Kisiwani became part of German East Africa from 1886 until 1918.
The history of the small town Kilwa Kivinje
Kilwa Kivinje was the regional capital during the German occupation. In a forerunning of independence, the Germans quashed a rebellion by Tanzanians, known as the Maji-Maji uprising. In the settlement lie the remains of the East German colonial buildings and the graveyard of the 300,000 people who were killed during the revolt.