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Stone Town

From Academic Kids

Stone Town or Mji Mkongwe, in Swahili, is the old part of the capital of the island of Zanzibar, a part of Tanzania.

The old town is built on a triangular peninsular of land on the western coast of the island. It consists of a warren of narrow alleys to houses, shops bazaars and mosques. Transport around town is by foot, bicycle or motorbike: cars are too wide to drive down many of the inner streets.

The architecture is a mix of Arab, Persian, Indian and European styles. The Arab houses are particularly noticeable because they have large and ornately carved wooden doors and other unusal features such as enclosed wooden verandas.

The site has probably been occupied for around three centuries with buildings only being constructed with stone since the 1830s.

The town was the centre of trade on the East African coast between Asia and Africa before the colonization of the mainland in the late 1800s after which the focus moved to Mombasa and Dar es Salaam. The main export was spices and particularly cloves. Slaves were also obtained from the mainland and traded with the Middle East.

The town also became a base for many European explorers, like the Portuguese, and colonisers from the late 1800s. Immigrant communities from Oman, Persia and India lived here. These were often engaged in trade or in the case of the Omanis were rulers of the island and its dependent territories.

Stone Town has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

It is also famous as the birthplace of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the band Queen.

See also

sv:Zanzibars stenstad ja:ザンジバル島のストーン・タウン

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