Malindi (once known as Melinde) is a town on Malindi Bay at the mouth of the Galana River, lying on theIndian Ocean coast of Kenya. It is 120 kilometres northeast of Mombasa. The population of Malindi is 117,735 (in 1999 census). It is the capital of the Malindi District.
Tourism is the major industry in Malindi. The city is exceptionally popular among Italian tourists. Malindi is served with a domestic airport and a highway between Mombasa and Lamu. The nearby Watamu resort and Gedi Ruins (also known as Gede) are south of Malindi. The mouth of the Sabaki River lies in northern Malindi. The Watamu and Malindi Marine National Parks form a continuous protected coastal area south of Malindi. The area shows classic examples of Swahili architecture.
Malindi is home to the Malindi Airport and Broglio Space Centre.
Malindi has been a Swahili settlement since the 14th century. Once rivaled only by Mombasa for dominance in this part of East Africa, Malindi has traditionally been a port city for foreign powers. In 1414, the town was visited by the fleet of the Chinese explorer Zheng He. Malindi's ruler sent a personal envoy with a giraffe as a present to China on that fleet.
The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama met Malindi authorities in 1498 to sign a trade agreement and hire a guide for the voyage to India, when he erected a coral pillar. The pillar stands to this day, though there have been calls by conservationists to take care of it, since soil erosion might make the pillar fall into the ocean. It is a fairly popular tourist attraction for both local and international tourists. In 1499 the Portuguese established a trading post in Malindi that served as a resting stop on the way to and fromIndia. A church dates from this era.
Many traditional buildings survive, including the Juma Mosque and palace on the beach, a stretch popular with tourists.