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Kilwa, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tanzania, comprising the historical islands of Kilwa Kisiwani & Songo Mnara or Kilwa Kivinje, is located on the southern coast of Tanzania about 6 hours drive from Dar es Salaam; there are scheduled flights by small aircraft connecting Kilwa with Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and the game parks.

Kilwa was the most powerful city state on the East African coast for three centuries from the 12th century to the 15th century, controlling trade from Sofala in Mozambique to Mombasa in Kenya, a stretch of about 1900 kilometres, plus the islands of Comoro. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kilwa was an important trading centre linking Asia across the Indian Ocean with the African hinterland where ivory and gold were exchanged with beads, cotton cloth, porcelain and jewellery. Traders from the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf settled in Kilwa as early as the ninth century, leaving lasting cultural imprints that can still be seen in the preserved ruins with their elaborate architecture and the Swahili civilization on the East African coast.

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