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History of Kenya



Samburu, Luo, Turkana, Maasai.
By the first millennium AD, Bantu-speaking farmers moved into the region. The Bantus originated in West Africa along the Benue River in what is now eastern Nigeria and western Cameroon. The Bantu migration brought new developments in agriculture and iron working to the region. Bantu groups in Kenya include the Kikuyu, Luhya, Kamba, Kisii, Meru, Aembu, Ambeere and Mijikenda among others.
Remarkable prehistoric sites in the interior of Kenya include the archaeoastronomical site Namoratunga on the west side of Lake Turkana and the walled settlement of ThimLich Ohinga in Nyanza Province.
Arab traders began frequenting the Kenya coast around the 1st century AD. Kenya's proximity to the Arabian Peninsula invited colonization, and Arab and Persian settlements sprouted along the coast by the 8th century.
The Kenyan coast had served host to communities of ironworkers and communities of subsistence farmers, hunters and fishers who supported the economy with agriculture, fishing, metal production and trade with foreign countries.
The Kilwa Sultanate was a medieval sultanate, centered at Kilwa in modern-day Tanzania. At its height, its authority stretched over the entire length of the Swahili Coast, including Kenya. It was founded in the 10th century by Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi, a Persian Prince of Shiraz. The Persian rulers would go on to build elaborate coral mosques and introduced copper coinage.
During this period, Arabs from southern Arabia settled on the coast. They established many new autonomous city-states, including Mombasa, Malindi and Zanzibar. The Arab migrants also introduced Islam and the Omani dialect of Arabic to the area. This blending of cultures left a notable Arabian influence on the local Bantu Swahili culture and language of the coast. The Arabs built Mombasa into a major port city and established trade links with other nearby city-states, as well as commercial