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Such trade goods as they obtained from the interior were apparently bought by barter at the coast.Ruins at Kilwa, on the southern Tanzanian coast, probably date from the 9th or perhaps from the 8th century.Eastern Africa, part of sub-Saharan Africa comprising two traditionally recognized regions: East Africa, made up of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda; and the Horn of Africa, made up of Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.Eastern Africa consists largely of plateaus and has most of the highest elevations in the continent.Rhapta’s main imports were metal weapons and iron tools—suggesting that iron smelting was not yet known., although this could also be either Pemba or Zanzibar (perhaps there has been a conflation of all three in the one name).Most of the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia—and some of those in Tanzania and Kenya—speak languages belonging to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages.Speakers of Nilo-Saharan languages populate Uganda and the rift valley portions of Kenya and Tanzania, while speakers of Bantu languages constitute much of the remainder of these countries’ population.
Arab traders from about 700 seem to have preferred the East African coast to the south of modern Somalia.
Though there is some suggestion that in the 10th century the Muslims had not yet begun to move farther south than Somalia, on Qanbalu they soon became rulers of a pagan population, whose language they adopted.
Moreover, at Zanzibar an extant Kūfic inscription (the only one) recording the construction of a mosque by Sheikh al-Sayyid Abū ʿImrān Mūsā ibn al-Ḥasan ibn Muḥammad in 1107 confirms that by this time substantial Muslim settlements had been established.
This article covers the history of the area from ancient times through the 20th century.
Coverage of the region’s physical and human geography can be found in the article Africa.