Lamu County is located in Kenya’s Coast Province with a land area of 6,273 km². The County covers a strip of northeastern coastal mainland and the Lamu Archipelago, which consists of numerous islands, which extend about 100km south from the Somalia border. The most well-known of the islands is Lamu Island, which is the oldest existing Swahili Settlement.
Lamu Town, Island and Archipelago, all of the same name, lie 2 degrees south of the Equator along Kenya’s coast. The archipelago is a chain of islands separated from the mainland by a narrow channel bordered with dense mangrove forest and protected from the Indian Ocean by coral reefs and large sand dunes.
History and Attraction in Lamu
Lamu Island has been a port of call for travelers for centuries. The many historical sites are proof of the area’s long and rich history which, when combined with all the natural attraction of its tropical setting, make Lamu a wonderful place to visit.
The streets of Lamu town are narrow, cool and quiet. They are surprisingly intimate spaces enclosed by massive stone buildings whose thick coral rag walls give the town its distinct colour and texture. In December 2001 Lamu Town became a world heritage site in order to protect the oldest inhabited Swahili settlement south of the Sahara.
Shela village where Peponi is located is 2 miles from Lamu Town. The origin of the village is unknown, but according to tradition it was settled by people from nearby Manda Island. In 1813 the famous “Battle of Shela” took place. This was an attempt by Pate Island, allied with the Mazrui clan from Oman, to subjugate Lamu. The attempt failed totally, and the defeat of Pate at Shela signalled the rise of Lamu as the leading power in the archipelago.
Lamu is a region rich in both ecological and cultural diversity, which has allowed it to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lamu is not only endowed with biodiversity on the mainland, but additionally has some of the richest marine ecology on the Kenyan coastline. The County has two National reserves: Dodori, and Kiunga Marine. Covering 877km2, Dodori is a breeding ground for the East Lamu Topi, and consists of a variety of mammals and birdlife including lions, elephant shrew, hippo, pelicans, and many more. It has the most varied species of mangrove forest in Kenya at Dodori Creek. Kiunga Marine Reserve consists of several islands rich with biodiversity including valuable coral reefs, sea grass, extensive mangrove forests, and the endangered sea turtles and dugongs. Kiwayu Island, which is part of the reserve, is deemed as having the most pristine beach in Kenya.
Population of Lamu
Lamu has a population of 101,539 (2009 census) and consists of four main indigenous communities: the Bajuni, Sanye, Aweer (Boni), and Orma. The Bajuni, who are the largest in population of the four groups, trace their origins to diverse groups, primarily Bantu and Arab descent. They mainly derive their livelihoods on fishing, farming, and more recently tourism-related activities. The Orma are pastoralist, while the Cushitic Sanye and Aweer are hunter-gathers primarily living off the forest resources and farming. The Aweer are the smallest of the four groups in population.
|Languages spoken||English, Kiswahili|
|Currency used||Kenya Shillings|
|Area (km2)||6,167 km²|