Lamu Archipelago

Lamu Archipelago

Location: Lamu District Map


Lamu Archipelago is a group of islands in the Indian Ocean situated just off the coast of Kenya. It includes Lamu, Manda, Pate, Kiwayu islands. A group of islands were famous as a trade center situated on the crossroads of important trade routes in the medieval times. In the archipelago are three large islands of Lamu, Manda, Pate, the smaller Kivayu and several small islands.

The largest city of the archipelago - Lamu, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among other Arabian heritage are the ruins of the cities of Takva and Manda (island of Manda) and Sanga (island of Pate). In 1415, the famous Chinese traveler Zheng He visited the archipelago.

The islands of Lamu and Manda have airports.

The Lamu Archipelago has a national marine park and the Kiung Biosphere Reserve.


Lamu Fort

Location: Lamu Island

Siyu Fort

Location: Pate Island


Lamu is a small city on the island of Lamu, which, in turn, is part of the Lamu Archipelago in Kenya. The city of Lamu is the administrative center of Lamu County, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lamu is the oldest continuously populated city in Kenya; he was one of the first settlements of the Swahili people on the coast of East Africa. It is believed that the city was founded in 1370.

Some sources mention the history of the ships of the Chinese navigator Zheng He, which sank off the coast of Kenya in 1415. The rescued sailors settled on the island and married local women. DNA testing of some residents of the island showed that they have Chinese ancestors.

The city was first mentioned in written sources by the Arab traveler Abu al-Mahasini, who met a judge from Lamu who visited Mecca in 1441.

The history of the city was marked by the Portuguese invasion in 1506, and then by the dominance of Oman. The Portuguese invasion was prompted by Portugal's desire to control trade along the Indian Ocean. For a long period, Portugal had a monopoly on transportation along the coast of East Africa, and imposed export duties on local trade channels. In the 1580s there was an uprising against the Portuguese on the Lama. In 1652, Oman assisted the islanders in their struggle against Portuguese rule. The years under the Omani protectorate (late 17th - early 19th centuries) became the “golden age” for Lamu. At this time, Lamu became the center of poetry, politics, arts, crafts and commerce. Many buildings of the city were built during this period in a sustained characteristic classical style.

In the mid-19th century, Lamu fell under the political influence of the Zanzibar Sultan, and in 1885 became part of the Vitu Sultanate, which is under the protectorate of the German Empire. In 1890, Lamu, like the rest of Kenya, became part of the British colony and was it until Kenya gained independence in 1963.

As a result of the fact that Lamu lay on important Arab trade routes and worked closely with the Arab world, today most of the city’s population professes Islam.


Kiunga is a national marine reserve in northern Kenya. Since 1980, the reserve is part of a worldwide network of biosphere reserves.

The reserve is located in Lamu County near the village of Kyunga, 150 km east of the city of Lamu (city) and includes about 50 islands and coral reefs of the Lamu archipelago. The archipelago, formed by one of the coral series, stretches for 60 km along the coastline at a distance of 1.6 to 16 km from it. The islands range from 100 m² to 1 km². Large islands and islands of the inner part of the archipelago are covered with vegetation, the outer islands are coral formations up to 18 meters high. The coastline adjacent to the archipelago is protected by the national reserves of Dodori and Boni. On the shore are sandy beaches and dunes, as well as arid forests.