nters in Persia, Arabia, and even India. By the 15th-century, Portuguese voyager Duarte Barbosa claimed that "Mombasa is a place of great traffic and has a good harbour in which there are always moored small craft of many kinds and also great ships, both of which are bound from Sofala and others which come from Cambay and Melinde and others which sail to the island of Zanzibar."
In the centuries preceding colonization, the Swahili coast of Kenya was part of the east African region which traded with the Arab world and India especially for ivory and slaves (the Ameru tribe is said to have originated from slaves escaping from Arab lands sometime around the year 1700). Initially these traders came mainly from Arab states, but later many came from Zanzibar (such as Tippu Tip). Close to 90% of the population on the Kenya coast was enslaved. Swahili, a Bantu language with Arabic, Persian, and other Middle Eastern and South Asian loanwords, later developed as a lingua franca for trade between the different peoples.
Throughout the centuries the Kenyan Coast has played host to many merchants and explorers. Among the cities that line the Kenyan coast is the City of Malindi. It has remained an important Swahili settlement since the 14th century and once rivaled Mombasa for dominance in this part of East Africa. Malindi has traditionally been a friendly port city for foreign powers. In 1414, the Arab Sultan of Malindi initiated diplomatic relations with Ming Dynasty China during the voyages of the explorer Zheng He. Malindi authorities welcomed Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, in 1498.
The colonial history of Kenya dates from the establishment of a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar's coastal possessions in 1885, followed by the arrival of the Imperial British East Africa Company in 1888. Incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled when Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890. This was