1902 Encyclopedia > Africa > States of East Africa

(Part 32)


(d) States of East Africa

East Africa extends from Natal northwards to the Red Sea, comprising Sofalam, Mozambique, Zanzibar, and the Somali country. But little is known of that region beyond the shores. The Sofala Coast, extending from Delagoa Bay to the Zambeze river, is flat, sandy, and marshy, gradually ascending towards the interior. It abounds with rivers, which are the source of yearly inundations. The soil is very fertile, and produces chiefly rice. In the interior, fold and other metals, as well as precious stones, are found. The Portuguese have settlements at Sofala, in an unhealthy spot, abounding with salt marshes; it consists of only huts, a church, and a fort in ruins. Inhambane, near the tropic of Capricorn, has an excellent harbour.

Mozambique extends from the Zambeze to Cape Delgado, and is similar, in its natural features, to the Sofala, Coast. The greatest river is the Zambeze. The principal settlement of the Portuguese is at Quillimane, which is situated in a very unhealthy position on the northern arm of the delta of the Zambeze, surrounded with mangrove trees.

The Zanzibar or Sawahili Coast extends from Cape Delgado to the river Jub, near the equator. the coast is generally low, and has but few bays or harbours: its northern portion is rendered dangerous by a line of coral reefs extending along it. The region possesses a great number of rivers, but none of them attain a first-rate magnitude. The principal are the Rovuma, the Lufiji, Ruvu, Pangani, and Dana; the two latter rising in the snowy mountains of Kilima-njaro and Kenia. The climate is similar to that of other tropical coasts of Africa, hot and unhealthy in general: in some portions, howebr, the elevated ground, and with it a more temperature and healthy climate, approaches the shores to within a short distance. The vegetation is luxuriant, and cocoa-nut, palms, maize, rice, and olives are the chief articles of cultivation. The fauna comprises all the more characteristic African species.

The chief inhabitants are the Sawahili, of mixed Arab and Negro descent, but the coasts are under the Arab dominion of the Imaum of Muscat, by whose effort commerce with the nations of the interior has greatly increased.

The island of Zanzibar (Unguya of the Sawahili) is the residence of a Sultan, tributary to the Imaum of Muscat, and the sea of extensive commerce. Mombas, on a small island close to the main shore, possesses the finest harbour on that coast, and has recently become famous as the seat of an important missionary station.

The Somali country comprises the eastern horn of Africa, from the equator northward to the Bay of tadjurra, near the entrance into the Red Sea. The coast is generally bold and rocky, in some places covered with sand; and the extensive region it encloses presents a slightly ascending plain, traversed by large valleys of great fertility, among which the wady Nogal is prominent. This country is not so well watered as the region to the south, and some of its rivers are periodical.

The Somali country is famous for its aromatic productions and gums of various kinds; and it is supposed that the spices and incense consumed in such large quantities by the ancient peoples of Egypt, Greece, Syria, and Rome, were derived from this part of Africa, and not from Arabia,

Zeila and Berbera, on the northern coast, are the chief trading ports: the permanent population of the former is about 3000, while the latter may be said to exist only during the winter, when no less than 20,000 strangers, at an average, arrive to pitch their tents, and thus create a great market-place. Harrar, in the Galla country, is the chief place in the interior, with 8000 inhabitants, who are Mohammedans. One-third of the population is Somali, one-third Arab.

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