Lamu, Kenya's oldest living town was one of the original Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa.
The port of Lamu has existed for at least a thousand years. The town was first attested in writing by an Arab traveler Abu-al-Mahasini who met a Judge from Lamu visiting Mecca in 1441.
Lamu's economy was based on slave trade until abolition in the year 1907. Other traditional exports included ivory, mangrove, turtle shells and rhino horn, which were shipped via the Indian Ocean to the Middle East and India. In addition to the abolition of slavery, construction of the Uganda Railroad in 1901 (which started from the competing port of Mombasa) significantly hampered Lamu's economy. Tourism has gradually refueled the local economy in recent times. In 1986 Michael W. Smith wrote a song about the island, which was included in his album The Big Picture.
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